Friday, May 4, 2012
What is ROES, and why should I use it?
If you've been ordering prints on-line and not using ROES software from a pro lab, you've been doing things the hard way (and possibly paying too much!). Most "consumer" labs (or pro labs with a consumer side business) work on the album concept; you upload entire albums of photos to their web site, and then pick prints to make from images in your album. You can only order from images in your already-uploaded albums, and uploading all images can eat up a lot of internet bandwidth. It can be difficult to make sure images will be properly sized and/or cropped, and the album interfaces range from decent to horrendous. It's geared towards the snapshooter who gets the occasional set of 4x6 prints, not for professional photographers placing large and diverse orders.
ROES stands for "Remote Order Entry System." ROES software runs on your local computer, and lets you build your order on your local computer, at your own pace. You pick the photos to be printed from your local hard drives, pick the sizes of prints you want, crop and size them, and build up an order list that the software keeps track of. Once you've got your order all put together, you let the program know your order is ready, and it takes care of uploading the images needed (and ONLY the images needed, not a whole album) and the print/crop information to the lab's servers automatically.
The image up above is from MPixPro's ROES software, and it gives you a good idea of what runs on your local computer. You can browse through any images on your computer, so you're not limited to printing only photos you've already uploaded to an "album." Pick the image file, choose a size or type of print for it, check the cropping, and place the prints on the order list. It's much quicker and more efficient than on-line "album" ordering, and it's easier to insure you're ordering everything you want to as well. MPixPro is the "professional" arm of the family of labs that started with Miller's Pro Labs, and they've been around a very long time. I don't work for them or get ads from them, I'm just a long-term satisfied customer.
To use the MPixPro ROES interface, you have to be approved as a professional with them -- different from the consumer-based MPix front end. If you have a website for your business, and are doing even part-time pro work, getting approved for an account isn't a problem. Give them a try.
Meridian Professional Imaging, another fine lab based out of Kansas. Their version of ROES software is shown above (if it looks similar to MPixPro's, that's not a coincidence; both are written by the same software company!). Like MPixPro, you have to sign up for a professional account with Meridian, but approval is similar to MPixPro. And their ROES software provides the same advantages of ease of use, off-line building of your order, and automated uploading of your final order.
Both labs assume your images are already color-corrected and ready to print -- if you haven't calibrated your computer and monitor for accurate color, you should do so before using ROES software, as the prints will *not* be color-corrected when printed. This is a good thing, though -- it means the color and quality of your prints won't depend on the whims (or the skill) of the operator of the print equipment that day, like it is as non-professional print labs in drugstores and chain stores. And it insures absolute consistency between print runs...prints I order today will be exactly the same as prints I ordered last year. It's up to you to make them ready to print.
The quality of prints from both labs is outstanding, and customer service just as good. These are labs dedicated to producing high-quality prints for professional photographers, and that's just what they do. And because the ordering system is highly automated (using the ROES software), and they don't have to color-correct images, the prices are as good as (and often better than) drugstore prints for a much higher-quality print. You also have easy access, right in the ROES software, to the full range of products they offer -- such as canvas wraps, framed prints, press products, etc.
So if you're just getting into making money from your photography, or are looking for a way to provide high-quality prints for your clients at good prices, check out these two labs and their easy to use ROES ordering software. It'll make you more efficient, more organized, and give you better products to sell.
Some recommended labs with ROES software:
Meridian Professional Imaging
Bay Photo Labs
White House Custom Color