What digital camara is good for gel pictures?

Peter pxpst2 at vms.cis.pitt.edu
Fri Sep 24 11:43:41 EST 1999

In article <7sg5j3$1608i$1 at rook.le.ac.uk>, "Lab 356" <se15 at le.ac.uk> wrote:

> I have recently moved to a new lab where there is a Kodak DC120 camera and
> software.

That is a very low end camera.  I should have been more clear.  Look at
the proline DCS at least 420 or better.

> The image quality form the camera is excellent....BUT it takes an age to
> take a picture/ download it to the computer/ print. You don't mind this if
> every picture you take is going to be published but in 99% of cases you just
> want something to stick in your lab book .

It all depends on the computer that you hook up too  and the computer that
you print too.  For example, I downloaded 20 images from my DCS 420 to a
PMac 7100.  It took about 10 minutes.  Those same images were downloaded
to a G3 300 and it took less than a minute.  I see big differences between
Our Textronic 820 (I think that is what it is) and our Phaser.  The
textronic prints much faster at three times the resolution than our
If you want a good system to do gels then you might want to look at Alpha
Innotech (sp??) We have one in the Dark room that we use for various gels
and it has a speedy little printer connected to it.  I think it only does
B&W but the newer models may also do color.  It is what our lab uses for
documenting to lab notebook but it is definitely not publuication quality
(BUT VERY CHEAP-for RNA/DNA gels it is cheaper to use than the Polaroid
that we used before).  For many publication quality imaging, I use a
scanner with BioImage software.  It also allows for calibration so
quantitation is possible.
> In my previous lab we had a video camera system (custom built by a company
> that's not supplying
> anymore). With the video camera, image capture/printing is instantaneous and
> the pictures are of publication quality.

This is the same as Alpha Innotech.  The Capture boards are of low
quality.  Chances are that the system you had was only 12 bit B&W and mabe
24 bit color.

> With the digital camera you find that that you have to capture /dowload a
> few times (in order to get it perfect) as the  camera just takes a snap shot
> and you don't know if the exposure is right until you download it.

This is true with the consumer camara but NOT with the prolines.  The DCS
420 that we have is a Nikon and I use it with my lenses that I have for my
Nikon-FM.  The N90 body that is the digital camera has an automatic mode
that is second to none and if used with newer Nikon lenses, it is auto
focus and great at light mangement.  down right awesome.  
> With a
> video camera the picture is live so you can adjust focus/exposure in real
> time) also with the digital you can't zoom into an area of interest....... I
> found the video camera system to be very flexible for this (I also had a
> powerful zoom lens for it and used to use it to take "macro" pictures of in
> situ hybridisation/antibody stained slides)
Powerful  ??????

Alpha inotech is able to do that but its optics are  pretty crappy.  For
that matter most imaging systems that I have seen have crappy lenses and
small ccd's.  T
> If I were going to set up a system from scratch I would choose a video
> (rather than still digital) camera and use the software from a company
> called Phoretix. I don't think they directly supply the cameras but the last
> time I spoke to one of their reps he said they can advise on what hardware
> to buy. (I'm sure this would be cheaper than buying a complete package from
> a company as these days computers/ storage devices(e.g CD writer or ZIP
> drive) are very cheap... All you need extra is the video camera  frame
> grabber board and software.

A good frame grabber is quite expensive.  But you always get what you pay
for.  A standard 24 bit frame grabber would cost about 600.00 and this
would not be suitable for publication but would be fine for notebooks. 
But I do tend to agree that if you get the components yourself, you will
have a better system than many compaies sell and you will save money.

Peter Pediaditakis
Universtiy of Pittsburgh
Dept. of Pathology

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