At PMA 2005 the San Marco Imaging Group showcased their MarKo Line: a new generation of digital minilabs. The MarKo Line is a modular expandable line that offers different models of digital minilabs for retailers to choose from which includes the MK-4, MK-6 and MK-10. The line provides retailers with the capacity (400, 600, 1,000 prints per hour), formats (from 3.5 x 5- up to enlargements 12 x 18-inch) and useful options (dual or single paper magazine, internal or external replenishment console, LCD or CRT monitor, 3 types of film scanner, etc.) they need for their business.
The first U.S. installation was completed this April when a MK-4 unit was delivered to Lake Shore Camera Exchange, Palm Harbor, FL. Owned and operated by Gregg Hickman and his wife, Dawn, Lake Shore is a 21-year old full service operation located in a strip mall. The Hickman's store is the sole independent camera store in Pinellas County, home to St. Petersburg and Clearwater (West of Tampa). They also have a portrait/commercial studio with the store and lab. In addition to their new MK-4 unit, they also offer wide printing via an Epson 7600 (24-inch) w/ Ilford Galerie RIP system and traditional black and white processing/printing.
What was the major reason he choose the MK-4 over other models from other suppliers? "I went to PMA 2005 with a host of images on negatives and CDs and had them printed on a number of different machines that were live on the convention floor. I was impressed with the way the MarKo operated and the quality of the output," he says.
Once the unit was installed he noticed that it was a hit from day one. "The unit's greatly reduced footprint has increased space for our digital work station for retouching and image preparation or copying for our Epson/Ilford Printer system, thus, increasing workflow. The increased space we now have in the lab has also improved the work environment for our employees. In addition, the speed and high quality of digital and film images has reduced the need for highly technically proficient operators. It also actually has reduced waste to an insignificant percentage of cost of goods sold. That is a claim every lab makes and the MK-4 has delivered. It has delivered BEYOND my expectations," he says.
"Hickman adds that the MK-4 offers them other options. "We can now offer instant re-do's if a customer wants a little different crop or color balance as the system keeps the images in memory as space allows. A customer quickly satisfied is a loyal customer of the future. No problems -just SOLUTIONS."
"The MK-4 with its new technology out performs any lab in the area and ensures our ability to offer top quality work with our focus on customer service. One in particular is very quick turn around of high quality portrait image packages from our on-site studio," says Hickman. "We can add borders, high quality black-and-white on color paper (w/o color shifts), sepia prints, business cards, package printing, calendars, frames and text added to images -all effortlessly."
They have also used the MK-4 to help upgrade their passport services. "We converted our traditional passport system to a digital system incorporating an inexpensive digital camera from open stock and the MK-4 automatically converts the image to passport size and dual images onto a 4 x 6 print to hand the customer at a fraction of the former cost," he says
As far as any bugs in the system, Hickman reports that he has had no service problems what so ever with the MK-4. "Our MK-4 lab has not been down since its installation and any questions have been answered with patient masters of the systems and technology not kids following a script on a 'customer service' form. In fact, the service company (Immage Tech, Chattanooga, TN) called me recently to see how things were going. So far the unit has exceeded all of my expectations."
The MK-4 Digital Minilab at a Glance
Footprint: 10 square feet
Dimensions (mm): 1240 (L) x 780 (W) x 1700 (H) mm
Chemical Process: C-41 RA NP
Film Formats: 110, 135, 120, and IX-240 (APS)
Processing Capacity: 21 rolls per hour (135-24 exp.)
Film Formats: 135 (negative, color reversal, B&W classic, B&W Chromogenic)APS, APS Cartridge, as per film scanner model
Scanning Capacity: 720 frames/hour
Scanning Method: Single tri-linear CCD sensors
Max Resolution: 135: 2000 x 3000 ppi (Base 16)
Dust & Scratch Removal: Automatically done with Digital ICE software Printer
Technology: LCD with LED array illumination
Resolution: 500 dpi at 4 x 6 -300 dpi at 8 x 12
Print sizes: From 3.5 x 5 up to 8 x 12
Capacity: 400 prints per hour 4 x 6