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It's All Digital At PMA 2004



Itís All Digital At PMA 2004

Industry Sprints To Catch Up With the Consumer

If there is any question about whether the processing world is goingóno, has goneódigital, a walk through the aisles at PMA 2004 in Las Vegas will settle the matter.

In the past, the on-site processor has always been ready for the consumer. Just think about disc and APS (UGH!). Digital is an instance where the consumer got ahead of the industry. They made the choice to go digital before the photo processing industry understood what was going on. Or, maybe they refused to believe it.

That worm has turned big-time at the Vegas show. There is not a single optical minilab on the floor any more. (Theyíre gathering dust in a few warehouses and brand new top-of-the line opticals can be bought with discounts of 60% or more. Make an offer.) Every new item being shown at PMA is tied to digital as the industry is finally telling the consumer, yes, we believe you now, please bring your digital media in for us to print. Címon back.

In many instances manufacturers are bringing out second generation digital labs with prices that are easier on the budget and with superior features. The kiosk folks have been tuned in and the new models have friendlier touch-screen programs with more features.

I did a survey of all the major players to see what they were preparing for the PMA show as this is what I was told:

NORITSU: New Line of 3200 Series Labs Features 12-Inch Width and Laser Exposure

A new line of digital minilabs is being introduced at PMA by Noritsu, the 3200 series, with three basic models and some new features for Noritsu.

The three new models are: 3201, 3202 and 3203. Each has a counterpart model with similar features but with the Kodak DLS system incorporated as its software rather than Noritsu proprietary software. These are: 3211, 3212 and 3213.

Pricing on the new equipment had not been announced as this was written.

According to Joe Leach, executive VP, all of this series will handle 12-wide paper to output 12x18-inch mini-posters. Also, the series features a laser exposure system rather than the Micro Light Valve Array (MLVA) used in most of the Noritsu digital line. Another feature common to the line is Digital ICE, the scratch and dust remover developed by ASF.

Hourly output rates of the new machines, 4R size prints, are: 898, 1153 and 1454, respectively. The series has a common frame for all models with the output dictated by having longer racks and bigger tank volumes for the higher capacity vs. the lower capacity systems.

These systems come standard with two paper magazines and offer a third magazine as an option.

Joe said that a new film processor, designed as a companion for the dDP-411 (dry digital printer) inkjet printer, is being shown for the first time at PMA. Called a T-15 processor, it will have an output capacity of 15 rolls/hr., stand in a footprint of 15x48-inches and is expected to be available in June. It had not been priced for this writing but should come in around the $10,000 range.

The dDP-411 will also now be available with an optional film scanner, S-1, that should add to the functionality of the system. A complete setup including the film scanner, film processor and the dDP-411 will sell in the $60,000 range.

The dDP-411, introduced in response to the now defunct Phogenix inkjet system, has had moderate success, according to Joe. He said the dry process lab has been adopted by the military and is being used in various retail chain stores where local environmental requirements prohibit a wet system.

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