Magazine Article


Digital Passports to New Business: Photo Specialty Takes On the U.S. Post Office Over Lucrative Pass

"They no longer have to walk to a docking station so the workflow is not interrupted."

The 22 possible layouts on 4"x6" media the UPX-C200 can produce include a full-bleed mini portrait and two 2"x2" passport I.D. photos. With 3 1/2"x4" media, 17 different layouts are possible.

"It's not just for passport and I.D. photos. You can use it for parties and event photography, bar mitzvahs, birthdays, whatever you'd like," Falby said "It creates a lot of merchandising opportunities to upsell your customers. "

Jeannette Massas-Werchinski uses the Sony system at her store, Dorns Photography, in Red Bank, New Jersey.

"We love it," she told PTN. "Number one, there's no waste. Before we got the Sony digital system, we had to use film and if somebody blinks, you have to reshoot it. Also, with this system, with the touch of a button you can change it to B&W or color or reformat it for different I.D.s, including green cards. The camera's really good too and it takes great pictures."

The UPX-C200 retails for $1,495.

The Polaroid Digital MiniPortrait

With the Polaroid Digital MiniPortrait system, the emphasis is on portability with the multi-function unit acting like a veritable Swiss army knife of I.D. photography.

"It's the only all-in-one digital ID camera and printer on the market," said Kevin Ferguson, worldwide technical manager for Polaroid. The Digital MiniPortrait system combines a 3MP digital camera and a dye-sub thermal printer to produce images in a range of four print formats-either as one 4"x4" or as 2, 4 or 6 shots of the same image on one sheet.

The Polaroid Digital Miniportrait system is an all-in-one passport photo solution.

Ferguson said the best thing about the Digital MiniPortrait is its "versatility," which allows it to do a number of photo tasks including mug shots for law enforcement. Software called "Digital Cop" can be used in conjunction with the Digital MiniPortrait system to help create the mugshots for booking. Other software called Portrait Manager offers easy image archiving and quick I.D. badge design for printing. Built in templates allow the device to create passport photos for the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Japan and a host of other countries, Ferguson said.

"It has a large LCD view screen which allows you to easily fit someone's head inside the box on the screen, line the cross hairs right down the middle of the nose and take the image," he noted.

"It had gotten so frustrating for some people they had gotten to the point where they stopped doing business. But we've brought them back with our system because now they get zero rejects."

Ferguson added that because the government requirements for photo I.D.s, change year to year (if not month to month), Polaroid's software is updated to meet the demand. He noted that I.D. specification changes for 2005-2006 are already in place and retailers can download firmware updates using just a USB port.

The Digital MiniPortrait system can also be used with a professional studio lighting set-up or on-board flash with x-sync or slave lights. The unit comes with a built-in strobe.

"It's great. I've been using one since March. It's easy to use. The quality is good and it has a large screen so you can clearly see what you're taking," said Michael Seraderian, owner of Nanor Prints in Belmont, MA. "It's also good if you're doing a lot of [photos] besides U.S. Passports, like INS cards or Canadian passports. I'm huge into passport photos myself. I go through a pack of 50 passports in a week and that's on an average week. In high season it's even more."

The Polaroid Digital MiniPortrait lists for $1,195.

The Mitsubishi Digital Instant Studio

Mitsubishi's Digital Instant Studio has some of the lowest media costs around.

A relative newcomer to the digital passport market, Mitsubishi is offering the Digital Instant Studio, a stand-alone, fully-functional digital photo imaging system. Of all the systems, Mitsubishi's 2MP digital camera certainly looks the most futuristic with sleek metallic-looking handgrips, an ample 4-inch viewing screen on the back and large scroll buttons.

Darla Achey, marketing communications specialist at Mitsubishi, said a major selling point for the Digital Instant Studio is the low cost of the media which makes the device's per print cost among the lowest in the industry. The best selling point of digital passports [photos] in general is also cost related, she said.