Canon’s Selphy ES3 helps to make photo printing easy and relatively cheap, although it does not always run as smoothly as you would hope.
With the digital camera now all but replacing its film-based alternative it is far too easy to allow pictures to go unprinted – perhaps worse it is often far too expensive to have them printed at kiosks should you decide to do so.
Dedicated photo printers like those in the Canon Selphy range aim to encourage people to print their photos off instantly at home, without having to waste all of your standard printer’s ink in the process.
The ES3 is one of the cuter and more portable of the Selphy range, sporting a neat body and handle on top for easy carrying. The footprint of the machine is quite small, while the controls and ports on the front are easy to navigate without having to consult the manual.
One of the main selling points of the entire Selphy range has been the unified ink and paper pack that is needed to print photographs. The logic of this is that you never run out of ink mid-print or out of photo-paper when you have ink left – instead each cartridge comes with just enough ink to print on the paper provided with it.
The cartridge is easy to install on the ES3, with a door on the side of the machine opening to allow users to slide it in. A novel extra feature of the paper is that it has markings on the back of each sheet, allowing owners to design and print their own custom postcards.
There are a number of ways in which pictures can be sent to the Selphy for printing. The device can be connected to a PC and treated like any other printer, it can connect directly to ‘PictBridge’ enabled cameras via USB, it can receive photographs from mobile phones over Infra Red and has slots for SD, miniSD, microSD, CF and MS/MSPro cards. Bluetooth printing is also possible with a separately sold attachment.
Once the photographs are selected it is just a case of hitting ‘Print’ for a copy – there are also options for multiple prints or for a selection of photographs to be printed after each other.
Interestingly the ES3 comes with built-in editing options which allow you to tweak some detail of the photograph, such as the brightness, or even add effects such as speech bubbles and frames.
For some people this kind of tweaking can be done on PC but when printing directly it is a very nice touch. The scroll-wheel on the device makes it relatively easy to make changes, even if it is to trim edges from the photograph.
Unfortunately the device failed to recognise some of the pictures sent to it for printing, even though they were set to the right format and size as specified in the troubleshooting guide. This may be an isolated problem but if not it would defeat the purpose of buying such a printer if it would not let you print your existing digital photographs.
Despite this minor niggle the ES3 is a very well executed machine and with a 50-print cartridge costing €18 prints are just 36c each – probably even less if you can find your cartridges online.
An edited version of this review was published in Business & Finance magazine on the 9th April 2009.