Digital Photography Takes Off
In the early days of digital image capture—quite recently, compared to the long tradition of film—the main problem was the limit on the amount of information the chip could capture. “The earlier models did not have the resolution to capture the data correctly,” recalls Manny Akis, president of Akis Productions, a photography studio, based in Hackensack, NJ, that offers both film and digital workflows. Akis and his studio have watched this technology emerge and, in 1994, found a camera worthy of their standards. The first digital scanning back camera Akis felt was worthy of capturing enough information to warrant the sale of the service was from Dicomed, Burnsville, MN, and employed a charge-coupled device (CCD) in a linear array. This technology, attached to the back of a camera, works much like a scanner.
Several years ago, Kevin Despain, president of Interwest/Rastar, Salt Lake City, UT, added digital photography to his prepress company’s list of services when he acquired a scanning back device from Dicomed. At that time, he says, this was a defensive movement. “Digital photography is the future of scanning, (so) we (were) planning for our own obsolescence.”
Interwest reproduces works of art that cannot be captured via conventional scanning methods due to physical considerations. The film-based photographic workflow was too slow to be efficient. “By the time we got a transparency ... the original (was) sold ... and we subjectively went through a difficult color-correction process while listening to the artist describe for us what (the color in) this painting looked like,” Despain recalls.
Once Interwest began investing in digital photographic equipment, its cataloging contracts increased. “What the market was saying to us was that there was a portion of photography that people did not perceive as ... needing a level of styling; it just needed to be produced well, accurately and to fit into certain composition guidelines,” Despain notes. However, as Interwest fielded larger projects, Despain says, “the scan back technology became unproductive.” Despite the scan back’s ability to capture up to a 130MB file, the service provider needed something faster.