by Elizabeth Friszell
Soccer moms are here to stay. That's a given. No matter what is occurring today with the economy and the state of the industry, there are still soccer games, birthday parties and cute costumes at Halloween. Moms still want to have long-lasting memories of those adorable moments. And that means that, whether these photos are taken with a digital or traditional camera, they are coming to retailers for some aspect of their photos and looking for the quickest, easiest way to get them.
That's why you, as the retailer, have to be able to offer some kind of digital services. Unfortunately, we are in sour times, with the economy being "manic," as Martin Hershenson so eloquently puts it. It's hard for minilabs to make the financial investment into fully digital. However, with the modest purchase of a scanner, minilabs can offer digital services to convert film into electronic files. With the accessibility of storing their images to CD, the soccer moms can share their images with friends and family quickly and easily, exactly what they are looking for. And giving them what they want equals additional sales for your minilab: having repeat customers who are content with the services they receive means the good word will be passed on.
Pakon, Sony and Howtek are three companies offering scanners solutions to give labs the ability to offer digital services to their customers.
Pakon (www.pakon.com) has introduced their newest 14-bit Film Scanner for 35mm and APS. The F235 scans rolls up to forty images, as well as strips down to two frames. It has low maintenance via automatic calibration and diagnostics. Kodak DLS Automatic Dust, Dirt, and Scratch Removal Software is built-in. Scanning capabilities at multiple resolutions up to 2000 x 3000 gives the F235 the flexibility to meet the most demanding output requirements. The patented high-speed scanning technology and efficient workflow management software (one scan equals unlimited outputs) make the F235 an excellent choice. The F235 Scanner an ideal component in the following applications: behind the counter desktop scanner, input device for digital minilab system, and input device for kiosk applications.
Andrew Oman, sales and marketing manager for Pakon, Inc., sees the scanner as a very unique component in the industry today. "We see the F235 Scanner as the preferred solution for speed, price and quality. At photokina 2002, we weren't see much in the way of competition. It's the high-quality, low-cost way to make film digitally."
The F235 scanner doesn't contain the limitations of other scanners, Oman says. "It's the 6th generation of improvement in quality for Pakon scanners. We are offering this 14-bit film scanner, whereas other companies are still introducing 12-bit scanners. The F235 has a strong like in the industry because of that."
Pakon's goal is to be the front end of everything in terms of priceline. "The F235 Scanner is an upgrade for retailers to make the change to digital without the costs bringing the lab down," Oman notes. "Film is going to be around for a long time, but digital is up and coming." And that new scanner is just the intermediate solution to full digital that labs need, he explains.
But Oman isn't the only one seeing these trends in digital and working them. Howtek's Janet Sterritt, product manager, says Howtek's (www.howtek.com) FotoFunnel scanner is a great way to get into digital. "The FotoFunnel scanner is another featured way of delivering images in a personal way, whether it's on CDs or the web. It's a chance to embrace minilabs in order to offer them a method of getting prints into digital formats quickly," Sterritt explains.
The Howtek line of minilab digital conversion products include both hardware and software solutions to capitalize on the demand for digital photos from all media. Howtek's FotoFunnel print scanner allows retailers to quickly scan photos and transfer them to a Share the Smiles CD, meeting one-hour photo processing requirements with time to spare.
The FotoFunnel volume print scanner makes transferring prints to digital images both fast and affordable, turning customers' smile-filled moments into sizeable new profits with Howtek's Share the Smiles Retail Program, Sterritt says. "People will get together [after an event] and have pictures flying all over the place. With the Share the Smiles program, their friends and family will get those images faster and easier through e-mail," Sterritt states. "We provide custom branded CDs to promote the retailer's brand image and extend their marketing reach. After processing prints, they just scan them with our FotoFunnel workstation, equipped with FunnelScan software, and transfer the images to a Share the Smiles CD. The FlashFunnel workstation extends the utility of Funnelscan by making the transfer of digital camera flash images to CDs both fast and affordable."
FotoFunnel is an automated high volume scanner that requires minimal operator involvement. Built into the scanner is an autofeed mechanism which can handle as many as 72 prints per hour, utilizing gentle feed rollers to keep photos flat, with no bending or cracking. Once the images are loaded, the scanner creates 600 dpi image files of each photo, at a rate of 9.5 seconds per scan, and scans up to 360 prints per hour. It can handle original images ranging from 3 x 3 to 5 x 7 inches, and mixed color and black and white prints.
Driving this SCSI II compatible scanner is the FunnelScan ProLab software. This provides the tools for importing images from other sources, performs image editing functions, and writes image files to CD. In addition to accepting batch scans from the FotoFunnel hardware, the software can also be used for importing images from TWAIN compatible devices, zip and hard disks, and digital camera memory cards. With the software, users can also prepare images for printing, or create index prints of all images being rendered to CD.
The Tunnel Ahead
Sony (www.sony.com/education) says that "with the rapid growth of personal computers, e-mail and the Internet, demand for digital photography services is increasing. Consumers are looking for easy, inexpensive ways to access these services and still use their traditional film equipment."