While the printed photograph is the final expression of a photographer’s vision, making inkjet prints is problematic and expensive. That’s why there are still labs printing photos. There is a printer company that offers affordable, ink-free prints for photographers to make themselves.
DNP makes dye-sublimation printers designed for high volumes of prints at affordable prices for both their printers and most importantly, their supplies.
Dye-sublimation printing, also known as dye-sub printing, uses heat to transfer color from a ribbon onto the paper. The process has been around for quite a while, but never caught on as inkjet printers have.
I really don’t understand why — dye-sub is a very stable process that does not use any liquids. That means the printers are portable. If you have ever visited a photo booth at an event, the prints you got are dye-sub and probably made by DNP. While primarily for event photographers,
No special software needed
I make prints directly from Photoshop to the DNP DS620A printer they provided for these articles. They make a great free package called Hot Folder that lets me create custom templates to personalize my prints for my clients. The DNP DS620A printer makes 6-inch by 8-inch prints. It also makes 4-by-6 inch prints and panoramas six inches wide by however long the pano is.
Setting up the printer is simple and done with the quick-start guide provided. The DNP DS620A, like all of DNP’s offerings, connects to computers with a supplied USB cable. The directions for loading paper and the dye-sublimation ribbon are clear and well-illustrated.
Connecting the printer
The printers do not have a built-in Ethernet network socket which I find is a real shortcoming.
However, DNP does make a wireless connect module that allows phones, tablets and computers to sent photos to the printer over a wifi network. The module uses the printer’s USB port to add wireless functionality. It also features an Ethernet socket for hooking the printer to a wired network.
I really want to make this review thorough by exploring issues that inkjet printers present. I can’t. The DNP DS620A simply works without jumping through hoops on the part of the user. It doesn’t have issues with paper size or media type. The printer driver on macOS will allow choices of printing to a pair of 4-by-6 inch prints on a single 6-by-8, this printer’s standard size.
Photos don’t have to be 6-by-8 inches or in sRGB color space in order to be printed. As a matter of fact, the photo at the front of this review was a 1.5GB sized ProPhoto image sent to the printer from Photoshop letting the printer manage the colors.
One thing to note is setting the printer’s resolution. When working with the free Hot Folder software to make custom templates, the standard 300dpi wants to be changed to 600dpi, so type will be tack sharp.
This printer does something that seems to be super difficult for inkjets to accomplish — perfect glossy photographs. DNP also offers Silver Pearl and Metallic media. A totally unique option is perforated paper for making name badges, photobooth strip prints, a pair of 4-by-6 inch prints and even stickers!
A roll of paper makes 200 6-by-8 inch prints, 230 5-by-7 inch prints or 400 4-by-6 prints. I checked and two rolls of paper and the dye-sublimation ribbon costs less than $100 at B&H. That makes a 6-by-8 inch print cost a quarter.
The DNP DS620A is hefty weighing in at over 26 pounds. It has a small footprint of about 11-by-14 inches and less than seven inches tall. The 6-by-8 inch print catcher needs some space so the printer is best used on a shelf that has room in front of it.
Print sizes range from 4-by-6 to 6-by-20 inch panoramas. A 20 inch pano, uses the equivalent of three 6-by-8 prints. When printing a pano, the printer does it a section at a time. It’s fun to watch as the printer sends paper out then pulls it back in several times until finally cutting the print from the roll. One very useful size it makes is a 5-by-7 inch print.
A/C 100-240V at 50/60 Hz powers the printer in the US and overseas making it work around the world.
A printer for marketing
DNP has focused its printers including the DS620A on high-volume uses, like photo ID badges, photo booth prints, event photographers and the like. I’ve found an additional use in my commercial photography business.
The DNP printer has made a niche in my marketing. As I finish a job, I pick two or three images and send them to the Hot Folder software that fits it into a template. The printer spits out the prints with my branding. I pop them into a U-Line mailer along with a handwritten note of thanks and drop it in the mail. People love getting personal mail that is not direct sales junk. What’s more personal than a great glossy print from a successful shoot?