Can the court trust photographic evidence anymore now that it is so easily doctored in a photo editing software? Mark Wood addresses this issue in an interesting article over at BJP. He encourages Police (and CSI) photographers to shoot in RAW instead of JPEG. He argues that not only does a RAW file provide more data to work with but, because RAW is read-only, it has more integrity in court. How do you prove that a JPEG has not been tampered with? By having the RAW file available. Used in a camera that records GPS location, the EXIF metadata encoded with every picture provides a pretty good record of the when, where and what was recorded at the scene of the crime and what changes may have been applied to the JPEG version.
It’s a very convincing case and this is no doubt the way to go.
Read the whole article at: BJP.
I would however still caution that photographic evidence should not be granted unchallenged status in court, especially in JPEG form and even when backed up by the RAW file. A picture could still be doctored in-camera before it is saved as a RAW file. In that case, what the RAW file would be recording would be already suspect.