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New Report Explains Issues Surrounding Digital Photography Implementation

Press release from the issuing company

Pittsburgh, Pa., July 11, 2001 — For those considering implementing a digital photography workflow, a new study from the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF) documents the experiences of those who are currently offering this service and provides a visual comparison of the printed results of several digital cameras. The GATF Digital Photography Study reports digital photography has gained acceptance because customers of a wide variety of firms have realized its high quality, and, its capacity to sometimes reduce costs and improved workflow. The study is the result of a survey conducted of the motivating factors and decisions involved in making the move to digital photography, as well as the experiences of digital camera users. The survey also explored issues such as the types of photographic services offered, types of cameras owned, cost and expense, and staff. Additional research looked at whether there is a noticeable difference in the quality of digital photographic output versus conventional photographic output. Included with the report are three press sheets that compare the printed results of five different digital cameras versus color transparency film from high-resolution drum scanning. Each press sheet contains one photographic scene captured by all five digital cameras and film. The press sheets illustrate three different scenarios: high key, low key, and saturated colors. The report’s findings are based on 84 usable surveys that were returned to GATF from December 1, 2000, to February 15, 2001. By type of firm, 36 percent of the respondents are general commercial printers, while 39 percent are prepress service bureaus or color separators. The remaining fraction represents a wide range of firms from newspaper operations, in-plant operations, and publishers to designers. The GATF Digital Photography Study provides charts for readers to compare how firms similar to their own answered the survey. General findings include the following. * Fifty-eight percent of firms offering digital photography services still offer conventional photographic services. * Catalog pages were the primary printed product for which digital photography is being used, followed by direct-mail pieces, website images, and brochures. * The most important factors in deciding whether to implement a digital photography workflow were the desire to move to a total digital workflow, to speed up overall turnaround time, and to be "customer-driven." * Most respondents felt their customers were highly satisfied and accepting of digital photography. Some respondents noted that customers were reluctant at first, questioning the quality of digital photography, but had become convinced. * Respondents indicated that the single-shot, single-chip camera was the most frequently owned camera (45 percent) and the camera most likely to be purchased next (33 percent). Some mentioned features or needs that were most likely to affect the purchase of their next digital camera, such as higher resolution, better quality, portability for live shots, more versatility, and larger image or data capture, but recognized the need for multiple cameras. This was reflected in the survey that reported 253 cameras were owned among the 84 respondents—an average of three cameras per company. * Just over half of the respondents, 54.8 percent, considered their digital photography operation a profit center, while 36.9 percent considered it a customer service and, therefore, a break-even operation. Only 4.8 percent considered it a cost center. A number of respondents made special comments about how the digital camera had changed the way they took photographs. The ability to do several shots at once and develop more customer graphics was an advantage, as was being able to show the customer several options quickly and easily, thus reducing the approval process time and increasing turnaround time. The GATF Digital Photography Study is the latest study in a series of Research and Technology Reports (RTR) published by the Foundation. As an independent, third-party organization, GATF reports are objective and original research studies designed to help printers evaluate technologies on their own by guiding consumers to ask the right questions. Methodology is described in all reports. Heavily illustrated with color charts and graphics, The GATF Digital Photography Study (ISBN 0-88362-350-1) is a 114-page booklet available for $129 ($59 for GATF/PIA members), not including shipping. Orders may be placed by contacting GATF by phone at 800/662-3916 (U.S. and Canada) or 412/741-5733 (all other countries); fax at 412/741-0609; or online from the GAIN Bookstore. Mail orders to GATF Products, P.O. Box 1020, Sewickley, PA 15143-1020. Indicate Order No. 1623.