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Reviews : Police Product Test

Image Security Guard

January 01, 2006  |  by David Spraggs

Using the System
Over the four-month period I used the LockTight system I found it to be intuitively designed and easy to use. Let me walk you through the process.

First, set yourself up as the system administrator. This will allow you to add cards, cameras, and users. Once the software is installed on the host computer and the card reader is plugged in via a FireWire cable, insert a LockTight CompactFlash card in the reader and you will automatically be prompted to name the memory card. Now, connect a LockTight-compatible camera like the Nikon D2X to your computer via a USB cable.

The LockTight software will recognize that a compatible camera is connected and prompt you to name the camera. Now you can add system users, giving each user a unique password.

At this point cameras and users need to be associated with specific memory cards. Accomplishing this task is easy. It’s just a matter of dragging and dropping users and cameras to the selected memory cards. The system administrator controls which cards can be used with which cameras and users.

Once a LockTight memory card has been “keyed” to a specific camera, the camera will “see” the LockTight card as a normal memory card. When you’re ready to transfer images from the card to the computer, simply insert the memory card into the LockTight reader, which is connected to the host computer.

Here’s where the LockTight Access software comes into play. When you insert a card in the reader, it won’t allow you access unless you enter an approved user ID and password. Only then will the computer recognize the memory card and allow the images to be transferred to the computer.
The LockTight system is flexible enough to allow agencies to choose who can access specific CompactFlash cards. For example, depending on your agency’s standard operating procedures, access can be limited to only evidence technicians who routinely download the digital files, or the photographers themselves can access the system and download the images to the department’s secure server or network.

My Evaluation
The Lexar LockTight system works as promised. It limits access to sensitive data contained on LockTight enabled CompactFlash cards. The LockTight system isn’t a replacement for well-written standard operating procedures. However, agencies utilizing LockTight technology will benefit from this added layer of security.

For a modest price and minimal workflow impact, Lexar LockTight can help strengthen image integrity, therefore ensuring a tight chain of custody. The downside is that only agencies currently using or considering the purchase of the Nikon D2X or D2Hs can use the technology. Let’s hope Lexar expands the supported cameras.

David Spraggs is a detective and firearms instructor with the Boulder (Colo.) Police Department. A Police Advisory Board member, Det. Spraggs teaches forensic photography and crime scene investigations.


Cameras That Work With the LockTight System
Although I would like to see more cameras made compatible with LockTight, I can say that Lexar chose two excellent cameras for its rollout of the LockTight system.

The Nikon D2X, with a suggested retail of $4,999 for just the body, is among the new crop of high-resolution professional digital SLR (single lens reflex) cameras. I’ve been lucky enough to use a D2X for forensic and crime scene photography over the last eight months, and I have to say that the camera’s 12.4-megapixel DX-sized CMOS sensor provides a level of detail and color accuracy previously unattainable in digital cameras at this price point. The D2X is well suited for critical forensic work, such as capturing fingerprints, shoe impressions, and tire impressions, as well as general crime scene photography.

Although relatively expensive, the D2X is a good value. The camera boasts an environmentally sealed magnesium body, high-capacity lithium-ion battery system, advanced flash system, and compatibility with the entire Nikon lens system.

The other camera that’s compatible with the LockTight system is the Nikon D2Hs. I haven’t personally used this camera, but the specs from Nikon show that it’s a professional-quality digital SLR with a lot of great features. The D2Hs is designed for photojournalists and sports photographers. So it has a 4.1-megapixel sensor that captures images very quickly. For law enforcement, this camera is well suited for surveillance photography.

Lexar LockTight Image Security

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