Landscape Study of Alternate Light Sources

U.S. Department of Justice
National Institute of Justice
Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences

Overview of Report

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ)’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) at RTI International (RTI) directed this landscape study of alternate light sources (ALS) with input from industry, law enforcement, forensic, and criminal justice system communities.

   See also the instructional video "Evidence Photography — Alternate Light Sources"

A landscape study provides a comprehensive overview of market participants, their products, and product features to enable end users to make informed purchasing decisions. This report gives an overview of currently available ALS for crime scene processing and laboratory applications.

This document provides decision makers and end users such as laboratory directors, crime scene investigation unit personnel, forensic photographers, and other stakeholders with the following:

  • Background information on ALS, the available products and manufacturers, and applications for which this technology can be used.

  • Input from current users to inform potential technology adopters about implementation considerations for ALS, including device performance, applications, and education.

  • A comparison of the features and capabilities of ALS instruments.

  • Cases illustrating successful adoption of ALS technology.

This report also offers important considerations for decision makers purchasing for either field or laboratory settings. While multiple applications for ALS in forensic science exist, these applications represent scenarios in which ALS is most commonly used based on interviews from field experts.

 Earn a Degree in Crime Scene Investigation, Forensic Science, Computer Forensics or Forensic Psychology


  • Overview of Report
  • Introduction to Alternate Light Sources
  • General ALS Product Landscape
  • Considerations for Selecting an ALS Device
    • Types of Devices
    • Device Considerations
    • ALS Applications
      • Crime Scene Investigation
      • Crime Laboratory
        • Forensic Biology Unit
        • Latent Print Unit
        • Trace Evidence Unit
      • Other Applications
    • ALS Photography
    • ALS Device Education
  • Featured ALS Product Landscape
    • Selected Single-Wavelength ALS Devices
    • Selected ALS Multiwavelength Units
  • Summary

Receive our free monthly newsletter and/or job posting alerts Click to sign up