FYI consumers: digital cameras are all the rage and film cameras are becoming obsolete. You’ve probably noticed with the invention of digital photo frames and card readers that manufacturers are trying to come up with ways to get your photos off the camera and out into the world. But if you are a traditionalist, and your home is filled with photos, you might want to invest in a printer that can give you lab quality photos at home.
And we are reviewing a printer that offers just that. The Sony Digital Photo Printer DPP-FP75 is a three-step operation printer that boasts it can deliver beautiful photos in just minutes. We’ll see.
Specifications for the DPP-FP75
• Dye-Sublimation photo printer4 x 6-inch prints
• 3.5 LCD Screen with tilt-adjustable display
• 63 sec. Print Speed
• Compatible with Memory Stick, SD, and xD card
• Includes Red-eye correction button
• ID Photo, layout Print, borderless print, border print, date print available
• Cost per print: $0.29 (according to Sony)
• Max image size: 48 MP (8000 x 6000)
Design and Build Quality
The FP75 reminds me of an old school child’s tape player. It’s all white, has a 3.5 LCD screen and a few large, easy to read buttons on the front. Its dimensions are only 7 x 2.5 x 5.5 but it is sturdy despite its compactness.
There is a compartment door on the right side of the printer and the bottom of the printer. They are the ink ribbon compartment and the paper tray compartment respectively. The ink ribbon compartment is where you change the Dye Sub ribbons and the paper tray compartment is where you attach the paper tray.
The slim paper tray (7.5 x .5 x 4.5″) can hold up to 20 4 x 6-inch sheets of photo paper. It is easy to load by pulling the lid open and has a sliding door to protect the photo paper when not in use.
Above the paper tray compartment there are three memory card slots for xD, SD and Memory Stick cards allowing users to use any of the associated media. You will need an adapter for mini SD cards, etc.
On the opposite side of the ink ribbon compartment, there is a USB port and a PictBridge port to connect PC’s or PictBridge cameras. To use either of these ports, you will need to have a PictBridge enable camera or a standard USB cord. You can also use the PictBridge slot to print wirelessly with a Bluetooth adapter, which, again you will need to purchase separately.
As mentioned previously, the front of the device is where the 3.5 flip-up color LCD is located along with the power, menu, red-eye correction, print, cancel, enter and four arrow buttons.
The AC jack is located on the top, along with the handle.
Setting up the FP75
The FP75 be one of the easiest printers to set up ever. There is no battery to charge or warm-up times; just plug in the printer and it’s ready to go.
If you are using the FP75 for the first time, you will need to load photo paper into the paper tray and insert the ink ribbon into the ink ribbon compartment. Both are relatively easy tasks. The ink ribbon has an arrow on the side facing up and in the direction it should be slid in. Once it’s in, it will make a clicking noise to let the user know the printer is set.
The paper tray is marked on the outside where to open and the inside has the maximum amount of pages the tray can hold (20) and which way the paper should face (with the Sony icon facing down).
Once your FP75 is loaded and plugged in, it’s ready to go. Simply insert your media card into any of the slots provided and the printer instantly uploads your media.
If you are using a PC to download images, you must download a driver that is included with the printer on the software CD. I received a pre-production model so I did not have any software. However, you can download the driver at Sony’s website for those of you who might lose your software CD.
In order to connect a PC you’ll need to separately purchase a USB cable as mentioned before. Other than that, the PC is as easy to connect to as the media cards, the printer instantly recognizes the PC and you are ready to print.
The one downfall is that you can’t edit your pictures on the FP75 if you are using a PC. All the cool functions that FP75 provides such as index prints, border prints, ID photos, red eye correction, etc. are unavailable for PC photos. Of course, most PC’s have their own photo editing software and if worse comes to worse you can always use paint.
Ease of use
As I’ve said multiple times, the FP75 is very simple to use. This extends to the menu options and features. After you turn on the printer and insert your memory card the LCD will display the first picture on the card. It will also show display information such as what type of card is being used, what type of image is on the card (JPEG, GIF etc.), the size of the image, the date and the number of prints. The display information can be removed in print setup.
Using the left and right arrow buttons you can scroll through images. Using the up and down arrow buttons will increase/decrease the number of prints you want of the image being displayed. Hitting enter allows you to zoom in on a photo and hitting cancel will return you to the original image. The red eye button turns the red eye correction on and displays a small red eye in the top left corner of the screen.
The other two options are either the print button – which is self explanatory – or the menu button. Hitting the menu button brings up five menu options: edit, layout print, id photo, batch print and print setup.
The edit icon brings up a toolbar of eight icons pictured below at the top of the image you want to edit. They are in left to right order as follows: enlarging image size, decreasing image size, moving an image, rotating an image, adjusting picture quality, resetting edits, print and exit. Only the adjusting picture quality icon will bring up another menu; you can change brightness, saturation, tint and sharpness.
The layout print icon gives the user several options on how they want the imaged presented and on how many images they want per photo. You can get up to 16 different images on one print using this mode. After you choose the layout and the prints you want, the same edit tool bar will appear at the top for further editing.
The ID photo icon brings up a screen allowing the user to edit the size and number of ID photos per print. After you choose the size and image you want to use for your ID photo, the edit toolbar again appears at the top for extra editing. In ID photo mode, however, there is one extra edit available: black and white prints.
The batch print icon gives the user three options: print an index card of all images, print a copy of all images or print all images with the DPOF print mark.
The final icon is print setup. In this mode, you can choose whether to have the date printed on photos, choose between three borders (including borderless), take the display screen off images, change the color settings or find out how many total prints the FP75 has printed.
Printer performance and print quality
The FP75 is a dye sublimation photo printer. For laymen, basically that means it dissolves the solid ink ribbon into a gas and then coats the print medium (in this case photo paper) in layers of color finishing with a final layer of clear laminate. The laminate protects photos from UV light and air producing longer lasting photos than a traditional inkjet or laser photo printer.
The photos the FP75 printed could back up Sony’s claim of speed and of lab quality in some respects. I printed over fifty photos and never had one take longer than 66 seconds. The colors were vibrant for the most part although I did notice a paleness in color in the background of two landscape shots.
These shots lose some of their luster in transition but you can see the bright pink of the blanket, the deep navy blue of the jacket and the array of colors in the baseball field shot. One problem: Scarlett (the puppy) has almost a hint of brown to her coat.
One of the problems with the FP75 – and Dye Sub printers in general – are the blacks aren’t as black as you might find on an inkjet printer. The reason is there is no black ink in a Dye Sub ribbon, it’s replaced by the clear laminate.
The top right shot is with improved contrast, the bottom right is normal. The shot I compared it to was from a Canon inkjet printer.
I did try to mess around with the contrast and satration with the black and white shot of my puppy but as you can see above, the black in even the best shot (with improved contrast) can’t match the inkjet black and white shot next to it.
The resolution was good; the pictures were crisp and detailed. I even noticed small snowflakes on shot of my puppy from last winter.
You can see small white snowflakes on her back. Also, notice again how she has almost a brown sheen to her even though she’s a black lab.
I did get about five or six fuzzy/pixilated shots but all but one came from my PC and I think it was more to do with the actual image size and crop than the printer. I had relatively no problems with clarity when using the SD media card.
I was able to get 40 prints from the ink ribbon provided with my printer which seems about right since Sony sent me the 40 sheets of photo paper and an ink ribbon color print combo pack. It retails for $19.99 so cost per print is $0.50.
You can also purchase a combo pack with 120 sheets of photo paper and an ink ribbon for $34.99. Not sure if the ink ribbon in the 120 sheet combo pack would last longer since I did not test it but according to Sony cost per print would be $0.29 with the 120 sheet pack. That number leads me to believe you would not have to purchase another ink ribbon.
• Good detail in photos
• Printer ease of use
• Doesn’t include USB cord for PC’s
• Initial cost of the printer
I really enjoyed using the Sony Digital Photo Printer FP75. It was compact and easy to use as I’ve mentioned about a thousand times over the course of this review. The photos were good and I wouldn’t even hate on Sony for using the term lab quality. As far as I’m concerned the color photos the FP75 printed were as good as the ones you would get from CVS, Walgreen’s, Wal-mart, etc. On the other hand, most of those places will give you a cheaper price than 29 cents per print.
To wrap it up simply: if you an everyday photographer who wants the simplicity of being able to print quality color 4 x 6 prints (or smaller) in the privacy of your own home, the FP75 is a good bet. If you are a professional photographer or looking for unit that does more than print 4 x 6 photos, you might want to look in a different direction.
Pricing and availability
The Sony Digital Photo Printer FP75 is available now at Sony’s website and at various other retailers. Sony values the FP75 at $149.99.
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