DCRP Review: Sony DPP-SV77 Photo Printer
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2001

As digital cameras have grown in popularity, so has the need for photo printing. Consumers have many choices when it comes to printing their digital photos: online or at home; inkjet, or dye-sub. More and more manufacturers are jumping on the home printing bandwagon, and Sony is no exception.

Their DPP-SV77 ($499) is an upgrade to their DPP-SV55 model, adding an LCD display, so connecting to the television is no longer needed. Read on to find out more about this printer...

Look and Feel

The SV77 is an attractive silver box, about the size of a small pizza box. The official dimensions are 9.625 x 3.5 x 10.625 inches (L x W x D) without the paper tray installed, and it weighs 2.4kg / 5 lb 5 oz. Let's take a quick tour of the printer.

Here is the front of the printer, with LCD down and paper tray removed (the first image on this page shows the opposite). The door at the lower right is where the paper tray will go. The tray can hold up to 30 sheets of paper.

Towards the left of the printer you can see two card slots. The top one is for Sony's Memory Stick format, while the bottom one is a PC Card slot. If you have SmartMedia or CompactFlash cards and want to use this printer, you'll need to buy a PC Card adapter first (they're inexpensive).

Here's a look at the side of the printer, with the "ink cartridge" removed. When you buy paper for the SV77, you get the ink with it.

The SV77 is a dye-sublimation printer, so it applies cyan - yellow - magenta, followed by what Sony calls
"Super Coat 2", which protects the prints. Unlike many inkjets, you can get these prints wet (I've seen it myself), and they will not run.

On the back of the printer, you'll find a USB port, video-out port, and the power input. You can use the SV77 as a regular printer that you can connect to your Mac or PC (using the USB cable, of course). Printer drivers are included with the printer.

The video out enables you to connect to your television if you don't wish to use the LCD, or to present slideshows.

Here's a look at the top of the printer. We'll take a closer look at the area around the LCD in a moment.

Below it, there are buttons for:

  • All - prints all images on memory card
  • DPOF - prints all DPOF marked images on memory card
  • Print - print chosen images

There also some status lights to the right of the print button.

So the deal with the 3.2" LCD is that you use the included stylus to operate it. Kind of like your Palm Pilot, I guess.

Here's an unobstructed view of the LCD panel. The 3.2" LCD is bright and large, and it's obviously touch sensitive.

The buttons to the left of the LCD are:

  • Input Select - Memory Stick or PC Card
  • Picture - Jumps between thumbnails and full-size photo
  • Menu
  • Effect
  • Creative Print (more on all this below)

To the right of the LCD, there are buttons for print quantity, as well as menu navigation buttons.

OK, now let's take a tour through the various menu options so you can see how this thing works. When you insert a memory card, you get the thumbnail screen you can see in the photo above. You can choose any photo by tapping it with the stylus, and use the Print Quantity buttons to quickly print your images. If you want to tinker with your images, you select one and hit the "Effect button". That presents you with the following options:

  • Edit
  • Adjustment
  • Filter
  • Tool

Here's a closer look at each of these.


Edit Mode

Edit mode lets you:

  • Zoom in and out of your image
  • Move
  • Rotate 90°
  • Mirror


Adjustment Mode

Adjustment mode lets you change:

  • Brightness
  • Color Depth
  • Tint
  • Sharpness


Filter Mode

Filter mode lets you apply some Photoshop-like effects to your images. They include:

  • Paint (makes image look like a painted picture)
  • Sepia (makes image look like an old photograph with faded colors)
  • Monochrome
  • Normal


Tool Mode

Tool mode is the most elaborate of the effects on the SV77. Here you can draw on your images (to sign them?), put text around it, or add stamps (icons) to your images. If you choose to add type, the LCD turns into a little keyboard.

I should add that larger images take a long time to load on the SV77 -- up to 60 seconds in some cases. My prints came from the 4.1 Megapixel Sony DSC-S85, so if you have a high megapixel camera, be prepared to wait.

There are a few general options to mention as well.

Hitting the "Menu" button will reveal the screen on the left. I think most of these are pretty self-explanatory. Hitting "Set Up" will get you the screen on the right. The items on the Set Up screen include:

  • Date Print (prints date on photo)
  • Auto Fine Print 2 (auto image correction)
  • Beep (on/off)
  • Select Finish:
    • Border/Borderless
    • Glossy/Texture
  • Date (set)

Another feature on the SV77 is the "Creative Print" function. The options here include:

  • Card: Add a selected greeting and your message to make an original card
  • Calendar: Add a calendar of selected month(s) to an image or images to make an original calendar
  • Split Images: Makes 4-split or 9-split image prints
  • Sticker: Makes 9-split image sticker
  • Index Print

Operating Costs

Dye-sublimation printers aren't particularly cheap to operate, especially considering the small size of the prints.

There are five different paper/print cartridge packs available for the SV77:

  • SVM-25LS: 25 sheets of postcard-size (4 x 6) photo paper plus print cartridge
    • Price: $20
    • Cost per print: $0.80
  • SVM-25LW: 25 sheets of postcard-size (4 x 6) sticker paper plus print cartridge
    • Price: $25
    • Cost per print: $1.00
  • SVM-30SS: 30 sheets of small size (3.5 x 4) photo paper plus print cartridge
    • Price: $15
    • Cost per print: $0.50
  • SVM-30SW: 30 sheets of small size (3.5 x 4) sticker paper plus print cartridge
    • Price: $20
    • Cost per print: $0.67
  • SVM-30SS: 30 sheets of small size (3.5 x 4) 9-split sticker paper plus print cartridge
    • Price: $20
    • Cost per print: $0.67

It's pretty obvious from that list which size paper is the cheapest. By comparison, it costs $0.49 per 4 x 6 print at Ofoto, an online photo printing company.

Sony gave me the 30 sheet small size pack to try out. The prints are about the size of a Polaroid print.

Printing

So after you've played around with the SV77, it's time to print! Dye-sub printer are the more exciting ones to watch (or listen to), as they really sound like they're doing something. The printer makes 4 passes over the paper, as I mentioned earlier.

It takes 60 seconds to print one small size photo, and 90 seconds for a 4 x 6. The prints don't come out hot (which you'd expect if you listen to the printer at work) and they are very durable. I witnessed a print get dunked into a hot cup of coffee with no loss of quality.

The three prints above are for show only - don't try to judge the quality of them by looking at this photo. The photo on the left is a normal print. The one in the middle has the date print on, and the one on the right has the Paint filter. I can assure that the quality of the prints is indeed photo quality -- I guess you'll have to take my word for it.

Final Thoughts

While certainly no bargain, the Sony DPP-SV77 produces photo quality prints, and quickly too. There are a number of things you can do to enhance your photos, and it's easy to do with the touch screen LCD. My only real complain is that it's slow to load images when you're working with it, but otherwise, it's a solid photo printer for 4 x 6 prints.

Get a second opinion

Check out Steve's Digicams review of the Sony DPP-SV77.

Jeff always appreciates your comments and questions.


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