Digital growth behind photo laboratory sales

IT seems the increasing popularity of digital photography was one reason behind Photoland’s decision to sell three of its 10 photo processing labs.

The company has sold its West Perth and Barrack Street sites, as well as one of its suburban stores, and has plans to sell two more.

Camera retailers have reported a growing demand for digital cameras and are, in some cases, no longer stocking some of the film-backed cameras they used to.

Kodak has also announced that it will be slashing 20 per cent of its staff as it makes the move away from the film market.

Photoland co-owner Dave Mitchell said the economics of printing photographs from digital cameras forced the need for the sales.

“At the moment only a small percentage of people are opting to have their digital photos printed in photo labs but that will grow as they realise it is cheaper,” he said.

“Our industry is going through an absolute revolution in terms of digital photography, with sales of digital cameras far exceeding those for film cameras, so we’ve decided to downsize dramatically.”

Mr Mitchell said his company was investing in a number of digital processing lab machines. It has installed the first of these in its Como store.

The machines cost around $450,000. The old film processing machines range in price between about $100,000 and $200,000.

Mr Mitchell said the photo processing industry had to work to educate members of the public that it was cheaper and better for them to get their digital photos processed at photo labs.

“While people can have some of their images printed out on an inkjet printer, that is actually quite an expensive way of doing it and the result is not as good as getting it printed on proper photographic paper,” he said.

Plaza digital laboratory manager Peter Weston said his lab was still printing as many rolls of film as the year before.

“But it is showing signs of slowing down now. The digital side is definitely picking up,” he said.

“We’re trying to encourage people to print off their digital photos. A the same time we’re also selling ink jet printers but cost wise, if it’s anything below A4 size it’s actually cheaper to get it printed at a lab.”

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