Magazine Article


Slide Mounting and Imprinting

Pakon offers inline mounting, imprinting and sleeving equipment for all size labs. The AM-521 and AM-521C Automatic Slide Mounting Systems meet the demands of high volume slide production with speed and maximum film safety. The variable two speed motor gives you the option to mount at a low speed of 50-75 frames/min. for customer film and a high speed of 100-170 frames/min. for slide dupe jobs. The slower speed is for precisely mounting film with inconsistent frames lines; in contrast, when frame lines are consistent, "you can turn it on and let it fly," says Linhoff. The AM-521C is designed to mount both Pakon's cardboard and plastic mounts (just by changing the slide stick out), as well as the newer Pakon Cardboard Plus mounts.

The AM-401 unit is mainly for labs that do 10 to 20 rolls per day. It works in conjunction with the plastic mounts and operates at a rate of 75 slides/min.
Pakon also carries two imprinters: the MI 100 which dates and numbers, and the SI 500, a self-contained dot matrix printer that can do two and four line imprinting. They also make a slide sleever machine that automatically inserts slides three across into prefed sheets on 500 foot rolls. These then fit into standard lab processing envelopes.

Continuing On
In this digital world you may perceive slides as being passé. However, you may be surprised to find they still offer a thriving business at some labs.

"The output of slides is still viable. In some cases customers tell me it's the most profitable department in their lab," says Image Products Company's Larsen.
Despite consolidations in the industry, there's still a demand for slides and slide mounters. "We will support the existing customer base, which is still substantial," he says. "And, while it's not a growing market, there's still an ongoing need."

These mounters are mainstay products and have been for years, Larsen points out. Therefore, because equipment currently in the marketplace is aging, it will be needing increased service and replacement.

Image Products Company then still has their work cut out for them. "We will offer reconditioned and new equipment," reports Larsen. "We will be doing retooling and repair work we will assist them in keeping equipment operational."

A first facet of the economy that is affected when there is a slowdown is the photo business and, actually, anything to do with advertising, says Loersch's Kreger. Thus, he says, this year has not been an exception in that sales were a bit slower. But as far as digital goes, he believes it has a lot of hype and a lot of big-buck advertising behind it. "We don't see it as a major threat. Not to say that there won't be changes at the supplier and consumer end [but the challenges in] archiving digital images are starting to come to light. While no one knows how a JPEG format image will transfer in 10 years we know slide life expectancy is 50 to 100 years, and you can work without doing any conversions. It's got a proven track record; you get the same quality image [each time]. Slides will always be there for a backup for that reason."

"Business has been pretty steady overall," says Pakon's Linhoff. "Mounts have remained steady, while equipment sales have slowed a bit, but overall it's steady. The consensus with our customers is that there is still value in film."

But what about digital? It appears to be everywhere nowadays ... "Look at the people telling you that," Linhoff warns. "They have the most to gain. It's not happening as fast as people think it is. Film is inexpensive, and you can also scan it. People are not throwing away their 35mm cameras."

"Yes, digital has taken some business away," says Brown of Gepe. Part of the reason is that you can be enhance and manipulate a scanned image in so many more ways. Yet, digital processing machines (from Fuji and Noritsu, and one on the way from Agfa) that allow scanning and printing from slides could change things. "In fact," Brown theorizes, "it could actually increase the usage of slide film."

When it comes down to it, photographers will continue to shoot slide film. Some experts say they do expect an evolution of the entire industry. But while there will be a reduction of silver halide, its demise will not be coming anytime soon.