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using cheap digital camera to photograph gels

Dr. Duncan Clark Duncan at nospam.demon.co.uk
Sun Jan 30 11:05:46 EST 2000

In article <290120001308133849%bubs at bubberland.com>, bubby
<bubs at bubberland.com> writes
>has anyone tried using a cheap digital camera to photograph ethidium
>bromide stained gels? We don't need a fancy set up with video but we
>are thinking of changing from polaroid film.

The sensitivity of the cheap cameras (i.e. < UKP350) is very poor for
EtBr. What you need is one of the cameras that lets you do a long
exposure i.e. 1-16 second or whatever. Most cameras don't have lens
attachments so you have to manually hold UV/EtBr filter in front of
lens. Add in difficulty in viewing whilst trying to photograph a UV gel
and they are not a good option yet.

The transfer rate from camera to computer is very slow unless you use
those that support USB.

The software is fine for creating thumbnails, altering
contrast/brightness etc which is basically all a standard home user of
these cameras needs. If you want to do real imaging then you can quite
happily take the .jpg's images digital cameras produce and analyse them
with appropriate software.

So in order of increasing sensitivity:

1.      Cheap digital camera (UKP300-400)
2.      Cheap ccd camera and lens (~ UKP400) outputted to monitor and
digital printer (this is much more sensitive than option (1) but also
way behind option (3).
3.      More expensive ccd camera and lens (~ UKP1000) outputted to a
computer card on a PC which allows long exposures. i.e like the gel
documentation systems currently sold.

I compared all these in the last two weeks and was most surprised by the
poor sensitivity of (1) using a Kodak DC210/215. Great for family/lab
photos but UV gels forget it. I haven't tried protein gels and these
should be much better because of the light box one uses.

Basically if your digital camera cannot take a good picture of the stars
in the night sky then it isn't sensitive enough for UV gels.

The problem with being on the cutting edge is that you occasionally get 
sliced from time to time....

Duncan Clark
DNAmp Ltd.
Tel: +44(0)1252376288
FAX: +44(0)8701640382

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