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Canon Selphy ES30 review: Canon Selphy ES30

Though it's not as quirky as Canon's "bucket" printer, the ES30 does an excellent job of printing near-lab quality photos in a portable, attractive package.

Lexy Savvides Principal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
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Lexy Savvides
3 min read

As the younger, slightly lesser featured sibling to the Selphy ES3, the ES30 looks more like a handbag than a printer. Sharing a similar aesthetic to its predecessor, the Selphy ES20, the ES30 now has a curved handle at the top making the unit completely portable. Indeed, it's probably so unlike what you think a photo printer should look like that you might even think it's too "gimmicky" to be true, much like the bucket Selphy CP770 that Canon released a little while ago.


Canon Selphy ES30

The Good

Good print quality. Quirky design. Fast user interface.

The Bad

Expensive print costs. Only Canon's ink and paper cartridges can be used. Noisy.

The Bottom Line

Though it's not as quirky as Canon's "bucket" printer, the ES30 does an excellent job of printing near-lab quality photos in a portable, attractive package.

Never fear though, as the ES30 belies its curious looks and really is capable of producing some good prints. It's a dye-sublimation printer, so Canon sells ink and paper together in the one set. You open the slot on the side and insert the ink-and-paper cartridge in one go. While this is great in order to reduce the need for replacing individual colours as found in ink-jet printers, it is a little bit on the pricey side (see our cost comparison below) and a little wasteful as each cartridge set comes in individual plastic packaging, inside a plastic wrapper, inside a cardboard box.

The ES30 is capable of adding different effects and clip art onto images when you insert a memory card into the printer, and as an extra touch for those who like their bling, it has the ability to print gold and silver borders. You will have to purchase separate, dedicated cartridges for these ink effects though.

At the front of the unit sits the 3-inch LCD, surrounded by various buttons that make printing from memory cards without a computer attached very easy. The ES3 by comparison has exactly the same button layout, but has wireless connectivity, a larger 3.5-inch screen and internal storage.

At the top of the ES30 sit slots for pretty much every memory card you can name, making printing without a computer very easy.

Performance and image quality
Like other Selphy models, the printing process takes four steps — three to overlay the colours in separate passes, and one to add a protective coating to the top. In a curious move which is motivated by the upright design of the unit, the paper is ejected partway out of the slot at the bottom, lengthwise; then the printer turns the paper around 90 degrees, and proceeds to print by moving the paper up and down through the unit. Finally, the finished print is ejected at the top, just behind the memory slots.

The scroll wheel is a little temperamental, sometimes refusing to move to the next photo without a lot of coaxing, and other times flicking through the images too fast, but this is a minor complaint. For the most part, the printer interface is intuitive and easy to learn even without consulting the manual.

In terms of print quality, we were generally very impressed with the Selphy. Several prints did have a slightly yellowish tinge to them though, and we didn't find that the photos matched those from one of the multifunction units we tested recently (the HP Photosmart C6380), appearing slightly less glossy and vivid. However, blacks were deep, skin tones were accurate and lifelike, all points in the Selphy's favour.

It's not the fastest photo printer though, taking over a minute to complete a full print because of the four passes — then again, for this sort of device, speed isn't really the most important factor. Noise is somewhat of an issue though — it definitely errs on the cacophonous rather than calm side.

Cost per print
Though we generally liked the Selphy's portability and print quality, there is one downside for all the convenience — the cost per print is AU$0.50 cents (calculated on the recommended retail price of a postcard photo pack with 50 sheets, at the time of writing in December 2008). The cost is reduced slightly to AU$0.38 cents if you purchase a pack of 100 sheets, though these are still generally more expensive than shop prints. Silver and gold packs are even more dear, averaging out at AU$1.22 per print.