best gel imaging system

Chris Wolverton scwolver at
Thu May 15 09:53:26 EST 2003

I found all of the "gel documentation" systems on the market to be 
overpriced unless you need to serve a large population of researchers. 
I decided to assemble my own using an off-the-shelf digital camera that 
I could use for lots of other projects. I bought a high-end camera, the 
Canon PowerShot G3, from B & H Photo ( for about 
$650. This camera can be fully automatic or fully manual or anywhere in 
between. This is important because you'll need to mess around a little 
with shutter speeds and apertures to get well-exposed images from a UV 
transilluminator. It also has a removable lens hood and a lens adapter, 
which made it simple to mount on an old, plastic "darkroom cone" I 

I plan to buy a wideband bandpass filter for ethidium bromide, but even 
without it, the pictures I've taken are perfectly acceptable after a 
little adjustment. I'm using ImageJ ( for 
these adjustments, an open source image analysis package written in 
Java and available for all platforms. It used to be called "NIH Image."

So I've got about $700US invested (given that I inherited a 
transilluminator and the darkroom cone), and I don't need a dedicated 
computer to drive the system, I just download the images off the memory 
card onto any computer in the lab. It's flexible and about 1/2 or 1/3 
the price of the systems available now, which I'm convinced are 
overkill for most of us. Let me know if you need more info, I'd be 
happy to help.
Chris Wolverton
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Botany-Microbiology
Ohio Wesleyan University
Delaware, OH  43015


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