Documenting Gels: Inexpensive alternatives?

Daniel Zabetakis dan at
Sat May 15 10:38:19 EST 1993

In article <901106c.436.737405987 at> 901106c at (TIM CHIPMAN) writes:
>I was thus wondering if anyone has had any luck improvising this technique, 
>simply using scanners to get gel images into the machine.
   I have tried quite a bit of this. There are two problems. The first
is getting a good scan. The second is the availability of a good output
   Good scans are often hard to get, and you will often spend more time
scanning than it is worth. I have totally given up on scanning westerns
since thier signal is weak, and commercial scanners don't seem so good
at scanning white backgrounds. Scanning pictures usually works, but if
you have the picture, you don't really need to scan it do you?
   If you are trying to preserve data, then you really must try to get a
scan where the contrast relates to the actual contrast in your gel. This can
be tricky. If you want to quantitate anything but molecular wieght, I'd
be very careful with commercial scanners. My rule is, if the company doesn't
bend over backwards to show that the device is quantitative, then don't
trust it.
   The problem of output comes up if you want to produce hardcopy for
publication. Standard laser printers aren't usually good enough.
   We have a Molecular Dynamics Phosphoimager, which puts out very nice
laser prints with the use of a greyscale printer card. Big problem: the
software only takes it's own file format, and even though it is supposed
to be TIFF, I have yet to find any TIFF software that can touch it.

   Other than the Phosphoimager, we also have a Millipore BioImage scanner
that can be used for scanning x-ray films, and such. It uses a digital
camera, and can do both transmission and reflection. Very nice.

   These solutions are not cheap, so it doesn't answer your question. We
also have a flatbed scanner (not cheap, either), but it really is only
good for scanning pictures. 
   So the conclusion in my opinion is that there isn't a really cheap
solution to storing data.


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