Image Analysis Q's answered

Wendy J. Cholbi wjc4f at faraday.clas.Virginia.EDU
Fri Feb 3 17:32:28 EST 1995

Thanks to all those who responded.  Here's a summary of what
I've learned.
My original question was which of 2 image-analysis software
packages, ImagePro or Mocha, would be better for counting
numbers, areas, densities, etc. of cells, from pictures
captured from a camera mounted on a microscope.  The setup is a
PC (Gateway) with a Targa+ frame grabber board.

To summarize the stuff below: Buy a Mac and use NIH Image if
possible--by far the best alternative.  IF you're stuck with a
PC and are considering either Mocha or ImagePro, go with
ImagePro if you can possibly afford it.  Reasons below.

The _overwhelming_ response (from everyone who responded,
actually, which was about 6 people who had had experience with
various image analysis setups) was: ditch the PC, buy a Mac,
and get NIH Image (which is free)!  
Reasons: 1.  You can buy a Mac hardware setup for less than $2500
(about $1500 if you buy a used Quadra instead of a new PowerMac
and attach your own monitor).  While the internal video cards
in such Macs are known to be not very reliable for capturing
video from a camera, there are several Mac cards out there
which are either bottom-of-the-line or about to be
discontinued, but are still perfectly good for capturing still
video, for the amazing price of between $59 and $200.  The
top-of-the-line video card for capturing full-color moving
video with TV quality runs about $2000.  
2.  Macintosh stuff is all compatible with other Macintosh
stuff (or you can tell instantly which Macs are compatible with
your software or whatever) unlike the world of PC's, where you
can buy a hard drive, monitor, frame grabber, camera, and
software package, each from a different manufacturer, and then
_you_ get the joy of integrating it all.  And did I mention the
cables to connect all these possibly incompatible components?
3.  NIH Image is, as mentioned, free, and it's an outstanding
program which accomplishes lots of automatic counting and
measuring, as well as letting you write macros for doing
complex stuff.  The threshold for automatic counting is easy to
set, you can export data to Excel or whatever database you
choose, and the documentation is excellent.  You can also get
free upgrades whenever a new version comes out, which is pretty

However, if you're absolutely stuck using a PC, I have had a
chance to compare Mocha and ImagePro (at least the demo
versions).  If it's within your price range, I would definitely
choose ImagePro.  The video capture seems to work as well, and
it is much more powerful and easy to use than Mocha.  For
example, ImagePro has a "video average" feature which allows
you to compile 16 frames of video and average them into one
image, thus significantly reducing noise and sharpening the
image.  It also has superior image processing capabilities,
such as contrast and brightness slider bars and thresholding
which allows you to see what's background and what's
highlighted _before_ you carry out the operation.  Also, the
tech support for ImagePro seems much better (of course, they
were trying to get me to buy it).  The people at Mocha always
kept me on hold for long periods of time, or had to call me
back, which necessitated me sitting around waiting on them
instead of being helped.  And they weren't very good at
describing what I should do to fix the problem.  
Overall, Mocha is quite clunky and not user-friendly.  This
matches up with descriptions I've heard from other Mocha

I hope this may have been of some use to others interested in
image analysis.  I would be happy to respond to particular
questions on the above statements, since although I'm no
expert, I've learned a lot about image analysis over the last
tow weeks.  


Wendy Cholbi
Rissman Squad, Gilmer Hall, University of Virginia
wjc4f at virginia.edu

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