By Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr., CPP
I’m always on the lookout for neat new ways to display and showcase images. At a recent tradeshow, I spotted some miniature digital albums at the ZReiss booth. They’re about the size of a typical wallet album, but instead of containing print pictures, these have a touchscreen digital display.
The 3.5" Touch Screen Digital Photo Album display automatically turns on when you open the leather cover. You can watch pictures in slideshow mode, using the button on the side of the album, or flip through the images by swiping your finger vertically across the screen. To change albums, swipe your finger horizontally across the screen. I had to consult the manual to figure out this not-quite intuitive navigation. I also had to press the screen a bit harder than expected, but maybe I'm just used to a more sensitive screen. The rechargeable battery in this product will last through four hours of continuous play; it’s charged via USB.
The device comes with sample images in three sample albums, so you can actually play with it straight out of the box without loading pictures of your own. The album comes with self-loading software—when you plug it into your computer, it brings up the Photo Viewer interface. The software is compatible with PCs and some Macs; a future firmware upgrade, when released, will be compatible with all versions of Mac. A USB cable is included with the album, and it plugs into the port on the album's side.
The screenshot below shows the Photo Viewer software you use to upload and download images. You can crop images as you upload them to have them fill the whole screen, or have them sized to fit on a black background.
If you're concerned about the quality of the images you put on the device for a client, don’t worry. Photo Viewer resizes the images as you upload them; this optimizes the images for display, and also makes the most of the album’s limited memory capacity. When you download images from the album, they take up a measly 45-75KB each (sized to 240x320 pixels).
There are nine different albums you can fill on the device; each can be renamed to something of your choosing (maximum of eight characters). Photo Viewer tells you how much free space is available on the album, so you can keep an eye on the available space as you add more images and albums. Compatible image file formats include jpg and bmp.
After I selected some images and added them to several different albums, I clicked the button to upload everything to the album. This basically saved all the changes I’d made to the album’s memory. It took about a minute to add the 70 or so images. After I safely removed the device from my computer, I unplugged the album and checked that the changes had been committed. Everything looked good.
I originally had my eye on this digital album as kind of a snazzy portfolio sampler, but its screen resolution is inferior to my smart phone’s, and I’m all for the less-is-more approach when it comes to carrying around things in my purse. You might consider offering this album to clients. I wouldn’t sell it as an album, but it might be cool as a bonus client thank-you gift, or something along those lines. I can also see it being kind of cool to offer to your senior spokesmodels as a prize or referral incentive. You could use the different albums within the album to showcase different parts of a wedding day (ceremony, reception, formals, etc); this might make a neat sneak-peek gift to send to the bride and groom when they return from their honeymoon.
The 3.5" Touch Screen Digital Photo Album is available from ZReiss for $69.95, and comes with a variety of leather covers (black, blue, hot pink, purple, red, tan, white). For more info, visit www.zreiss.com, or page 60 of the 2012 ZReiss catalog
Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, has a portrait studio in Dexter, Mich. (BPhotoArt.com); she shares tips and ideas for photographers at LearnWithBetsy.com.