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digital conversions.......


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As there seems to be more and more good dependable analogue machines virtualy going to the dump,

which ones make good digital conversions and which technology is the best/easiest ?

  Any input would be usefull, there are a few conversion systems out there now, some seem better than others, but it is only in use that the advantages/disadvantages sometimes come to light.

  What experiences have people had?

As for processing engines, Noritsu seem to be a favourite for third party 'add ons', and probably arguably the best, but what about other old stalwarts, for example the San Marco 1812, which before their (San Marco's) demise was sold as being ready for conversion.

Anyone have thoughts/experiances to share?

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Hi Photograhis,

We do a number of conversions, the most popular labs seem to be Noritsu 2301, Gretag 740+, Agfa MSC101. and Fuji SFA238. I think we come across thase machines because they are reliable, cheap to buy and have a lage install base. The San Marco 1812 can be converted, great if you want a cheap, big printer.

we beleive (of course) that the GPE D-Carrier is the best system by far for image quality and reliability (over 3000 installed )to see a list of machines that are compatable click here http://www.siimagingsolutions.co.uk/carrier.htm


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We had GPE D-Carrier istalled on analogue minilab. But when we had errors (meny) local service vas poor, and mail to factory, sales ect. Nothing but silence. I will never put money to this enymore, one time was one time too meny.

Now we have Noritsu digilab (new), but by my knowlege i rather bay used digilab. One of my frend had Konica QS-21 what meny say is bad mahcine, but this vas upgrade version and only good memory of this mahcine. On minilab sites this model cost some 7000-10000 and is digitaly.

GPE D-Carrier is very slow and if you have some errors so you must wait long time and start again.

Dont loose money. Digitaly is for to morrow and so us business too.


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Hi Rowe, I have heard your story from a few sources, I think mainly with the early d-carriers. I may be wrong, which is why I started this thread.  It does sound like Ian from Siimaging is now on the search for bad supliers.......

Go Ian , Go.

We need all the help we can get, to many people still look at this industry as 'fat cat' , the gravy train de-railed a few years back, peoples perceptions are taking a while to catch up with reality.

Any other experiances , good and bad, that you would like to share, anyone ?

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I have knowledge on GPE carriers, all bad and also on other similar digital systems with similar stories and it is my conclusion that good money should not be thrown after bad!  Any idea what the latest price is for this - £10,000 + ?

For example the San Marco 1812 machine which was sold extensively by a well known UK company who went bank on two occasions does not even warrant the "Stalwart" title, it was a poorly constructed machine with many faults and if you asked any good dealer in the business it would be placed next to the bottom of the league table.

As for other converions there are only 3 we know of, one is based upon the digital carrier chip technology and would be the least fancied and the most expensive! The other 2 use the contact printing system developed by the Polish company "Labnet" which gives by far the quality of image that exceeds any persons needs,  (Fastlab UK who are the UK distributers) it came 2nd in the DIMA minilab shoot out in the 12" section losing to the Fuji Frontier 570 - costing over 200,000USD, and this conversion costs £11,000 to £14,000 depending on the machine, still thinking? I know which I would go for I could not choose which print was the best!!!!

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Hi There

We had D-Carrier Pro (Not  led Based). Most errors was color filter who dont stop well so pictures had black on  sides.

Otfer very thing was when we doing differnt size fron same photo color balance was more or less not same color. This mean lot of paper waist.

Every time chemytry or somethin else errors, D-Carrier stop, and there we was how meny photos of this order was maked ready and how mwny to do again.

We mail meny time to Italy factory, some times we used phone also. This was more "manajana" than realy custom service. Comppany who sold this to us went down. So there we where.

Most of us have lot of money in this business, and we dont have possible to be fooled meny times. This is only real story of us feelings, and we do busines in Scandinavia. So this is not against english service, what I hear you do work well there.  

So my lessions is to use firms who also take care of aftersale.  Before we had also AGFA and no bad to say of this comppany. One other bad day I have long time a go I bay Konica.

Better photo future to all


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Hi Rowe,

I am sorry to say that it sounds like you suffered due to poor service, we have only ever supplied the D-Carrier LED system which doesnt have a filter wheel which may have been the root of some of your technical problems. I have been to the factory in Italy and was impressed at the fact that GPE make virtually all the components including the circuit boards,the LCD panel is now made by Epson and offers quality to match any digital lab.

We like the way the system works and the quality it offers along with the fact that a perfectly good minilab isnt being scrapped for no reason.

Ajlas plug for the the Labnet system from Fastlab shows a different approach to the same idea and as I understand it is also a good way of saving a lab, I would like to see some images from it to comment further but if it is as good as he say and is backed up by Daryls guys it has to be worth a look too.

[action]Ian gets back off his soap box[/action]

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Intresting thread... and this subject has been here in the past ;) Its all down to confidence, and more important support. I like what Ian says, and like anything in life, things change and improve, you can now get a *old* lab for almost free... so who knows, this may well be a way forward for some.

That is providing that parts etc are going to be available for the *donor* lab.

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mmmmm self plugging always looks bad when you get the facts wrong hehe.

But as Neil says donor parts can be an issue on old kit, but the D Carrier (I use this model as i have a mate who has one) is a good way to convert your old lab to digital but eventually an upgrade to full digital would be on the cards for most i would think.

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;DHi Ian, no it wasn't me who plugged my company but I am thankful just the same. In reference to the Dima award I think my plugger (who I think I know) has it right, we were giving out prints showing the results of this and there was the Kodak P30 in second place by a whisker, but this is probably what my plugger thought to be a professional laser lab and not what we call a minilab, perhaps you can confirm? We gave this information as you see it on our web site and it shows us in 3rd position and that is what I tell people, it is not 2nd place, but what the hell, if the Kodak machine is not a minilab then my friend is right!

Regarding our contact printing conversions, may I take this opportunity to stress it produces a constant image quality throughout all of sizes from small to large, we fit it to only certain machines and some are absolutely brand new minilabs direct from the best known brand out there and we can still do this for under £20,000 complete with PC.             Converted machines can be completed for around £12,000 including PC and you can have the option of either going totally digital or keep the analogue scanner which of course  negates the purchase of a film scanner.

Should anybody have any questions on these or indeed would like to visit us or send images to be printed, we would be very happy to oblige. The question for continuity of parts on any donor machine we can confirm is not an issue as we carefully choose the donor accordingly and also source other avenues for manufacturers of the parts.

P.S. sorry Ian mate that I took some time to answer you, I have only just registered myself today!!!!! By the way, you didn't believe that announcement at Focus about my age did you, I may look it but I can prove to you - honestly!!

I will also investigate the plugger and give them a bonus!!!


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Hi Darryle,

Nice to see you up here too. 2nd or 3rd , it doesnt really matter still a result for the greens amongst us ! I thought you were 21, what age did they say you were at Focus?  :)

I will also investigate the plugger and give them a bonus!!!

Good idea, AJLA`s email address is info@fastlabuk.com shouldnt be too hard to find  ;)

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Thanks for your call last night Ian and of course it is all good fun but with hopefully interesting and helpful news.

Anyway your call and subsequent chat did enable me to find the plugger, it was a "very nice man" (heard that somewhere before) from Singapore who stayed over to help us (and had use of my daughters pc) until I took him to the railway station on Wednesday evening, he had come to help us with our show at Focus where he demonstrated a new lab from his own company that prints up to 12x8 for only £13,999. He has extensive knowledge of the industry and was very impressed with the contact printing concept, this was the first time he could get up close to inspect.

So my thanks to Mr. Wong, you are probably now at 32,000ft plus on way to your Beijing appointment I promise to send you a 1lb of apples at Xmas, many thanks!

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Now now, Boys, Play nicely !!

Well, we have talked on the 'phone, Darryle, and as a little asside, which I'm sure you wouldn't mind being made public, I had a visit from Photo-Stop the other day (and for anyone wondering, they do seem to offer good support-- see other threads), obviously their main concern was to sell me a digital lab. I posed to them the same question I have posted here.

There answer was almost identical to the answers posted.

D-carriers have their own problems, it used to be dust etc. (mainly through impropper fitting and operator inexperiance), now certain problems seem to have been ironed out, the jury still seems to be out on the latest incantations. (in otherwords I couldn't get a solid answer from them).

As for contact printing, they could not fault it. All they would say was why invest in a converted secondhand lab, when for only a few thousand extra (?) you can get a NEW DIGITAL LAB.  And they said you came third.  

    From what I see, only a few short years ago, a Noritsu 2301 was a formidable machine that many people used very profitably. It may have been expensive to service, but nowhere as expensive as replacing a laser every 4/5 years (if you are lucky).  

    Everyone (including Photo-Stop and Darryle !) seem to be saying "do not bother with 12x18 machines", and use the wide format for anything over 12x8. I find wide format prints far to fragile to supply in these sizes. It seems once you get up to poster size people treat them with propper respect, but the smaller prints.........


    My search for enlightenment continues.....

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Hi Simon, thank you for posting this info. Well, obviously I do not know what Fotostop have offered you but my reluctance as far as a 12x18 printer is dictated by cost of investment, for example I can offer our 3043 model, which unfortunately only prints up to 12x17, at the most affordable price of £29,999. This machine is absolutely new, speed is 800p/hr., it has double paper magazine and independent work station inclusive and we have this model out there with UK clients already.

We also have our D26 (12x8) absolutely new at £19,999, this is a new Noritsu 26 series printer processor fitted with the "Contact Printing" engine.

So, my views on the wide format printer option are dependent upon each clients circumstance but from our experience with our own D&P outlet we decided to replace our aging 12x18 digital lab with a 12x8, plus a wide format printer and this turned out to be an excellent decision because it has added other services to our revenue stream, far more than an RA4 lab could and people do not ask for 12x18 prints, its now 20 x 16 and remember the frames!!!!

Coming back to the DIMA award, its becoming boring I suppose but yes we were in 3rd place and I never said anything different to that and it was in my handouts at Focus as this but what that "very nice man" from Singapore pointed out was that we were the 2nd placed minilab because the Kodak P30 was considered not as a "minilab".

By the way Simon, it is only friendly banter between myself and Ian, I was becoming jealous that he had something to say on every subject because it appears he doesn't have anything else to do or perhaps he doesn't sleep! What say you Ian?

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Shhhh!  I think he's finally sleeping !

  Well, I think more important than your actual placement in the final, is the points achieved upon each stage of testing.

Personaly I was very impressed, noting than if the 'gray ballance' result had been better, you would have taken a resounding second and realy challenged the Fuji. If I was producing/selling minilabs those results would have made me sit up and take real notice.

Which machine was it on , by the way?

Your point on investment is well made, and appreciated especialy at a time when it seems all people want is your money.

Conference later, be in touch.

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Well Simon this was tested on our 12" wide prints so you may say "even better".

Exactly right about the grey equals test, 'Labnet' who are the developers of this digital system unfortunately entered the various test sheets to Dima without certain knowledge of procedures especially on the grey equals - if only they would have contacted us before submitting their prints!

This company are not minilab manufacturers or even dealers in this industry they are in fact brilliant software developers and stumbled across this CPDM concept through one of their directors having a over healthy interest in photography, the rest you know.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

FWIW I have been using a digital carrier for a little while, and am very pleased with it so far. If it keeps operating like it has so far I will be happy. It's an Efilming fitted to a Noritsu 2611. The quality is very good, and it's simple to operate, and cost a fraction of any full digital lab. Of course the drawback is that's it's a bit slow, and you are relying on the old lab to keep working,  but it's good intermediate step if you are reluctant to commit to a full digital lab.

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Hi Gongo, very interesting to hear about your carrier to the 2611, as we were agents for 2 carrier manufacturers and the first to introduce them to the UK some years ago we found that the slow speed was not good enough at that time and therefore withdrew from that market and followed the "Contact Printing" technology.

As a matter of interest we would convert a 2611 lab to fully digital for just over £12,000 qwould you mind sharing information on how musch your E-Filming unit cost in total?

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