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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Dye Sub Printer Questions
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05/11/2015 01:05:35 PM · #1
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05/11/2015 01:42:25 PM · #2
I'll preface this by saying that I really have no direct experience with dye sublimation printers at all. I'll just observe that nearly all of the higher-end printer reviews I've seen done by respected professional end users are for inkjets. I think that virtually all of the knocks on older inkjet printers and ink systems have been addressed to a great degree.
I'd also consider what the cost of consumables would be with a machine like this. If I were in the market, I'd look at my projected levels of use and compare economics on initial cost and cost of operation between this and inkjet, as well as looking at the image quality end of things, e.g. color rendition, resolution, print longevity. Finally, I'd investigate what the options are for paper. If it will only take roll stock, the options for papers may be limited.
Now, all that said, I personally would not want to invest a dime in printing at home unless I really thought the economics were there, and ever time I've looked at it they are not there, for me. I simply can't justify the initial cost, maintenance costs, and costs of color management for the volume I'd personally do. YMMV, of course.
05/11/2015 02:18:28 PM · #3
Those are definitely good things to consider, ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' kirbic. For me, it's a matter of convenience more than anything. Cost savings per print would be pretty marginal, but the idea of being able to whip up a batch of senior photos right here without leaving the house (and an hour round trip to the lab) would be awesome.

When you mention color rendition, is there something unique to be concerned about with the dye sub printers? I've had pretty good luck using an old Pantone Huey with my monitor, and getting inkjet prints that look very close to my screen. Just wondering if there's something inherently different about matching things to a dye-sub printer.

Message edited by author 2015-05-11 14:33:25.
05/11/2015 02:46:32 PM · #4
I don't think there's anything conceptually different, but calibration will be necessary.

One other thing to look into is inkjets which are more than four-color. In the print shop we had an Epson proofer with seven inks -- the usual four plus Light Cyan and Light Magenta, and one other (Light Black?) -- which were designed to increase the gamut of the proof ... they looked pretty photographic to me. Files were sent through proprietary software. Replacing the inks was expensive ...

However, I do (almost) all my printing at Costco -- Fuji paper, up to 12x36 available "in-house", cheap (though prices just went up), usually ready in 1-2 hours, and if I'm lazy and only need 4x6s they mail them free. It helps I drive by (or nearby) 2-3 times/week anyway ...

One other consideration is that photo prints are water-resistant, inkjets not necessarily so, and I have some doubts about the longevity claims for IJ prints -- we know how long photo paper can last ...
05/11/2015 03:01:56 PM · #5
You've touched on a couple of my concerns. I use an Epson printer, which puts out really nice prints, but I have seen them fade over the course of a year if they're hung up and exposed to air. I worry about their longevity.

Another thing is that I can easily get Glossy Ultra Premium Photo Paper, but I haven't really been able to find something equally nice in matte for it. I'd love to print professional looking matte images.

Originally posted by GeneralE:

I don't think there's anything conceptually different, but calibration will be necessary.

One other thing to look into is inkjets which are more than four-color. In the print shop we had an Epson proofer with seven inks -- the usual four plus Light Cyan and Light Magenta, and one other (Light Black?) -- which were designed to increase the gamut of the proof ... they looked pretty photographic to me. Files were sent through proprietary software. Replacing the inks was expensive ...

However, I do (almost) all my printing at Costco -- Fuji paper, up to 12x36 available "in-house", cheap (though prices just went up), usually ready in 1-2 hours, and if I'm lazy and only need 4x6s they mail them free. It helps I drive by (or nearby) 2-3 times/week anyway ...

One other consideration is that photo prints are water-resistant, inkjets not necessarily so, and I have some doubts about the longevity claims for IJ prints -- we know how long photo paper can last ...
05/11/2015 03:10:20 PM · #6
"Photo" paper for inkjets isn't the same a silver-halide based photographic paper.

I can order in matte ("Lustre") or glossy finish ...

How big are the majority of your prints?
05/11/2015 04:38:44 PM · #7
My biggest worry about dye-sub would be longevity. My understanding is that dye-sub prints are only marginally better than consumer grade inkjet prints for longevity. Professional quality inkjet prints with pigment based inks are supposed to be archival, and I've had good luck with my Epson 3800. I have one print that's been hanging in the direct sun at least part of every day for 8 years with no fading so far.

The professional and prosumer Epson printers take any paper you want. There are print profiles for all of the Epson papers, some of which are very nice matte papers. Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper is excellent, if a bit expensive. I use Ilford and Canson papers with custom profiles with great results.

The Epson totally fails, however, if you're trying to pump any volume of prints through the thing. Every print is a special flower that needs to be babysat throughout the process. Or if you're trying to save money. Sending prints out is always cheaper. I use it because of quality. Speed and cost are secondary. If volume and price are the goal, I use Costco.

05/12/2015 12:16:04 AM · #8
Originally posted by alanfreed:

Just a few questions about dye-sub printers. I'm exploring the idea of getting one to make things a little more efficient when selling prints. It would be great to be able to put out lab-quality results from the house, instead of running back & forth to a shop all the time.

I'm tentatively looking at something like this.

Here are the questions (which I'm sure I could find out if I did enough Googling, but I'm lazy, ok?)

1. I get that this prints on a roll of 8" paper. Does these have built-in cutting mechanisms that will chop the print off, or do I have to manually cut everything?

2. Can you print right to this printer from Photoshop's "print" command, or do you go into its own software to print things...? Just wondering how you physically send the command to the printer.

3. Is it hard to maintain? Looking at one of the instruction manuals, it looked like might be fairly complex to thread the paper and stuff. How hard is that, and how often is dust an issue?

4. Is there another model that is really well respected that I should be looking at?

5. How do you switch between glossy & matte printing?

I guess that's it for now... thanks in advance for any help from those of you who have already gone this route!


I have been using a dye sublimation printer for years at work. I will answer what I can tonight and then get back to you with more info tomorrow.

1. They have a built in cutter. We have never had an issue with it.
2. you can print right from Photoshop or any other editing software.
3. It is very easy to maintain and loading the ribbon and paper is very straight forward. I would say almost fool proof!! The one issue that I don't like is if a roll of ribbon rips then you waste both the remainder of the ribbon and the paper. You can only purchase the ribbon and paper together. (This happened frequently with the kodak printer but it rarely happens with the model we use now...sorry it's been a long day and the make and model escape me right now!)
4. I will post the make and model I use tomorrow along with the cost per 8x10.
5. We only use glossy but it would be very easy to switch the rolls of paper.

At work visitors come in and get dressed in 1860 clothing and then have their pictures taken. We print approx 5,000 8x10's a season and I have sample images that are 6-7 years old with no loss of colour or quality. These samples have not been in direct sun at all.

If you have any other questions let me know and I will get back to you. If you want me to send you a print pm me your address and I will put one in the mail for you this week.

Edit to add...I knew that I'd remember the make as soon as I hit post!! We have a Mitsubishi 8x10 printer.

Message edited by author 2015-05-12 00:23:02.
05/12/2015 09:39:31 AM · #9
i've been using that model and the 40 for years and LOVE them. i got mine from imaging spectrum, and they gave me a great bundle on the printer and consumerables. their support is absolutely top-notch (on par with Paul C. Buff).

Originally posted by alanfreed:

1. I get that this prints on a roll of 8" paper. Does these have built-in cutting mechanisms that will chop the print off, or do I have to manually cut everything?

it cuts everything off for you and puts the trim in a bin that you empty from time to time.

Originally posted by alanfreed:

2. Can you print right to this printer from Photoshop's "print" command, or do you go into its own software to print things...? Just wondering how you physically send the command to the printer.

you can print from anything that has a "print" command. you can actually buy software that allows you to shoot tethered and send images directly to the printer (great for event shooting, photo-booths, etc). i typically print from the windows photo viewer...

Originally posted by alanfreed:

3. Is it hard to maintain? Looking at one of the instruction manuals, it looked like might be fairly complex to thread the paper and stuff. How hard is that, and how often is dust an issue?

first, i've never had an issue with dust. second, there's nothing to it in terms of maintenance. THE ONLY THING you need to be aware of is that the film and paper come in sets that have to be installed at the same time! when the film is done, you have to replace both the film and paper roll, NO MATTER HOW MUCH PAPER IS LEFT! yes, this seems like a waste, but that's just the way it is.

Originally posted by alanfreed:

4. Is there another model that is really well respected that I should be looking at?

can't answer that. i did all my research years ago and this was the best thing i could get and i'm still happy.

Originally posted by alanfreed:

5. How do you switch between glossy & matte printing?

don't know. i only print on glossy.

Originally posted by alanfreed:

I guess that's it for now... thanks in advance for any help from those of you who have already gone this route!

again, i highly recommend imaging spectrum as a source. they will work with you every way they can.

i've used mine for events, as well as for printing proofs before sending things to a commercial printer. i also use it for one-offs (when customers want something i can print on a 8x12 sheet).

the only other thing to take into consideration is when you are buying paper, at least get a roll each of 8x12 and 8x10. they are interchangeable (but you do have to switch the film when you switch the paper!).

if you have any more questions, post here or pm me.
05/12/2015 10:58:20 AM · #10
Thanks ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Skip and ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Enlightened... great help!
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