Gelatin lifters have been used by crime scene officers for more than a century but are still an indispensable tool in crime scene investigation. In the past, only transparent lifters were used, exclusively for lifting powdered fingerprints. Because gelatin lifters have a number of special characteristics, their use has broadened. A very important use of the black gelatin lifters nowadays is the lifting of shoeprints. Gellifters have a low tack and a certain flexibility that enable them to lift traces (without inclusion of air bubbles) even from surfaces that are irregular (to a certain degree) and/or mechanically weak (paper, for example).
Black gelatin lifters absorb light so strongly, that even very faint shoeprints lifted with them can be photographed satisfactorily upon strong over-exposure.
Gelatin lifters are also used to secure micro traces (for example hairs, glass, paint traces), to visualize indented writing (lecture of H. v.d. Heuvel/Dutch National Forensic Laboratory, 2nd International Conference of the GFS, September 1995, the Hague; see for more information also the section product information), to lift treated finger- and footprints in blood (for example prints stained with Amido Black or Hungarian Red) and even to lift fingerprints fumed with cyanoacrylate.