Magazine Article


Digital ID Photos Help Brighten Profit Picture in a Big Way

For $999 suggested retail, Polaroid's Digital MiniPortrait System combines the digital camera and printer in a single compact unit weighing approximately five pounds. For viewing and selecting images before printing, the unit has a tilting LCD screen. The autofocus camera has a 3X zoom with a wide-angle setting and built-in flash. To simplify operation, the unit features a single button for both capturing images and printing.

Included in the system software are templates for capturing images in the most popular ID photo sizes: one-up for individual portraits; two-up for passport and INS documents; and as four- or six-up per page for wallet-sized ID photos.

The system requires special Polaroid thermal media for printing, and print time is approximately 90 seconds. The system also has a USB connection for uploading and saving images to a computer. "I think the ID photos are something you have to offer as a service for your customers and as a profitable service," sums up Seraderian. "With the number of ID photos we do, the system paid for itself within a month, and my customers are happy with the results."

Stepping Up to Digital

Sony's Passport Printing System is the ID photo solution in use at four of seven Photo Haus locations based in Yakima,WA. Sony's Passport System features wireless Bluetooth technology.

Sony's Digital Passport Printing System is the ID photo solution in use at four of seven Photo Haus locations based in Yakima, WA. According to director of purchasing Debbie Baumgardner, the systems were installed as replacements for film-based solutions a couple of years ago.

"The nice thing about the digital system is that it makes it so much easier to make sure you get a good picture every time," she says. "It's so easy for our employees to use-they just point the camera and shoot, and the customer can see if they like the image before we make a print."

The latest version of Sony's digital ID solution is the Passport UPX-C200 Digital Printing System, a camera/printer bundle. A unique feature is the system's use of wireless Bluetooth technology to eliminate the need for cable between the camera and printer. The basic system carries a suggested retail of $1,495, and up to two additional printers can be added to increase print production or the customer's choice of print sizes. The additional printers are available for $590 each. For image capture, Sony includes a 4-megapixel camera with a 1.8-inch color LCD. Images can be stored on the camera's internal memory, saved to Memory Stick flash media, or uploaded to a computer for archiving.

"Once the customer selects a photo, the user clicks the print button on the camera," says Baumgardner. "The image file is then transmitted to a printer using wireless Bluetooth technology. The printer can be loaded with 4 x 6- or 3 x 4-inch media. In all, there are 22 different layouts possible when printing on 4 x 6-inch media, and 17 different layouts when printing on the smaller media. All prints are produced at 403-dpi resolution and ready in 75 seconds for 4 x 6-inch prints, and 45 seconds for 3 x 4-inch prints," she adds.

The Latest Entry

Mitsubishi's Digital Instant Studio, a stand-alone, turnkey ID photo solution.

Mitsubishi Digital Electronics entered the digital ID photo market with its Digital Instant Studio last year. With a suggested retail price of $1,895, the Digital Instant Studio model was designed as a stand-alone, turnkey digital ID system. The package includes a digital camera and color dye-sublimation printer for quick prints on special roll media. Also included is a four-inch monitor where users can view and select images before printing.

Foto Image One Hour minilab chain, serving the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, recently purchased five Mitsubishi systems.

Tim Klement, owner of the nine-store Foto Image One Hour minilab chain serving the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, purchased five of the systems as replacements for photo ID systems. In the locations where there is strong demand for ID photos, the system is prominently featured on the sales floor.

"We do a good amount of passport photos in some of our stores, and we wanted something that would be very easy for employees to learn and use," he explains. Klement says simple operation is a plus in busy locations where staffers must be able to multitask and switch from one job to another with ease. The system itself does some multitasking: Since it offers several image sizes to select from and the results are consistently good, it is being employed to produce business portraits as well as ID photos in more conventional sizes.

"Since customers can preview their photo before we print, it guarantees 100 percent satisfaction on every ID photo," Klement notes.

That's the kind of guarantee that makes a digital ID photo system an item every imaging service provider might want to consider.