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Girls think it's cute but don't count on it getting you any phone numbers on walks in the park. It's cheap and easy but not a tramp. Give up? I'm talking about the Canon Selphy CP760 compact photo printer, of course.
I purchased the Selphy Sunday evening and through the miracles of the internet and a global transportation infrastructure it arrived on my doorstep Wednesday. And I'm so glad I did. It's a fun little printer.
Despite it's tiny size, the CP760 leans more toward the non-portable end of the spectrum than, say, the CP770 which comes in a plastic bucket or the ES30 which has an integrated handle and optional wireless and can run on batteries. No, this guy is intended to sit on a desk or table unobtrusively and quietly until needed. Although, technically, it's small enough and light enough to move about if necessary and doesn't require a connection to a computer to operate.
Color reproduction is very good at the default settings although reds are a little oversaturated for my taste. Skin tones look natural and fine details are rendered nicely. Colors are accurate without any trace of dithering which is especially nice in lightly colored areas compared to inkjet prints. Overall, as good or better than your local 1-hour lab. Prints are dry and ready to handle in just a few seconds.
Black and white prints are nothing to write home about---I'd call them "really dark gray" and white prints---but there are no colored pixels in them at all which is nice.
The Selphy came with a 4-print sample pack that made exactly 4 prints---no more, no less.
You must use Canon paper and dye packs designed for this printer although in the 108-print bundle the prints are reasonable at $0.27 each. The paper has perforated tabs that are easily removed but leave a barely perceptible ragged edge.
Prints are almost but not quite 4x6. Image cropping for full edge-to-edge printing is minimal and acceptable. Because of the paper path, the Selphy needs about 7.5x15 inches of total desk space. It's not overly noisy and the included power cord is very long with an integrated velcro tie.
I've taught my kids how to use it and put a jar next to the printer. They are to deposit $0.25 each time they print something. What do you want to bet I'll only have about $2.39 in loose change when it's time to buy more supplies?
Time per print: 75 seconds (a little longer for the first one)
Actual final print size: 3.9x5.8 inches (100x147 mm)
Edge bleed: 0.1 inches (2.5 mm) on each long edge, 0.2 inches (5 mm) on the short edges
I hate printing photos at home. Every time I do it I've got to fiddle with printer settings, change the paper, do a test print, yadda yadda. It's always been a pain in the neck. But, at least partly, I think that's been because I've never owned a dedicated photo printer. I've always had my main document printer do double duty. Not only was it a pain, the results weren't all that great anyway. Which is why I think I was so fascinated when I discovered compact photo printers.
I'd heard of them before, of course. Maybe it's the price. Maybe it's the new form factor. But something about this latest generation just clicked with me. Here is a class of printers dedicated to doing one thing and one thing only: print 4x6 snapshots. No fussing with loading the right paper. No worrying about running out of ink for your documents. No connectivity to a computer required.
All of these printers are under $150. There are more advanced compact photo printers on the market but usually all you get are more effects and storage space, not better print quality. For example, the Canon Selphy ES3 is identical to the ES30 but comes with more built-in effects (frames and stamps to put on your photos) and 1 GB internal memory for photo storage. It costs $169.
The Epson and HP printers use inkjet technology. Canon is unique in its decision to use dye-sublimation print technology. If you have a printer it is probably an inkjet. These printers spray ink in microscopic droplets onto paper through hundreds of tiny nozzles.
Dye-sublimation on the other hand uses heat to transfer dye from a ribbon. Inkjets spray all of the necessary colors simultaneously in a single pass over the paper. Dye-sub printers make multiple passes over the paper, one for each color plus a protective top-coat.
The primary advantage of dye-sub over inkjet for photo printing is the wider color gamut. Inkjets simulate multiple colors by dithering dots of ink in patterns. But these dye-sub printers can actually generate 256 levels of each color per dot (at 300 dpi) for a gamut of about 16.8 million colors without dithering.
Canon Selphy ES30
Another advantage which I found compelling is the cost per print. A common complaint with inkjet printers, and with the Epson and HP above in particular, is that the ink never lasts for as many prints as it is rated for (according to reviews by owners). Compounding the problem is the fact that the manufacturers have opted to sell paper and ink together in packs. The result is that one is always left with extra paper once the ink is gone and the cost per print is higher than expected.
Like HP and Epson, Canon also sells ink and paper together in packs. However, dye-sublimation technology always uses exactly one color ribbon per page. So when you buy a pack of dye-sub ink/paper for 50 prints, you will get exactly 50 prints before you need to buy more supplies. The cost/print is a fixed and predictable quantity (and about $0.27 per print if you buy the 108 print packs).
So I purchased the Canon Selphy CP760 last night from Amazon. It's not only the cheapest of the lot at just $77, I think it looks the best, too. I was tempted by the ES30 but I decided I didn't need any of their built-in clipart or borders at almost twice the price. All I really want is a big green button on the front that says "Print."
I'll write a full review after I receive it on Wednesday.
It's so weird, I don't know how I missed it when it came out. I was out buying ink today when I stumbled across the Selphy. Somehow, those wacky guys over at Canon had the brilliant idea that portable photo printers ought to come in bucket form.
The Selphy CP770 (Amazon) is a playful little 4x6 dye-sublimation photo printer that comes in a plastic bucket big enough for its accessories, paper, and cables. The printer itself becomes the "lid" of the bucket and latches on with two large green plastic clamps. And you carry it around by the handle. On the bucket.
I'm still a little boggled. And yet I am intrigued. Would you dare bring this to a corporate or any other kind of "serious" environment? You'd have a hard time getting anyone to take you seriously. But, whip out this fruit tart of a photo printer at a child's birthday party or family social gathering and fire off some 4x6's at grandma and I predict you'd be the hero of the moment.
If you're like most digital photographers, you probably don't print photos very often. It's become pretty common to go on vacations or day trips with friends and family and then exchange CDs full of photos or Flickr URLs or just send photos around as email attachments. I know lots of people still print photos, but let's face it: lots of people don't.
And, mostly, it's a good thing. Back when folks had to print photos just to see them---and it was never free, not even to shoot them in the first place---they took a lot less photos. Granted, there's a lot more crap we're all subjected to. I heard a story recently from someone about how they'd casually send in photos to their kid's school throughout the year. Photos of field trips and stuff. And how the people receiving those hundreds of photos used every single one for a slideshow that lasted an hour. Kill me now, right?
But there's a lot more good stuff, too. Photography is partly a numbers game. The more you shoot, the more likely you are to get something worth keeping and worth showing.
The thing is, a printed photo is a completely different animal to one viewed on a computer monitor. Even the most mundane photos take on an almost magical aura when you can actually reach out and touch them. They reflect light, you can see and feel the texture of the paper, details you didn't notice before appear from nowhere. A printed photo is somehow grander.
In my experience, the minimum threshold for getting that feeling of magic from a print is 11x14 inches. But the bigger the better. A 16x20 or 20x24 print, especially if you go to the trouble (and expense) of matting and framing, can make a good digital photo downright amazing. This is especially true for exhibitions or competitions. Size matters.
So here's a challenge for you if you haven't printed anything recently: go shoot something and hang it on a wall in your home. Print it at 11x14 or larger. You can get an 11x14 print online for less than $5 and 16x20s for under $20. It's worth it. Get a simple black frame and a pre-cut white mat (around $30) for it. Hang it. Stand back and admire your work. You'll be impressed and so will everyone who sees it.
A little while back a new photo book printing service called Albelli sprang up. They gave us some coupon codes for a free medium landscape photo book. You used those codes and made your books. And the general consensus? Meh.
Have you used a photo book printing service that you love (or hate)? Please tell us about it in the comments below!
As for Albelli, here's what some of you thought of the service:
I wanted to wait until I received the book before I wrote a review. The review is still in development but I'm glad I waited because the book arrived with some problems in it. The software also has some issues that should be resolved, which I'll mention in a comment on the blog post.
The real problem I have is that four images printed incorrectly. Two were badly skewed/stretched, one had a handwritten press through from paper on top where I can see a handwritten "43" (it looks like a ballpoint pen was used with only a thin piece of paper on top of the photo for some reason) -- and that's on the first photo! Also one photo in a collage became nearly completely covered by another photo.
I already sent an e-mail to albelli's service line with photos of the book and screenshots of the application showing the pages that are screwed up. Here are links to the photos/screenshots I sent them.
I just received the book last night -- shipping was fast since I placed the order on Thursday.
p.s. I used the code but ended up getting a L version (8.5" x 11") book with over 60 pages in it, so I ended up paying albelli $45. Even if a replacement comes, I'm not sure it's worth it vs. photobooks I've done with Shutterfly and Snapfish in past years.
Well, if there's one thing I can say for Abelli, they're fast! I ordered my book on Tuesday evening, and it was waiting for me when I arrived home today!
The software for designing the book was simple and quick to use. There weren't quite as many layout/design options as with Shutterfly or MPix, but the prices are lower in comparison. For some reason 3 of the photos I chose to upload would not go. I have no idea why–they were taken at the same time and with the same camera as all the others. That was annoying, because then I had to go back and choose new photos.
The book is nice. Smaller than I expected for a medium, but the printing is very nice quality and it's bound well. The one very negative thing was that apparently there is a text limitation on the cover. I was unaware of this and chose the title of "********* Family Vacation" and the front of my book is printed with "********* Family Vac" This I do not like, and if I had paid for the book I would have asked for a reprint. However, since it was free, I'll keep it :-)
Overall, I'd use them again for smaller sized photo books, especially if I'm in a hurry. The quality is good and they were super speedy and quite simple to use, and the prices are very reasonable---even shipping. For larger, more complicated books I'd probably stick with MPix, simply for the greater variety of design options.
I've been working with Albelli support since I got the coupon. So far, no luck. The app perpetually uploads my pictures, never finishing. :(
The latest software updates from Albelli seemed to fix most all of my problems. I was able to upload my photos, and I've gotten the book in the mail.
I agree that the book is small then expected. But it is the advertised size. I almost feel like they should warn me when I put four photos on the same page.
The book seems well bound to me, and I must say that I'm happy with it. However, the printing could be a little better. The pictures look a little grainy too me. Either my pictures are too small or the dpi is not high enough. Also, I'd like the option for glossy versus matte.
Bad software with very limited options. No option to put a picture on the cover. Cropping and fitting images in the software basically does not work. Integration with flickr and smugmug works good, but that about it. I would not use the site again until the design aspect is beefed up, this does not come close to the other photo book companies I have used.
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