Make more money with your digital imaging station by printing customers'
Sitting on top of the
monitor of our $4,000 digital imaging station is another
money-making device. Click on image to see a bigger picture
It's the simple tool that lets us import customer photos - excuse me, digital images -
into our computer. We found that many folks who bought digital cameras for Christmas had
never figured out what to do with the pictures they were making.
One company brought us a complete Kodak camera with some critical photos inside and
asked us to make prints of everything. It took us a while. We had to download Kodak's
imaging software from the internet, open each file individually, import them into
Photoshop, and then print them up four at a time on our dye-sublimation printer. It took a
lot of time and we charged them a lot of money and we both felt happy. But I resent
spending too much time on any project, so I found a better way.
The ActionTec PC-805 is a typical memory card read. It plugs into the parallel port on our
Windows-based computer and doesn't even require a separate power supply. There's a
pass-through connector for our printer.
There are three slots - one for SmartMedia cards, one for Compact Flash Cards, and one
for PCMCIA type I or type II cards. That covers just about every popular memory card there
When we look with Windows Explorer, the PC-805 is regarded as just another removable
disk drive. We can access, or print, any image without having to use the camera software.
It's faster than using a serial port, faster than reading an image file from a floppy disk
or a FlashPath adapter.
Just as we suspected, some of our customers would rather have us make their prints than
spend hours in front of their computers. One big order more than paid for the price of the
ActionTec PC-805 (about $100.)
There are many other memory card readers on the market. SanDisk makes a nice one for
CompactFlash cards that's around $75. (In fact, Kodak is actually giving one away with the
purchase of a DC-220.) I chose the ActionTec unit because of its versatility.
Since this article was originally published many new card readers have
been introduced. For late model cameras, choose one that connects to the
USB port. Micotech and Delkin both offer dual-format models - CompactFlash
and SmartMedia - for less than $100 retail
After PMA '98 I wrote an article entitled The Minilab of the
Future. In it I said
"Customers with digital cameras will still come to "the camera
store" for processing for several reasons.
- It's easier than doing it at home.
- It's cheaper than doing it at home.
- And when more than one or two photos are wanted, it will still be faster than doing it
Our Minilab 2008 will have the necessary input devices - a universal reader for every
type of memory card, portable disk and on-board memory - so that customers can drop off
the images just the way they now drop off a roll of film."
Looks like we don't have to wait for the year 2008 - we're doing that now!