Jump to content

Dry Lab - your thoughts

Mark Amies

Recommended Posts

Dear Mark,

I can see that you were not on this years P'kina.

There was only 3 really good manufactures of minlabs: Fuji, Noritsu and Kis.

As you are maybe aware, marriage between Fuji and Noritsu comes to its logical end. It did not finished in blood, but not far from that.

Anyhow, on the public part of Fuji booth you can see how DRY (ink-jet) minilab look like, but it did not worked. It's is called DryLab600. Next to it, Fujifilm showed brand new Frontier 550/570. Brand new?! No, they will now sell LP5500/5700 from 2004?! WOW! At least, this minilab worked.

New designation is LP5700R and LP5500R. We all wonder what this R means: Reincarnated, Reinvented, Refurbished, Restarted... Even on page http://www.fujifilm.com/photokina2010/ drylab is listed after good old Frontier.

On Noritsu situation was very different. They showed NEW DryLab called D1005. But, comparing to Fuji, it worked. Back to this lab was Noritsu 3701HD, 640dpi model, 30x90cm print.

Both DryLabs (DL600 and D1005) has same maximum print size (30x90cm) and duplex capability. But, duplex only on A4 sheet paper as far as I know?!.

And they have some problems. So, they use Epson print head, which is good, but cleaning system is quite bad. If somebody has Epson stylus pro printer, it is known that after couple of hundreds of printed sqm of paper print head and capping station should be cleaned, maybe replaced. Otherwise, you have ugly black drop on beautiful blue sky ;))) So, one roll of 15,2x186 paper is more then 27sqm. OK, drylab is using 100m lenght roll. So, if you print 500 prints per day, it seems that in 6,5 working days you will print 300sqm and you will have to clean the head. Which is technitians job...

On KIS booth, they showed KIS PhotoBook Builder, which is very nice piece of equipment, and in the back, there was DKS1720.

Rumours on P'kina said that Noritsu will quit their operations due to too small sales of new minilabs. This rumour supports fact that Fuji restarted production of wet minilab.

So, what is conclusion?

DO NOT CHANGE YOUR EQUIPMENT. Just assure good maintenance.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really well put Masterlaser. A good synopsis of where the market is at.

One player not mentioned was HP. They are making good inroads into the mass merchants like Tesco and Wlalmarrt USA however in Canada they have gone with Kodak. HP's solution for the big boys is a kind of self service system which eliminates the need for staff nearby.

In my opinion when comparing the quality between machines the HP was not anywhere near the Noristu dry machine or wet labs but it has a place. This is possibly why few photo specialists have gone this way.

Dry definitely the way for low volume - high margin sites.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

knowing how much their full price purchases are subsidising the big boys

This has gone on for decades and always will.

The time for Dry, is close, indeed very close. But the main thing is the price for paper and inks, as soon as they reflect silver halide, the larger switch will take place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Asda are still with Fuji for the time being. I had also heard they don't buy equipment - just consumables. Very smart move - although must be a hard thing to swallow for any independant - knowing how much their full price purchases are subsidising the big boys :-/

With reference to ASDA , they are quite heavily involved with Photo Kiosks now, and had an arrangement with Sony for this. This arrangement has now come to an end , and the dye sub printers inside the kiosk will be replaced with a DNP Fotolusio solution, suing DNP print media. This will be a very important arrangement for DNP, who have a big presence in mainland Europe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

We run both the agfa  d-lab2 and noritsu d703 drylab side by side.

Conclusion is that the agfa does most of the big jobs and the noritsu  covers up when the agfa has been shut down or we have service on it. It's good for instant printouts.

Stil, drylab is slow compared to the agfa. Quality is ok once you get it well adjusted. No problems with the printer itself with cleaning and maintaince still, but will shoot back when we have pulled 10-15 rolls of paper trough it :)

Pulled my head trough this printer the last months to get colors correct as it has not been a favor in a year now s i start to know the model in and out :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, on larger quanta we see the agfa faster, but for just spitting out a few pics the drylab get the pics out before they reach the first tank on the agfa (and if you agfa is not heated.... will not go into there)

another thing.... printing with the noritsu makes a strange smell from the paper/ink they use ;) so you know when it's been running.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There have been some very interesting posts re dry labs both on here and other forums on the net.

Firstly let me say that I run a dlab2 and dlab1. The d1 is solely for 'over the counter' punter's work, whereas the d2 is employed to do my Pro work which amounts to approx 70% of my business. In addition to these beasts I also run a Canon ipF8100 44" inky printer. Due to the nature of my business I have NO plans to go down the totally dry route until such time that the speed, ease of use and quality matches or surpasses wet printing.

I have seen results from Fuji, Noritsu and HP dry systems and yes in some cases the prints do look promising assuming future development can get them up to the quality of inky prints that can be produced by the likes of my Canon or equivelent Epson printers.

The dry labs seem to only use 4 inks, which will give a wider colour gamut than a wet print simply due to the nature of ink laydown on paper, but having said that, the colour gamut is nowhere near as good as a 10 or 12 in printer. For printing larger than 8x6 where higher quality is needed I would certainly look at buying a Canon ipF5100 or Epson 4400 because the output from these Pro desktop 17" printers is FAR superior to any dry lab on the market. This high quality comes at the small price of about £1500.

These Epson & Canon printers can all print roll or sheet so it then begs the question, would it not be better to have several of these @ £1500 each and have the ability to print as big as 17"x10m and still retain high speed when using on small sizes as well as having a 10 or 12 ink machine that produces prints of far superior quality than a dry lab. I for one would certainly look at this route if I needed to go dry.

Unfortunately I come from a photographic background where quality is king and endeavour to give my customers the same, so as I said, the dry route is not for me at the moment. That is not to say that things will not change with these machines and they will perhaps then fit my business model.

Even the current crop of Dry Labs have their place in the market where small labs are not doing Pro work or similar. For the 'happy snappy' brigade of customer the prints would almost certainly be good enough

Unfortunately, as with everything in life, there is no one product that is good for everything and so there will always be a compromise somewhere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some good info on this section exept the fact that Kodaks Apex dry lab is the most versitile and expandable system on the market at the moment, i am not sure how you fail to list Kodak in the "Big Three" when they have such a hugh population of dry minilab installation in the UK, in a very broad spectrum of retailers from Pro Photographers, to small retail outlets using the equipment, the new version of software onthe Apex are very good and offer real oppertunities to gain extra sales and revenue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to have said, the noritsu is based on Epson printer head.

like Richard SPC , the dlab2 we have still runs main production.

For big prints, canvas and so on we have a Epson SP 10000CF to play with witch we are very happy with.

And for the smell, it's not a problem, it's like noted before, it's just when you run them out and they dissapare in a few minutes.

Think we have a kinda expencive d703 for doing 50-100 prints a week :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...