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Coin-operated digital photo booths that offer high-quality passport and other photos are spreading.

According to an industry estimate, about 70 percent of the 12,000 to 13,000 photo booths in Japan have been digitized.

Digital photo booths produce high-resolution identification photos comparable with those taken at a photo studio, industry watchers say.

Until recently, ID photos taken in conventional booths didn’t come up to scratch when it came to important documents, including resumes and school application forms.

But thanks to digitization, booths have rapidly increased their share of the identification photo market, now standing at close to 40 percent.

That share is expected to rise further this year, as students due to graduate in spring 2006 year are already starting their job hunts.

The digital photo booth developed by Konica Minolta ID Imaging Co. employs indirect lighting like professional studios and allows users to check the quality of photos through a monitor and to retake the photos up to two times.

The company boasts nearly 50 percent of the market for ID photo booths.

Whereas conventional film booths require about three minutes to develop and print photos, digital booths do the job in only 23 seconds.

Another advantage is that they can produce various photo sizes for use in resumes, passports, drivers licenses and applications for various certification examinations.

Although demand for ID photos for use in public certifications such as drivers licenses has been on the decrease due to deregulation, the market for ID photos as a whole has remained stable at about 90 billion yen, or some 70 million shots, a year.

According to a study by the Konica Minolta group, 45 percent of the photos taken in digital booths are for resumes.

Fujifilm Imaging Co., which has digitalized all of its 3,000 booths across the country, boasts that they produce high-quality photos that compare favorably with those taken at photo studios.

The company says the retake feature is particularly popular with young women.

“Young people don’t have feelings of resistance toward using the photo booths to take photos for use in resumes,” a company spokesman said.

He said the operating rate of photo booths located near public job-placement offices is particularly high, indicating the recession is serving as a tail wind for digital booths.

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