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"The passport photo service provides one of the highest Return-On-Investment for labs. I believe promoting the service at the Point-Of-Purchase is one way to maximize profit. Therefore we have included POP materials such as hanging sign and window sticker with the ID-200," said George Tun, sales and marketing manager, New Business Development, CPG at Olympus America Inc. "The key to getting repeat business is to offer fast service with impressive digital features - let your customer choose the best pose before printing. Go an extra step, hook up the camera to a small color TV for customer viewing and add an external lighting at a minimal cost to greatly differentiate your service from services that use analog system. Remember that for many regions, ID photos such as for INS are as much or more in demand than the Passport photos. The ID-200 comes with both the Passport and INS head outline templates for easy sizing and positioning."

A Profitable Service

In many markets, demand for portrait and ID photos can easily exceed that. Kevin Porter, manager of Andover Photo in Andover, MA, reports demand for ID photos easily exceeds 1000 ID portraits a year. The range includes passport and visa photos, as well as photos for licenses and business IDs.

"It's definitely a money generator," Porter reports. "Not only does this service generate additional money, it also brings people into the store we might not otherwise see, and gives them a chance to look around and see everything else we offer."

Porter provides those services with the Studio Express Digital SPd360 Passport Photo System from Polaroid. Building on Polaroid's long standing success with instant ID photos, the system combines the advantages of digital imaging with the proven benefits of Polaroid's instant film. It combines a camera, monitor and printing station for a turnkey solution to ID photography.

The system camera has a 1.4 megapixel image sensor, 8mm to 48mm manual zoom lens, and iris control feature which retains camera settings while the subject previews the image. Images captured with the camera can be previewed on the system's 3.8-inch LCD panel, or it can be connected to a larger monitor for previewing and selecting images. The camera can be used with a professional portrait lighting set up, or with its on-board flash.

The Studio Express is designed for simplified operation, and features an on-screen series of icons for setting and adjusting camera and print settings. There are one-button settings to adjust such parameters as flesh tones, setting white balance or color calibration. With the camera's parallel port, it can be connected to a PC for viewing images, or archiving selected images for later use.

Users of system can choose from six print formats, with either 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 or 9 images printed on a single sheet of film. Instant prints are ready in about 40 seconds, and the system is compatible with Polaroid Polacolor Pro100 679 instant color film optimized for digital printing and Type 664 and PolaPan Pro 100 for black and white photos.

"It's a very easy system to learn and use," notes Porter. "And since the customer can look at what you've captured before you make that print, it eliminates a lot of waste. When you can give them that choice, and let them select their favorite photo before you make the print, they end up being much happier with the service."

That satisfaction can promote the good will which brings them back for everything else the store has to offer in addition to digital ID portraits, making the system a profitable investment in promoting the store.