Review: DNP DS40 Dye Sublimation Printer

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Dye-Sublimation printing isn’t new, but it surely is a process that hasn’t been spoken about for a while or as much as laserjet and ink jet printing. However, DNP is a company that makes Dye-Sublimation printers–and if you aren’t familiar with the process then head right on over to your local WalMart or CVS. Most of America and the world is indeed happy with the results that they get.

So when the company pitched the DNP DS40 at us, we were naturally curious. Wedding clients have always been happy with prints from CVS or other places, so how would it work in a natural home/office setting?

Over the past three months we’ve been playing with the DNP DS40 and we can only describe this as addicting.

Pros and Cons

Pros

– Really nice and clear print quality when using DNP paper and the right resolution

– Solid construction

– Fairly compact for a printer designed just for photo printing

– We’re kind of geeking out about using ink ribbons again

– Paper seemingly lasts forever

– Super addicting to just keep printing images when you have that much paper

– Out of the box, the color is only very slightly off; but you can calibrate the colors

– Setup isn’t tough once you read the instructions and pay attention to color indicators

Cons

– Heavy

– Expensive

Gear Used

We tested the DNP DS40 with Standard 4×6 DP paper rolls, a 13″ MacBook Pro, and calibration done through X-Rite software and peripherals.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the product

Printing Method
Printing Technology Dye-Sub
Maximum Resolution 600 dpi
Performance
Print Speed 4 x 6: High Speed – 8.9 sec; High-Quality – 11.7 sec; Matte – 17.3 sec
5 x 7: High Speed – 12.8 sec; High-Quality – 17.4 sec; Matte – 27.1 sec
6 x 8: High Speed – 13.9 sec, High-Quality – 19.3 sec, Matte – 29.6 sec
Paper Handling
Print Quantity 3.5 x 5: 400 Sheets
4 x 6: 400 Sheets
5 x 7: 230 Sheets
6 x 8: 200 Sheets
Maximum Paper Width 6.0″ (15.24 cm)
Maximum Printable Area 6.0 x 8.0″ (15.2 x 20.3 cm)
Print Size 2.0 x 6.0″ (5.1 x 15.2 cm) 3.0 x 5.0″ (8.9 x 12.7 cm)
4.0 x 6.0″ (10.1 x 15.2 cm)
5.0 x 7.0″ (12.7 x 17.8 cm)
6.0 x 8.0″ (15.2 x 20.3 cm)
Connectivity
Computer Interface USB 2.0
OS Compatibility Microsoft: Windows 7 (32/64-bit), Vista (32/64-bit), XP (32-bit), Windows 2000 (32-bit) Mac: OS X 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, 10.7
Physical
Power Supply AC 100 – 240 V, 50/60 Hz
Power Consumption 110 V: 3.96 A
220 V: 1.69 A
Dimensions (WxHxD) 12.68 x 14.41 x 6.69″ (32.2 x 36.6 x 17.0 cm)
Weight 30.86 lb (14.0 kg)

Ergonomics

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The DNP SD40 is one of the printers that the company is billing as its flagship models–perhaps because of the fact that many of its customers are businesses and high end enthusiasts that love printing 4×6 images at home. The design doesn’t have anything super complicated about it, but it indeed is very functional as a printer.

For starters, the on/off switch is near the front at the bottom and DNp gives you this little paper holder to catch your prints when they’re done. But this is easily removeable.

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If you want to access the more intricate feature of the system, then you’ll be using a latch at the bottom of the printer to pull most of it out. It slides very smoothly back and forth on trays.

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To access the paper, you’ll need to depress these little blue buttons to lift the tray on top. This tray then lifts directly upward.

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The paper is on a roll that you’ll need to insert. The best thing is that you can keep rolling the roll and when it’s in perfectly the printer will give you a beep to tell you that you’re doing it right.

These rolls can last a very long time.

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Lastly, the part that we really geek out about is the ink ribbon due to the fact that it’s very old school but works out well for this system. It’s simple enough to install. You just need to place it in a color coded tray then slide it back in carefully.

Build Quality

This print has to be one of the more solidly constructed printers that we’ve handled in a while. It has lots of metal built in and feels incredibly durable. At the same time though, it is quite heavy. During this review period of around three months, I started to suffer a bit from carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand/forearm, and lifting it at times sometimes hurt quite a bit.

However, not all of us suffer from the same ailments, so you probably won’t have any major issues.

Further, despite the printer being heavy, it isn’t clunky or tough to get a grip on like other printers. So you shouldn’t have too much of a problem overall.

Real World Use

Ease of Use

To use this printer, your computer needs to be connected to it via a USB cable–and that’s a bit of a bummer. Many printers can be setup on a home/office network and have wireless printing capabilities. DNP could surely benefit from an additional feature like this. But because of the USB port connection, printing is super simple and easy vs having to connect to a specific printer for a specific job in the case that you have more than one in the area.

DNP’s software is also very simple and straight forward to navigate and use–especially when it comes to calibration and setup.

Real Estate

The printer has to be one of the more overall compact photo printers available on the market–and it rightfully should be since it is printing 4×6 photos. It fits easily on a living room ottoman or couch-side table–which means that there is more than enough room for it on a standard desk.

Just keep in mind the weight…

Calibration

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When calibrating a printer, the first thing that you’ll want to do is calibrate your computer screen. The best results will come from displays that cover more of the AdobeRGB spectrum since that one was designed for printing to begin with. X-Rite and Spyder both offer very good calibration tools and software with X-Rite being the industry standard. So if you want to get one of these printers, we recommend getting the right calibration tools first.

After you do this, DNP has its own calibration software that helps you fine tune your images to exactly what you want.

The best part though is that the images aren’t wet when they come out and change in color and exposure less than a standard 4×3 Instant film positive. So with that said, you can expect more reliable results.

Setup

Setting up the printer requires you to first off get the right drivers. We recommend going to their website and downloading the right ones onto your computer then installing them. When this is all done, hook it up to the computer via the USB connection and turn the printer on.

That’s really all there is to it.

Oh! When you print you’ll want to ensure that your paper size is set to 4×6 and ideally that the print covers the entire area of the paper. Printing images is quick, simple, addicting, and fun.

DNP has a feature called Party Print would lets you shoot images with your phone and send them to a USB dongle connected to your computer. From there, you can print the images right on the printer.

Image Quality

Color Accuracy

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In our tests, the printer did a great job right out of the box when I tested it in my bedroom (where my desk is.) But when I brought it into my living room, there was a shift that I could notice but that most folks probably wouldn’t be able to. The reason for this is because my computer isn’t calibrated to the lighting in my living room.

While we probably wouldn’t use it for gallery images, the prints that you get are more than satisfactory for scrapbooks, parties, giving to friends, framing at home or the office, and other personal uses. In fact, due to the Dye-Sublimation based process (as opposed to laser and inkjet) they’re probably some of the best prints that we’ve seen providing that your images have enough resolution.

Printers like these are used in places like WalMart, CVS, etc. And if it’s good enough for most of America, it will most likely satisfy your home-based needs. On a personal note, I’m a snob for canvas prints.

And like any print, we’d probably sharpen the image a bit more before you decide to make it tangible.

Conclusions

The DNP DS40 is the company’s latest flagship printer and to be honest, it does a darned good job. The printer has a solid construction, is simple to use and train a staff to maintain, prints quickly and color accurately, and is fun to use. We strongly recommend it for the major photo enthusiast at home or the studio that will want to have a specific printer around for when you throw parties in order to bring more business in.

But seriously: if the company could find a way to cut down the weight and also have a fully wireless setup, then this product would have been flawless.

four-star-Phoblographer-Star-rating

We rate the DNP DS40 printer at 4 out of 5 stars. Want one? Get ready to spend $1,029.90.