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Canon CP-100 Dye-sub Printer Review

Canon CP-100 Dye-sub Printer Review - The CP-100 design is very compact and weighing around 990g it is certainly portable. Combining a silvery finish with translucent blue plastic makes it appear stylish and all the openings have smart covers for when it is not in use.

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Category : Dye-sub Printers
Product : Canon CP-100 dye-sub
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Canon Cp-100 Card Photo PrinterThe Card photo printer CP-100 looks a little out of place on my office desk. Without the paper tray attached and the title inscribed onto the top of the casing I'm not sure many people would recognise this as a printer. However the CP-100 is indeed a small dye-sublimation printer, capable of direct printing with selected Canon digital cameras. Its main features are:

  • Compact and reasonably lightweight
  • Optional rechargeable battery
  • 300x300dpi
  • Multiple media sizes and types including stickers
  • Connectable with a PC with an optional PC connection kit
  • Maximum printable area of 148x100mm
  • Dimensions 172x60x178mm
  • 223 online, 250 retail price

Design and interfaces
The CP-100 design is very compact and weighing around 990g it is certainly portable. Combining a silvery finish with translucent blue plastic makes it appear stylish and all the openings have smart covers for when it is not in use.

Canon CP100 overview
Other images: Front view without paper tray + Side view

The CP-100 comes with two paper trays for the different paper types available. Each can be slotted easily into the front of the printer and they act as paper catchers too.

Canon CP100 print cartridge

Canon CP100 paper trays
Canon CP100 with ink cartridge

Dye-sublimation printer explanation
Those of you not familiar with dye-sub printers may be wondering how they differ from their ink-jet counterparts. Instead of a tank of ink the printer uses a ribbon with a sections of cyan, magenta, yellow and black dye. This is deposited onto the paper through tiny heating elements evaporating pigments from the ribbon. So when printing with a dye-sub printer for the first time, don't be alarmed when the print comes out looking all yellow, then returns into the printer a few more times before looking complete.

Fitting into the right-hand side of the printer is the CP-100 Ink cassette.

There are several different types of cartridges and paper sets for this printer. Because the printout relies on the paper and ink-cartridge area being identical you need to change the cartridge when you change the paper-type. The available paper and ink sets are:

Colour Ink / Paper Set KP-36 IP (4'x6' paper, 36 sheets) 11.99
Color Ink / Paper Set KC-36 IP (Credit card size, 36 sheets) 9.99
Color Ink / Paper Set KC-18 IL (Credit card size/mini label, 18 sheets) NA
Color Ink / Paper Set KC-18 IF (Credit card size/full label, 18 sheets) NA

Included with the printer is some 4'x6' paper and a 5 photo Ink cartridge to get you started.

As mentioned earlier this is intended primarily for direct printing from a Canon camera though there is an optional extra for connecting to a PC. Supplied in the box are two USB cables for the different types of Canon Camera USB plugs.

Canon Digital IXUS 330 printingWith the camera connected and the printer on the camera gains some extra functions for control.

Selection between bordered and borderless printing can be made. In addition you can choose to have the date in DD/MM/YYYY format printed at the bottom right. The number of copies can be changed and the printing area can be selected so you know what area will be cropped off before wasting paper.

Performance
As we only had one size of paper available we could only test one speed. Waiting just over a minute (1min 25sec) for a good looking print is acceptable and it matches up well to Canon's quoted figure of 81 seconds. Up to 18 pieces of paper can be held in the tray before needing reloading and the printer is very quiet.

Print type Paper type Print time
Colour Photo Postcard size 1 min 25 sec

Sample prints

Canon Cp-100 print sample Canon CP-100 original sample
The CP-100 print scanned. The original image.
The first thing we noticed looking at this sample print was the fingerprint on the left. There was also a purple marking caused by some foreign object being on the paper during the print. Looking past these distracting marks we can see that detail has been lost in the dark upper part of the watch strap through high contrast levels and tonal range reduction. The level of detail on the watch face is excellent as is shown in the following close-up samples.

Close-up:

Canon Cp-100 print sample Canon CP-100 original sample
The CP-100 close up scan. The original close up.
The CP-100 managed to reproduce some fine details of this watch very well with only a minute degree of quality loss. This difference is not visible at normal viewing distances.

CP100 Flower sample
This print from a Canon Digital IXUS 330 has a vertical line through around 45% of the photograph. This was the first print we made from the CP-100 so it is likely it was a one-off. We didn't see any evidence of it in our other prints. This print showed the CP-100 is capable of producing well saturated, bright and sharp results.

Cp100 Scan sample
This print shows the optional date imprint possible with the CP-100. Fine details of the cats hairs show an impressive amount of detail. However the high contrast problem was present again, this time detail being noticeably lost on the paw of the cat.

Canon CP-100 scanned print. Canon IXUS 330 original.
Canon CP-100 scanned print. Canon IXUS 330 original.
This print illustrates the cropping effect performed on the original image and also emphasises the excessive high contrast. Colour reproduction was generally accurate and this was evident through our other prints.

CP100 paperThe Canon information on the CP-100 mentions the prints are 'durably protected.' Never one to entirely trust any Manufacturers word, I tested the print with some water. To Canon's credit, the coating system used on their CP100 water resitancepaper does really work. No amount of rubbing could get the print to smudge.

The postcard size paper does have some lines on the back making it easier to write on. Combined with the durability of this paper, a lot of fun could be had sending postcards of your favourite photos to friends.

Verdict
When combined with a Canon camera the CP-100 provides a level of functionality not many other printers can match. It's small and light enough to be carried in a small bag, can be used with a rechargeable battery and is exceedingly simple to operate.

However, we had some negative issues with the print quality when combining the CP-100 with a Digital IXUS 330. High contrast degraded a few prints but excellent detail and good colour accuracy helped make up for this. When combined with a PC, the extra configurability would no doubt enable a higher standard of print quality to be produced. Running costs aren't the lowest available but 33p for a 4'x6' print is very reasonable. Overall, most people will be happy being able to conveniently print photos directly from the camera without the hassle and perhaps cost of a PC.

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