Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kodak Picture Kiosk

As with most parents, I take a lot of pictures. Like, kazillions. I think it's a curse of the digital camera - so easy, and so immediate. Unlike in the days of my childhood, when Mom had to wait for the prints to come back, through the mail, to see if she'd managed to get the shot or not, now we see immediately on the viewfinder that the picture isn't perfect. So we take 15 more, just to be sure.

And, again like most parents, although I am great at taking the pictures, and even at sharing them online, I am definitely not so great at printing them out for posterity. I was diligent with the printing when Little Boo was a baby. And I have about 5 or 6 albums over 2 years to prove it. But I was getting frustrated with how awkward and time consuming it was to upload the images and then edit, order, and wait for them to arrive. (Back to pictures through the mail again!)

Enter the Kodak Picture Kiosk. These kiosks have been around in stores for a while now, and they are a super convenient way to print your pictures for instant gratification. You can bring your images on disk, usb key, SD card, straight from your phone with usb cable, etc, and have them printed while you wait. Many machines even have attached scanners so you can scan in your old pre-digital photos for editing and re-printing.

This November, Kodak announced new features on their kiosks, just in time for holiday gift creations. I attended a one-on-one half-hour introductory session to try out the enhancements. During those 30 minutes, I was given an overview of the different features, and then still had time to make a 16 page photo book, 3 one-page calendars, and a couple of prints.  And that included time to edit and play with different designs and effects. I was really happy with how quickly I could produce so much!

The new features include Kodak SmartFit Technology, which quickly and intelligently organises and places your photos into a photo book template, then gives you options to edit and personalise the book, including adding captions, re-sizing and re-arranging images. The updated photo book software includes many new background designs and a variety of available photo book sizes. The project preview shows you exactly how the pages will look when printed, so you can be sure what your end product will look like.  The turnaround time for a printed, bound photo book is about an hour, so you could submit the project, do your shopping, and head back to the photo centre to pick up your book on your way out. Instant and thoughtful gift for the grandparents!

The kiosk features touch-screen technology, and is really easy to navigate
Another fun feature is Facebook Connect. Yes, you can now log in through the Kodak Picture Kiosks and print your photos directly from Facebook, as well as from Google Picasa and the Kodak Gallery.  Depending on your friends' privacy settings, you may be able to print photos from their Facebook as well. One proviso I will give though, you may find that the quality of the print will be lower from a Facebook image, particularly if you are printing a mobile upload image, or you've uploaded to Facebook in low-res.

These kiosks will also allow you to print your own customised greeting cards and invitations, for a more personal touch. I plan to use this feature to create the invitations for Little Boo's 6th birthday in January.

The editing suite is pretty sweet too (tee hee! sorry). Of course there's red-eye reduction, cropping, black & white and sepia effects. But my favourite new addition is the facial retouch. You click on a the face you wish to retouch, then click the retouch button, and instantly spots and redness are reduced or eliminated! I ran this as a test on a photo of Little Boo and his cousins, and the results were amazing. Smooth complexions all around.

If you are stuck for a gift for the friend or family member who has everything, a quick trip to one of these kiosks can certainly help you out. Calendars, photo books, collages, posters, etc., are all great gifts that preserve and share precious memories. And the quick turn-around time means last minute gifts are easy.

Kiosks are available at WalMart and Loblaws stores.

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