The digital revolution has allowed Canon to involve itself not only in image capture, but output too. The company encourages home printing, like Kodak, by bundling cameras and printers together.

  • Print quality: 3/5
  • Average print time: 80 seconds
  • Average cost per print: 25p

This hot-from-the-factory Selphy ES2 comes as a standalone option, complete with a space-saving upright design and carry handle. It’s arguably the best-packaged solution here, featuring a time-saving print cartridge that holds both printer ribbon and paper (the ‘Easy Photo Pack’) so you don’t have to load both separately.

The ES2’s creamy white and shiny plastic casing is both attractive and practical, with a pop-up 3in LCD and a plethora of large and tactile buttons. A flip-down panel at its base reveals slots for common media cards, while a side flap conceals ports for USB and PictBridge connections. A mains lead and plug are supplied, but you’ll have to fork out for your own USB cable.

Insert a media card and the LCD and scrollwheel are used to choose an image. You simply hit the print button to begin output.

The ES2 selects a sheet from its internal stack of paper, flips it through 90 degrees and successively builds up three layers of colour. After 80 seconds, the finished print pops out of the top, dry to the touch. Canon claims the prints will be good for up to 100 years.

Disappointingly, the prints in our tests came out slightly softer and less well saturated than the rest, although if you hadn’t a direct comparison to hand the Canon would undoubtedly seem adequate.
For portability, the easy-to-operate ES2 clamps a battery to its rear and offers wireless printing via infrared (Bluetooth is optional).

Compact photo printers: buying advice

Compact photo printers: how we test

See also:

Epson Picturemate 290 compact photo printer

HP Photosmart A626 compact photo printer

Kodak Easyshare G610 compact photo printer

Panasonic KX-PX20 compact photo printer

Sony DPP-FP70 compact photo printer

Compact photo printers: buying advice

The vast majority of us do very little with the photos captured by our digital cameras – except downloading them to our desktop and leaving them languishing on our hard drive. They have to be pretty special for us to go to the bother of creating a print.

But the process doesn’t need to be painful or time-consuming. A handful of camera and electronics manufacturers continue to produce compact and user-friendly home photo printers that can be used independently of a PC.

Featuring slots for common media cards, the ability to wirelessly transmit images via Bluetooth and USB connectivity, they’ll churn out sparkling snaps without you switching on your PC. Instead of your monitor, you view the pics on the printer’s built-in LCD screen or that of your camera.

Standalone printers have been available for five years. The original models – at least those that could accurately be described as portable – were all dye-sublimation models. But things have got more complicated…

Dye-sub or inkjet?

Dye-subs remain the most common type of compact printer, using a heat process to transfer dye from an acetate sheet on to glossy photo paper. Traditionally, dye-subs take up less desk space than general-purpose inkjets and, although they rarely print photos larger than postcards, that’s easily big enough for most of us.

But lately, the likes of Epson and HP have shoehorned their pioneering inkjet technology into ever more portable devices that give dye-subs a run for their money as regards size, design and quality of output.

Inkjets fire microscopic spots of ink through a nozzle to construct an image from a series of dots; dye-sub models gradually build the image via three coloured layers (yellow, magenta and cyan, followed by a fourth protective coating). Inkjet images are generally sharper: the more dots per inch (dpi), the finer the detail.

Epson and HP’s compact inkjets offer higher resolutions than the standard 300dpi offered by dye-subs, but a 300dpi resolution is sufficient to deliver what we’d consider to be photo-quality prints.

Home or high street?

If you’re printing a batch of pics, doing the job yourself will work out as a costlier process. While most high-street labs offer a discount when you buy prints in bulk – gradually dropping down to less than 10p per copy – the price per print stays the same when you’re using a portable device.

For occasional output, however, compact devices regain the lead in economic terms – a typical cost per print for the models we’ve tested is 20p to 30p, compared with around 50p for a one-off 6x4in print at a lab.

If you’re going to be processing more than 50 images at a time, taking your camera card or CD of images to the high-street photo lab will be more cost- and time-effective. But for small batches or the occasional print, dedicated home photo printers offer real benefits.

Canon Selphy ES2 compact photo printer: expert review

Compact photo printers: how we test

See also:

Epson Picturemate 290 compact photo printer

HP Photosmart A626 compact photo printer

Kodak Easyshare G610 compact photo printer

Panasonic KX-PX20 compact photo printer

Sony DPP-FP70 compact photo printer

Compact photo printers: how we test

The average print times listed here relate to the time elapsed from hitting print to the completion of the process: a dry-to-the-touch hard copy in our hands.

These times are, for the most part, slightly longer than those quoted by the manufacturers, which often don’t include the period that it takes the paper to load and the machine to warm up. But they’re nevertheless a fair indication of how long you’ll actually have to wait, whether printing direct from a memory card or via your PC.

For the latter we used Samsung’s equally compact and sleek new Q45 laptop PC running Photoshop CS2 as the hub of our digital darkroom. And, to ensure as level a playing field as possible, we also used the same test shot as a starting point for each printer, so we could directly compare colour saturation, fidelity and, of course, overall sharpness.

For exactly the same reason, although many of the compact photo printers here offer the ability to perform rudimentary image editing and enhancements, we left the printers on their out-of-the-box, fully automatic factory settings.

Canon Selphy ES2 compact photo printer: expert review

Compact photo printers: buying advice

See also:

Epson Picturemate 290 compact photo printer

HP Photosmart A626 compact photo printer

Kodak Easyshare G610 compact photo printer

Panasonic KX-PX20 compact photo printer

Sony DPP-FP70 compact photo printer

Canon Selphy ES2: Specs

  • Max print size: 6x4in
  • max resoultion: 300x600dpi
  • printing method: thermal dye transfer
  • cartridge: three-colour all-in-one
  • actual/claimed print speed: 80/69 seconds
  • LCD size: 3in
  • PictBridge
  • storage formats: CF/SD/miniSD/MS/MS Duo
  • 213x190x131mm
  • 2kg
  • Max print size: 6x4in
  • max resoultion: 300x600dpi
  • printing method: thermal dye transfer
  • cartridge: three-colour all-in-one
  • actual/claimed print speed: 80/69 seconds
  • LCD size: 3in
  • PictBridge
  • storage formats: CF/SD/miniSD/MS/MS Duo
  • 213x190x131mm
  • 2kg

OUR VERDICT

The Canon Selphy’s space-saving design is a boon, but its print speed and quality of output can’t match the best of the bunch.

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