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Help decide which lab to buy ?


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My gretag D1008 recently started playing up and decided to stop working since 4 weeks.-- This off course does help when you have a competitor right across the road !  Can one have ideas which machine i should look at ? I have used Copals, Agfa and Gretag. Very have with gretag but sadly no more available. I was looking at the DKS range from Photo-Me. Does anyone have experience on this ?  

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If you really want to buy wet lab, buy used one, new ones are to expensive for state of business right now.

In my opinion do not buy Noritsu as they have a big problems with lasers and AOMs going down, but more on this subject is on Noritsu part of this forum.

KIS machines DKS2 series are OK (at least there is 5 year warranty on LCD, but there is also problems with LCD on machines which works a lot), I think that they have very good application software with a lot of possibility to play with images, and they (my opinion) have best color from digital then other machine, result from negative could be better, DKS won a few DIMA awards for best quality printing.


Regarding FUJI frontiers, I do not have experience, but also did not heard that they experience such problems with lasers as Noritsu (at least not at that scale), but personally I do not like FUJI color anyway.

Gretag (SMI) has it line of MK series, but personally I do not like it, scanner is very slow (at least Pacon F235), and application did not change from Master Flex Digital at all.

If you buy DRY Lab, then buy new one.

I have information that KIS (Photo-Me), wan DIMA 2008 award for best quality dry lab machines.


They have two models DKS910 and DKS920 (still not shown on KIS site), last one has sorter, beckprinter (between printer and sorter) and better PC (DELL), and prices are reasonable for minilab, but also material is cheaper then it was before with DKS900 when they used Mitsubishi printers, and now they are using Shinko printers.


Kodak have APEX, interesting machine with modular design.


It would be good if there are some forum members who visited PMA this year to comment on DRY Lab system from Kodak, KIS, SMI, Noritsu.. regarding quality, easy handling, software....

This is only my opinion and I maybe wrong 8), anyway the best is to visit each machine, make prints, compare and then decide ;)

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great inputs. -- really appreciate all the comments.  

I always thought that thermal dye-sub machines are expensive to run due to the raw material costs, i.e. i can then not compete with 5p - 7p per print.  also although i have not tested these machines, i would have thought that you will not get the same quality such as depth of field effect that you get on conventional RA4 Gloss paper

I am looking as my PC in the Gretag D1008 has broken down and have already spent

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Regarding Gretag D1008 as I am tech for that machine also, very soon there will be new PC kit coming from Gretag together with new software version, it will be much faster and with one 400Gb SATA HDD and SATA DVD R/W, no more SCSI devices (except external scanner), check with your Gretag tech and ask for the prices.

I had some figures but I have to check it before posting.

Can you describe in more details what is going on with your machine, maybe I can help ?

Cost for dye-sub material is off course more then with chemistry, but there is a lot of advantages: no preheating, much less power consumption, no water, no mess with chemistry, no waste, no dark chamber..., and in the future I think material prices will be lower.

Regarding quality, dye-sub is getting better every year, and I am still waiting for colleague from Gretag to post me the prints from PMA which he made on there (Gretag) dry lab and on the KIS DKS920, I will post my comments when I get the prints.

But beside this I will get one printer from KIS to test, then I will have more input for you.

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ok the problem started about 4 weeks ago.  

The problem is that the machine will start in the

morning and will go through to windows loading and

then the Gretag software will be up and running the PC

will stay on for a maximum time of up to 10 mins

(sometimes 3mins , 5 mins -it is unpredictable ) and

then PC will shut down with an audible click sound and the

screen blanks out simultaneously. The screen will

still have a green light and the scanner will still

have power to it and the chemistry will warm up. Here

the hard drives are running.

If however the PC shuts down before the whole of the

windows software completes loading than the scanner

will have no power and chemistry will not warm up.

Here the hard drives are not running

The third possibility is that the PC will stay on and

will continue to the gretag software being loaded and

carry for the touch screen to be used. It will not

switch of until done so. Here I seem to get a DMD

communication error. Then about 6-7 mins later it will shut

down with an audible click.

the enginner has  changed Disk

ID 9 so far which is quite expensive.

The engineer does not quite know what the exact

problem is although he says it is a PC problem.  He seems to work on a hit and miss policy

and  changing parts which costs me dear together with labour.

If you can help me in any way please let me know.

Look forward to hearing from you.

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HDD ID8 is system HDD, so changing the ID9 will not help as ID9 and ID10 are for archive (normal during work, not order archive).

Looking at your post it could be power supply in the PC, but also check the battery on the motherboard and timers in the PC, check start up and shutdown timers.

Power supply is not expensive, but buy a better one like fortron, chiftec, enermax etc. in a range off 100 euro I think is OK (not sure what prices are at your location).

Unfortunately sometimes is necessary to go like your tech is doing  a hit and miss policy, but I never charge before I fix something (only travel expenses).

By the way what is charge per hour by your tech (here is about 30euro + VAT) ?

Also check event viewer maybe something will be shown there.

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I guess that you can buy it in any better equipped PC store, it is standard ATX power supply but buy one which have 400-450W power, I just put those three manufacturers as I had good experience with them, but off course you can buy some other if it is good.

For changing of that power supply you do not have to call your tech, any PC tech can do it and maybe even solve your problem as they have more experiences with repairing the PC, because this sound more like PC problem and does not have nothing to do with rest of the machine.

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i have pulled the Pc out , disconnected the hard drives, and the power supply from the case.

when i switch on the power supply (with no hard drives connected) the power supply is happy to run making intermitant hissing noise on a continual basis. The two fans on the processor, two the case, and two on the two hard drives kepp working fine.

when i connect one to two drives (with the other two drives disconnected) it instantly cuts the power supply out. The fans on the motherboard and other fans cut out and stop

could this be a power supply problem ?


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Yes it could be, but off course only way to be sure is to connect good working power supply.

Try to pull out power supply from another PC if you have any (first connect it to the motherboard and drives without taking out the old one). It could be those two drives which you left connected, try with only one ID8 which is the system drive and see what is going on.

If you have instrument also you can measure voltages on power supply red is +5V, Black is ground (0V) and yellow is +12V.

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Back to the new Drylabs at PMA, The print quality is excellent, and labs are getting very small.

I was impressed with them, the Kodak is very modular and can be increased to suit your size of business. It also connects to LFP and laser printers for photobook etc. The matt finish on the dye-sub kodak is a little dissapointing but its the first time matt & gloss have been produced on the same media so its early days for this technology.

Yes media is more expensive to start but as someone else mentioned, they are have many advantages.

Cheaper initial lab cost, no chemicals and HSE issues, low odour, less maintenance, less power consumption.

In a year or two media price will come down.

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Are these dye sub printers easy to change on these labs, as one possible problem is that you are tyed to one make of paper.  With a wet lab you can change from Kodak to Fuji no problem.  Also as the printers improve each year are you going to have to update the printers much more often.  A bit like DSLR cameras, most Professional photographers used to get at least 5 years use out of a camera, often 10, now most update every couple of years even if there new digital still works because they need the better quality available today.

So the initial cost maybe cheaper on a new lab but what is its paybeck time, 2 or 5 years??

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Changing the printer is very easy (at least with KIS as example), just plug new one, install appropriate software (maybe also new dongle), and that is all.

They are very heavy (20-30)kg, depending of the format (30kg for 8").

For example KIS company released new DKS920 with new printers added sorter and backprinter, but they also have DKS910 with same (new) software and new (shinko) printers, but with same cabinet and with same PC (not sure about this) inside as was on DKS900.

If any DKS900 user want to switch to new printers and new software it would be very easy and it would not cost same as you buy complete cabinet with PC, printers..

My guess is that KIS will have that as kind off upgrade kit available (this is not official statement, just my opinion).

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Speaking of dry labs,has anyone looked at the new Noritsu D701 dry lab? The more I think about it the more a high speed inkjet system makes sense. Especially the Noritsu as it uses roll paper. As most of us use inkjet now for large format printing, we know the quality is there, the media cost is coming down and there is a huge range of paper types that can be used. Also much less things to go wrong, no chemistry etc.

I have a dyesub printer, but only use it now for passport photos, the quality just isn't anywhere near that of silver halide, also the quality seems to deteriorate as the print head wears out, so would rather steer clear of dyesub. But maybe the latest dye subs are much improved?

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it is quite appealing BUT what about the inkjet printer speed?  Can you still offer gloss, matt finishes ?  Are you tied down with using Noritsu ink cartridges ? -- cost/print needs to be considered.  True there will be no costs for LCD panels to go faulty, power costs will be down, no warm-up times. etc

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With the prices of dry labs, you can put one in, and if you need more output, you get a second/third etc, also doing it this way, you have backup machines. More cost effective for the hardware.

As for consumables, yes more expensive, but will come down in price over a period of time.

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We have a dyesub connected to a kiosk, which when first installed was realy quite busy. Now it gets little use, even at 22p for a 6x4. The main reason given to me is that they would preffer to pay a little extra for a print that they know will not fade in a few months. Suits me, 6x4 silverhalide is far cheaper to produce. I did not realise that the dyesub prints would fade, so I put some in the window, and they do.

I would presume that Noritsu/Fuji have overcome this problem with their drylabs i.e. they use u.v. resistant pigment inks.

If not, care must be taken.

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it seems to me that the machines for the photofinishing industry will be dominated by the manufacturers of inkjet printers, the likes of epson,HP,etc, etc, bringing out drylabs.  I agree that the raw material cost (input cost ) will be a lot more per print than AgX system  --  making the price less competitive in the short run as prices for ink will drop (not sure about  inkjet paper costs coming down )  And the "traditional" AgX (silver halide) manufacturers (Noritsu,Fuji etc etc) will be over time be squeezed out. To survive they may have to think of switching their product base to dry labs slowly.  With these dry lab coming in , we may see more of (varying sizes) these installed  , in corner shops, supermarkets, filling stations, Dixons, Comets, etc etc.  So what is the future of  our specialist photo place shops? Because of the problems with my lab, and the local competion (which you all will be aware of by now), i am forced to look at different avenues to be competitive, as well as offereing something different at the lowest possible cost.  I am now more inclined to look at dry labs, but a very interesting comment made above by Photographics that their customers prefer silverhalide prints as opposed to ink jet.   How do others feel on this matter ?

also thank you BenFiled for the above link , really interesting.  

more HP links :http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press_kits/2008/pma/retail-photo-solutions.html


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