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Figure 2 - SLR digital cameras offer the ability to change the lenses
Figure 2 - SLR digital cameras offer the ability to change the lenses

If you own a digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera or some other quality digital camera that allows the changing of lenses, then you can simply purchase a telephoto lens that will enhance the optical powers of your camera. Of course, these quality cameras are not cheap; the lenses are often more expensive than the camera itself. The Nikon D60 shown in Figure 2 is a good quality 12 megapixel camera that can be purchased for under $500 from many camera stores. This camera has many lens options available, including wide angle and telephoto lenses. The standard 18-55mm lens that came with the camera is shown removed from the camera body.

A quality camera that can image over 10 megapixels will often reveal extremely high details at long distances as long as you set the image quality at the highest possible setting. The lower settings take smaller images or use higher compression, often blurring extremely fine details in distant scenes. Using only the 18-55mm lens, this Nikon can easily capture a face or license plate a block away as long as I take photos at the highest quality and then show them non-scaled on a computer program. If you plan to do a lot of surveillance work and want a robust camera that will bring in the details, then make no mistake - a good SLR camera with a 10 megapixel imager and a standard 15-55mm lens will blow away any cheap 20 megapixel camera with an optical zoom rated for 16x. There is no comparison at all really. The pocket cams can't even come close to capturing the clarity of that a digital SLR can.



Figure 3 - This telephoto lens will fit onto any Nikon SLR camera body
Figure 3 - This telephoto lens will fit onto any Nikon SLR camera body

The huge lens shown attached to the Nikon SLR digital camera (Figure 3) is a 55-200mm telephoto lens. It basically takes over where the standard 18-55mm leaves off. This lens could pull the time off your watch from across the street on a clear day. Although it was almost as expensive as the actual camera, the results are amazing. When I use this lens on my Nikon D90 for security work, it is amazing how much detail is shown on the computer when viewing the images without any scaling. Anyone serious about surveillance should have an SLR camera with both the standard 18-55mm lens as well as a telephoto lens like this one. It only takes 10 seconds to swap the lenses, and the camera is ready to go from imaging a block away to seeing as far as you can with your naked eyes.

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