As the output at retail market continues to grow, many analysts are predicting that digital minilab sales are also expected to demonstrate growth over the next few years, fueled by replacement sales, decreased prices, and new innovations. Many labs that jumped on the digital bandwagon early will be looking to upgrade to newer systems. One such lab was Creative Imaging Center with two locations in Oroville and Red Bluff, CA. The company purchased a Noritsu QSS-2901 a few years back but was looking to upgrade to a newer unit when they went to PMA 2005. They chose the Noritsu QSS-3212. The QSS-3212 is part of six minilabs that make up the Noritsu QSS-3200 Series that includes the QSS-3211, 3212, 3213 Digital and the QSS-3202/03 Pro.)
“We do a lot of medium format work with some of the wedding photographers in the area. Our clientele is a good mix of professional portraiture and high quality film and digital photo processing. So we wanted a unit that was versatile for the pro as well as our consumer base. The 3212 fits our needs nicely. It’s an awesome piece of equipment, “says Jeremiah Molnar, manager at the Oroville location.
The QSS-3212 minilab is equipped with a laser engine that employs Noritsu multi-paper-matching technology to make high-quality prints of 300dpi on both digital paper and conventional photographic paper. These minilabs boast a new maximum print size of 12 x 36-inches, which can be used to make composite prints, POP displays, group photos, etc. Noritsu says his new print service will yield a whole new revenue stream, as the print size is twice as long as the conventional maximum print size. “We liked the fact that it didn’t have a lamp house like the older 2901 and that it was all digital inside. We also liked the fact that it has an additional third magazine option. This has been a huge time saver for me in particular. The standard dual magazine system makes paper options ready when you are. You can now print various sizes without stopping to change cartridges. This option has really helped make our productivity soar,” says Molnar.
He reports the unit is very east to maintain. “It offers the same GUI as other QSS digital minilabs, making operation easy. There isn’t a lot of head cleaning involved. Also, the streamlined setup process decreases the time required for daily setup. Basically there are no weekly or monthly setups,” he comments.
Each minilab in the QSS-3200 series has a high-speed printer, and each printer offers a different capacity. This variety enables choosing the machine that best suits present and future demands. The QSS-3213 Digital, for example, has a processing capacity of up to 1,620 prints per hour (film / media). Another impressive characteristic of the QSS-3200 series minilabs is the same high capacity can be achieved from both film and digital media. The unit’s film scanner has an LED light source that provides consistent scanning and requires minimal maintenance. Several film carriers are also available for this scanner, enabling a wide variety of film formats to be supported.
Molnar also points to new software as great additions to the unit. “Several new high-precision correction features have been added. Kodak’s Digital Ice technology is a great feature. With Digital Ice we can automatically remove dust, fingerprints, and scratches on scanned film, turning flawed images into beautiful, blemish-free prints,” he comments. The QSS-3200 series has an array of optional network components, which can be installed to enhance the workflow and increase the variety of digital services provided. Some of the services that can be provided with a network include CD-R writing, image editing, additional value prints, and image storage. Molnar notes that they also added the Noritsu CT kiosk terminal unit to handle a lot of the orders coming in. “We purchased a CT unit so consumers can place their own orders from their digital media. We are seeing that many of the customers are finding it very easy to use and it frees me up to do more printing instead of order taking.”
Molnar reports that the 3212 has been a terrific addition. “The customer service at Noritsu is great. When the equipment was first installed one of their reps stayed with us for a week to make sure we were skilled on the machine. We made channels and he did a great job in schooling me on the ins and outs of the unit.”