Imaging zinc stained gels

Dr Engelbert Buxbaum engelbert_buxbaum at
Fri Dec 6 05:33:25 EST 2002

tjmurray at wrote:

> I am looking for the best way to capture an image of my zinc stained
> SDS-PAGE gel.  I have tried imaging it on a black background using the
> lab digital camera over a light box but the results were a little
> disappointing - a little fuzzy and problems with light leakage.   Do I
> need to use a densitometer for this? 

In principle your setup is correct. You may however run into two

1) Resolution of afordable digital cameras is still limited to 3-5
megapixel. A 35 mm film in a decent SLR is equivalent to a 30 megapixel
digital camera (the film could do more, but the optics of the cameraq
can't). In addition, in many digital cameras the lens can not be
changed, so it's not possible to use a macro lens.

2) The camera and the gel must be exactly parallel, and the light source
must be adjusted so that no light is reflected from the surface of the
gel into the lens, otherwise the photo will look "washed out". In other
words: an unstained gel must appear completely black. You will have to
use a suitable stand for that sort of work.

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