Computers for the photo booth

Computers for the photo booth

While you may conduct your experiments with a computer you already own, eventually you’ll need computers dedicated only to booth operation. If you become a photo booth professional you’ll want to have back-up units that are identical or similar to your primary computer, so in the event of a failure at an event you can immediately swap it out.

The Mac v. PC war isn’t over, but if you want to use Mac you’re very limited in your choice of cameras and software. Breeze Systems makes Mac software to operate the Canon DSLR cameras but no others. Mac computers generally cost a lot more.

Desktop computers can be used. Since they use AC power, if there is a momentary interruption in power the computer has to reboot. Sometimes venues don’t have reliable power. The disadvantage of most desktops is that they’re relatively big and heavy.

Another option is the Lenovo Q190, touted as the world’s smallest desktop. I have never used one but really want to give it a try. They’re only 6.1″ x 7.6″ x 0.87″ – about the size of a paper back book. They’ve got lots of ports: 2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0, HDMI, 6-in-1 card reader. Hook this up to an HDMI touch screen monitor – yes, they exist – and you’d have a great combination for a photo booth. They run on Windows 8.1.

My personal preference: small laptops with decent processors, 4 GB of RAM or more, at least 3 USB ports and a VGA or HDMI output for a second monitor. Since they all have batteries, they’ll carry you through short power outages without having to reboot when the power comes back on.

Netbooks and Ultrabooks are much smaller than most lap tops. They have a screen that’s about 10-11 inches. Because they don’t have optical drives (CD or DVD drives) they are lighter than full lap tops and often have much longer battery lives.

The distinction between netbooks and ultrabooks is usually the speed of the processor and the price tag. Most netbooks have an Atom processor, which is not as powerful as others and can slow down operations. Either is up to the task of running a photo booth, but avoid ones with less RAM than 4 GB.

The Chromebook is a Google creation designed to use cloud-based software. They are not suitable for photo booths because our software of choice won’t run on them, and they are completely dependent upon a reliable internet connection.

An all in one computer with touch screen fits the bill well, in that all the components are built into one big piece. However, because they are big and heavy, you’re putting all your eggs into one basket. If anything at all goes wrong you have to remove and possibly replace the entire unit.

Tablet computers seem ideal in many respects at first glance. They’re light, reasonably priced, have touch screens. Very important: Unless your tablet uses a full Windows 7 or 8 operating system you won’t be able to use commercial photo booth software. Windows RT and Android operating systems are not suitable. Few tablets have more than one USB port.

Sony makes a computer called the Tap 21 (not “tab” but “tap”) that’s a great unit. It’s either a tablet on steroids, or a big lap top with detachable keyboard, or an all-in-one that’s more suitable for a photo booth than most. With a 21” touch-screen and its own battery it is almost perfect. Lenovo makes similar systems.

Lenovo’s line of Yoga and Flex computers offer an interesting choice. The screen can be rotated 270 degrees so the monitor faces the guests, and it’s a touch screen.

This is the first in a series of really basic tips by Chris Lydle, and it’s his first stab at using Word Press for blog publishing. Feedback is truly welcome and solicited!

Bao - I have two Q190′s with the Atom processor. I have done some limited testing with Breeze DSLR Remote Pro and DSLRBooth. Both seemed to work fine. The Q190 also ships with a VESA mounting bracket to mount the PC to the monitor (not sure how this works if you are using VESA mounting for the monitor stand or mount. It has both VGA and HDMI out and supports dual monitors (haven’t tested dual monitors and running the booth software).

Ended up going with something else for my booths but the two Q190′s chugged along just fine for my two social media stations at my last event with 1200 people!

Be aware that the Sony VAIO laptop and desktop business line is being discontinued: http://store.sony.com/helpdeskcategory/helpdesk-vaio-computers-category-template_sny_helpdesk_vaio_computers_main_category?article=component_sny_helpdesk_vaiocomputers_farewell

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Social Booth V2 Giveaway

Cover Photo

We are so excited to announce that our sponsor Photo Booth Solutions is giving away a copy of Social Booth V2 to one of our lucky readers.  (Link to entry form located at the bottom of this post) Social Booth recently got an overhaul and was updated with all kinds of new and exciting features that aren’t available in any other single software program.  Here are some of the highlights:

Event Management

Social Booth V2 makes it super simple to set up and manage your photo booth events.  You can now save the entire settings as an event, set up a whole week’s worth of templates and backgrounds in advance and have your operator simply load them up on site.  There’s also a new Admin Password feature that will lock the settings from being accessed by the operator while on site.

Multiple Layouts

You can now allow users to select from different templates and layouts by using the Layout Selection feature.  If you have used Breeze’s profiles before, this will be very familiar to you.  You simply define hotspots on the screen to load up various templates and settings. You can define up to 6 different hotspots.  These can be template presets as well as entire event settings.

Thumbnails

You can now display thumbnails of individual shots as the session progresses in either horizontal or vertical layout.

Default Template Layouts

Social Booth now has over 50 default template layouts to choose from to help you get started with your designs.  Along with easy 1 button importing of Breeze XML and Photo Booth Owners photoboothtemplates.com templates, getting your designs into Social Booth has never been easier.

Unlimited Frames

Allow users to select from unlimited frames or overlays for their photos.

Unlimited Green Screen Backgrounds

Users can now select from an unlimited # of Green Screen Backgrounds before their session, or even before each photo.

Animated GIFs

You can now use an Animated GIF only mode to create an animated GIF photo booth. You can also automatically cycle through the Green Screen backgrounds to create unique animated GIFs with animated backgrounds.

Animated GIF Photo Booth

Animated Gif Photo Booth

Animated Gif Photo Booth

Animated GIF Photo Booth

Advanced Photo Filters

Social Booth has your standard, Color, Black & White and Sepia as well as Vintage Instagram style filters.  But check out some of these advanced filters like Cartoon, Sketch, Night Vision, Cross Process, Comic Book, Thermography, Pixel Art, Mosaic, Lite Brite and the always popular Warhol filter.  These filters let you create truly unique photo booth template styles and can even be applied to Animated GIFs

Camera Features

- Added External Flash Mode to increase Live View Exposure for low light situations

- Added ability to save photos to SD card

Social Media at the Booth

It wouldn’t be Social Booth with a few new Social Media features.  In addition to EMail, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, FTP & Smugmug, V2 of Social Booth now supports Pinterest as well as Client Twitter, which will alow you to creat Twitter Mirrors like the ones you’ve seen at the Grammys and Academy Awads shows, where users photos will automatically be Tweeted to a predesignated client Twitter Account.   There’s also FTP and Smugmug background uploaders for you, the operator to user to send photos to your website or gallery in real time.  No Internet at your event? No problem.  Uploads can be queued offline and sent when your are back online.  Worried about the lines backing up at your booth?  Social Booth integrates seamlessly with Photo Booth Connected to allow you to setup social media kiosks on touchscreen PCs, Windows tablets, iPads or Android tablets.

Host Photos on Your Website with Photo Booth Cloud

Photo Booth Cloud is the easiest way to host Photos, Videos and Animated GIFs directly on your website.  Each photo will have a unique access code or QR code that guests can enter when they visit your site.  From there they can share to social media as well as purchase prints directly from your site!

Surveys

In addition to Text entries and Yes/No questions, The Survey/Data Collection feature now has Multiple Choice questions.

Run a Photo Booth Contest

Social Booth’s Contest mode allows you to randomly print photos with a special template to create a “Golden Ticket” or winning photo at a probability that you define. Use it for brand giveaways or even self promotion.

Social Booth’s Contest mode allows you to randomly print photos with a special template to create a “Golden Ticket” or winning photo at a probability that you define.  Use it for brand giveaways or even self promotion.

Muliple Capture & Review Screens and Audio Prompts

You can now define multiple files for each capture and review screen and audio prompts to make the photo session more engaging.

Video Hosts

Social Booth’s Video Host Mode allows you to turn your photo booth into a guided photo session.  Use the built in video or create your own.

DSLR Video

Social Booth V2 can now take video with the DSLR.  T3i and higher is required.  You can still take video with a webcam, but the option is now available for both.

Chromecast Slideshows

Social Booth now has to ability to transmit a live updating slideshow to any TV with a Google Chromecast device hooked up to it.  No other programs are needed, straight from Social Booth to your Chrome browser an on to your TV.  No need for a 2nd PC to display a slideshow anymore.

Improved Triggers Performance

Triggers can be used in Social Booth to allow for external button control, Credit Card swipe integration, Bill Validators and Coin mechs to communciate with the software.  They can be used to control External Lights and basically communicate with any external device.

Check out these past articles on using triggers for setting up a commercial photo booth and controlling LEDs:

http://www.photoboothsolutions.com/blog/2013/10/how-to-create-a-retail-photo-booth-with-social-booth-credit-card-edition

https://www.photoboothsolutions.com/blog/2014/02/controlling-external-lights-in-a-photo-booth-with-social-booth-and-a-phidge

There’s more great stuff on the way.  Check out the V2 trial of Social Booth over at http://www.photoboothsolutions.com/socialbooth/

Enter to win here: http://www.photoboothtalk.com/social-booth-drawing/

Jackie Spell - I totally love GIF and I need this Social booth immediately!

karen stromquist - Would love to win this!

Jarred W - Need something like this for a business event next week — would work perfect :)

Terry Ziemba - This would make me so happy. :D

Jamie - ok I have been a doing this for years now and I enter
All that I can and NOTHING
Maybe it will be me this time lol

Donavan Perry - cool features…would love to try it out;) @Mississippi Mojo Photo Booth

Joel - I’ve always been interested in their software. Maybe this will take my photobooth to a higher level!

Daniel Aldrich - Just starting off in the photo booth business. Would love to take it to the next level.

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Giveaways Galore Winners

Congratulations to Dave Stephenson and Gary Lane.  They are our Giveaways Galore winners.  Dave is the lucky recipient of the Sinfonia CS2 Printer, sponsored by Imaging Spectrum and Sinfonia.  And, Gary will receive a free copy of Darkroom Booth Software and the CI Creative Photo Strip Template Collection.

Way to go, guys!  Thanks to all for participating in our drawing and supporting Photo Booth Talk.  We will be hosting another big drawing next month for our VIP Club members.

Photo Booth Chick - Congrats!

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New Photo Booth Talk Marketplace

Marketplace LogoThis day has been a long time coming, one that so many of  you have been waiting for.  So without further adieu, we proudly announce the launch of our new Photo Booth Talk Marketplace.  We’ve filled it up with a large collection of photo booth templates, and with more soon to be added.  We’ve contracted with some of the wedding and event industry design leaders to bring you new designs that follow industry trends and are sure to please your clients. Right now, we have designs contributed by the amazingly talented Holly McCaig of Holly McCaig Creative and an assortment of templates by our very own Cherie Irwin of CI Creative.

We will soon be offering an assortment of items, such as props, signs, supplies and more.  Next on the list are marketing templates and website themes designed specifically for photo booth rental companies.

The wait is over, now go browse our store.

Julie Mast - You guys are so awesome! Thank you for all you do to support the PD industry!

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