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« Paint Pens | Main | Professional Camera Lenses »

April 12, 2008

Semi-Professional Digital Cameras (Pro-sumer)

-Patrick S Lasswell

Things Your Team Needs: Quality Imaging Gear

What is it? Semi-Professional Digital Cameras (Pro-sumer)

Photo (c) B&H Photo

What does it do? Rapidly captures quality images with relatively low operator training.

Why do we need it? The current conflict and most expected conflicts in the foreseeable future are political wars, which means they are information wars and imagery tools are a primary weapon. Quality imagery is more believable and will help the team better than badly presented imagery. Consistent use of image recording will prepare the team for operations under media scrutiny. Recording suspicious behavior allows for better transfer of information between watch teams. Recording imagery will allow greater recall for watch teams. The presence of alert watchstanders recording suspicious behavior will deter attacks. Digital imagery is much easier to manage than chemical (film) imagery. New semi-professional cameras are much better than previous models and this page will be updated to reflect the changes.

Where can we get it? Local camera stores, online giants. B&H Photo is an excellent source with a GSA portal:

What kind should we get? (April 2008) Canon EOS 40D, Nikon D300, Sony A700, Olympus E-3, Pentax K20D are all very good cameras. All cameras for serious use in hostile environments must have a metal body. The Canon EOS 40D has a greater range of high quality lenses available for it. The Olympus E-3 has a better dust and weather protection method. Lenses should be purchased separately (and a following post will provide information on lenses). Lenses provided with kits are lower quality and are insufficient to critical requirements, the distortion in color and shape acceptable for casual use will not serve for critical needs. Images that can be deliberately mis-interpreted or denied will be deliberately misinterpreted and denied.

GSA Contract, Part or Stock Numbers? Various.

How much does it cost? (April 2008) Not less than $1,100 Not more than $1,800 for the camera body.

Why is this better than what is issued? Quality cameras capture images faster, more completely, and with greater clarity than cheap cameras can. During critical situations, the speed of the camera and the precision of image it captures are of paramount importance. Semi-professional cameras are inexpensive enough to purchase several, effective enough to record what is required, and simple enough to use without professional training. Higher quality digital cameras will also record the name of the individual assigned the camera on each image recorded, increasing accountability.

What stupid things will be done with it? Failures in accountability. Unauthorized image distribution. Hoarding. Exposure to weather beyond the capacity of the camera to endure. Smudged lenses. Harassment. (If treated like a rifle in all things except muzzle discipline, cameras are much less susceptible to stupidity failures.)

Additional supplies needed? Compact Flash memory cards, laptop for image analysis, external hard drives in the terabyte range for image storage, camera bags.

Patrick S Lasswell is a member of the Inactive Ready Reserve and would be happy to help your unit get the best equipment for its mission. Contact him at pslblog (at) gmail (dot) com. He will be happy to accept your gratitude in the form of unpaid drill credits. Civilians willing to donate money for the insight provided will not be turned away.


Arguably, the same muzzle control is required with a camera. The difference is a camera kills careers instead of people.


A point, but I want to believe that it is easier to control an inadvertent image than an uncontrolled bullet. Also, the camera is more likely to kill deserving careers than the bullet. Finally, if you respect images with a shred of the caution due bullets, they are much less dangerous.

If the criminals who perpetrated the atrocities in Abu Ghraib had understood what they were letting themselves in for, they would be less likely to engage in that kind of stupidity. In all truth, it is surprising that they didn't just shoot themselves, considering how little they cared.

Great information.Very informative article.There are many digital cameras out in the market, making it harder to choose the best and the most suitable for your need. If you are looking for professional digital cameras, you have to have bigger budget as these are more expensive compared to other conventional types of cameras.

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