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Mini-Review: Canon Selphy CP710
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Wed Apr 26, 2006 Link to this message
Mini-Review: Canon Selphy CP710
I recently got my hands on the Canon Selphy CP710, which is a wonderful little photo printer. It is compact, easy to use, versatile, and most importantly (to me) uses dye sublimation technology.
If you're not familiar with dye sub, it's leaps ahead of ink-jet technology as far as image quality goes. Ink jets squirt little droplets of ink onto the paper, which show up rather obviously when you look closely at the photo. Also, the ink is water-based, so the paper has to dry before you handle it, (and any water spilled on the photo later will ruin it.) Dye sublimation, on the other hand, uses a special ink that doesn't melt when heated, but rather sublimates (goes directly from solid to gas) so instead of individual drops on the paper, the process results in tiny diffused sprays of color that merge into each other, resulting in a gradual ramping from one color to another. The pigment isn't water-based, so it isn't ruined by the odd drop of water. Finally, most dye-sub printers put a protective clear overcoat that resists UV light, making sure the colors stay brighter longer.
This is why a 300 DPI dye-sub printer can outperform a 1200 DPI inkjet.
But on to the CP710. The unit itself is small and compact, its footprint being only slightly larger than a 5x7 photo and only 2.5" high. It has a built-in USB cable that connects to the camera directly, as well as having card slots for most common digital cameras (and with adaptors, can accept cards from several other formats.) Add to that a USB port for connecting to your printer, and you have a versatile little photo printer.
What I liked:
What I didn't like:
The MSRP of the CP710 is about $150, but you can find it on the street and on the internet at about $130. New units and some just-tested-but-not-what-I-want units have gone for as little as $100 on ebay.
The unit comes with a sample 5-print roll of ink and 5 4x6 sheets, which conveniently have the reverse side marked up ready to be a postcard. Canon sells convenient packs of paper and ink. The basic 36-print roll and 36 4x6 "postcard-back" sheets of paper are about $12... but if you're going to do any reasonable amount of printing, the 108-photo three packs are more economical. Again, vendors on Ebay offer larger packs of 2x 3x and more of the 108-photo packages. At those prices the Canon-touted 38 cents per print actually drops to about 22 cents per print, comparable to what you pay in most one-hour photo shops. Considering that this printer can travel with you, that's pretty darned good.
The CP710 has a lower-end cousin, the CP510, which has the same dye-sub printing mechanism and port hookups (USB, PictBridge). The CP510 lacks the preview LCD and the card readers, so it's only really suitable for connecting to your computer, or a specific set of cameras. The overall size of the unit is the same as the CP710, and its performance characteristics are the same, too.
Other units in the Selphy line (the DS series) are beasts of an entirely different stripe, using conventional ink jet technology. Those units are not dye-sub, and while they boast resolutions as high as 4800 DPI, they still rely on individual dots of cyan, magenta, and yellow ink spread out in a pattern to achieve the illusion of colors.
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