Magazine Article


Large-Format Minilabs
Digital photo printers provide wider service options for retailers and labs

Carlos Rufino with Noritsu LPS-24PRO
Carlos Rufino, senior lab technician at Adorama, working on their Noritsu LPS-24PRO.

"All stores have Big Print Central Departments offering both traditional and digital prints in minutes," says Tranchida. "The Ritz Camera website,, offers customers one-hour printing and in-store pick-up service. With our online network, any customer who comes into any of our locations across the country can order large-format prints through one of our in-store kiosks. The order goes down to our lab in Atlanta, where we output it and then ship it back to that store for pick-up."

Tranchida says the service is promoted in each of the stores. "We are just like every retailer out there looking to find revenue from other sources than just 4x6 prints," he adds. "That's why we invested in the Chromiras two years ago. They have been a real workhorse for us. They are constantly running all day long. It's a great machine that produces a great product, and it was a great investment for us."

Big Prints at CPQ

Since its inception in 1972, CPQ has risen to the top of the photo lab industry, providing customers with quality prints in a highly efficient setting. Today, the Cleveland, Tennessee-based lab, known as CPQ Professional Imaging, employs more than 200 people in a 47,000-square-foot facility. CPQ is still known for quality and efficiency, but now add innovation to that list.

With a full menu of digital products and services, CPQ provides its customers across the nation with a myriad of imaging products, custom software, specialty inkjet canvas, commercial four-color printing, and many other creative offerings that spell growth for photographer and lab alike. "We offer professional photographers turnkey imaging solutions that help them maximize their workflows and enhance their profitability," CPQ president and chief operating officer Paul Kimball says. "It's no longer enough to say you can produce good prints. Rather, it's all about helping the photographer improve his or her business."

One area in which CPQ is helping their customers is with streamlined workflow. "It's becoming easier for photographers to get their files to us via FTP," says Kimball. A vast majority of CPQ's wedding and portrait work is digital. The lab also does an ever-growing school and sports/event photography segment.

"Our online services have allowed us to have clients all over the U.S., with some international market penetration, but half of our customer base is still within about 500–600 miles from our location," he points out.

CPQ utilizes Remote Order Entry Software (ROES), which accommodates the professional photographer using the Mac OS X (10.2 and above) platform, as well as Windows users. A one-time download of a Java plug-in is required the first time the software is used.

"ROES is a Java-based program from Softworks Systems Inc. It addresses the Mac OS crowd, which is huge for us because we have a lot of photographers that are Mac-based. We also have a Windows-based program for package software. ROES is very popular right now, and we are very pleased with their software, as we can customize various clients to serve the market's needs. It seamlessly interfaces with Kodak's DP2 and requires very little training."

They also have a consumer site for advanced amateurs ( "We have many pros and a large number of photography students and advanced hobbyists that use it. Overall, we have about 6,000 customers, and about 30% of those are pro photographers that fit the profile of being full-time professional photographers."

As for equipment, the shop has a good mix of Durst products in-house, including the Durst Theta 76 HS, Durst Theta 51, and some Durst Zeta package printers.

The Durst Theta 76 HS (High Speed) 30-inch multiformat lab system is a large-format printer that outputs digital images from 2.5x13-feet down to 2-up wallets at speeds approaching 550 8x10-inch prints per hour (300 sf/hr). "We use it for most of our large print orders," says Kimball. "We run 30-inch paper on it. 30x40 is our typical largest size print, but we also do some custom work were we can print longer if needed. We also run some black-and-white work on it as does a pretty good job on black and white.

"The Theta 51 is a faster machine than the 76—we tend to run some of our larger-volume jobs on that," he continues. "We use that for everything but proofing. In addition, we have some Zetas in-house that are run as package printers for the School Division. We keep those stocked with 10-inch paper pretty much at all times. We run those practically 24 hours a day during the school spring and fall seasons for school yearbooks and portraits."

Kimball is very high on the Durst Theta 76 HS. "Having this unit in-house gives us a printing solution that can run 30-inch paper with a low-cost operation, and it's easy to run and maintain," he says. "It's a good large-format printer. Basically for a smaller lab, if you purchase the machine with the Fotoba cutter, you could run just about every job on the 76. It's a very versatile machine. In addition to its high speed, Durst's Theta 76 HS is enhanced to deliver dramatically greater image sharpness and the ability to print on all popular transparency media. It also can perform variable backprinting for individual images, as well as per-print within a nested file," he concludes.