DCRP Review: Canon CP-10 Card Photo Printer
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2000

Last Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2001

Looking at Canon's CP-10 Card Photo Printer makes me think of the old days, and laugh. I remember those old dot matrix printers that noisy spit out grainy photos. Then came the inkjets which were quite an improvement. Last December, I tested three photo printers, all of which were pretty large. When I saw the CP-10, I thought, you have to be kidding me. They've put a dye sublimation printer in a box the size of maybe four CDs stacked on one another. For $399? I was hooked. Of course, the prints are the size of a credit card, but as a novelty or for casual use, the CP-10 is pretty cool.

The CP-10 currently works only with the PowerShot S300 Digital ELPH and the PowerShot A10 and A20. The interface protocol is proprietary so don't count on hooking your Kodak camera into this anytime soon.

Look and Feel

The CP-10 comes in a translucent blue/violet case, and is small without any of its attachments. Its dimensions are 4.3 x 4.9 x 1.9 inches, and it weights 510 g empty (that's less than many cameras!).

Above you can see a side view of the CP-10. There's a separate paper cassette which holds up to 18 sheets. Towards the right of the photo, you can see the ink ribbon. This is a dye sublimation printer (300 dpi) which passes the paper through the printer four times: first for yellow, then magenta, then cyan, and finally a UV protecting overcoat. I'll have more on this later.

On the far right, under a rubber cover, is the plug for the Direct Print cable, to which you connect the camera.

Here's the PowerShot A20 connected to the CP-10.

On the back, you'll find a fan (which is usually off, it seems) and the plug for the AC adapter.

To use the CP-10, you just plug the power in, and hook in a compatible camera. You then use the camera to do all the work.

Operating Costs


The sticker paper/ink kit, the CP-10, and its current ink ribbon

Like all dye sublimation printers, the CP-10 isn't cheap to operate. You purchase the "ink" ribbon and paper together. You can get 18 photos (regular or "stickers"), or 36 photos (regular only).

The pricing for the supplies is:

Labels (18 sheets) $17.50 - 97 cents/sheet
Paper (18 sheets) $13.00 - 72 cents/sheet
Paper (36 sheets) $17.50 - 49 cents/sheet

It's pretty obvious that the 36 sheet pack is the best value, at 49 cents/print.

That's still pretty expensive, especially for such small prints. However, you will find that all dye sub printers are very expensive to run.

Printing

You have a few choices to make before you start printing. One image, or 8 images per sheet? The latter is best for the sticker paper, of course. Border, or borderless? Do you want the date printed on your photo?

Once you've given the CP-10 the command, it starts printing almost immediately. As I mentioned earlier, it makes 4 passes before it spits out the final print. The whole process takes under 60 seconds!

Here's a look at the different types of prints the CP-10 can make. From the left: borderless, multiple prints, and bordered. Don't try to judge the quality from this shot-- they're much, much better in person -- definitely photo quality.

One more note about photo quality -- you need to take precautions to keep dust away from the paper! If you get any dust or hair on the paper before it's printed, it will be forever entombed in your print! This happened to the photo on the left above (though you can't tell here).

Final Thoughts

While the CP-10's prints are small (credit card size), they are very impressive. However, these prints will cost you about 50 cents each, which is costly for such a small print. But if you've got a compatible Canon camera and don't mind the small prints, the CP-10 is well worth checking out.

Get a second opinion

Check out Steve's Digicams review of the Canon CP-10.

Jeff always appreciates your comments and questions.


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