Canon SELPHY CP1300 Review
Pros: User-friendly, sharp images, affordable, playful
Cons: Limited print sizes, limited tray capacity
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Canon SELPHY will leave you with no excuses for why you haven't printed the photos on your phone. This machine is petite, streamline, easy to use with the accompanying app, and inexpensive to operate. Perhaps most importantly, the machine renders quality prints. Adding to the convenience is that auxiliary battery (sold separately) that will allow you to print from just about anywhere.
While this machine didn't top the charts in the color evaluation, it was nonetheless quite impressive for the size and cost of the printer. The skin tones of the humans in our test images were pleasing and reasonably accurate to the original. This is a major plus given that this machine is great for putting together family photo albums and the like. Moreover, the definition and resolution produced by this machine was quite good considering the hardware it's using.
Of course, there are some shortcomings, too. There was some minor streaking observed, and the blues were a bit over saturated. However, this machine remains a great option for the person looking to put four by six inchers on their fridge.
Black and White
As was the case with the color evaluation, the black and white images proved to be very reasonable considering the nature of the machine that rendered them. The resolution was consistent from image to image. The fidelity of tone to the original was also pretty good — a statement that can't be made about some of the higher-end machines in this review. Finally, the dynamic range showed smooth tonal gradients from white to gray. This is quite impressive seeing that the SELPHY is only working with a single black ink cartridge.
While we were impressed with this machine's grayscale capabilities, it did slightly shade the prints in sepia. There are also some streaking and striations evident, particularly in the darkest areas of the images. Critiques aside, when taking into account the technology that this machine employs, it delivered impressive results in black and white.
The print capabilities metric is a look at the different types of mediums, the different dimensional formats, and the number of inks that the printer can utilize. Also, we timed how long it takes the machine to produce a color 4" x 6" photo. The SELPHY necessarily did poorly in this category because it is a basic printer that is not designed to excel in this area. It can print in four dimensions up to 4" x 6". It prints on one type of proprietary glossy paper, and its color palette consists of just 4 dye-based inks.
While the SELPHY struggled in this metric, it prints relatively fast at 51 seconds per 4" x 6" photo. Additionally, the printer's tray can manage 18 sheets of paper at a time. While this doesn't seem like a lot, it is about as much as you'll want to print at a go. In the end, this machine has all the appropriate capabilities to crank out quality 4" x 6" images.
To make the operating cost simple to understand, we worked out a price per 4" x 6" color print. This allows direct comparisons to other machines in the class as well as the cost to have them printed at a pharmacy such as CVS. Often, the price per print goes up as the size of the printer goes down. Not so with the Canon. This machine pumps four by sixers out at 43 cents a pop. Not too bad.
The estimate of 43 cents per print is arrived at by determining how much ink is consumed on average to print a 24 square inch color photo. Several professional printing outfits have done long term studies on ink consumption and their numbers roughly matched up with what we recorded printing several hundred images for this review. With the cost per square inch of ink, all you have to do is add in the cost of photo paper and presto, you have your average cost per print.
The print set-up metric is simply an evaluation of how easy it is to go from a boxed up printer to printing your first picture on the machine. We set this model up using both a laptop and a smartphone. The latter was a breeze, the prior was more frustrating and involved than we thought it ought to have been.
The set-up using the app was as easy as downloading the app and giving it permission to access our photos. The next step was a little wanky, as we had to follow the instructions on the LCD screen to connect via Wifi. Some of the selections are a little vague, and if you make a mistake, you have to go back to the beginning and start all over. The laptop method had the same problems, but added to them was the need to first download a driver to your computer that converts the image file to a format the printer can use. Once everything was properly connected, it was easy to select images and send them to the printer. The first images coming out of the machine were decent, putting a happy ending on the affair.
As is so often the case, one must first consider who a product is geared to before assigning it value. If you are looking to put together a family photo album, or you want a portable printer but don't want a small format, poorly resolved images, then this machine will be a good value. If you don't fall into this category, or one akin to it, then the value will decrease precipitously. That said, we were really stoked on this machine's price to performance ratio.
The Canon SELPHY is a fantastic little printer. This machine punches above its weight in the overall quality of its color and grayscale renderings. The machine is easy to transport and operate. If you're looking for lots of options in paper types and dimensions, this machine is not for you. However, if you want an efficient and inexpensive way to produce 4" x 6" photos, this machine will leave you looking like you just said "cheese!"
— Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer