Gel Documentation Comparison

WSchick at WSchick at
Sat Jul 19 10:45:44 EST 1997

 In a message dated 97-07-19 00:37:37 EDT, you write:
 <<       From: 
              "jean.harris" ("Eugenie L. Harris")
              University of Otago
  Since the introduction of Stratagene's Eagleeye a few years ago an
  increasing number of biotech companies market gel documentation
  systems.  They comprise, at a minimim, a digital camera and some way of
  recording or permanently capturing the gel image.  Is there any
  "consumer report" available anywhere outlining the advantages and
  disadvantages of the various systems and their costs?  My ears are open
  to your comments on your gel documentation system.  Thanks:)
  Jean Harris
 I don't know about a consumer report,  would like to see one if you find it.
 The gel doc systems actually began about 15 years ago in Germany with simple
 analog printers attached to video.   These are still available, but only
 replace Polaroid.  UVP was one of the pioneers in digital systems that had
 image software.  The ability to archive digital images, and to enhance them
 to see faint bands, or sharpen to resolve doublets, etc., and to analyze the
 images have made daily gel work easier and more informative.  As you say,
 other companies supply image software and systems.  
 Consider the camera--some systems use inexpensive cameras that will take a
 digital image, but the sensitivity and linearity of response will be
 compromised.  Most of the better systems have equivalent cameras,
 transilluminators, computers, etc. An eight-bit, gray scale camera with at
 least 40% quantum efficiency in the wavelength range of 400-700nm is a good
 compromise between resolution and price.  The Stratagene system is in the
 US$10,000-$15,000 range, and uses an 8-bit gray scale camera. There are
 cameras with 12bit and more, with 1000x1000 pixels and more, and even cooled
 with liquid nitrogen.  Some of these cameras alone may cost up to US$70,000.
 A few systems have custom camera control boards that permit integration on
 the chip, rather than adding up frames.  this reduces the analog-to-digital
 conversion noise and does produce petter images.  Look for this design
 If all the systems have similar performing hardware, and similar prices, the
  differentiating component is the software supplied.  how easy is it to use?
  how fast can you perform operations?  what image enhancement and analysis
 functions are included?
 Some of the most expensive software packages for image analysis have many
 professional tools and need a workstation to operate.  For the busy lab (or
 shared labs) with a number of technicians, some of whom are not familiar
 different computer programs,  an intuitive interface can make gel
 documentation and analysis easy and fast.
 As I sold a gel documentation system in California from the company Alpha
 Innotech, I have looked at many different suppliers of gel analysis
  In my experience, the AlphaEase interface is the only software package that
 uses plain language buttons--almost no icons (which are a new language to
 many users) and almost no menus.  Many of our customers preferred this
 user interface after comparing with other systems.  You should contact the
 various distributors in your country for information on their gel doc
 systems;  most suppliers have technical associates that can demonstrate
 system in your lab so you can compare image quality, sample flexibility,
 print speed, ease of use, etc.
 Alpha Innotech have a website   at
 Walter Schick
 My gel documentation sales experience was at
 Hoefer Scientific, San Francisco, and
 ATR Biotech (represented Alpha Innotech)
 Emeryville, California

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