Printers and print software are a dime a dozen. Today even the most inexpensive inkjet printers are capable of full-color, photographic-quality prints. Common issues with some inkjet printers are that the prints may fade over time and may be susceptible to moisture damage. Because of this, a dye sublimation (dye sub) printer is recommended for digital crime scene images. Several models of dye sub printers on the market are in the same price range as mid- to high-grade ink jet printers. A dye sub printer heats the ink onto the paper through several passes and then places a protective coating over the print in the final pass.
The York County/City of Poquoson Sheriff's Office uses an Olympus P-400 and P-440 dye sub printer for its crime scene images. The P-400 has limitations in that it will not print a true 8-by-10-inch image, while the P-440 will.
Kodak also offers several dye sub printers starting in the same price range as the P-440. Through Adobe PhotoShop, York County officials can print to the Olympus printer; they choose to use a program called Photo Record instead, which comes bundled with Canon digital SLR cameras. With Photo Record, officers can import the images and the software will automatically size them as desired, be it 4-by-6-inches (4x6), 5x7, 8-by-10-inches (8x10), a post card, or other customized sizes. The 4x6 and 5x7 sizes allow users to print two images on one sheet of paper. With Photo Record software, users also can print a contact sheet of scene images and optionally include as little or as much of the camera's Exif data such as: the image file name, date, time, camera model, camera serial number and many others.
If an agency's software tools enable the agency to authenticate images as true, create a history of image processes or enhancements, and print photo-quality images that stand up to varying temperatures and humidity levels; it is well on its way to successfully navigating the journey from film to digital crime scene photography.
Troy Lyons is a 17-year veteran with the York County/City of Poquoson Sheriff's Office, where he spent three years in the patrol division before being promoted to the investigations division. He worked as a criminal investigator there for 10 years before being promoted to lieutenant supervising the investigations division. Lyons served as the agency's primary crime scene tech for seven years processing and photographing hundreds of crime scenes with both film and digital SLR cameras. As a state-certified General Law Enforcement Instructor, Lyons regularly teaches crime scene photography and processing.