Archive for November, 2007

What’s the best professional printer to use with a commercial photobooth?

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

There are many professional printers that one can use with a commercial photobooth.  They can be broken down into 3 main considerations

1. Price. Can you afford $300 or $2000 for a printer?
2. Capacity and size. Do you want to change the paper every 150 prints or every 600 prints and how big do your printouts need to be?
3.  Speed and technology used. How fast can it produce prints? Is it a dyesub or inkjet printer?

There are two main suppliers that I usually buy my printers from:

www.imagingspectrum.com
www.fotoclubinc.com

Both offer free shipping on orders over $100 and great customer service. Fotoclub tends to be very slightly cheaper, but imaging spectrum usually matches their prices if asked.

In a previous blog entry I already discussed inkjet printers so this article will discuss only dyesub printers. Dyesub printers are often referred to as professional printers (this is not to say that inkjet printers are not professional). This is because 7 or 8 years ago they were much faster at printing out photos and there were only one or two inkjet printers that made prints that lasted a long time and were portable.

Almost all of my printers are sony dye sub printers. This is because Sony usually has an amazing rebate about once or twice a year where you can buy a $1000 printer and get $800 in free paper.  The two sony printers I recommend the most are the Sony UPDR150 and the new smaller and cheaper Sony UPCX1, which is $950, but comes with $800 worth of free paper, which makes it a great deal. You could buy an older refurbished dye sub printer for $400 or $500 dollars or get one off ebay, but with new ones like the Sony UPCX1 coming with so much free paper it really doesnt’ make sense to buy used. The coolest thing about the sony upcxi is that it can print out 4×8″ photos. That means you can have your standard 4 photo strip and then at the end have your event date or company logo, etc. It really personalized the gift a lot! That deal is good till the end of 2007 so if you are interested now would be the time to take advantage of it.  Mitsibushi, Kodak and Shinko also make great printers and you can see a comparison of them at this great link:

Comparison of Photo booth printers

All of these printers are plenty fast. If you are looking to do 8×10 prints there is even a comparison chart for these printers as well, which are very expensive.

One thing many people don’t know about dye sub printers is that almost all of them use paper on a roll which means you don’t have to reload the paper as much. It also unfortunately means that you are stuck with that paper size unless you want to load a whole new roll of paper in. So don’t expect to print out 4×6″s and then 6×8″s a few seconds latter. You basically stick to one size of paper.

I hope that helps everyone out a little bit! Peace, Rolland

Purikura, the Japaneese Photobooth

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Online Purikura Photobooth
Well I just found out that photobooths are hot in Japan. The above site is an online version of these Japanese photobooths where you not only take your own photos, but also decorate them afterwards.

There is a great article on how these booths work here
Purikura Photo booths

Which gives me a great idea to have stickers for the next photobooth we design and make.

But even more interesting is the fact that this technology is going to the world wide web shortly.
videkura photo booths
Seems to be the latest trend in the photobooth world. Instead of printing out images imagine having your images automatically uploaded to a web site to share with friends and family! I love instant gratification.

Peace, Rolland

Free Software code to run your photo booth.

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Before you use this free software code there are a couple of things you need to download and configure on your computer.

First you need to download the program www.autohotkey.com and install it on your PC.  It’s free and cool 🙂  The next thing you want to do is set the resolution on your computer to 1024×768. The FREE code uses a mouse click to activate the sequence and it is important the resolution be set correctly for the click to occur at the right spot. In windows XP simply right click on the desktop, choose properties and then click on the settings tab. Use the slider to change the resolution to 1024×768. In Vista right click on your desktop and choose Personalize then choose the bottom option window settings to set the resolution.

Below is the code necessary to run the booth. Copy all of it and paste it into a notepad text file, and choose File–>Save As. When saving it be sure to Select save as type ALL FILES and add the extention .ahk so that it will be opened by autohotkeys. For example a good file name to use would be script.ahk

Numpad0::
Numpad1::
Numpad2::
Numpad3::
Numpad4::
Numpad5::
Numpad6::
Numpad7::
Numpad8::
Numpad9::
NumpadDot::
NumpadDel::
NumpadDiv::
NumpadMult::
NumpadAdd::
NumpadSub::
NumpadEnter::
NumpadIns::
NumpadEnd::
NumpadPgUp::
NumpadUp::
NumpadRight::
NumpadClear::
NumpadLeft::
NumpadPgDn::
NumpadDown::
Loop, 4
{
MouseClick, left,332,715
Sleep, 6000
}

So what does all this code mean anyways?  Well all of the lines that end wtih double colons are just telling your PC that pressing any of those keys on the USB number pad will activate the photo sequence. The last five lines tell the PC to take four pictures in a row with 6 seconds between the photos using www.snapstrip.com the next version of snapstrip will have a visual 3-2-1 count down display so if you are using the program in a noisy environment there will be a visual count down.

 So there you go. Just have people step into your booth press any key on your usb number pad and the booth will snap four photos in a row!

 But what about printing out the photos? Well that is why you have a computer outside the booth.  Open up the program thumbsplus
Go to the My pictures directory which is where all the photos are saved to by default. If you want to change this location you can under the OPTIONS section of snapstrip.

Hit Ctrl+A on your keyboard and you’ll have a screen that looks like this
Photo booth software program
Now simply hit Ctrl+P and the print dialog box will come up.
Photo booth software free and cool

Lets go over the settings. First you have to create a custom print size. Do this by simply clicking on the drop down arrow in the size box and choosing custom. Then enter a size of 1.5×2″ and click ADD and then OK. Next make sure your printer’s properties are set to boarderless printing. Choose 8 images per page, expand and crop and check both the auto rotate and auto crop boxes. Set image copies to 2 and before you hit print make sure you SAVE the entire layout by typing in a name at the top of the box like DOUBLE STRIP as shown in this example so you can pull it up easily again in the future. This program has the ability to batch print the color photos in black and white, but that is a topic for a future post.

Once the images are done printing you can simply move the images to a new folder in Thumbs plus.

I know what you are thinking? Isn’t there a way to automatically have the computer batch print the files after every session and there is but that will be available in a paid version of the script latter on.

What’s a good printer to use with my photobooth?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Wow I’m glad you asked because there are literally hundreds of printers and most of them are not good to use with a photo booth.  There are really only two inkjet printers I would recommend.

The first is the Epson r280 which costs around $100 from www.newegg.com. Office supply stores like staples and office depot  often have online coupons that will bring down the price $10 or $15 dollars, but beaware of the small print in coupons that do not apply towards technology items, like printers.

The second is the Canon IP4500 which is about $115 through www.newegg.com. Personally I think the canon is a little nicer printer even though it costs a bit more.

Now you’re probably thinking what makes these two printers so much better than all the rest? Simple, they are fast, they will do a 4×6 from the time you hit print in about 40 to 45 seconds. The box says they will do it in 25 seconds but that is not including the data processing time. But to take advantage of this speed your computer must have USB 2.0 ports! Most computers made in the last 3 years have USB 2.o as standard. If not the combination USB/firewire to PCMCIA card recommended in the previous post will get your laptop up to speed. When ever you go out to do a gig make sure you take lots of extra ink and paper.

Now let me stand on my soap box for a minute. ONLY use expensive manufacturer’s ink and paper! Canon and epson inks on canon or epson paper are very duralble and should last a life time. It is true you can buy cheap third party inks and paper , but often these inks will fade in months and the paper has a lot to do with how long a print lasts as well. The only other paper I can recommend is Red River paper.  If you use the epson then I recommend buying ink from

http://www.costcentral.com/proddetail/Epson_CLARIA_HICAP_MULTICOLOR_PACK_F_R260_R380_RX580_R280_RX595_RX680/T077920/N53719/pricegrabber/

$80 might seem expensive but these are high capacity inkjet cartridges that last about 50% longer. A great deal.

For canon users there is a 4 pack of color inks that goes for $44.00 from here:

http://www.nextwarehouse.com/item/?283975

If you are really a bargain hunter you can call up www.staples.com and request a price match and then buy a coupon for staples off www.ebay.com 🙂

Now most of the time the standard 2×6″ strip is what people like, but the cool thing about ink jet printers is you can buy double sided paper and print things on both sides! Here’s a company that does this called Photoboof.

What happens if you want to make larger photo strips that are say 4×10″ long and printed two up using 8×10″ paper? Well these ink jet printers slow down considerably so the best thing to do is buy a duplicate printer and then use a function of Windows’s operating system to pool the printers together. Basically Windows will work both printers at the same time and send the next print job to whatever printer is ready. Cool huh? Here’s an article that explains how to printer pool.

The next article will discuss adding drapes to your booth as well as getting the FREE scripts installed that make the photobooth run smoothly.

What’s the Best Camera I can use in my DIY photobooth?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

The program we will be using is www.snapstrip.com which can use either a web camera or a video camera that has an IEEE1394 connection also known as firewire or i-link connection.  Web cameras will give you average looking images. Even the most expensive $200 web camera will not look as good as a cheap $200 video camera. The lenses in web cameras are just cheap and the ones in video cameras are able to pick up around 8 times as much light.

The problem with video cameras is you will need to buy an additional 4pin to 4pin firewire cable AND your computer needs to have a firewire port on it. Many laptops do NOT have a firewire port so you’ll have to buy a $20 PCMCIA to firewire adapter card. Like this one on newegg,firewirecard
And here’s a nice long firewire cable to go from the camera to the computer, 14.7 foot long firewire cable.
While you are shopping for parts you might as well get the USB extention cable and monitor extention cable as well as a USB number keypad

Now the only thing you have to purchase is a video camera. Well you can buy cheap refurbished ones for around $250 on places like www.ubid.com However if you are really looking for a bargain you can get one off ebay.
Search EBAY
Basically you are looking for a camera with a firewire port. Usually the ads dont’ mention if it has one or not, but 90% of the cameras do and you can always call up the manufacturer and ask them. for the best deals you can buy a camera that doesn’t play tapes any more due to a broken tape transport mechanism, but powers on fine. Only buy cameras that come with an AC adapter as well. Sound like a lot of homework? It is and for most people just buying a new or refurbished camcorder is the way to go.
Once last thing, most video cameras don’t have a very wide zoom setting on them, so buying a 0.7x 0.8x wide angle lens adapter is really helpfull in getting more people in your image. Each camera has a different filter size so make sure you get a wide angle lens that fits your camera. Ebay is a good place for this as well. Avoid the more extreme wide angle lenses like 0.5x or 0.45x ones as they have poorer image quality.
Great, you have a lot of gear in place, the next article will discuss the best printers for your photo booth.

How to make your own photo booth for less than $1000

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I get questions all the time about buying a photo booth or asking me how to make one.   Well I’m going to share my knowledge over the next few posts and educate you on how to do it yourself!

The basic cost for the booth is as follows:

$140 for frame
$ 80 thumbs plus printing program from www.cerious.com
$100 for 15″ LCD monitor
$ 30 for www.snapstrip.com
$ 30 for USB number pad
$  5 for USB extention cord
$100 for webcam/videocamera
$30 fop tripod head for videocamera.
$500 for laptop
$100 for printer
$20 For some lights.
$50 for some fabric

total around $1000  🙂

 Of couse a lot of you probably own a laptop or desktop computer you can use and many of you probably have a printer and a web cam or video camera  as well so the actuall cost for you to make this booth is going to be a lot less. I’ll even be sharing a little script that automates almost everything for FREE.

The first thing you need to do is make a booth. Lets make a booth out of light weight aluminum that is easily transportable and put together. 

Here’s another place that sells photobooths

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

apple industries photo booth

So I found another company that makes and sells phootbooths. www.appleindustries.com starting at $7500 you can have your own photobooth made. Whoo Hooo!

Wikipedia’s entry on photobooth

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Apples Photobooth Program
Turns out Apple’s photo booth program is so popular it even has its own wikipedia page. It’s too bad this Mac only program doesn’t support using digital still cameras; the quality from web cameras isn’t very impressive. Even the cheapest digital still camera’s image will look ten times better than that from the most expensive web camera.

Our newest booth design

Monday, November 5th, 2007

rent photo boothsWell we’ve been reinveting the photobooth for a while and we’ll get some new photos up on our main site soon, but for those of you that love pictures here is our latest booth design.

Antiques road show for photobooths?

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Antique Photo Booth

Well who would of guessed my internet searches would unearth a photobooth that was built pre 1935. This thing looks so cool and would look totally classy if restored. 

Another blog about photobooths

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Photobooth Blog
Turns out we’re not the only ones that get excited about photobooths!

This cool blog details how the author built a Mac based photo booth and then switched over to a windows based photo booth system.

Just who invented the photo booth anyways?

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

The inventor of the photo booth

Aparently the modern photo booth had its beginnings back in 1925! Read the above article for all the details.
While you’re there check out
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photo_booth
for other interesting photobooth historical trivia.

Buy a photobooth on ebay. $3850 plus freight

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

photo booth sketch typeebay photo booth

They say you can find just about anything on ebay and it’s true, every few months some one will be trying to sell a 900 pound vending machine type photobooth on there. They go from anywhere to $1000 to $10,000 depending on how new they are and the style of machine they are.

Here’s one that is ending soon. Good luck and happy bidding.

International photobooth convention for serious boothers!

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

International photo booth convention link.

In case you didn’t know there is a term for people that are obsessed about photo booths. We’re affectionally known as boothers. You’ll find us crowded in photo booths and reminiscing about the last photobooth convention.

Cheers!

Photo booth Friday

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

http://hulaseventy.blogspot.com/
Here’s an interesting blog we ran across.
Apparently every Friday a photo booth strip is posted. Sounds like fun to us. Hope you enjoy it too.

How do those old chemical photobooths work anyways?

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

Old Chemical Photo Booth Pictures
In our business a picture is worth a thousand words. So if you’ve ever wondered how those ancient chemical photobooths operate here’s a web page that explains it all with some great photos.

Make your own photobooth!

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Photobooth/

Warning: only for those who are insanely handy. Good luck!

All the photobooths in the world in one spot

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

So you’re looking for a photobooth to visit?  This web site, www.photobooth.net is one of the best informational sites on photobooths on the net. Though it is biased towards ancient chemical photobooths, it does mention digital photobooths now and then.

 If you are only looking for digital booths check out http://www.photo-me.com/. They are one of the few photobooth manufacturer’s left in the world.

 Happy Boofing!