Photo-Station -Frequently Asked QuestionsHow can Photo-Station merge data so quickly?
Images II created a new technology which can read a plain text file containing data (comma separated values), and MERGE this data into a specified format. A “format” is a file created which contains a description of where items are to be placed on the page along with various options such as type font, color, image sizes, etc. Each line in the data file produces one or more output pages. The MERGE process “fills in” the template with the specified items from the data file and creates a special Postscript language output file. Special software in the RIP (Raster Image Processor) computer then processes and converts the Postscript file and prints it.

Why is the output of Photo-Station so much better than printing to the same printer through other RIPs?
The Photo-Station RIP processes the image file and applies an ICC profile to correct the color before it sends the data to the printer. The method the RIP uses is significantly different from other RIPs which results in a much more “photographic” look to the printed images.

Why is the Photo-Station RIP so much faster than other RIPs offered - even those costing much more?
The Photo-Station RIP is constructed on a PC based computer using custom software and a proprietary set of plug-in cards to interface with the printer. Special configuration programs create a protected environment within the computer which allows us to utilize special speedup techniques.

Can I use my own computer instead of purchasing the Photo-Station computer?

The Photo-Station workstation computer is a PC based computer but it is highly specialized and custom built for the Photo-Station application. It would be easier for us if we could just purchase a computer “off-the-shelf” instead of building a special computer. The Photo-Station computer has multiple processors, a large amount of RAM, special high speed data paths, etc. The benefits of utilizing this computer are significant and its productivity benefits far out weigh the cost. In addition other computers could not be supported by us.

I already have a RIP computer & Xerox printer. Can I use these instead of purchasing this as a part of the Photo-Station system?
Existing Xerox printers (5750, Doc 12, 2045, 2060) can be used but need to be updated to the very latest revisions. Only the Photo-Station RIP -for the Doc 12 & Doc 12LP or the CreoScitex SPIRE RIP -for the 2045 / 2060 can be used. These RIPs are enhanced with software which adds capabilities to process the special Photo-Station files.

Can I print from other programs through the Photo-Station system like I can with other systems?

Yes, the Photo-Station RIP and printer appear as a “network printer” on a computer network. Any computer which you authorize, can have access to the full color printer capabilities whether standard PC or MacIntosh computers and software. Just print as you would from any application.

Why do I have to send people to a 3 day training class? My people learn software quickly and are very experienced.
We would prefer not to have to individually train each customer. It would be much easier for us to just send out a manual or instructional DVD. But, just as the Photo-Station is a totally unique product, it requires the learning of new concepts which have not been used before. If we are to support our customers they must have a common basis with our support staff.

What background do you need to operate the Photo-Station?
The operator must have a reasonable grasp of Windows operating system functions. They must understand creating folders (directories), copying files, deleting files, etc. While it is not absolutely necessary, it is very helpful to have a working capability of Adobe Photoshop.

I shoot using digital cameras, do I need the film scanner?
No, it would not be necessary. The standard Photo-Station has the capability to read Flash Memory cards, Smart Media cards, and MicroDrives. However, even though new photography is shot with digital sources, there is a tremendous amount of existing film in most organizations. There are applications where the versatility of film can accomplish tasks that would be very difficult or impossible with only digital cameras.

Where do I get the paper to print on?
The Xerox printers print on plain paper. Paper can be purchased from office supply stores (Office Depot, Office Max, Staples) or through paper companies which sell to commercial printers, from reps for paper mills such as Hammermill, or directly from Xerox. There are hundreds if not thousands of paper stocks available. Some papers have a gloss finish, some matte finishe, some have texture finishes, etc. We recommend papers with a “short grain” and “hard surface”. Papers should be dust controlled and maintained in a normal humidity range per specifications for your printer. Papers which have been preperforated for special applications such as business cards, photo finishing, package prints, etc are available or can be customized for your application by Think, Inc. in Pennsylvania.

Will my customers accept the output?
This was probably the first question which we had to answer in creating the Photo-Station system. A great deal of research and customer testing was done to develop the output quality that users expected. But acceptance is a combination of image quality, product “feel”, and the suitability for an application. We have found that the user is almost always more concerned with the output than the customer. The output may be indistinguishable from a traditional photo to the customer; however, we have found that it is best to promote the advantages of the “new” process. Today’s photos are not like those of a few years ago, there have been many changes in print finishes (silk, “pebble”, gloss, matte, etc.), changes in color vividness, etc. There are many advantages to the digital process - color, sharpness, text quality, variety of surfaces, etc.

Should I print on plain paper, heavy paper, or pre-perforated paper, or laminate the output?
The prints on plain paper (28#) are the most economical.
Some item such as greeting cards are best printed on heavy stock such as 10 or 12 pt. Preperforated papers are preferred for items such as business cards or package prints (multiple images on a single page).
Laminated prints (generally on plain paper) give the “look and feel” of RC photo paper but add the durability of a laminated print making it waterproof, fingerprint proof, peanut butter & jelly proof, resistant to abrasion in a purse or wallet, etc. Various laminates can also give various surface looks and textures.
There are some specialty papers such as Xerox “Pixography” paper which produce a true photographic quality at a slightly higher paper cost.

How long will the Xerox printed images last?
The images are formed from polyester toners. Each toner is manufactured from materials which are the specific color; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. The toners are not colored, painted, coated, etc - they are made entirely of a material that is the desired color. As such, when the toners are put on the paper and then fused (melted) with temperature and pressed into the paper with pressure, they become a part of the paper surface. There is nothing to fade or degrade unless the paper itself were to disintegrate. Unlike photo images which are only rated for image stability in dark storage, the images from the Xerox printers do not appreciably change under any normal conditions including light exposure. So the image life is essentially the life of the paper itself. The paper could degrade if exposed to extremes in humidity, molds, atmospheric contaminates (acid rain), etc. A laminated print further extends the print life by eliminating these factors from affecting the paper.

What kind of support is available?
Images II provides 1 year of toll free tech support with live people. No maze of push-button menus to navigate.

What is the warranty?
The whole system is covered by a 12 month parts and labor warranty. Some items are additionally warranted by the manufacturer for a longer period. All software upgrades to the Photo-Station software are also included for 12 months.

What happens after the first year?
Continued hardware and software support are available by subscription. This is a voluntary user option and is not required, however the customers find that the upgrades keep their system up to date and protect their investment by continuing to increase their capabilities.

What if I don’t want to create my own formats?
We teach users to create their own formats so they can create new formats which are applicable to their business. However, Images II staff will create formats for our customers for a fee based on the time required. Users can also modify the standard formats included with the Photo-Station system.

What about graphics and backgrounds?
The backgrounds used in formats are just any .TIFF or .JPEG file. These can be graphic files created by an artist, scanned photos, digital photos, commercial clip art, or images from commercial libraries - almost any source.

What are “packages” and how are they created?

“Packages” are just collections of formats. A format is a single page (1 or 2 sided). The user can create their own “packages” which specify various formats assigned to that package name. A package can contain pages of different sizes and can be single or double sided. The data entry can specify which package is to be produced from that data. All the pages are then output together for each data item. The packages are created/assembled in the Photo-Station MERGE program.