Dye sub photo printer quality.

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by john_ashby|2, Sep 3, 2014.

  1. I recently bought a Mitsubishi CP-K60DW-S dye sub printer for event photography. I was expecting good quality prints but so far I haven't gotten a usable print out of it.
    I have a profiled monitor and when I print the same photos on my inkjet they look great. When I print on the dye sub, the colors are very muted it seems to lack contract and saturation. The actual color accuracy is pretty decent but the pictures are very dull and don't pop. My wife won't even let me print snapshots on it for her because it's so bad, she waits until she can go to the drug store. The glossy clearcoat looks very dull and this model is supposed to have a gloss or matte finish. The difference between the two choices is so minor, it's hard for me to tell which was used.
    I've seen dye subs used at events and the results look good. So is this model a bad choice, is the printer (or media kit) defective, or am I doing something wrong?
    I also had it develop a vertical line on every print within the first 50 prints. Cleaning the printhead fixed that but is it normal to need a cleaning that soon? I've put less than 100 prints on the printer so far, and the quality was crap from print 1. I am still on the first media kit, but all the media I bought would be from the same batch anyway.
    Can anyone with experience with dye sub printers give me some input?
    Thanks.
     
  2. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Do you have a color profile for this device? Is it any good? Be useful to look at it's gamut too.
     
  3. I thought I remembered reading a long time ago dye subs didn't need profiles because it's an ink/paper/printer kit. But I just looked it up and apparently the print driver did install some icc profiles on my system.
    I tried printing from photoshop using "photoshop manages colors" with to proper profile and it actually does look a bit better but still not in the same league as costco. But the print driver doesn't appear to have an option to pick a profile. Is it possible it just uses it automatically since there is only one possible paper choice for this printer?
    I normally wouldn't print from photoshop with this printer since at an event I use software that goes from camera to printer automatically. And that software doesn't have color management.
     
  4. But the print driver doesn't appear to have an option to pick a profile. Is it possible it just uses it automatically since there is only one possible paper choice for this printer?​
    John, my guess is that, almost for sure, your print driver will allow you to select color profiles. I've worked with quite a lot of pro-grade dye sub printers, my method is to use a notebook (paper and pen style), methodically go through every menu option in the driver, and sketch out the relationship. It's tedious, and may take an hour or so, but you'll probably find what you're looking for.
     
  5. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    I thought I remembered reading a long time ago dye subs didn't need profiles because it's an ink/paper/printer kit​
    Not at all. You must have some method of converting from some RGB working space to an output color space. Even using Printer Manages Color does this (behind the scenes and perhaps less than optimally).
    I tried printing from photoshop using "photoshop manages colors" with to proper profile and it actually does look a bit better but still not in the same league as costco​
    They may just have a vastly superior output device with a wider gamut.
    But the print driver doesn't appear to have an option to pick a profile.​
    That's done in the application. That's the difference between Printer Manages Color and Application Manages Color.
     
  6. Bill,
    I will have to look deeper as you suggest later. But even though it is better it's probably just barely acceptable for an event photo booth. The samples I printed yesterday were from a wedding I shot recently, I'd be embarrassed show the client the prints even with the profile. Maybe I'm expecting too much from the printer and it's just not meant for better than quick and mediocre handouts.
    Andrew,
    The costco I go to uses a Noritsu 3411, but my point is even a cheap consumer inkjet on dollar-store photo paper with no color profile beats this dye sub "commercial photo printer". I can't find any information about the color gamut of this printer or other dye subs compared to inkjets. They just make a big deal of the continuous tone giving better image quality.
    I can choose a profile in an application like photoshop. Most apps don't have such an option (like the hot folder printing utility I'm using).
     
  7. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    The costco I go to uses a Noritsu 3411, but my point is even a cheap consumer inkjet on dollar-store photo paper with no color profile beats this dye sub "commercial photo printer".​
    Not sure I understand your point. A Noritsu isn't a inkjet. An inkjet would have a much larger potential color gamut than either the Noritsu and perhaps your dye sub. Without seeing the profiles, I can't say. Seeing the profiles I could tell you exactly. Further, it's really difficult remotely to tell you why you're not getting good prints. My first suspicion was a lack of color management and a good profile. At least if the issue is color and tone (sharpness is another factor a profile isnโ€™t giong to help).
    They just make a big deal of the continuous tone giving better image quality.​
    All three printers (your due sub, the ink jet and Noritsu) are continuous tone.
    I can choose a profile in an application like photoshop.​
    And that helps?
     
  8. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    The other question is, what RGB working space are you working with on these devices?
    You might want to send them the same color reference image for testing:
    http://www.digitaldog.net/files/2014PrinterTestFileFlat.tif.zip
    Note that this is in Adobe RGB (1998) so it has to be handled as such!
     
  9. I have had three dye sub printers, and all produced prints comparable to lab prints on photo paper - bright colors and high gloss. Sadly, Kodak dropped all support, including supplies, for a 1400 I purchased in 2005.
    It's best if you use a print profile that comes with the printer and driver, or one you purchase or create using a spectrophotometer. In lieu of that, your printer should have a calibration procedure of some sort which will allow you to use the printer to control color. Photoshop will properly interpret any color space and send a machine independent version to the printer, with or without a print profile.
    Matte or glossy overcoating should be determined by the materials. Using the print head to emboss a matte surface usually doesn't look very good. The default, depending on your media, should be glossy. The biggest issue I've had with a dye sub is dust on the paper, media or rollers.
    Make sure the ink roll isn't installed upside down. That shouldn't be possible, but you never know. That might explain why the print head needed cleaning so soon. It normally contacts the plain back of the media, not the paper or dye side of the sheet.
     

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