Laser or Dye-Sub - which way to go?

spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,389Moderator
edited September 2014 in General Discussions
I need a printer that will give me prints fast that I can handle straight away and so I'm thinking Dye-sub or Laser but I have only ever used ink jet before and so I need some help. How many dpi do I need for good (maybe not 'gallery') quality A4 prints? What are the advantages of one over the other?

I have been handling some prints recently where there is a clearly defined physical 'step' at transitions between colours and solid blacks - what print technology are they? Dye-sub?

Seems there are no bricks and mortar printer shops around here to get advice on and the on-line people just see me as spam fodder.
Always learning.
«1

Comments

  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    Dye-subs are true continuous-tone printers with excellent color gamut. Excellent permanence. The DNP DS40/DS80 are popular commercial/event printers. I plan to get both someday.
  • Parke1953Parke1953 Posts: 456Member
    Hmmmm very interesting. :-B
  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 5,147Member
    The sad thing is that very very brick & motor dealers sell them and if they do only one or two sales people know anything really about printing. Just my experience.
    D750 & D7100 | 24-70 F2.8 G AF-S ED, 70-200 F2.8 AF VR, TC-14E III, TC-1.7EII, 35 F2 AF D, 50mm F1.8G, 105mm G AF-S VR | Backup & Wife's Gear: D5500 & Sony HX50V | 18-140 AF-S ED VR DX, 55-300 AF-S G VR DX |
    |SB-800, Amaran Halo LED Ring light | MB-D16 grip| Gitzo GT3541 + RRS BH-55LR, Gitzo GM2942 + Sirui L-10 | RRS gear | Lowepro, ThinkTank, & Hoodman gear | BosStrap | Vello Freewave Plus wireless Remote, Leica Lens Cleaning Cloth |
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    These seem to be specialist pieces of equipment I suggest you visit one of the trade shows
    eg http://www.photographyshow.com/
    http://www.forwardevents.co.uk/

  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,389Moderator
    Thx Studio. I'm speaking to a pay per click company about supplying consumables and they don't seem keen on me going dye-sub so I assume they don't make enough money that way.

    @sevencrossing: I need to move very quickly so May is no good and there aren't any printer suppliers at Photovision unfortunately.
    Always learning.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    I know they are not your favorite company but have you tried Calumet UK They list 9 dye sub printers from £3,500 to £99
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,389Moderator
    edited September 2014
    It seems that the DPI of laser and dye-subs are low in comparison to ink jet and I would think (don't know) that you get less bleed so I am concerned about the resolution of the images I get from it.

    Has anybody got a dye-sub or laser and care to share pro's and con's?

    Had a look at the Calumet site @sevencrossing - not enough info, but it's a start - I'll give them a call to discuss more details. Thanks.
    Post edited by spraynpray on
    Always learning.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    I Don't have or use one but I often see them at events, where you buy a print of youself on the day, rather on line later. The results seem good enough to sell prints for moderately high prices
    the ASK4000 has 300 dpi https://www.calphoto.co.uk/product/fujifilm-ask4000-thermal-printer/129-122A/
  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    edited September 2014
    It seems that the DPI of laser and dye-subs are low in comparison to ink jet and I would think (don't know) that you get less bleed so I am concerned about the resolution of the images I get from it . . .
    I don't currently own a dye-sub printer, but I have some 20-year-old, Sony dye-sub prints that still look excellent. I was originally planning to buy the Olympus, then the Kodak dye-subs, but they were both discontinued by the time I got around to it. I've seen DNP printers at every event where I've seen print sales occur, and understand that DNP, or Dai Nippon Printing Co, Ltd. (the largest printer company you've never heard of), was actually the OEM for some of the big consumer brands. B+H stocks a full line of DNP consumables, and like I said, I see them everywhere (events, kiosks, etc.), so I think they may be around for a while.

    From HP's website: "One of the functions of the firmware in HP Color LaserJet printers is to break up continuous tone images into patterns of tiny dots called halftone cells." Similarly, ink-jets use a pattern of "dots," whereas dye-sublimation printers are true continuous-tone printers. The comparison of DPI between lasers, ink-jets, and dye-subs is a bit spurious, since you're comparing discrete-color (i.e., half-tone) printers with a continuous-tone printer. A comparatively "low-resolution" dye-sub (e.g., 300DPI), actually looks extremely good.

    Hopefully, "TrapperJohn," from DPreview won't mind me quoting him here, since he says it better than I could:

    "A dye-sub printer is also called a continuous-tone printer, in that each pixel in the 300x300 [matrix] is a unique color, produced by layering translucent spots of CMYK on top of each other.

    "Inkjets, which are halftone rather than continuous-tone, do the same by mixing dots of CMYK next to each other to simulate the desired color.

    "So while a 1200x1200 inkjet might seem to be higher 'resolution' than a 300x300 dye-sub continuous-tone printer, the inkjet uses a 16x16 matrix of adjacent dots to do what the dye-sub printer does with one dot. In that respect, the inkjet has a lower pel (printable element, the smallest unit of a unique color) density than the dye-sub, even though it appears to be much higher by raw specs." --TrapperJohn, from DPreview.


    So, at least for me personally, dye-subs are my printer of choice, and are the best printer for my needs. One neat thing about dye-subs is their fixed cost. It costs the same to print an entire page of "red" as it does to print a rainbow, or a page of "black." Consumables are a bit on the pricey side, however. Here's a summary of benefits:

    Dye-sublimation printer benefits:

    • True continuous-tone.
    • Excellent permanence.
    • Fixed-cost per print.
    • "Dry" printing process; prints are immediately water-resistant.
    • Speed: DNP DS80 can print an 8" x 12" x 600DPI print in 35 seconds.
    Post edited by studio460 on
  • Bokeh_HunterBokeh_Hunter Posts: 234Member
    edited September 2014
    I need a printer that will give me prints fast that I can handle straight away and so I'm thinking Dye-sub or Laser but I have only ever used ink jet before and so I need some help.
    Much, much more detail needed.

    What are the prints used for? Family/friends, or business sales? How much are you looking to spend? $100, $1,000 or $3000? What type of volume at different sizes?

    There are major, major differences especially when it comes to paying for media. Ribbon & Paper depending on the Dye-sub can be $100-$300 per roll (depending on paper size etc.)

    On one end of the spectrum or Dye-sub or Thermal printers are the Canon Selphy (>$100) and at the pro end are the Fujifilm, HiTi and DNPs that are $700-4,000.

    Laser printers are terrible photo printers for business prints - basically you never should use one unless it is for reference prints on a disk. Now if it is just for sharing with family, they are great and cheap. But you should never think they are a option for true photo printing.

    I'm looking at a Dye-Sub for sales since most of my stuff is 4x6, 5x7s, and 8x10s but even at those, the volume to offset just using AdoramaPix (and others) for sales is quite high. My family stuff? Walgreens prints are quite good, quick, cheap, and are perfect for family and friends ;)
    Post edited by Bokeh_Hunter on
    •Formerly TTJ•
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,389Moderator
    edited September 2014
    Bearing in mind what @studio460 said about DPI, this Canon Selphy is interesting. I was expecting to have to pay around £700 ($1100?) for a dye-sub of 1200 x 600dpi (also described as 2400 dpi) but if I can get away with 600 or even 300, I could 'dip a toe in the water' of this project by buying a Selphy and chucking it for something better if/when things take off.

    I am looking at using it for event work and would need a print every couple of minutes for 3-4 hours. The quality I've seen is very good, but I don't know what printer they were printed on let alone what dpi they are.

    OK, at least I know lasers are out then.

    Thanks guys.
    Post edited by spraynpray on
    Always learning.
  • @spraynpray: I've used a 300-Euro Selphy printer once for something that sounds like it's what you want to do. It was at a premium event where they set up a small "studio" for a "fashion shooting": As an attraction, guests could get their picture taken in fancy historical dresses (according to the motto of the event) and in the style of a Caravaggio painting. Everyone would get their print right after the shoot, I had the event logo added in the bottom corner using the watermark function.

    The thing was the bomb, really, and let's be honest, no one noticed the not-top-notch quality of the prints. A fun job, too, because:
    • it's very rewarding to have lighting and everything set up in a way where you get perfect OOC results,
    • it's a lot of fun to work with non-professionals like they're professionals (and they actually play along)
    • the people are totally excited to see how f'ing hot they look on the images
    • it can pay quite well, too

    The only important thing is to calibrate the printer before (there's online services for this), this makes everything a little more hassle-free for you. It's about 35 Euros here in Germany.

    Another thing that's easy to do but kicks the client experience up by 100% is to connect a large screen to your laptop and use it in non-synced mode to always display the selected image of your CaptureOne/LR/Aperture software. This way, people can always see the last image taken (or in print).
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,389Moderator
    Interesting @FlowtographyBerlin. Sort of similar to what I'm doing. So you are saying that the el-cheapo Selphy would do the trick but didn't give top-notch results? I would like to know what was not top-notch and whether I could get a better model - what model did you use (there are a few available)?

    Any idea of the printed cost per A4 image?

    Always learning.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    edited September 2014
    No sorry don't know anything about the cost, the printer was bought (and kept) by the event people. It wasn't A4, though, it was smaller. The quality isn't bad, as I said, no one except for pixel peepers will notice. Of course it's not archive prints that you get from the cheap models. Haven't seen a print from an expensive one, but I would guess it never gets as good as a real print from a Fuji Frontier and the like.

    What really steps up the quality is using the calibration profile, as it enables you to get the colors right (and bright). Too dark shadows, too dull colors happen easily and are a real show stopper. Of course it doesn't improve sharpness or anything, but it's absolutely sufficient for instant print use.

    Was just thinking, cost wise it should be easy to calculate, because you have a fixed amount of prints per roll of that wax stuff, so you just divide the price of the roll by that, and add the cost of the paper.

    What's your target group, I mean who should take those prints home?
    Post edited by FlowtographyBerlin on
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    edited September 2014
    One other nail in the coffin for laserjet, is the tonal longevity of toner on paper is zilch. From what I understand dye sub is much better, even on the low end.
    Post edited by Ironheart on
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,389Moderator
    @ Flow: Right, I'll look into a profile for whatever I get. My target audience is youngsters, but the images will get assessed by the person facilitating this job. Selphy still looking good for a start.

    @Ironheart: I think that is the last nail in the lid for laser. Dye-sub it is.

    Thanks guys.
    Always learning.
  • @spraynpray (or anyone else, actually): If you get the chance to compare the cheap Selphy thingies with an expensive device, please share your impressions here, I'd like to know about that as well.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    edited September 2014
    Ha! I just found out what model it was: CP-810. That thing is only 99 Euros!

    Couldn't find any "high-end" models, though, can someone point me to them? From what I've seen, my guess is that they actually don't improve in print quality, but only in speed and handling. The instant prints you get from machines in shops here are actually the same quality as what I got from the Selphy.
    Post edited by FlowtographyBerlin on
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,389Moderator
    edited September 2014
    The drawback with the Selphies are the size that they output (6x4). I need 10x8 so it looks like a higher end machine is in my future - $1500-$2000.

    I've found a shop in London so I'm going there to look at the range.
    Post edited by spraynpray on
    Always learning.
  • Bokeh_HunterBokeh_Hunter Posts: 234Member
    The Selphys are actually pretty good little units and really cheap (under $100). I have used my mothers to print for our personal family events and they do a good job. A bit cumbersome, but not bad at all. Epson has some similar travel printers as well. One thing I would be concerned about is the unit "life" for event work. None of those are "workhorse" printers and I would be concerned with them overheating and dieing. As cheap as they are I would have an extra on had. You can count on them taking about 2 minutes to pull and print a photo. I would use the card readers as wifi with the large sensors is really, really slow.

    For the events I do, I have given out simple business cards to push people to my website and sell them prints there. I have often looked at on site printing but working as a one-man shop, babysitting a printer just isn't in my mind. I am working on a iPad kiosk thing that may eventually get rolling, but without wifi in the camera's and the large D800 files, the tech just hasn't improved enough yet for me to take a serious look at it. By no means have I said that to deter you from going down the path you are, just to say what my experience has been.

    I wouldn't worry about the DPI of everything for event photography - the expectations are never high and all Sub-dye printers do an excellent job.
    •Formerly TTJ•
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    but working as a one-man shop, babysitting a printer just isn't in my mind. .
    My experience of event photography is limited
    but I found having a really first class sales assistant vital
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,389Moderator
    but working as a one-man shop, babysitting a printer just isn't in my mind. .
    My experience of event photography is limited
    but I found having a really first class sales assistant vital
    I aim to have a photographer (me), green screen image editor (partner) and point of sales person (wife).

    @Bokeh_Hunter: I totally agree about a spare printer at $100 but 6x4's are no good, I need 10x8. As for wi-fi, I'd rather not. A long USB lead will be more reliable.
    ;)
    Always learning.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    @ S&P sounds like like you have it covered
    love the green screen, presumably they cant pinch your carefully set up shot with a smart phone
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,389Moderator
    edited September 2014
    No chance of them getting anything useful anyway. The shot would be nothing without the background.

    Calumet attained their usual level of performance - I rang up, the guy was busy, left my number, no call back. That was two days ago now.
    Post edited by spraynpray on
    Always learning.
  • FlowtographyBerlinFlowtographyBerlin Posts: 477Member
    edited September 2014
    One thing I would be concerned about is the unit "life" for event work. None of those are "workhorse" printers and I would be concerned with them overheating and dieing. As cheap as they are I would have an extra on had. You can count on them taking about 2 minutes to pull and print a photo. I would use the card readers as wifi with the large sensors is really, really slow.
    I'd always use USB anyway. I didn't measure it, but the print time wasn't 2 minutes per print, I'd guess. The thing I had worked perfectly for something like 9 hours without interruption except for taking the pictures in between. But you're right, at 100 bucks, a spare unit is a good idea. If it messes up, it ruins what you're hired for.
    For the events I do, I have given out simple business cards to push people to my website and sell them prints there.
    The thing is, at events, giving something to people instantly is 50% of the product you're selling. It makes a huge difference.
    I wouldn't worry about the DPI of everything for event photography - the expectations are never high and all Sub-dye printers do an excellent job.
    I wouldn't even worry about outside of events; 300 dpi is the highest resolution that Frontier and the like do their lightjet job. Ok, photo paper blurs slightly, but so does a print that takes three rounds of wax transfer. Mechanical problems aside, the quality is really good.
    Calumet attained their usual level of performance - I rang up, the guy was busy, left my number, no call back. That was two days ago now.
    Haha, funny that this seems to be the same in every country... Nevertheless, I hope they don't go bankcrupt here, their mailorder business is quite speedy in Germany.
    Post edited by FlowtographyBerlin on
Sign In or Register to comment.