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Canon Selphy CP510 and CP710 Dye-Sub Printers - Review

by Bob Atkins, 2005


Canon released the SELPHY CP510 and SELPHY CP710 in the fall of 2005. They are both small dye-sub printers, the major difference being that the CP710 has a memory card reader built in. They are both compatible with the NB-CP2L battery pack for portable operation. The optional BU-20 Bluetooth adapter unit  enables wireless printing from devices that support the Bluetooth standard, such as some camera phones.

The CP510 and CP710 are small format printers, capable of printing 4x6 prints, long format 4" x 8" prints, credit card sized prints (2.1" x 3.4") and mini-stickers (0.9" x 0.7", 8 to a sheet). The 4" x 6" paper that these printers use have standard postcard markings on the back (see below), so you can mail your postcard sized prints as actual postcards! The supplied paper cassette is for the standard 4x6 paper, but additional (optional) paper holder cassettes are required for the other paper sizes. The time taken to print a 4x6 print is 58 seconds, which is a significant improvement over the 90 seconds of earlier similar dye-sub printers (CP220 and CP330)

4x6 print back
back of 4"x6" printing paper

Unlike ink jet printers, where ink and paper are available from both Canon and 3rd party suppliers, the Canon Selphy CP510 and CP710 require paper/ink packs sold by Canon. Each pack contains both the paper and a dye-sub cassette. The "ink" is sufficient to print exactly the number of prints in the pack. The standard 4x6 packs are the KP-36IP which makes 36 prints and  which sells for $10-$15 and KP-108IP which makes 108 prints and which sells for $25-$30. If you shop around for the best price on the KP-108IP each 4x6 print will cost about $0.23.

Canon CP510 and CP710 prints have a final transparent layer applied over them as part of the printing process which makes them waterproof and impervious to fingerprints. You can actually hold the fresh print under running water and it will not be damaged! This is a great advantage if you're printing at a party or you actually want to mail them as postcards! Canon claim that in accelerated testing of print stability a life of up to 100 years is indicated, which is similar to that of conventional photographs.

Both printers are small (7" x 5.2" x 2.5" ) and they're no heavier than a pro SLR (33.2oz for the CP510, 34.6oz for the CP710), so they can easily be carried in a camera bag.

Canon SELPHY CP510 and CP710 Specifications

Printing Method Dye-sublimation thermal print method with protective overcoating
Print Speed (up to)
Postcard Size: Approx. 58 sec.*
Credit Card Size: Approx. 31 sec.*
8-Mini Labels: Approx. 31 sec.*
Wide Size: Approx. 74 sec.*
Print Resolution (up to) Color: 300 x 300 dpi
Gradation: 256 levels per color (Y, C, M)
OS Compatibility
(A CD-ROM drive is required for installing software)
Microsoft Windows 2000 SP4/XP (including SP1 and SP2)
Computer Model: The above OS should be pre-installed on computers with built-in USB ports
CPU: Pentium 500MHz or higher processor
Interface: USB (Windows 2000/XP pre-installed models only)
Mac OS X (v10.2-10.4)
Computer Model: The above OS should be pre-installed on computers with built-in USB ports
CPU: PowerPC G3, G4 or G5
Interface: USB (Models with Apple genuine USB interface only)
Standard Interface USB Type A for camera; USB Type B for computer; Connect to camera via USB interface cable
Ink Compatibility See Paper Compatibility below
Print Size
Postcard size borderless- 3.94x5.83"/100x148mm, bordered- 3.6x4.8"/91.4x121.9m
Credit card (label) size borderless- 2.13x3.39"/54x86mm, bordered- 1.97x2.63"/50x66.7mm 8 Mini label size (per label) 0.68x0.87"/17.3x22.0mm
Wide size borderless- 3.94x7.87"/100x200mm, bordered- 3.6x4.8"/91.4x121.9mm
Paper Compatibility
Paper and ink cassettes are sold together in one package and are replaced at the same time.
Color Ink / Paper Set: KP-36IP (4" x 6" paper, 36 sheets)
KP-108IP (4" x 6" paper, 108 sheets),
KW-24IP (4" x 8" paper, 24 sheets)
Compact Photo Printer Greeting Card Kit (4" x 8" paper, 24 sheets),
KC-36IP (Credit card size paper, 36 sheets)
KC-18IF (Credit card size label paper, 18 sheets)
KC-18IL (Credit card size 8 mini label paper, 18 sheets)
Physical Dimensions 7.01 x 5.16 x 2.48 in./178.0 x 131.0 x 63.0mm
Weight CP510 Approx. 33.2 oz./940g; CP710 Approx. 34.6 oz./980g
Power Source DC 24V with Compact Power Adapter CA-CP200
Operating Environment 41-104?F/5-40?C, 20-80% humidity
Battery Battery Pack NB-CP2L. (optional)
Software Included
ZoomBrowser EX 5.1 (Windows?); PhotoRecord 2.2.2 (Windows); ImageBrowser 5.1 (Macintosh); PhotoStitch 3.1 (Windows/Macintosh?); CP Printer Drivers (Windows/Macintosh)

Dye-Sub vs. Ink jet

Both the Canon Selphy CP510 and CP710 are dye-sub (dye sublimation) printers. This means that they operate by subliming (vaporizing) dye from a sheet onto the printing paper. This is done in 4 passes. On the first pass the print is in contact with the yellow ink sheet, and areas requiring yellow are transferred from the dye sheet to the paper. On a second pass through the printer the dye-sub cassette moves a magenta sheet over the print and transfers dye in the area requiring magenta. On the third pass a cyan sheet to transfer cyan to the print and the color printing is complete. The final, fourth, pass applies a clear protective coating. This is shown schematically in the following figure:

 

dye sub layers

 

All colors are made up from yellow, cyan and magenta. Black is all three colors, white is none at all, just as in an ink-jet printer. Below are crops from a sample image and the magenta frame from the dye sub print used to make it. As you can see in the areas of the print that are black, all the magenta has been transferred from the dye sheet. In other areas only some of the magenta is transferred (see the setting sun in the lower right to see an area with partial transfer).

dye sub sample

Software

The CP220 comes with the CP printer solutions disk ver.5.0 (CD), which contains:

For Macintosh:

  • ImageBrowser 5.1
  • PhotoStitch 3.1
  • CP printer driver 3.2

For Windows:

  • Easy-PhotoPrint 3.3
  • PhotoRecord 2.2
  • PhotoStitch 3.1
  • CP Printer Driver 3.2

Printing

Printing can be done directly from a PC in the same manner any photo printer. A driver for the printer is installed on the computer and  the CP510/710 printer is selected as the output device when printing from a program. A standard USB 2.0 connection is used between the printer and PC. Both the Canon Selphy CP510 and CP710 can also be connected directly to any Canon camera which supports direct printing, or any PictBridge compliant camera from any manufacturer. Printing from the PC via PhotoShop (or other Image Editor) is obviously much more flexible since you can make complex color and density adjustments before printing. Printing directly from a camera requires a well exposed original since image adjustments (other than cropping) aren't possible. With well exposed images the prints from the CP510 look very good. Full frame from a DSLR image (which has a 1:1.5 aspect ratio) can be printed on 4x6 paper, but if you're printing from a digicam with a 4:3 aspect ratio some cropping will obviously occur when printing borderless 4x6 prints.

With current Canon Powershot digicams, direct printing from the camera couldn't be easier. Both printers have a short built-in retractable USB cable. You pull the cable out of the printer, plug it into the camera, turn the camera on in image review mode, select the image you want to print in the usual way and press a single button on the camera. Less than 1 minute later, you have the final print in your hand!

cp510
Canon SELPHY CP510

Even fairly simple cameras like the Powershot SD200 allow you to crop the image or print multiple small images ("passport" images) or an index print on one sheet of paper. From the SD200 you can also print a series of stills from a movie.

The Canon CP710 has the same print engine as the Canon CP510, but in addition has a card reader which also allows printing directly from a memory card and has a 1.5" color LCD screen on which the images are displayed. Microdrives, CF cards, SD cards, Memory Sticks, Memory Stick Pros, Multimedia cards and Magic Gate Memory Stick Duos are directly supported. Other cards can be used via adapters. The usual array of functions is available. You can print one image, all images, images as defined in the camera via DPOF (digital print order format), plus you can select bordered or borderless printing and you can crop using the controls on the printer and the printer LCD screen.

Each print requires 4 passes of the paper through the printer and the total time for a 4" x 6" print is around 58 seconds. The actual paper supplied for these printers is about 4" x 7", with a 1/2" tear off strip at each end. The extra length is required to enable edge to edge (borderless) 4" x 6" printing. The strip is microperforated so it tears off leaving a very clean edge. Bordered prints can be selected via in camera software when printing directly from a camera, or via the usual software options when printing from a computer.

Both the Canon Selphy CP510 and CP710 come supplied with only a sample 5 print pack of paper and dye sub ink, so anyone buying either printer would probably also want to order at least one 36 or 108 print kit.

Conclusions

For those wanting 4x6 prints from an easy to use and portable printer, the Canon Selphy CP510 ($95) and Canon Selphy CP710 ($145) are good choices. They are small enough and light enough to carry in your camera bag if you're going to an event and want to proof images on the spot. The prints are waterproof and fingerprint resistant which is something that may be very useful if you're printing pictures at an a party, plus they can be sent through the mail as postcards. You do need AC power unless you buy the optional Li-ion battery pack. Prints are reasonably priced at around $0.35-$0.40 each if you buy the 36 print kit ($18) or $0.23-$0.28 each if you buy the 108 print kit. This is a little more than online prints would cost, but comparable to the cost of prints from many 1hr photo store, and you have the convenience of printing them instantly at home rather than having to drive to the store or wait for them to be delivered though the mail. Other (small) print sizes are also available, but require purchasing optional paper holding cassettes as well as the appropriate paper/dye-sub kits.

Where to buy

Purchasing via these links helps to support photo.net.

© Copyright 2005 Robert M. Atkins. Visit Bob Atkins' website at www.bobatkins.com

Readers' Comments


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William Nicholls , December 06, 2005; 06:15 P.M.

Actually, black made up of CMY isn't very black, unlike most inkjet printers that have a separate black. It has been a long time since I've seen a CMY printer. The better dye sub printers have a black layer too.

Bob Atkins , December 06, 2005; 07:27 P.M.

For ink jets you are certainly correct, that's why ink jets have a black ink tank (K) as well as cyan, magenta and yellow (CMYK). In theory you shouldn't need the black, but in practice you do.

However the blacks from the SEPHY dye-sub printers do look pretty good. As far as I know all the consumer dye-sub printers just have Cyan, Magenta and Yellow passes.

Perhaps the dy-sub process (with continuous coverage rather than tiny ink spots) gives better blacks than a CMY ink jet would.

nam nguyen , December 07, 2005; 04:28 A.M.

I've used the CP-330 and found the colors to be somewhat not as vibrant as inkjet. However, I don't want to deal with inkjet cartridges drying out and clogged printhead, as location reliability is the priority for this kind of printer. It's nice to give someone you've just photographed their picture on the spot, and people warm up to you much easier at the idea.

Two annoyances with the CP-330, and they stay the same with the current model:

1. The battery is rated at only 36 prints!

2. With post processing in mind, my pictures are shot with the settings involving the least in camera processing. Which means, in addition to the lacklusterness of dye sub, pictures printed straight from camera are not as sharp and contrasty as I would want. In-printer processing controls like brightness, contrast, sharpness and color balance would be great.

I suppose shooting RAW+JPG and selecting a punchier setting in the camera for the JPGs could be the solution, though I haven't tried. I have not seen any documentation about this with the CP-330, just that it does not print RAW.

Another thing is, I don't know if there is a color profile for it, to do more serious printing via Photoshop.

Bob Atkins , December 07, 2005; 02:10 P.M.

I don't think these small dye-sub printers are aimed at people who shoot RAW and post process in Photoshop.

They are aimed at small digicam users who want instant (or convenient) 4x6 prints. Most Digicams are setup for more vibrant colors and sharpness than DSLRs and so may actually produce more appealing prints from an "all auto" digicam than a DSLR setup for minimum in-camera processing.

Aaron Muderick , December 07, 2005; 11:25 P.M.

Got the CP-510 on the basis of this review. I was bummed to find out it can't print from RAW. Some Canon point and shoots allow you to create a JPEG version in-camera for printing but the Digital Rebel XT doesn't. I don't mind using RAW+JPEG but that decreases the number of shots I can quickly fire off. Dropping RAW altogether isn't an option. Hmmm...

Once I got it onto the computer my prints from Photoshop were great. This will be perfect for printing simple proofs and for the kids.

Bob Atkins , December 08, 2005; 12:53 A.M.

Sorry Aaron, I didn't think to mention it didn't print from RAW. I sort of assumed people would know. No printer prints from RAW as far as I know. None of the Dye-subs, none of the Ink Jets, none of the laser printers, whether connected directly to the camera or printing from a memory card.

Point and shoots don't usually save RAW images anyway. Not sure which model you're refering to when you say some models allow you to create a JPEG from a RAW file in camera for printing.

If you want to shoot RAW and print directly to a printer, shoot in RAW+JPEG mode. Since it's only a 4x6 print you can save a medium sized JPEG and it really doesn't add that much to the total storage space. On a 1GB card I can get 109 ISO 100 RAW images or 87 RAW+medium JPEG images

nam nguyen , December 08, 2005; 03:03 P.M.

I think the logic of not being able to print RAW is because there is no in-printer controls to process the RAW file (the camera doesn't process it to begin with.)

To follow this logic, we have to shoot RAW+JPG (my 20D can do this, my G3 can't) with a punchier setting for the JPG.

I have not yet tried this. Is it safe to assume then, that this more aggressive, punchier setting for the JPG part won't affect the RAW part?

Bob Atkins , December 08, 2005; 08:09 P.M.

Yes, the only things that affect the RAW image are ISO and exposure settings.

Aaron Muderick , December 11, 2005; 09:43 P.M.

I'll also add that I was very pleased with the tone the printer produced for black and white images. For the unit price and the per print cost, it is a great deal.

Richard Horton , December 17, 2005; 02:06 P.M.

I'd suspect that this will come in very handy for people who have clients who want to see what the pics will look like on paper on the day - shoot in raw+jpeg and you give your client a hard copy there and then...

This might also be good at cat shows etc - the owner can get proofs there and then and decide which ones to get blown up to a proper size.

David Talmage , January 24, 2006; 04:13 P.M.

I bought a CP-510 on the basis of this review. I bought a Canon SD450 to go with it. I use them together to make postcards and the results please me. My friends and family like the postcards I've been sending them.

Kris Warkentin , January 24, 2006; 04:47 P.M.

I got one based on this review as well and couldn't be more pleased. I've actually compared prints from this vs. some from the lab and found them very nearly equivalent in quality. In fact, to my eye, the one from the Selphy actually looked a bit better.


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