Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Securable Memory Cards
LockTight technology has some interesting possibilities and ramifications for professional photographers
Because photography is used as evidence in courtrooms and relied upon for strict documentation in fields like insurance and medicine, there has always been a need to apply a measure of security to the images in these fields. With the rise of digital photography and the early suspicions about rampant image manipulation, keeping these images secure has taken on a renewed urgency.
Lexar Media recently introduced memory cards that incorporate LockTight technology to address the need for preserving the integrity of images.
LockTight works by mating a particular memory card to a particular camera and a computer user with a password. Authentication of the card is via a 160-bit key, which greatly limits the possibility of unauthorized tampering. As of the time Digital Photo Pro went to press, LockTight technology already has been incorporated into three Nikon cameras, including the D2x and the new D200. LockTight technology is hardly ubiquitous, but there's no reason to think it won't continue to gain momentum and be built into more cameras as we move forward.
Why should DPP devote space to covering a product that has been primarily designed for forensic work and documentation? Because LockTight is being incorporated into cameras as a standard feature, we anticipate that organizations and individuals will begin to use the technology as a way to add security to their images.
Since image files can be copied and moved around so easily, it's natural to seek the means to maintain some level of security over the image files. For the extra cost—LockTight CF cards are sold at a premium to Lexar's standard memory cards—LockTight provides a certain peace of mind that no one can inadvertently delete images, as well as preventing someone else from accidentally using your card (which can happen in a situation when there are a lot of photographers and a lot of memory cards moving around).
Imagine a scenario wherein a photographer is shooting on the sidelines of a football game, among other shooters and assistants. Camera bodies, lenses and memory cards are being passed back and forth constantly. Sure, this might be an extreme example, but you can see how easy it can be to have an inadvertent card swap, and the next thing you know, your dramatic touchdown shot for the SI cover is overwritten and lost forever. Using LockTight, this kind of accident happily would be a thing of the past.
LockTight is a system that's built on several distinct components: the camera, the memory card, the card reader and the computer (Mac or Windows). All components in the chain incorporate security to prevent tampering, overwriting, accidental deletion, etc., and it flat-out works. Security can be a double-edged sword, though, and in this case, the other edge concerns a photographer's control over what he or she shoots. Because the system works across the entire process of shooting to importing the images, it's conceivable that some organizations may use LockTight to limit the photographer's ability to review and edit downloaded images.
Suppose you're hired to photograph an event for a newspaper. The paper gives you a LockTight-enabled camera and LockTight memory cards, and tells you that you have to use that camera and card combination. The editor of the newspaper retains control of the card reader on his or her computer and sets up the password for unlocking the card. In this case, you, as the photographer, would only be able to review or edit the pictures on the camera's LCD. (You could use your own non-LockTight card in the camera, if you wished, however.) The camera isn't locked to only record to a LockTight card. In an environment where photographers are constantly being asked to back up their images with some sort of proof that they're “real,” the system could gain widespread use in news organizations.
DPP has covered photographers' loss of control over their images before, and we won't discuss that topic again here. Suffice it to say that we hope LockTight technology doesn't come to be a way to lock the photographer out of his or her own images.
All in all, it's powerful technology that could be useful for all sorts of shooters beyond the legal, medical and insurance fields.
For more information, contact: Lexar Media, www.lexar.com.
ADBPortfolio (800) 4-U-WE-BIND www.adbportfolio.com
House Of Portfolios (212) 206-7323 www.houseofportfolios.com
Lost Luggage (888) LOST-456 www.lost-luggage.com