Filling a Digital Photography Niche
By Jim Bray
Digital cameras are
a great way to disseminate your photos digitally, but what if you want
to continue filling your family photo album in the manner to which you're
Well, you can print
out your photos on a colour printer, using ultra-expensive photo paper,
but between the cost of the paper and the cost of your ink cartridges,
you might as well rob a bank. On the other side of the coin, what if you
have a conventional film camera and want to fire photos around the world,
or archive them permanently, digitally, and you don't have a scanner?
Ah, a market niche
in need of filling!
Canadian customers can now - or will soon be able to - head down to London
Drugs and take advantage of all that and more. Thanks to Toronto's Telepix
Imaging Inc., all 47 Western London Drugs locations will have a full range
of digital photo services, like one hour digital photo production facilities
that put your pictures onto floppy disks or CD-ROM's, turns them into
high quality digital prints you can print out, display on the World Wide
Web, or E-mail to your friends around the world.
For those with conventional
cameras, you can have London Drugs scan your negatives and upload them
to its Photo Network; your "virtual prints" can even be e-mailed
right to your home. That latter point is super convenient but, depending
upon the size of your image files and the speed of your Internet connection,
it would normally mean you'd be watching your e-mail program download
the files to your hard drive for a long, long, long time.
also offers a propriety image compression technology (called FotoSnap)
it says speeds up transmission while reducing your storage space requirements.
Good. Methinks such a feature is absolutely necessary if you don't want
to clog your e-mail server and annoy your Internet Service Provider!
The drug czar (no
illicit activity implied!) is still getting the service up and running
as of this January 1999 writing, so all branches may not yet have all
of the services yet, but they're coming. At the local outlet I visited,
they couldn't yet write to a CD-ROM (though they'd farm it out to another
local branch that could), but they did have the touch screen terminal
by which you can direct the service to get your floppy or zip disk-based
files into their Photo Network.
Pricing is still a
bit dear, but this isn't unusual for a new technological service. The
cost to have a 24 exposure roll of negatives scanned into the virtual
world is $10.46 (all prices here in Canadian dollars) for "normal"
resolution and $24.46 for "professional." Outputting to photographic
paper costs $8.98 for an 8x10 sheet (you can either print one 8x10 or
multiple, smaller images, onto the sheet), which at this point in time
may make the inkjet printer/photo paper route more attractive for those
who have such toys.
I'm assured by a Telepix
representative, however, that their ultra-expensive Fuji PG-4000 printer
outputs at a far higher quality than you can get from an inkjet, and on
"true photographic paper".
Output quality will
also depend upon the resolution of the source image and the size of the
output print: higher resolutions/smaller prints will give the best quality.
This service may not
be for everyone, but it's an interesting way for "old style"
photographers to embrace the digital world, while "new style"
digital shutterbugs can keep their family albums up to date relatively