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A high performance gel imaging system was constructed using a digital single lens reflex camera with epi-illumination to image 19 × 23 cm agarose gels with up to 10,000 DNA bands each. It was found to give equivalent performance to a laser scanner in this high throughput DNA fingerprinting application using the fluorophore SYBR Green®. The specificity and sensitivity of the imager and scanner were within 1% using the same band identification software. Low and high cost color filters were also compared and it was found that with care, good results could be obtained with inexpensive dyed acrylic filters in combination with more costly dielectric interference filters, but that very poor combinations were also possible. Methods for determining resolution, dynamic range, and optical efficiency for imagers are also proposed to facilitate comparison between systems.