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Digital Camera Recommendations for forensics

Posted on 2010-09-14
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
We are looking at a new camera for the security department.  This would be used for things like forensics (my main concern).  Is there anything that should be taken into account forensically speaking?  I want to be able to take the evidence to court if required although we may bring in an outside vendor for extremely serious cases.
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Question by:awakenings
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ewkelly earned 500 total points
ID: 33675819
My 2 cents worth....
I would be looking for something that is not so expensive that people would try to take it.
Don't choose one with too much telephoto. I believe that you would be looking for closer photos. Longer lenses loose the closeup ability. High resolution in case you have to blow it up. Lots of ram for lots of pictures before downloading. also you want to set the camera to put the date\time on each photo and log that you checked the date\time before you started taking pictures.
Something that fits in your pocket is easier to handle than and SLR and still takes great pictures.
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by:printnix63
printnix63 earned 500 total points
ID: 33676453
Generally speaking, larger chips (CCD) and not as many MegaPixel is better for the noise/signal ratio,
so, don't go for Megapixel alone when it is for good resolution and eventually darker environments.

Next, if you need the images to eventually compare and measure things (later on the pc) make sure, that the lens is not causing image distortions. These happen especially for strong wide angle or huge tele ranges. If I may assume you can normally move as close as needed to the evidence, then a good fixed length is eventually better than a variable focus length camera.

And yes, it should be compact in size, an SLR offers a higher price but for this requirement probably nothing you really need so much that it is worth to pay the difference.
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by:awakenings
ID: 33676782
So what I am hearing a basic camera with a god ISO rating should be sufficient.  I will award points tomorrow.  I am thinking something along the lines of a Canon digital Elph.
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by:aleghart
aleghart earned 1000 total points
ID: 33677090
What kind of forensics?  An SLR with 60 or 100mm macro lens can take pictures of evidence far better than a pocket snapshot camera.  It will also record ISO, lens focal length, ISO, plus GPS coordinates if it has the hardware onboard.  The focal length data is helpful when you have a zoom lens.
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by:awakenings
ID: 33677630
General forensics for a corporation.  This would be everything from dealing with physical issues to filming digital forensic procedures.  GPS is not something we can be concerned about because we are in a building and getting GPS data is next to impossible.  It is only for stuff that happens within our corporation.
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by:aleghart
aleghart earned 1000 total points
ID: 33677998
OK, so then you have control over your picture subject and lighting.  The smaller camera would probably be best then.  You can control the lighting, and video is decent enough for training or casual documentation.  Biggest issues are having two chargers, two batteries, two memory cards.  If you have a small team then buying two identical units would be prudent.  You have a backup, and no need to train between the two.
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Expert Comment

by:Mr_Fulano
ID: 34330268
Hi Awakenings, I know this question is closed, but here are some thoughts that may help. In terms a specific camera, that's going to depend on your budget. Some of the major manufacturers like Nikon and Canon all make great cameras with video capabilities and with great imaging sensors. I would stick to a 720 dpi resolution for video, which is standard now a-days. If you're going to blow-up images to poster size for court, you'll want something that shoots at least 14MP (or more), which most cameras today can do.

I would also get a 50mm lens (which is different from a 18-55mm one), where you can shoot at an F-Stop of 1.8 for very close up detailed images.

That said, I would never film a forensic process to take to court. You're just giving your apposing counsel more ammunition to discredit your work if you did something that is not standard or if they see something is a video that they can use to show the jury how careless you were (not that you would be)...

I would also limit my use of camera work to documentation of evidence (i.e. a top view, a bottom view, a side view, etc). -- However, before you do that, I would read as much as possible about forensic photography and photo presentation for court. Forensic photography is not simply taking pictures.

Hope this helps,
Fulano
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