Canon Selphy CP500 review

Price when reviewed

It’s easy to capture and manipulate digital images, but less easy to get hard copy. If you don’t want to fiddle about with a full-blown inkjet as featured in our Labs, the new generation of dedicated 6 x 4in dye-sublimation printers may be just what you’re looking for.

Canon Selphy CP500 review

Although the resolution of 300 x 300dpi sounds low compared to the figures quoted for inkjets, it’s actually more than enough to create rich, detailed photos hard to tell from commercial prints. Dye-sub printers have a film-like cassette containing coloured dyes: cyan, magenta, yellow and, in some instances, black. As the film passes the thermal print head on each pass, the dye vaporises and permeates the paper, where it returns to solid form.

Various cassette sizes and paper types are available for the Selphy, including a wide-format 200 x 100mm (8 x 4in) size and sticky labels. However, the two cassettes in the box are for postcard size 148 x 100mm (6 x 4in) and credit card size. You also get five blank postcards. Images can be printed from a PC once Canon’s software has been installed, or printed directly from a USB-connected camera.

Printing is quick, varying from 61 seconds to 68 seconds in postcard size – narrowly beating the fastest inkjets in the Labs this month.

The results are generally impressive. Colours are well balanced, and detail reproduction is very high. Plus, the finishing layer resists unsightly fingerprint marks. The only problem is a slightly restricted colour gamut and poor colour registration compared to an inkjet, leading to fringe effects on edges.

A wide range of consumables is available, but the KP-36IP kit is likely to be a popular choice. It bundles 36 postcard sheets with a 36-sheet colour cassette for £9.79 (£11.50 inc VAT), giving cost per print of 27p. This compares favourably with high street printing services, although printing in bulk from a CD in-store can still be considerably cheaper.

The Selphy CP500 is twice the price of a budget inkjet, but will produce great results. Absolute image quality is easily surpassed by Epson’s R800 inkjet, but this is a great device for those who want the minimum of fuss.

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