Camera gear is cheap these days. Well, relatively cheap, that is. Back in the dim, dark days of the 90’s, you had to pay thousands of dollars for a camera with the same abilities as those that can be had for a couple of hundred today, and that is something we should all take advantage of. While there’s a lot of tempting stuff out there, some of it just isn’t compatible with the lifestyle and work environment that many security people and law enforcement officers find themselves in, yet there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of situations where a camera would have come in handy.
We decided to take a look at some gear that would suit a security professional in his or her day to day duties, as well as off the clock. Wanna see what we came up with? Keep reading, then.
3: Best Night-Time Compact
Compact cameras are all well and good, but they usually lack the ability to adapt as well as a more sophisticated system, and while your intentions may be good, your images won’t always match.
Ever had your pictures turn out as just a weird reflection from a license plate because there was no way to turn off the flash, or if there was, your camera’s ISO, Shutter speed or Aperture just wouldn’t allow you to do what was necessary to eliminate the need for one?
This is where the Sony NEX-7 comes in. We’ve tested this camera in low light conditions both in the city, where ambient light is pretty much everywhere, and in the “country side”, where nights go pitch black. In both environments, the 24+ MP camera performs well with its stock 18-55mm lens, which really isn’t always the case. It’s not on the lowest rung on the price ladder, but it could have been much, much worse. Add to this that the camera body will fit nicely in your pocket, this is a good substitute for one of the more advanced SLRs out there.
Upside: Takes very nice low-light shots, without the need for a bachelor’s degree in photography to pull it off. High in mega pixels and user friendliness, and the camera body fits in your pocket like a compact (not with the lens attached, of course…).
The price is right. At about $1300, it’s not going to upset your budget that much.
Ability to control aperture and shutter as well as ISO makes it possible to avoid the whole flash problem. Remember, kids: flash is not your friend.
Downside: Electronic viewfinder still has a couple of problems. Namely, the little “tv snow” that still appears at night. This doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s vastly superior to any compact camera of this size in low light conditions. This doesn’t transfer to the picture itself, however, so don’t worry about it too much.
2: Best On-the-Job DSLR
This is a tough one. We’ve gone through many of the most popular models, looking at durability, tolerance to… shall we say less-than-optimal storage and working conditions and ease of use – since you don’t want to be standing around, fiddling with your camera for five minutes when seconds count in order to get the shot that you need for the courts to look at.
We thought about ditching the traditional DSLRs completely, because most of them require so much training to get the best possible shot that it just wasn’t a good idea, but we thought that would be a bad idea. Why? Because DSLRs not only give you headaches, they give you freedom on a scale that’s not even comparable to compacts. Therefore, we would like you to take a look at the Nikon D7000.
This thing can seem daunting to even seasoned amateurs and semi-professionals, but that’s just at first glance. Easy controls, Nikon’s friendly lens system and massive ISO possibilities makes this the ultimate camera if you have the possibility of carrying a DSLR in your car or bag.
Upside: Lightning fast reactions from easy to understand interfaces.
Double memory card slots (!) literally means that you can take thousands of pictures before emptying your camera.
Accessories. This bad boy can even be fitted with a battery grip that will not only multiply your battery life, but also makes it possible to fit it with AA batteries if your lithium ones run out of juice.
Rugged, and feels like it too. This thing ways a little bit more than a compact, of course, but that just adds to the impression, and the reality, that this camera is ready to take a hit, unlike many others in its class (yes, we – inadvertently – tested this too…).
Downside: At 16,4 MP, there are cameras out there that can produce larger images. However, you probably don’t need billboard size prints, do you? No you don’t.
Price. But then again, you get what you pay for. With a lens and a battery grip, the D7000 comes in at about $1750.
1: The Best Compact
Look, we don’t really like compact cameras, but we understand as well as anyone that there are times where you don’t have the option of going for something bigger and better. It’s just the way it is. That’s why we’ve also tested a few compacts, and among them was the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX20V.
This thing is a mere $400, which makes it attractive for most budgets, and has consistently been named one of the best compacts out there these days. Not bad, huh? For a compact.
Upside: It has 18,2 MP. That’s very nice. Adding to that, this camera is very good at macro photography, which means that the thing you’re taking a picture of appears in the picture at a scale of 1:1. Any security person knows what this is great for: evidence shots. Whether it be bullet casings or footprints, this is a great way to do it.
Zoom. It’s got one. Not digital zoom either, but a long, bad-ass looking optical zoom that will take you very close to things that are relatively far away. Which is good.
Price. It’s not going to hurt your wallet, at about $1000 – $1200 less than the two other cameras we’ve lined up for you.
Downside: Well, it’s a compact, and it just won’t give you the possibilities of a DSLR. You can’t change the lens if you need a different perspective on things, and it won’t let you muck about as much with the settings. This thing likes to do it its own way, wheter you like it or not, and you’re just going to have to live with it.
Limited battery life, limited storage. It just can’t compete with double SDHC slots.
In the end, the choice is yours, and we’ve just given you the best options! Isn’t that nice of us? Yes it is.