Viraj Master vam2 at
Mon Nov 7 11:37:49 EST 1994

In article <1994Nov5.022503.960 at>, stefan at wrote:

> Our lab is considering to buy a photodocumentation system to record
> gels exposed by UV and visible light. As most of you are probably
> aware of, the price range is between $4,000 to $25,000.
>    I would appreciate if people familiar with any of these systems
> could comment on their performances, such as quality of photographs
> maintainance cost how user friendly they are and finally the cost 
> of their system. Furthermore of special interest to me is to hear from
> some labs which have been able to assemble their own systems.
> Apparently these are considerably less costly, but performance 
> and quality can differ.
>    I would appreciate to hear from as many groups as possible,
> either posted here on the net or to my E-mail address:
>                 stefan at
>         Thanks in advance
>                 Stefan

Hi Stefan,

I asked a similar question about one year ago on the bionet and got a
tremendous amount of good advice from different people, especially John
McDonald and Fred Boyd.  If you are able to Gopher, you may be able to
call up some previous posts on this subject.  Based upon their advice, we
put together a user-friendly system we really like (takes about 5 min to
learn to use it).

Our lab purchased the following setup to visualize ethidium-stained
agarose gels (note:  we already had a Fotodyne UV gel box).  A new dual
UV/visible transilluminator is about $1400.

                                                1993 prices 

Centris 650  (8MB RAM/240MB HD/CD)              $2400
Scion LG3 Video in card                         $ 895
*Pulnix TM-7CN CCD camera                       $ 695
*Power Supply for CCD camera                    $  48
*Fujinon HX612.5R Manual Zoom Lens              $ 210
*Fujinon Close-Up Adaptor                       $  75
Ethidium Bromide Interference Filter            $ 200        
(590nm +/- 30nm) (bought from Fotodyne)
LaserWriter Select 360 (600dpi laser printer)   $1400

cost of a UV box                               ~$1400

TOTAL COST                                     ~$7500

We bought the computer/printer from our store on campus, the filter from
Fotodyne, the video in card from Scion (301-695-7870), and the rest of the
stuff from *Motion Analysis Inc. (503-342-3440) (these guys are *really*

We use NIH Image to acquire and process the images.  This program is
freeware (?) and comes with the video card or it can be downloaded from

Obviously the computer and printer cost the most, so if you have a
computer which accepts a full-size card, you don't need to buy one.  We
opted to go with the 600dpi laser printer as opposed to a thermal printer
because we could use it for more purposes.  600dpi is really necessary as
the resolution is not nearly good enough on a 300dpi printer.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have bought the LaserWriter Pro
630 for an output device.  It has better Photograde (gray scale)
technology and an Ethernet connection too.

re. the other questions you asked...
Output Quality:      Not publication grade, but close to it. 
Maintainance cost:   Paper and ink for printer

Good luck,


Viraj Master
Dept. of Organismal Biology and Anatomy
University of Chicago

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