David Smith, manager of electronic imaging at Fryer Co. Inc., a Huntley, Ill.-based distributor of optical instrumentation, offers the following suggestions for those considering the purchase of imaging equipment:

1. Define your problem and develop a formal specification of your needs before going out to shop for an image-analysis system.

2. Ask suppliers if their products have the functions your application requires.

3. Determine what the imaging system can do, other than your specific application.

4. Evaluate the system with your samples, in your lab if possible.

5. Find out how many of these systems have been sold and installed.

6. Obtain referrals to scientists who have this system and are doing research similar to yours.

7. Ask what training comes with the system, and the cost for additional training.

8. Before making a purchase, determine how long the supplier has been in business and its ability to provide installation,...

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