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Wednesday, January 23, 2008
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Photo library Getty Images admits it is for sale

Although Seattle, Wash.-based Getty Images said it was its policy "long-standing policy" not to confirm or deny rumors, the company confirmed it was exploring strategic alternatives in response to an article published on Jan. 21 in The New York Times.

  The New York Times reported that Getty shareholders could rake in more than $1.5 billion from a sale and that private-equity firms, including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Bain Capital, which was founded by presidential candidate Mitt Romney, had already expressed interest.

  Getty said that while discussions with prospective buyers are ongoing there is no guarantee that a sale will occur, reports a article. The company said it isn't planning on updating the United States stock market with any more information on the process until its board thinks it is appropriate. The company said it has hired Goldman Sachs as its financial adviser and Weil, Gotshal & Manges as its legal adviser.

  With increasing competition from cheaper competitors and new technology, some have called into question the sustainability of Getty's business model, says the article. But Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Christa Quarles said the company's assets, such as its iStockPhoto business, add value. She said iStockPhoto, a stock photography website, could bring in as much as $83 million in 2008 alone. Getty bought it for $50 million in 2006.

  Quarles said that cost-cutting initiatives such as layoffs will also help spur along a sale. Last August the company said it was slashing 100 workers, 5 percent of its full-time staff, but Quarles says it's being too slow with the cuts.

  Last year, Getty had looked into buying a smaller rival, Jupiter Media, but negotiations between the companies were abandoned, reports

Framing Markets


National online art retailer featured on NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice"

Larson-Juhl Inc., Norcross, Ga., a custom framing manufacturer and distributor, has found an innovative way to stand out from the crowd. This time it's in Donald Trump's boardroom. Producers of the hit reality series "Celebrity Apprentice" tapped Larson-Juhl and its newly launched online art division, Artaissance, to provide the majority of custom art and framing on "Celebrity Apprentice" that airs Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. EST on NBC.

  Artaissance features more than 100 artists and a library of more than 2,000 exclusive images. Throughout this season, viewers can see more than 50 custom art and framing pieces featured in the show's boardroom, war rooms and other high-profile areas.

  "Being part of a hit reality television series like Donald Trump's 'Celebrity Apprentice' is an amazing opportunity," commented Steve McKenzie, Artaissance president and chief curator. "When we were approached by the producers, we were thrilled. And the fact that this season's celebrities are competing to win donations for their favorite charities just adds to the allure of why Larson-Juhl and Artaissance wanted to be a part of this exciting program."

  Eastman Kodak Co., Rockester, N.Y., is also a sponsor of the television series. On Jan.17, the challenge for the contestants to comple featured Kodak. The celebrity contestants created and operated a mobile printing station showcasing Kodak products. The celebrities had to successfully work with Kodak in hopes of staying in the show. Kodak features a website dedicated to its involvement with the popular series.

Retail Markets


Lucidiom's EQ Station Set streamlines production, shows off photo products for retailers

Lucidiom Inc., Vienna, Va., announces the EQ Station Set, a three-piece fixture set designed to complement its EQ Complete Imaging System by helping retailers streamline production and product assembly and maximize floor space dedicated to digital photofinishing.

  With APM kiosks, Photo Finale Web, EQ printer, Lab 50 production software, printers, book binder, Luci content and Photo Folio products all integrated together in Lucidiom EQ, retailers can offer double-sided photo products, photo books, folded cards, bound calendars, posters, enlargements, bordered photos, passport photos, greeting cards, scrapbook pages, and gifts to their customers online and on their kiosks.

  The EQ Production Station is a lab-facing countertop system with a place for all the components retailers need for creating and finishing Lucidiom EQ products. The EQ Kiosk Station can stand on its own or be connected to the backside of the EQ Production Station. Its 8-foot counter is designed to fit four APM kiosks with stools. The EQ Display Station is a lit display case with modern curves that was designed around the EQ products to show them off. It can attach to the other two stations or stand on its own.


Aperion introduces new photo greeting and keepsake products

Aperion Inc., Lake Forest, Calif., makers of Celebration Photo Greetings, announces new product additions to their photo greeting template collection. As well as adding hundreds of new designs to existing lines of traditional photo greeting product lines, Aperion has expanded its photo greeting product line to include two new product lines, bookmarks and collages, which double as keepsake and gift items. The existing collection of multiple image templates has also been enhanced to include new, fresh designs with options for additional photo windows. All the new product lines are available for a variety of machine types and can now be viewed and purchased from Aperion's website.

Imaging News


Company files for bankruptcy and couples file lawsuits as photo scandal develops

Michael Ruiz de Somocurcio, a health insurance executive from Clifton, N.J., paid $5,500 to Celebration Studios, a regional photography service, before his wedding in September, says a recent article in The New York Times. The price included albums, personalized thank-you notes, and a DVD of his wife Erika and himself.

  The couple never received what they paid for. Celebration Studios, with offices in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, closed this month and is filing for bankruptcy. Hundreds of couples have no photos of their wedding day, and those who have made down payments for the company services now have to look elsewhere. A previous Newsline International item covers the beginning of this story reported in the Asbury Park Press.

  Many newlyweds are filing police reports and lawsuits, says the article. The New Jersey attorney general's office filed a civil lawsuit against the company and its owner, Marc S. Schwartz, citing fraudulent practices. It also issued an order to prevent them from selling or disposing of the wedding images that had not been delivered.

  Federal tax liens of more than $456,000 and a New Jersey tax lien of more than $86,000 have been filed against Celebration Studios in the last 2 years, court records show.

  The Montclair Police Department received about 40 fraud reports about the company from Jan. 11-18, said Deputy Chief Roger Terry. He said the department had not filed charges, pending the outcome of various court cases, reports The New York Times.

  A statement issued by the company claims that no photos or wedding memorabilia has been lost or destroyed, but the company cannot continue its business. Celebration Studios will be filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in federal court in Newark in the next week, accoridng to the article.

  Newlyweds and those who provided a down payment aren't the only people upset -- photographers say they, too, have been cheatedy. Josephine Donatelli, a photographer from Scotch Plains, N.J., who worked with Celebration Studios before opening her own studio, said she had received checks from Celebration that had stop-payment orders on them, and other checks that bounced. She eventually got paid, after waiting three months, according to the article.

  According to the suit filed by the New Jersey attorney general, Anne Milgram, the company "engaged in the use of unconscionable commercial practices, false promises, misrepresentations and/or the knowing concealment, suppression or omission of material facts."

Professional Markets


Kodak names new senior manager, Public Relations, for Graphic Communications Group

Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y., named Ann Moscicki senior manager, Public Relations, for its Graphic Communications Group (GCG). In her new role, Moscicki will oversee all United States and Canada public relations activities including media relations, the executive speakers' program and trade shows. She also will support Kodak's Graphic Communication Group's worldwide public relations program.

  Moscicki has more than 30 years' experience in the communications field for Kodak. Previously, Moscicki held the position of manager, Worldwide Segment Marketing, Kodak's Graphic Communications Group. In this role, Moscicki supported segment communications activities for commercial, packaging, data centers and newspapers, including managing customer councils for these segments.


DCP Systems develops new giclée varnish

DCP Systems Ltd., Sheffield, United Kingdom, introduces the new giclée varnish formulation. The new formulation features advanced elastomeric polymers that resolves possible cracking issues and also makes it easier and faster to apply without foaming, says the company. The varnish can be applied in multiple coats by roller. Previously the final coat was best applied by brush to avoid foaming caused by trapped air as a result of the rollering action. The introduction of advanced polymers into the new giclée varnish binds the inkjet receptive coating in place giving it extra elasticity for when the canvas is stretched.

  The giclée varnish has been developed to protect, preserve and enhance fine art and photographic prints produced on digital inkjet printers and is water based, to avoid unpleasant and hazardous fumes given off by solvent based products. Initially the new giclée varnish will be available in satin finish.



Olympus introduces new 20x, wide-angle SP-570 Ultra Zoom camera

Olympus Imaging America Inc., Center Valley, Pa., introduced the new 10-megapixel SP-570 Ultra Zoom digital compact camera, featuring a 20x, wide-angle optical zoom (26-520mm equivalent) in anticipation of PMA 08, held Jan. 31-Feb. 2 in Las Vegas, Nev. Additionally, the SP-570 incorporates advanced manual controls similar to what is found on a DSLR, including a new zoom ring, hotshoe for external flash, and RAW format capture. At the same time, users can easily set the camera to operate like a simple point-and-shoot with automatic scene modes, says the company.
The new 10-megapixel Olympus SP-570 Ultra Zoom digital camera offers a 20x, wide-angle zoom. It will be available in March for $499.99.

  The SP-570 UZ comes fully equipped with the equivalent of three lenses in one complete camera, says the company. The bright, f2.8-4.5 lens provides the equivalent of 26-520mm focal length with 100x total seamless zoom (5x digital zoom). Users can get close to the action with the camera's versatile yet compact 20x super telephoto zoom and at the same time, the wide-angle (26mm) lens captures more in each frame. Its super-macro capabilities capture the subtlest details from as close as 1 centimeter, says the company. The compact lens construction combines high-refractive, aspherical and extra-dispersion (ED) lens elements to deliver edge-to-edge sharpness and clarity.

  The SP-570 UZ also includes Dual Image Stabilization, combining the benefits of Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization and Digital Image Stabilization to compensate for both camera shake and moving subjects. Face Detection continually tracks faces within the frame and automatically focuses and optimizes exposure, and Shadow Adjustment Technology enables users to preview and capture images as the human eye sees them, compensating for difficult lighting situations and maintaining detail in highlights while improving the detail in the shadows to produce more balanced photos.

  Perfect Shot Preview allows users to preview and select various photographic effects live on the 2.7-inch HyperCrystal LCD screen with anti-glare technology. The SP-570 UZ is also capable of capturing images at 13.5 frames per second (with a reduced image size of 3 megapixels). The inclusion of Pre-Capture technology, which works in conjunction with High-Speed Sequential Shooting, enables users to capture the action before and after fully pressing the shutter button. Several in-camera editing functions can be quickly accessed right in the camera by the touch of a button; features available include resizing, trimming, frames, text options, black and white, and sepia. The camera also includes 31 shooting modes.

  The SP-570 UZ will be available in March and will include: Neck Strap, WIN/Mac USB Cable, Audio/Video Cable, four AA Batteries, Manual, Warranty Card and OLYMPUS Master 2 Software CD-ROM. The estimated U.S. price for the SP-570 UZ is $499.99.


Tamron releases new telephoto macro zoom for full-size format cameras

Tamron Co. Ltd., Commack, N.Y., announced the launch of its telephoto macro zoom for full-size format -- AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di LD Macro 1: 2 -- with a built-In motor for Nikon models. The new model, A17, features a focal length of 70-300mm and a maximum aperture of f/4-5.6.

The lens is constructed into 13 elements in nine groups and the minimum aperture is f/32. Values given are for Nikon AF-D cameras. The cosmetic design and specs are subject to change without notice, says Tamron. The A17 does not function in the AF mode with some Nikon cameras since the lens uses a built-in motor AF system. Only the MF mode is functional. The A17 is also not equipped with an aperture ring.


Panasonic releases new 8.1-megapixel LUMIX digital camera
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LS80 will be available in pink, black, and silver models in February for $149.95

Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co., Secaucus, N.J., introduced a new LUMIX digital camera, the DMC-LS80. The camera features a compact design and is powered by AA batteries. It includes a newly developed LUMIX DC VARIO lens system, 3x optical zoom and 8.1-megapixel resolution.

  The Panasonic LUMIX LS80 integrates four distinct features aimed at making it easy to capture images, says the company. The Optical Image Stabilizer detects hand-shake and the lens system shifts to compensate, preventing hand-shake from creating a blurry image. The Intelligent ISO helps determine if the photo subject is moving and changes ISO setting and shutter speed accordingly. The Auto Macro feature automatically switches to the Macro setting when in close proximity to the photo subject. The Quick Auto Focus system in the LS80 will focus on the photo subject without the user needing to press the shutter button, producing faster shutter speed time, says the company.

 The LS80 also includes the Intelligent LCD, which means the brightness of the LCD automatically adjusts as the ambient light level changes. The DMC-LS80 include is also High Definition Compatible. Consumers are able to take 1920-by-1080 pixel photos, ideal for viewing on wide-screen. The camera also includes Video Recording. In addition to recording standard VGA (640-by-480 pixels), the DMC-LS80 can also record WVGA (848-by-480 pixels) motion pictures at 30 frames per second. The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LS80 will be available in pink, black, and silver models in February for $149.95.

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