Phogenix Gives Birth To Inkjet Digital Minilab
he baby has finally been born. Weighing in
at about 1,325 pounds, Phogenix has finally delivered. Name:
The conception took place just two years ago this month at a PMA convention press conference. Now, the result of the marriage of Kodak and Hewlett-Packard into the joint venture, Phogenix, has produced a progeny that brings some new ideas into the world of the minilab.
Because the world was looking in from Day One, it might seem as though it's taken a long time for the birth of this baby. That it took about six months for the new firm to even find a name for itself, did not bode well. Yet, when one considers that at the time of the announcement, 24 months ago, the new venture was not much more than some commitments on a document and that they hadn't even purchased their first box of paper clips, it's amazing that there is now a new product ready to be taken to market. Gosh, even an elephant takes 22 months to conceive and deliver.
The proud parents, Fred Heigold, president, and John Ward, v.p. and chief marketing officer, (no wisecracks, please) with all of the aunts and uncles, were eager to show their new offspring to the press at their California headquarters in advance of the unveiling of the DFX in Orlando. Smiling faces abounded. No more
back room presentations, thank you.
That the new product was to offer inkjet output—the first such minilab in the industry—had been announced from the outset. What the industry has been waiting for, however, and what has been a well kept secret, has been the price this system would be offered at: (Drum roll, please) $39,900.
That price level is less than half of the next least expensive digital minilab, Photo Me's DKS Digital Kis System at $85,000. Consider, however, that the Phogenix equipment is rated to output 250, 4R prints per hour while the Kis model is rated to be 650 prints.
Adding a full-roll film scanner to the DKS so the system will handle negative input as well as digital media increases the price to $49,900.
The lowest cost digitals from the older players in the business, Fuji, Noritsu and Gretag, are all brand new models and range about $100,000 to $110,000. The $39,900-$49,990 price point is certain to send out some shock waves and shake up the establishment somewhat. Light the midnight oil lamps, folks.
Might the 250 print output be a detriment to the acceptance of the Phogenix DFX? I would say 'yes' if it were to be the sole system at most current minilab sites. However, for a photo specialist with a functioning optical minilab, maybe bought only a few years ago during the APS chaos, the low price point could easily make the DFX a second unit that would give the owner a system to deal with his digital needs. For that installation, the output becomes less of a concern.
The other surprise was the unveiling by Phogenix of a C-41 film processor that will utilize the Kodak SM chemical system. This compact machine is a brand new design that was developed by Phogenix with the assistance of an un-named (not Noritsu) equipment manufacturer. No price set yet.
When the joint venture was first announced it was said that it would be a chemical-free system by virtue of the inkjet printing system. In subsequent back-room meetings visitors were told that the plan was to marry the inkjet printing concept with a dry film processor made by Applied Science Fiction. A mock up showed the entire system. That would have made a highly desirable chemical free setup.
What brought about the addition of your own C-41 wet processor? Among the answers from Fred and John in a private Q&A: "We wanted to be able to offer a whole system, film in, prints out"; "We are so convinced that film will be around a long time that we could not focus on digital exclusively"; "We expect that 50% of our sales of DFX will include a film processor."
Is dry processing dead? "100% dry film processing is still appealing"; "When a proven system is available and tested, it may be an option."