Magazine Article


New Opportunities for Retailers to go the...Wide-Format Route

Leah Plajer with their Durst Theta 76
Leah Plajer, lab manager at New York Camera, with their Durst Theta 76.
ZBE Chromira Minilab Unit
Vice president of marketing Tim Sexton says that ZBE designed the Chromira 5x 30 Lab for minilabs that want a truly professional integrated printer/processor lab system but have typical minilab space limitations.
The Fujimoto SHP5080 Digital Lab
The Fujimoto SHP5080 Digital Lab uses an LED proprietary system to print.
Noritsu’s LPS-24 PRO
Noritsu’s LPS-24 PRO features a silver halide printer and paper processor designed to print a variety of print sizes, from 5x7-inches up to jumbo panorama size.

ZBE Chromira Technology in a Minilab Unit

ZBE’s hybrid LED imaging technology resulted in the state-of-the-art Chromira 30 and Chromira 50 printers, which have been mainstays in many labs across the country. ZBE’s Resolution Enhancement Technology intensifies the Chromira’s 300-ppi imaging resolution to create a visual resolution of 425 ppi.

The key to ZBE’s LED technology is the use of diamond-shaped pixels. All printers “overlap” adjacent pixels so that they won’t be seen with a loupe, but this causes a decrease in sharpness and resolution. The overlap of ZBE’s diamond-shaped pixels, however, only creates additional smaller, diamond-shaped pixels. These already look sharper than traditional round pixels, but overlapping them makes the image look even sharper, enhancing resolution by 50%. As an additional benefit, the pixels blend to create completely uniform exposure density on the page, which hides raster lines.

ZBE introduced and demonstrated its latest addition to their line, the Chromira 5x 30 Lab, for the first time at PMA 2006. This unit is a fully integrated, large-format digital RA-4 printer/processor lab system, designed to deliver continuous digital print production and order management for professional photo labs as well as retail minilab establishments. Its speed, productivity, and flexibility support the needs of today’s digital imaging market. And with a printing width of 30 inches the capacity of producing cut and collated print orders, as well as affordable pricing, the Chromira 5x 30 Lab can meet the large and small imager’s needs.

“The Chromira 5x 30 Lab is a high-production, state-of-the-art large-format digital photographic lab system, and a member of the award-winning Chromira family of digital LED production printers, so at 24 inches per minute, it provides speed as well as state-of-the-art quality,” says Tim Sexton, vice president, marketing.

“ZBE designed the Chromira 5x 30 Lab for minilabs that want a truly professional integrated printer/processor lab system but have the typical minilab space limitations,” he adds. “This 30-inch lab offers an enhanced version of our Chromira 5x imaging technology with the ability to deliver finished print orders 4x6 (or smaller) and large-format murals up to 30-inches (full bleed) by 16-feet, but it installs with an unbelievable 61x66-inch footprint. The Chromira 5x 30 Lab utilizes ZBE’s award-winning LED print engine, and has a production capacity of 480 8x10’s per hour, cut, sorted, and back-printed—so it’s also ideal for portrait/social and fine-art labs, too.”

Sexton reports that the new 5x 30 Lab was enhanced so that any smaller photo retailer that wants and needs a professional workflow solution as well as state-of-the-art image quality will be able to afford to install the 5x 30 Lab in small retail stores. “The labor-saving XY cutting, sorting, and back-printing capabilities will streamline any workflow, whether it’s the largest prolab or the smallest one-hour lab,” he adds. “The price is less than most one-hour labs. The Chromira 5x 30 Lab uses the same award-winning LED imaging technology that our 5x 30 and 5x 50 machines have.”

Fuji Hunt Adds Banner Kit to Fujimoto Unit

Fuji Hunt offers their Fujimoto SHP5080 Digital Lab, which also uses a LED proprietary system to print. The system employs a Micro-Shutter-Array LED continuous-exposure technology with a 60,000-hour light source service life. Regardless of paper width, it delivers a linear writing speed of 36-inches per minute at 400 ppi. Its output print quality is extremely close to analog print quality, producing a solid D-max and excellent shadow and highlight detail, ideal for portrait work.

From a production standpoint, the SHP5080 is said by the company to be a solid workhorse. Exposing from JPG, TIFF, and BMP file formats and using any width paper from 5- to 20-inches, the 5080 will expose 832 5x7-, 348 8x10-, or 50 20x30-inch prints per hour, or any autonested combination of orders.

“Minilab retail businesses seek new product offerings to help offset declining traditional film revenue,” says Robert Harvey, director of marketing, Imaging Group, Chemistry and Special Lab Products at Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. “Capitalizing on niche print market opportunities is one way minilab owners can grow their business. Presenting new product offerings to potential clientele, such as high-quality poster prints up to 20x40 and panoramic prints like 12x40 and 16x40, are a few of the offerings that can add profits back to the bottom line.”

The Fujimoto SHP5080 Digital Lab, winner of the 2006 DIMA Shoot-Out Award for RA4 Digital Printers in the 13-to-29-inch class, not only offers the diversity needed to simultaneously attack the traditional and niche print markets, but can do so at an attractive price that is easily capitalized,” Harvey adds.

Digital printers such as the Fujimoto SHP5080 Digital Lab have always had the capability to expose unusual-size prints, such as 12x24-inch print sizes for wedding albums. Recently, new specialized higher-end digital cameras with stitch technology offer seamless switching back and forth between wide-angle and zoom lenses, creating a 180-degree field of view with three exposures. Finding a digital imaging lab to print a stitched digital exposure with a final image size such as an 8x36-inch print can be a challenge.

At PMA, Fuji Hunt introduced Fujimoto’s new 40-inch Banner Print Kit for the SHP5080, which may be installed on any SHP5080 Digital Lab to allow print image lengths up to 40-inches on any width paper from 5-inches up to 20-inches. Since the SHP5080 is equipped with two paper magazines, imagers can load 8-inch-wide paper in one magazine and 20-inch-wide paper in the other, eliminating the need to switch magazines when printing niche print sizes.

Noritsu LPS-24 PRO Offers Silver Halide Technology

Among the new products that Noritsu America had on display at their booth was the LPS-24 PRO, a 20-inch digital sliver halide large-format printer. The LPS-24 PRO was designed to meet the heavy-duty production and high-quality demands of portrait and commercial professional labs. The unit features a silver halide printer and paper processor designed to print a variety of print sizes from 5x7 inches up to jumbo panorama size (24x36-inches). With the addition of optional equipment, prints up to 100-inches in length are possible. Dual magazine capability allows both a 12- and 24-inch magazine to be loaded at the same time, enabling prints of various sizes to be made without changing magazines. Processing capacity ranges from approximately 27 prints per hour for a 24x36-inch print to approximately 51 prints per hour for a 12x18-inch print.

“It’s hard to beat the silver halide platform,” says Greg Joe, marketing manager at Noritsu America. “With a laser engine, prints have a sharpness and clarity that customers love, and the cost per print is very reasonable.”