DSLR cameras can be intimidating to anyone who has yet to venture past their user-friendly automatic settings. Compound that with the pressure of documenting a crime scene or evidence quickly and efficiently, and a quick reference guide sure would come in handy from time to time.
That was the concept behind the Digital Camera Quick Reference Guide, developed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Latent Prints Section, in conjunction with their Photo/Digital Imaging Section.
The guide provides the agency’s recommended manual camera settings for different types of crime scene situations (general crime scenes, night-time scenes, aerial photography) and specific types of evidence (shoe impressions, latent prints, bloodstains enhanced with luminol).
“We use these settings at crime scenes and also train our new employees on it,” said Erika Di Palma, forensic identification specialist II with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Crime Lab Latent Prints Unit. “We’ve also had neighboring forensic departments request this guide which makes me think others in the field could benefit from it as well.”
The sheriff’s department is making the guide available, free of charge, as an interactive PDF. The document is designed to be mobile-friendly, so that it can be saved onto any smartphone for use in the field. Each section provides simple, easy-to-follow setting specifications, as well as links to articles on external websites, such as Evidence Technology Magazine, where users can read more in-depth about various photographic techniques.