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Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-16-007    Date:  January 2016
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-16-007
Date: January 2016


Long-Term Bridge Performance (LTBP) Program Protocols, Version 1

Photography Protocols (PH)

FLD-DC-PH-001, Photography Equipment Requirements

FLD-DC-PH-002, Photographing for Documentation Purposes

FLD-DC-PH-003, Image Naming

Long-Term Bridge Performance Program Logo

Photography Equipment Requirements
LTBP Protocol #: FLD-DC-PH-001


Data Collected

1.1 None. This protocol provides the specifications for photography equipment for onsite documentation and data collection.  


Onsite Equipment and Personnel Requirements

2.1 Equipment:  
2.1.1 Digital camera or smartphone with built-in camera, as described below.  
2.1.2 Tripod (optional).  
2.2 Personnel: None.  



3.1 The equipment used must meet the following specifications, at a minimum:  
3.1.1 Resolution: 8 megapixels.  
3.1.2 Sensitivity for digital cameras: ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (minimum range).  
3.1.3 Flash: built in.  
3.1.4 Storage: 4 GB, internal or external.  
3.1.5 Timestamping: Required.  
3.1.6 Geotagging: Desired.  
3.1.7 Video: Capable.  


Data Collection Table

4.1 None.  


Criteria for Data Validation

5.1 The assessment team leader will verify the appropriateness of the team’s photo documentation equipment.  



6.1 This protocol provides guidance on the important characteristics of a camera for field documentation. Use only digital photography for field documentation.  
6.2 Camera Types. There are several families of camera that meet these qualifications.  
6.2.1 “Point and shoot:” Benefits:  
  • Compact.
  • Affordable.
  • Easy to operate.
  • Expandable memory cards.
  • Replaceable batteries.
  • Can be dustproof and waterproof, making them versatile for field applications. Drawbacks:  
  • Small, digital screen as opposed to a viewfinder for framing shots, resulting in focus and framing issues.
  • Lack of geotagging.
  • Poor performance in low light.
  • Pixilation when zooming (digital zoom).
  • A tendency for photographers to overestimate the quality of their images.
6.2.2 Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras: Benefits:  
  • Interchangeable lenses, expanding the camera’s capabilities.
  • Viewfinder for framing shots, resulting in more high-quality images on the first shot.
  • Users can control the camera settings in challenging imaging scenarios even with powerful automatic exposure tools.
  • Expandable memory cards.
  • Replaceable batteries. Drawbacks:  
  • Price.
  • Size.
  • Steep learning curve for operation.
6.2.3 Smartphone cameras: Benefits:  
  • Geotagging.
  • Automatic cloud backup.
  • Video and still image capabilities.
  • Panoramic capabilities.
  • High dynamic range (HDR) capabilities.
  • Image quality on par with point and shoot cameras. Drawbacks:  
  • Price.
  • Susceptibility to damage.
  • Pixilation when zooming.
  • Poor performance in low light, depending on smartphone model.



7.1 LTBP Protocols: None.  
7.2 External: None.  




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