The other life of the camera

Tracking cameras by their serial number.

The initial trigger for the project was that, during a class trip, a friends camera got stolen. It was a Canon 450d with the serial number 1180354223. Like all digital cameras, it stores a lot of other information in the mages as EXIF-data, among them also the camera type and serial number.

Out of that fact came the idea that it should be possible to identify photos which have been made with a certain camera and have been uploaded to the internet. This concept can be extended to different situations where cameras have a changing user or owner: stolen cameras, second hand cameras, rental cameras.

A change of the user or owner of a camera changes also mostly every aspect of the resulting photographs: the author/photographer behind the camera, the photographic style, the photographed subjects in front of the camera, etc.

One method is to access the EXIF-data from photos that have been uploaded, extract the serial number and compare it with the one that is looked for. If they match, the photo and the web-address where it was found are saved. EXIF-data have to be intact and accessible with the uploaded photo, though.

As for now, the result is a physical photoalbum, showing a collection of the old and the new user’s photographs.