Review: Kodak Professional 8500 Digital Photo Printer
Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally Posted: April 1, 2003
April 1, 2003
Kodak Professional 8500 is a big printer in many ways. For one,
it's physically large -- I needed a wide-angle lens to take a
picture of it. It also makes big prints, on paper as large as
8.5 x 12 inches. It also has a big price -- nearly $900.
all that in mind, you can see why the 8500 is intended toward
serious enthusiasts and professionals, rather than the average
take a closer look at the 8500 now.
I mentioned, the 8500 takes up a lot of space. It's as big and
heavy as my laser printer, which comes as a bit of a shock after
testing much smaller dye-sublimation printers.
dimensions of the 8500 are 17.1 x 9.0 x 14.1 inches (W x H x
D), and it weighs a whopping 13 kg (28.7 lb). Kodak publishes
dimensions as well, such as "minimum space required with
the paper tray inserted." That one is 21.0 x 10.8 x 29.5
inches. Bottom line: clear off some space on your desk.
thing that makes the 8500 unique is that the "paper trail" is
closed off, in order to keep the dust off the "ink" and paper.
Dust is the enemy of dye-sub printers, as it can ruin your prints.
There are dust covers on the front and back of the printer, as
you can see, for specifically this purpose.
zoom in on the 8500's controls now:
should mention at this point that the 8500 is not a standalone
printer. It can only be used while connected to your Mac or PC.
lights and buttons are fairly self-explanatory. Here they are,
from left to right:
lamp (paper jam)
lamp (out of ink or paper)
- Online (takes printer on/offline)
- Print (reprint a job still in the image buffer)
- Interface (switches between parallel and USB ports)
- Open top
paper tray (seen in the first picture on this page) holds 50
sheets, which is the same amount of "ink" per roll
(that's typical with dye-subs). It can hold three sizes of paper:
A4, 8.5 x 11, and 8.5 x 12.
pop the top and see where that "ink" goes.
here's the fancy stuff that makes those great prints. I'm not
going to explain how it all works, but I can tell you that the
printer makes four passes before your print is finished. First
it does the colors: cyan, magenta, and yellow. Then it does one
more pass to put a protective coating on your print. All this
time, the paper is kept under the dust covers.
are two types of ink available: glossy and matte. Each ribbon
prints 50 photos, and they are sold in two packs. More on that
here's the back of the printer. Over on the left are the two
ports used for connecting to your Mac or PC. They are USB and
parallel. No FireWire here.
only other item of note here is the AC-in port.
you're in Photoshop, and your image is ready to be printed. Kodak
has drivers for Mac OS X (and 9.1 too) and Windows, so you just
hit print and you're off.
should mention that Kodak includes Adobe Photoshop Elements with
the 8500. Unfortunately it's the old version (1.01). It looks
like it costs $69 to upgrade to the latest version, if you buy
from Adobe directly (you may be able to do better elsewhere,
so check around).
the print menu. Some of the options that require explanation include:
- adds protective coating to image (this is the fourth pass)
(none, normal, high)
(on/off) - improves the crispness of high contrast transitions
within an image in the printing direction.
on Adjust Color brings up the following menu:
you can adjust brightness, contrast, gamma, red, green,
you hit print, your computer processes the image and transmits
it to the printer. This takes at least a minute in most cases.
the printer gets going, it takes just 75 seconds for an 8 x 10
inch print, which is very snappy. I should add that the 8500
really does print at 8 x 10, unlike the Olympus P-400 (reviewed way
back in 2000, but still available) which is a little smaller
8500 prints at 314 dpi, which may not sound like much compared
to inkjet printers. The difference is that dye-sub printers are
continuous tone -- images aren't made up of little dots like
do the prints look? Great. I haven't seen a lot of difference
between the various dye-subs that I've tested... the output has
always been excellent. They look like they were professionally
printed, and the Kodak logo on the back of the paper adds to
to show you how the print quality looks isn't easy online. The
sample below will never replicate what it really looks like,
so here's my suggestion: go somewhere where they sell the printer
and have a look at its output. Scans don't do it justice.
printers traditionally are more expensive to run than inkjets,
but that is changing. Costs for the "ink" and paper
have come down considerably over the years. That doesn't mean
that operating the 8500 is a bargain.
sells the ink and paper separately. The ink comes in two "flavors":
glossy and matte. The cost for either one is $110 for 100 prints.
That's $1.10 per print, just for the ink.
costs a lot too. As I mentioned, it comes in three sizes: A4,
8.5 x 11, and 8.5 x 12. I only have prices for the last two,
and they are:
x 11 - 100 sheets - $60 --> 60 cents per sheet
x 12 - 100 sheets - $65 --> 65 cents per sheet
that up, it's about $1.70 per print, just for the ink and paper.
Considering that most online photo printers charge $2 or $3 per
8 x 10 print, this may not be a bad deal. But if you're coming
from the inkjet world, this is a tough pill to swallow.
you've got the bucks, the Kodak 8500 Digital Photo Printer is
impressive. It's fast, easy-to-use, and the output is
great. It takes up a lot
of space and is anything but portable. Not only does it cost
$900 to buy, it also costs a whopping $1.70 per print.
you want to save a few bucks (on the initial cost of the printer,
not the materials), the Olympus P-400 is also worth a look. It
can't print a true 8 x 10 (just a little below that, actually)
and is a bit slower, but it's half the price.
this article gave you a good overview of the Kodak 8500 and the
pros and cons of owning a dye-sub printer. It's a great choice
for printing your own photos, as long as you are comfortable
with the cost.
always appreciates your comments
and questions. Please, due to my limited resources, do
not write asking for a personal recommendation.