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Old Jun 10, 2006, 8:10 PM   #1
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Peace,Dudes and Dudettes.

I've been reading these forums for the past few days to assist with a new cameral purchase and, ultimately, a portable photo printer.

I've pretty much settled on the Canon Powershot S80 as it seems to offer the most bang (read: manual controls and range of selections) in a brick-style pocket camera. Of course, I could get better, I know, but for this camera purchase I want to keep well away from anything that is SLR-ish, including the knobby grip on the right. It needs to slip into a coat or trousers pocket, but I also want as much SLR-like control as I can get. (any comments on a better choice than S80, please speak up!)

What I wanted to ask here, because I don't seem to be able to find the information ANYWHERE, are two things:

1. Three local retailers who sell inkjet photo printers have told me to avoid dye-sub printers unless they are are 600x600(+) resolution. They claim anything less than that will yield "the jaggies" or stair-stepped diagonal and arced lines. Yes, I know.:roll: They are selling inkjet and want me to buy one. They don't sell dye-sub (heck, I can't find ANYONE in the DFW area stocks dye-subs!), so obviously they want me to spend my money on an inkjet. And I have to say, I've seen some poor inkjets out there (forget photo quality, even text can look ragged on some inkjets).

So what's the REAL scoop on dye-subs? Let's say I'm using my soon-to-be-purchased Canon at 8MP and I'm putting the whole thing onto a 4x6 photo sheet. Will I see jaggies on fine and/or thick diagonals/arcs? How about that same photo printed at 8x10?

Same question again with, say, a 4MP camera (which I just happen to already own)?

2. Please tell me about black on dye-sub printers. I see only CMY and clear-coat mentioned all over the internet. No one talks about black. How black is the black? You can't getBLACK from CMY, neither from RGB--very dark gray is tops. How do these printers make carbon black look like carbon black? Or do they?

If the black isn't really black, are there any dye-subs which add a pass for black (i.e., they use CMYK, not just CMY)? If there are such beats, are any of them discussed or reviewed here?



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Old Jun 13, 2006, 4:28 AM   #2
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Well I've worked with loads of dye-subs over the past 18 months so I should be able to help you out.

1) As long as you aren't trying to print a low res picture, (i.e. from a mobile phone), you wont see any jaggedness on a dye-sub printer. There's a reason why most dye-subs, (even the really expensive high workload event dye-subs), don't go over 300dpi and that's because they don't need to. My bet is the inkjet guys have never seen a dye-sub print or worse they are lying.

2) Dye-subs don't need black ink on the ribbons because they mix the CMY colours so well. The dye in dye-subs actually stain the top layer of the paper they print on so when the colours can mix far better than ink-jet printers which cannot print their coloured dots on top of each other, (probably because the inks are opaque and the last colour they print would cover up the previous coloured dots). The accuracy of your greys and blacks is dependant on how well the dye-sub printer is setup by the manufacturer and to produce the best results you may need to profile your printer but almost all dye-subs are physically capable of producing all the colours you want them to.

Hope that helps!
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Old Jun 13, 2006, 9:27 AM   #3
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Hi again,

Just to clarify question 1, the smaller the image and the greater the size media you are printing on the more likely you are to see jagged lines although that's not a problem with the printer itself, it's just printing what you tell it. An inkjet would do the same unless it blured the image somehow.

As a test I printed a 3MP image on a borderless 10x8 and you could just about see some jagged edges. But then if you're going to print on a 10x8 dye-sub I would have thought you would be using a camera that takes higher res images then 3MP.
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Old Jun 13, 2006, 1:05 PM   #4
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Yes, you've confirmed what I thought was a load of horse pucky from supposed "expert" retailers.

Still, I'm a little cautious about the true black levels from CMY. Heck, I even have some small reservations about the color range of CMY-only. RGB and CMY overlap quite well, but each can do just a tiny bit more colors than the other. Having a dye-sub printer that will do CMY-RGB-K0 is likely a pipe dream at the moment. We'll have to wait for the manufacturers to recover expenses on existing models and technology before we see them adding more capable products. It seems I'm demanding more than the current commercially-viable technology will support.

I guess the price of a Kodak PP510 isn't too outrageous. I can always give it go and test the result myself. For most snaps I'd like to print, it will probably do just fine. For anything of a critical nature, I can always use on-line printing services on true photo-sensitive paper.


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Old Jun 14, 2006, 8:30 AM   #5
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I think you might be suprised at the quality of the black from a dye-sub print and you definitely won't have a problem with the other colours. Dye-sub Printers could easily be modified by the printer manufactures to include extra BRGB colours, all they would need is to make a ribbon that had 4 extra coloured panels on and change the firmware and driver software, they wouldn't even need to change the printhead. The fact that they haven't done this suggests to me that they didn't think it was needed so, IMO, I think you could be waiting a while for a dye-sub which uses more colours than the standard CMY.

The biggest advantage with dye-subs is the convenience and speed compared to the quality. They hit the sweet spots that are ideal for event photographers who want to produce a print quickly without losing a customer. There are better printing methods out there like Pictography or specialist photolabs and they might be cheaper but it depends on what hits the swet spo for you.

I would advise that you get a small dye-sub that does 6x4 prints just so you can see what the results are. they are some out there that are under a $100 and they will produce similar results compared to a more expensive version except the prints will be smaller and wont print as fast. That's the only real difference. Colour reproduction is virtually the same.
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Old Jun 14, 2006, 11:46 AM   #6
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I think I've found what I was looking for. Have a look at these, from printerspot.com:




In particular, scroll down each page and have a look at (1) Color Accuracy charts, (2) Golf Ball Image, and (3) B&W landscape photo.

None of them do blacks well at all. None.It doesn't have to be a B&W photo to see the problem, either. Shadows in colored areas are distinctly not the same hue as the original. Deep shadows approaching carbon black never get sharpness in contrast that are present in the original.

All of them do Cyan, Magenta and Yellow quite well. That would be expected, because that's the color of the dyes on the ribbons. When it comes to RGB, however, they all fail to one degree or another (again, my opinion):

The Canon perhaps does Blue better than the others. It's Red is tinged purplish and the Green is murky.

The Kodak has acceptable Red and Green hues, but the Blue has an aqua tinge.

The Olympus has a purplish tone to its Blue, and the Red and Green are way off.

All of them are rather washed-out, but assuming a specific photo isn't too dark to begin with, I imagine lowering its overall brightness or increasing saturation on a computer will take take of that problem.

Inkjets are far more capable of rendering true color, but I think we all know their problem of pixelation spottiness. Longevity of pigments is another concern, as is waterfastness (though a clear coat will help a lot with that problem).

I agree it's a simple matter to add color to the ribbon and alter the firmware. Having looked at the above examples, I feel they should do just that. The operative words, however, are "commercially viable" rather than "technically feasible." Adding the colors mean more ribbon, more printing time, and more cost passed on to the consumer. What used to be a 60 second print for 4x6 (CMY plus Coating)would take 120 seconds (an additional 4 passes for RGB and Bk). The cost per print would go up perhaps 20 percent due to more ribbon film and more dyes on it. I think that would make a lot of people balk at the additional cost and time.

When they recover their existing investments so that current market offerings would reasonably sell at half their price, then manufacturers can add the extra colors anddouble the print speed (resulting in the same amount of time to print with the extra color passes). That day, whenever it may come, is what I'm waiting for, I guess. Until then, I'll stick with the photo labs.

I admit I am quite critical in the quality of print I get. I run everything through PhotoShop before printing, and I use dedicated color correction pallets for both my monitor and my lab's printing equipment. This is not what the casual consumer cares about at all, and neither do on-site photographers wanting to give their customers a quick print that the customer will find acceptable. So it boils down to my issue with today's photo printers being just that; MY issue, because I am so demanding.

I know I can get some of the top-end printers that will do the job, but I don't feel like paying anything near their approximately 20K USD price. I'm not a pro. I don't make money from my photos. I can't justify that kind of investment.

Someday, though...


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Old Jun 18, 2006, 11:21 AM   #7
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Pond Jumper

First of all a dye sub printer is a continuous tone system so you get smooth gradients no stepping unless the original file looks like that.
As far as dye-sub printing black is is a mixture of CYM which cant produce a true black its still a slight gray some dye-sub's produce a better black tone than others. While black is black to get a rich black a 50% screen of Cyn is placed with the blacks 100% coverage.

Inkjets do print colors on top of one another this is known as Sublima screening a total random placing of dots vs. the old Round Dot traditional commercial pattern.
Get your self a 10x loop and take a look at the patterns on some different samples.

I have a Kodak 8660 for 8x10 and a Hiti 630ps 4x6 and a Epson 7600 all produce great prints. All printers print in RGB language my 7600 files are sent thru a RIP so those files are in CYMK all other printers are sent RGB files.

Now that digital printing has come into the main stream prices are way down so printing yourself really isn't cost effective even a small 4x6 comes out to about $.35 when you can get the same for around $.11 - $.16 from a photo lab these days.
If you want adye-sub I'd suggest a Kodak for larger prints or a HiTi for smaller prints but remember printing in house isn't cost effective anymore. Remember media cost will add up I have seen prints from some of the others the HiTi had better color saturation and media is priced better as well.

I believe the 8650 and 8670 Kodak's have CYMK Donor cartages available
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Old Oct 7, 2006, 9:58 PM   #8
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Do you now of ANY dye sub printers that have an actual black ribbon? - I's like to make 8x10 B/W prints but as it stands, dye sub B/W prints are miles away from conventional (ie silver imaing) prints.

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