A photo store's digital imaging center is equipped with printers that can read images from memory cards or CDs.
Kiosks have slots for most cards and even CDs. Most also have Bluetooth or WiFi wireless capability so you can print directly from the camera.
A Sony PictureStation kiosk.
One thing you don't want to give up when you go digital is that stack of 4 x 6 prints from your local one-hour photo finisher. Not even the most avid photographer wants to be tied to the computer making every print. The good news is that digital photography has become more like traditional film
photography, with printing available at local photo shops and large chains. The only difference is that instead of handing a roll of film across the counter, you just hand over a memory card. These places can often accept the memory card right out of your camera and transfer the images to their system while you wait. This way you get the card back so you can continue shooting while
your prints are being made. An hour later, you stop by and they hand over your prints. Check out your local camera shop first. Their costs may be a little higher, but they probably also contribute to the scouts and other community activities because they are part of the local community.
Many stores have digital self-serve photo kiosks. You just insert your camera's memory card (or almost any other media that has images on it) and make prints on the spot. When using a photo kiosk, here are some things to look for:
- Input choices include memory cards or CDs, and many now include Bluetooth wireless connections so you can print images from your camera phone.
- Copy to CD? If you just make prints and then erase your memory card, you
no longer have the digital images for other prints or projects. It's the same as not having negatives in film photography. Copying the images to a CD lets you keep the images even when you delete them from the card to make room for new images.
- Editing? You can make choices on a touch-screen to crop your images, remove red-eye, add text, or adjust contrast and brightness.
- Prints and projects. Not only can you make prints in a variety of sizes
and layouts (standard 4 x 6, cropped enlargements, wallets or an index of all images), you can also use templates to add borders, or create novelty prints, photo-illustrated calendars, trading cards, greeting cards, and the like.
- Internet connection? Some kiosks also let you upload images to a Web site for archiving or sharing with friends and family. Once on the Web you and other visitors can order products such as coffee mugs embellished with your photos, or perhaps even send images by e-mail
- Printing technology used? Some kiosk printers use traditional silverbased
photographic paper just like you would expect from a one-hour minilab or professional photo finishing retailer. Others make dye-sublimation or inkjet prints. Because so many printing technologies are used, print quality can vary. As you try different kiosks, you might ask what technology they use so you can learn which you prefer.
When using a self-serve kiosk for the first time, one tip is to ask a staff person to make your first print for you as you watch. They often have to make a few to get it perfect and don't charge you for the extras.