The Kodak printer does much better with photo prints. Our test landscape is crisply reproduced, with very smooth colour gradations, good shadow detail and plenty of fine detail in the foreground, too. Colours look natural and the machine copes well with slight changes in colour.
Despite a flip-over paper support, which pulls out from the front of the paper tray, print jobs of over 10 sheets or so tend to pitch sheets over the top of the tray’s end stop and onto the desk/floor.
When it comes to printing photos from a memory card or camera, you’re limited in what you can do with them. You can rotate and zoom, but not crop, remove red-eye or apply effects, such as black and white or sepia tints. You can copy a photo print from the scanner glass to a PC or a sheet of plain paper, but not to a sheet of 15 x 10 photo paper or a memory card.
The EasyShare 5300 is also not the quietest of machines, with most actions accompanied by some pumping and winding noise. As usual, the noisiest actions are when feeding paper, and we measured peaks of 62dBA, which is louder than most.
The headline figure that’s been bandied about a lot by Kodak is 7p per print. This is less than half the price of prints from the big four ink-jet makers: Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark. To get this cost per print, you have to use Kodak’s standard photo paper, 180 sheets of which are available with a colour cartridge in the Photo Value Pack for £12.49. Don’t confuse this with the Premium Photo Value Pack, which costs £13.49 and prints 135 prints from the same cartridge, so 10p per print. The printer auto-detects paper type and uses more ink on the Premium paper.
Kodak claims its black cartridge can produce 340, five per cent black pages, and under test we produced 387, so we have no argument with that figure. From this, we calculate a five per cent black text page to cost 2.28p, not a particularly low cost and appreciably higher than the 1.95p the Canon PIXMA MP600 produced from the same test.
We don't measure the cost of a 15 x 10cm print directly, unless we're dealing with a small format printer, which can't handle A4 paper. Instead, we calculate costs for a 20 per cent A4 colour photo, which isn’t far off the same area as a 15 x 10cm, on a sheet of the manufacturer’s glossy photo paper. For direct comparison with other machines we've tested, this cost comes out at 29.4p, the same as for the Lexmark 9350. As we’ve emphasised before, the ink cost in this test is swamped by the price of the premium photo paper. The cheapest price we could find for Kodak's Premium Photo paper is 24p per sheet.
As the first model in a new range of all-in-ones – the 5500 will be along soon, too – the Kodak EasyShare 5300 makes a lot of good design moves. It’s easy to use, comes with well-written software and produces good quality photo prints, quickly. Although the print cost of 7p is not for the highest quality prints this machine can produce, even those will only set you back 10p, still substantially cheaper than from Kodak’s main rivals. Let’s hope it starts a consumables price war and all photo prints come down to a more reasonable level and lowering the cost of photo paper, wouldn't hurt either.