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If the question is strictly: Noritsu badged dry lab versus Fujifilm badged dry lab (given the hardware is identical, and manufactured  by Noritsu in both cases anyway, and both manufacturers subcontract their engineer support in the UK)...

then my opinion would be, for photo retail applications in the UK, Fujifilm has the better proposition, given its brand recognition with your customers, and the backing available from the Fujifilm Digital Imaging Service group (if you join).

Also, in the UK you will probably deal directly with an actual Fujifilm sales rep if you buy their brand, rather than just the dealer's rep. Fujifilm have a base here in the UK, Noritsu no longer do.

That's my opinion anyway.

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  We switched from a DLS2721 to a noritsu d1005 in dec 2010. After a lot of initial problems related to differences in the systems and the fact that it happened at the absolutley busiest time of the year. Now that it is the quiet season and we have had time to get used to a completely different way of doing things we are very happy. The fact that the d1005 is almost instant "ON" as compared to tyhe dls2721 is great. 5 mins to get started in the morning versus 45 to 90 minutes for the old system.

One poster mentions buying a new wetlab........you could buy 2 or 3 of these for the price of a new wetlab. The cost of operation for a wet lab appears lower and probably is but for ease of operation, quick setup and with the ezlab software that we bought it is just better all around. WE had the dls2721 since 2001 and it was a workhorse no doubt about that part of it. When it finally died the cost of a  reconditioned/used MLVA head with a 90 day warrany was over $50,000 CDN. It just did not make sense to keep it. Noritsu had already advised that parts would start to become an issue and we could not get in depth help on software problems.

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After having the Kodak Apex for 3 months, my advice would be forget wet or inkjet - I've had a wet lab for almost 30 years and if anyone says a wet lab is cheaper, I can only asume they have not done their sums properly. As far as inkjet goes, I can't see wet ink and a head going back and fore thousands of times a day being a good long term project.

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Cecil, Just wait.... Can't remember where I read it, but there are companies readying printers for consumers using the MemJet print heads, and anticipated to hit the markets fairly quickly.

When they take those heads and put them on "pro" equipment like the Noritsu / Fuji / HP / Kodak(if they're still around) Dry Labs , that'll be something.  I think they're currently available on high-end super wide format machines (HP/Scitex??) and cost a small fortune.  

No print heads moving back and forth, just paper whizzing past the print head.

(20) 4R Prints in under a second..., not an agonizingly long 8 minutes --

Quite a "disruptive technology", and what will they portend for our labs ?  And how much will they cost us ?  

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RA-4 more expensive?

If you don't know how to balance, regenerate chemistry, can't get adequate volume, dump chemicals, waste paper, sure it is more expensive.

RA-4 prints aren't just cheaper on paper.  They are cheaper, and more importantly, they look far better.

I've seen RA-4 prints fade too.  Properly washed, on professional paper, they last a very long while.  Run through some minilab crap, no wash water, stabilier instead RA-4 can fade in days.  Color dyes are fugitive.  So I won't give this as a definite advantage to RA-4.

RA-4 is a simple process.  The paper is coated with dyes in Rochester, Harrow, Mount Fujiyama, South Carolina, NOT in your machine.  If the machine breaks you have to fix a roller, not some high-tech precision part.

(Before anyone gets started about lasers, LEDs, I print optically).

My BIGGEST problem with RA-4?  The stain in the whites definitely makes whites slightly dingier than an inkjet.  But the blacks are better, the tones are smooth, it can come STRAIGHT from a negative (and therefore give the highest possible quality attainable today).  It's compatible with a negative from 1959 or 2009.

Dryprint is just the next step in the planned obsolescence cycle the chip industry has trapped our industry in.

BTW, silver prices are going back down; there hasn't been a silver shortage rather an excessin speculator, retirement portfolio monies that has since been disbursed as the futures traders were about to get 100 troy ounce bars of silver delivered to their doors.

The Hunt Brothers got busted for this sh__.  Why the hell is it perfectly legal today to drive up the price of commodities artificially?  Supply and demand should drive prices.

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How do you print from memory cards optically!

Minilabs are not "crap" they do the job they were intended to do very well, that is print peoples ammeter photographs quickly easily and as efficiently as possible.

They are not designed as professional machines, though many places use them as pro machines because they are so good.

While I agree wash water is better at washing the prints than stabiliser, but look at how much water is required to do it that way. Wasting water like that is not acceptable these days. And to say prints can fade in days with STB is a gross exaggeration! If the stabiliser tanks are maintained properly the prints will last a very long time.

While I like the idea of continuing to use film and print optically unfortunately it no longer makes practical or financial sense to do this anymore.

A good compromise is scanning film and printing it digitally, this gives the best of both technologies. No more dust spots, scratch lines, poor colour prints needed to be re-done, spotted etc.

I'm afraid you're living in the past XXLtdLab!

No shops in the UK can survive just printing film on an analogue machine anymore.

With regard to inkjet, dysub(APEX) these technologies are getting much better, but personally I still prefer real photographic prints on photographic paper, to me they are much more natural looking unlike inkjet prints which look and feel too artificial. And dyesub has that weird 3D layer effect.

I think inkjet still has a way to go before it can match and better photographic prints, but it will get there one day.

The exception to this are the newer inkjet poster printers with lots of inks these prints are stunning.

Inkjet and dysub are technically not photographic prints as they are not written by light!

In terms of cost, this is quite a difficult calculation to make.

Drylab: less electricity, but more expensive per print cost, less maintenance, but inferior print quality

Wetlab: higher electricity, but less cost per print, more maintenance, better print quality.

Many people are keeping there existing 5 year + minilabs the machines are all paid for, so the only cost is maintaining them. No matter what part goes wrong it will never cost as much to fix as purchasing a new drylab!

Generally speaking if you do a lot of printing wet processing is still the way to go.

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Below 100,000 copies 10x15cm (4 "x6") - 13x18 (5 "x7 ') for years I think the amateur ideal for prints is the thermal printing (Kodak Apex, Mitsubishi CP-d707dw ...) and the larger photographs plotters (epson9900).

Over 100,000 photos is essential printing process RA-4

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Many people are keeping there existing 5 year + minilabs the machines are all paid for, so the only cost is maintaining them. No matter what part goes wrong it will never cost as much to fix as purchasing a new drylab!

Well this is simply not true in relation to cost, if you need a laser on a Certain Noritsu and other digital models then the cost could be 15k, well a Kodak Apex can be yours for considerably less than that !!!!

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Well this is simply not true in relation to cost, if you need a laser on a Certain Noritsu and other digital models then the cost could be 15k, well a Kodak Apex can be yours for considerably less than that !!!!

Yes if you are daft enough to buy a new laser unit!

Laser unit's can be repaired for under 3K and will last approx another 5 years before they need repairing again.

I wonder how many APEX printers you'd get through in 5 years? How much is each printer?

Hmm are you sure Kodak APEX works out considerably less?

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Great post!

I'm afraid I would have to back Dave S up on nearly every point.

The discussion about the merits of optical vs digital wet labs is probably a ten year old argument and the digital labs won the argument about 8 years ago !

And the wash water discussion even before that.

If you want to go down that line you might as well go back to producing B&W prints on fibre paper ...  nothing wrong with that but there is a problem finding enough customers!

Thermal prints are definitely a compromise in quality, the latest inkjets are pretty good quality wise but you do hear of high maintenance costs.

I'll certainly be running my wet lab until it fails to continue! And the cost of paper has certainly be coming down over the last few years.

Maybe the memjet stuff will have 'arrived' by the time I need to make a decision !

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I never said optical-only printing was viable (although I bet it could still be done profitably on an ational level).  What I said was OPTICAL PRINTING from film looks better.  I'll  continue to employ this superior method, dust spots and all (scratches, dust are still a prooblem digitally, even with ICE) as long as the paper, film is available.  I continue to employ BOTH systems.

I agree minilabs can and do produce professional results.  My first lab past the darkroom sink was a minilab.  It's the skill of the loperator. . . I resent the newr systems taking that control away from us and trating us as liabilities, sources of error only.

As for wash water being too expensive, kidding?  The figures I saw from Wilhelm indicate the print life of a print that is stabilized is HALF that of a water wash.  I'll continue to "pollute" water every day rather than halve the lifespan of my work.

When, if ever are we going to see a digital system that takes a step FORWARd in quality?  This factor is my primal motive, even ahead of profit.  It is what got me into the lab industry (couldn't get the quality from the labs I used as a photographer) and it is what keeps me jumping up every morning, that striving for the best possible quality for customers!

Regraless of paper type, imput format, prints of all sorts are cying.  Just see what is happening on Facebook, see how people are communicating visually and you will understand that the writing is on the wall.  Where the money is to be made now is color correction, file sharing, hosting, data transformation and image enhancement, archiiving.

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