Monday, August 04, 2003

Ritz Camera offers a single-use digital for those who want to experience digital photography without the cost

PC World is reporting that Ritz Camera has begun selling a single-use 2 Megapixel digital camera! Called the Dakota Digital Single-Use Camera, it will sell for $10.99 and will give users an introduction to the digital experience without the cost of investing in a digital camera.

"For $10.99, customers have an opportunity to try digital technology without investing in a pricey digital camera," says Ritz. (By comparison, a disposable film camera from Kodak or Fuji costs about $8, according to Ritz.) The camera is also available at Wolf Camera.

The Dakota Digital, which was developed by San Francisco-based Pure Digital Technologies, captures up to 25 snapshots and uses a CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) sensor. The camera has 12MB of internal memory, runs on AA alkaline batteries (which are included), and features an automatic flash and a self timer. The Dakota does include a delete button, but you can only delete the most recent photo - which you may or may not know is bad since the camera has no LCD for viewing images. But hey, what do you want for $11!

After capturing pictures, users can only return the camera to a Ritz or Wolf lab that has the equipment to process the proprietary image format (Pure Digital Imaging Platform). It cannot be connected to a PC to transfer photos. We'll see how long that lasts in today's open source - hacker prone environment.

Ritz/Wolf charges about $11 for processing 25 4-by-6 prints and a photo CD. By comparison, the company charges $14 for developing film (from a disposable camera or a standard roll of film) for the same quantity and size prints and a photo CD. Processing takes about an hour in either case but depends on the lab's workload.

Once the prints have been developed, Ritz/Wolf returns the camera to Pure Digital for recycling. Much like the method for film disposables, Pure Digital refurbishes each camera for resale.


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