DIGITAL CAMERAS — Photo Opp?

Survey respondents cited “shortening the production cycle” as the leading motive for adopting digital photography, Bassinger says, followed closely by achieving cost savings and customer acceptance of the process. Resolution and bit depth were the top two concerns reported by users in going digital, but 84 percent of the survey sample claimed to have found the quality of digital images to be equal or better than the results achieved by shooting film and scanning it.

One industry company that is a big believer in the business potential of digital photography is Quad/Graphics in Pewaukee, WI. Earlier this year, it made a bold move by opening four new studios—Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Saratoga Springs, NY—raising its total to seven digital studios. The site expansion was backed up by a $1.5 million investment in technology alone.

Cal Newby, director of Quad/Photo in Sussex, WI, points out that the printer actually entered the market by offering film-based photography services in the 1980s. The goal was to get a better handle on the relationship between real life and the printed sheet, he says.

Quad/Photo’s adoption of digital capabilities was driven by a corporate challenge to cut 20 percent out of the print production cycle each year, Newby explains. Across the network, he estimates the company shoots 90 to 95 percent of its work digitally today, with on-figure fashion work and location shoots done conventionally. “Lighting is everything,” he says, when it comes to getting the desired results from digital or conventional photography.

That’s why Quad/Graphics promotes a concept it calls “measured” photography. Originally developed for its conventional photography services, the methodology has been carried over into the digital age. It reportedly involves quantifying and standardizing elements of the process, such as lighting, to produce consistent, high-quality images in print. The process also provides a common “reproduction language” for art directors and prepress/press operators.

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