News of the photo industry PMA Digital Imaging
Make more money with your digital imaging station by printing customers' digicam snaps

pc805.jpg (8077 bytes)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 is.

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.

  1. It's easier than doing it at home.
  2. It's cheaper than doing it at home.
  3. And when more than one or two photos are wanted, it will still be faster than doing it at home.

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!

Chris Lydle