Using the printer’s control panel you can crop an image, perform basic editing, such as red-eye removal, and add simple effects, like sepia tints and speech bubbles. Browsing through images on a card, particularly if they are over 4-megapixel, can be a slow process, as the printer’s internal processor is not that quick.
If you want to print from a PC, Canon provides a CD of control software and drivers. The software comprises Zoom Browser, a handy – though basic – photo management and editing utility and Easy PhotoPrint.
The Canon Selphy ES1 has one of the most amazing paper feeds we’ve ever seen on a printer. At the start of each print a 15 x 10cm blank is fed out sideways from the front of the printer and rotated by about 90 degrees. Then, since the printer can’t be certain exactly what angle the paper is at, it straightens it as it’s fed back in and out at the top of the machine, with the first layer of colour applied. It feeds the paper back and forth a further three times, to apply the other two layers of colour and a transparent cover layer, which protects the print.
Canon claims a print speed of 69 seconds for this printer and under test we saw prints complete in 75 seconds, which is pretty close. Since each print has to pass through the printer four times, this print speed is reasonable.
You buy a photo printer primarily for the quality of its prints and with the ES1 you’re buying a machine which can outperform most. The dye sublimation print is incredibly precise with very fine detail showing up clearly. We spotted some details in our test prints that we’d never noticed before and had to compare them with a magnified version of the image on-screen to prove they really were there… they were.
Colours come through strongly, too, but remain natural. The only problem, with default settings, is that images are a little dark in comparison with the originals. You can compensate for this from the printer’s control panel, but it’s a shame it’s not lighter by default.
Print packs come in 50 or 100 print capacities (though a 10-print ‘starter’ pack is supplied with printer), with prices of around £12 and £21, respectively. Using the higher capacity pack gives a cost per print of 21p including VAT. While not the cheapest prints on offer today, this pricing is competitive.
The dedicated photo print market is divided between two technologies: inkjet and dye sublimation. This latest dye sublimation printer from Canon proves once again that the technique can outperform its rival. Canon’s rethink of printer design, including its novel turn-the-paper-round technique, makes this a very effective, portable photo printer at an attractive price.
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