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Digital print booths: readers put us in the picture

Watch the birdie

Letters The debate surrounding digital print booths in general, and Kodak print booths in particular, continues unabated. Our intrepid soul at the man/machine inferface - Simon Prentagast - contacted us again to grass up the Boots branch which allowed punters to enjoy other peoples' snaps by not erasing the files after printing:

Firstly, glad you were able to make use of my "review".

As for the name of the naughty Boots store that has apparently reactivated the "previous pictures" function disabled by head office... you can tell Kodak/Boots that it was the Meadowhall (Sheffield) shop, if they're actually bothered.

Oh, and thank fellow reader Ken Tindell for his dazzling wit.

Ken: Steve says thanks for your dazzling wit. Readers who have no idea why Ken is so witty should check out his contribution to the debate here.

Now, let's have a few more contributions to the Kodak print booth controversy, kicking of with a rather breathless Barrie Harrop:

The real questions are about representations on print speed, claim 5 secs per print the best i achieved was 30 secs for first print, then 9-10 secs per print there after, suspect the CPU in kiosks is too slow. Print quality was acceptable, however majority of prints had slight blueish tone. Most customers seemed to be printing around 10-20 prints, and at 49p an approx 100% premium over minilab pricing seemed to me a rip-off. One wonders out the archival life of these prints, that should be made clear, as i noticed comments about Fuji kiosk archival values being about 25 years before ones memories fade off the paper, compared to conventional printing which in the 50-75 yr range. Boots-Kodak kiosks have a very limted range of image enhancement, and at the print price one expects more, especially in the digital era. they had no oneline capability to allow one to send images to photo account for archiving or sharing. To have a kiosks that requires outside assistance in 2004, is a joke, expect most prints will be not paid for. I too have to wait for ever whilst an asistant was dealing with a previous problem customer complaining about the very point made earlier blueish tone prints. Went to another Kodak kiosk location with same problem. Would be interest to hear if other readers to expected marketing hype to be met, or is that something today one just accepts,marketing misrepresentations as part of daily life at stores like Boots, who one expects is a trusted brand.

We think we got all of that. Another:

My only gripe with the Kodak booths is the fact that I can't use them with my CF card from my camera. Yes, that's right... they have an integrated CompactFlash memory card reader , but the bloody plastic front only has a hole big enough for a Type I device.

I can't honestly see any point of making this plastic hole too small for a Microdrive. The electrical interface is surely identical, so why not include an extra millimetre of space around the hole, and allow Microdrive users to use the CF interface as well?

Aren't Kodak excluding a large proportion of their potential customer base? Most newer semi-pro cameras (EOS 300D etc.) now take CompactFlash only.. And when I go away on holiday and might want to print out some snaps, I'm hardly likely to choose to take anything with less capacity than my Microdrive!


Jonathan Hunter

Interesting. A further gripe from David Gabler:

When using a Kodak print booth at a Super Wal*mart in New Castle, IN , USA (Yes it is BFE) to make a photo CD there is NO warning that your pictures will be modified. First the file names are changed, ok no big deal but still annoying. Additionally all of the EXIF is removed from the photos. All photos are reduced in DPI to 91 dpi.

What a pisser that no warning was given that these changes were being made.

Remember, Kodak is not the only outfit which has deployed print booths. Steve Blackburn offers an alternative:

I use a Fuji digital print console at my local supermarket to print digital images. I was finding this quite expensive, as I would often only want a couple of pictures out of a dozen or so..... this was until one of the staff pointed out that it was cheaper if i didn't need to select the images. So now i take in a CD / flash memory with only the pictures I want to print and select the option to print all images..... the saving is substantial (30% IIRC).

Good call. Moving on, we have Nigel Barrett who has decided to eschew the print booth altogether in favour of online services:

Having read the article about the Kodak booths, yesterday I stood watching a woman using one to order her prints. It's true that she could have walked away with them although the two booths in my local Boots are aither side of the photo counter and thieves would probably be spotted. This particular customer wasn't making a quick getaway of any kind though - she was getting very bored waiting for prints: it turned out she'd dumped her entire memory card - 150 photos. I think I'll stick with paint shop pro and an online service; I won't have to stand around and it's a lot cheaper.

And if you're really bone idle, here's a recommendation from Graeme Fowler:

I just read the "road test" and follow-up articles about Kodak photo booths in Boots stores. Other readers might be interested in fotoserve - - I just compared the prices, and they're significantly cheaper than these kiosks...

Saying that, there's no chance of anyone walking away with prints from fotoserve without paying, since they're a mail order only service. Which is a bonus, as anyone too lazy or busy to spend time in an electronic kiosk going through the same hoops they've just spent hours using Photoshop for at home can just upload them, pay, and wait for the postman.

Finally, let's end with a shameless piece of self-promotion:

It's a cheap plug, but if you use a camera phone and want to print your pics, you'll find that our process at Stickpix is much more user-friendly, and we're currently offering the first print free-of-charge. No need to register online - the whole process is done via mms / sms. Simply mms your photo to us at 07746197446, and we'll do the rest. Our images come in a set of three, printed on sticky paper (hence Stickpix), with one of the three on a push-out card backing.

(Pics must be more than 160x120 px resolution, or we can't print them.)

Hugo Rodger-Brown

Well, we can't vouch for Stickpix, but if any reader fancies giving 'em a go and reporting back, we'll write up the results. ®

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