Submitted to: Journal of Biochemical and Biophysical Methods
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2005
Publication Date: 4/30/2006
Citation: Porch, T.G., Erpelding, J.E. 2006. Low-cost conversion of the Polaroid MD-4 land camera to a digital gel documentation system. Journal of Biochemical and Biophysical Methods. 67:1-5. Interpretive Summary: Molecular biology laboratories rely on the documentation of images of DNA, RNA, and proteins for numerous protocols and applications. Using electrical current, nucleic acids or proteins are separated by size on gels. Subsequently, the gels are stained and the image of the nucleic acids or proteins is captured. In the past, the majority of this image documentation was completed with instant film and instant cameras. New digital imaging technology offers faster image capture, digital archiving, and superior image quality, but these digital gel documentation systems are often more sophisticated and expensive than needed for routine gel documentation. This study presents a simple and inexpensive method for quickly converting a popular instant camera system into a high quality digital camera system for gel documentation using a consumer grade digital camera. Resolution and sensitivity were enhanced with the converted digital system. The system is appropriate for use as a start-up gel documentation system and for routine gel analysis.
Technical Abstract: A simple, inexpensive design is presented for the rapid conversion of the popular MD-4 Polaroid land camera to a high quality digital gel documentation system. Images of ethidium bromide stained DNA gels captured using the digital system were compared to images captured on Polaroid instant film. Resolution and sensitivity were enhanced using the digital system. In addition to the low cost and superior image quality of the digital system, there is also the added convenience of real-time image viewing through the swivel LCD of the digital camera, wide flexibility of gel sizes, accurate automatic focusing, variable image resolution, and consistent ease of use and quality. Images can be directly imported to a computer by using the USB port on the digital camera, further enhancing the potential of the digital system for documentation, analysis, and archiving. The system is appropriate for use as a start-up gel documentation system and for routine gel analysis.