I last tried this back in 2007, and gave up, because back then, no cheap video cameras were good enough in low light, and getting a Mac to remotely control a DSLR and then get images out of it was basically impossible.
But hey, eight years later! And the world has changed so much that there are not only a ton of people out there selling photo booths, but there are a ton of people selling just the software to turn a DSLR, a printer and a tent into a photo booth. With anim-GIFs.
The world has changed so much that there is a Photo Booth Expo. Yes, there really is a convention for everything.
So, Lazyweb, what do you know about this stuff?
Have you used photo booth software? Have you maintained a photo booth and seen what happens upon contact with the enemy?
Which software, cameras and printers are any good? I guess I want:
- Mac-based, not Windows;
- Live video preview;
- The preview works well enough in low light that the booth doesn't have to leak light all over the nightclub (a flash is ok, but a constant-on 100 watt bulb is not);
- Auto-upload all photos to our own web site;
- A photo printer that can stand up to an extraordinary amount of abuse;
- Ability to take cash or credit cards to pay for the prints;
- Is not going to require an operator to fuss with it multiple times a night.
There are lots of companies out there who will happily put a photo booth inside your business, charge for the photos, and keep all of the money, but if I've learned anything from owning my own ATMs and owning my own ticketing service, it is this: "never, ever do that."
The turnkey photo booths you can buy seem to go for $8,000 to $15,000, which seems crazy for a fabric tent that has at best $1,600 worth of hardware and off-the-shelf software in it. But, maybe answering the questions I asked above is harder than I think it is.
(If you are about to suggest running Apple's "Photo Booth" application then you are missing the point about how combat-hardened this solution needs to be. In fact if you're about to begin a sentence with "Why don't you just...", please don't, that means you haven't thought it through and you're not helping.)