The digital age has altered forever the way we take and view photos, not least because of the speed at which the final image can be produced and then passed on to other media. Photojournalists can have their pictures on the front page within minutes and holiday snaps can be swapped with friends only seconds after they’re grabbed.
Canon’s SELPHY CP range has been designed with this ‘instant gratification’ principle in mind and the latest two models – the CP750 and the entry-level CP740 reviewed here – have just been released as updated versions of the CP730 and CP720. Both are designed to be ‘party printers’ that are light, compact, chic and easy to use, whilst still managing to produce high quality, economy-size snaps without having to go through a PC.
The basic CP740 unit weighs a mere 940g and its 179.0 x 127.1 x 63.0mm dimensions are smaller than a tiny loaf of bread. Its Apple-like creamy colour is clearly designed to complement your Mac and iPod and the expanded 2.0-inch LCD screen sits squarely in the middle of the top panel. Surrounding it is a range of buttons that control mode, layout, display and date, as well as an innovative and welcome auto-Red-Eye Correction via simple, self-explanatory icons.
The front panel contains four memory card slots that can deal with virtually any of the current versions of CF, SD, MMC, Memory Stick and xD. In addition, a discreet panel on the front-left hides an extendable USB cable that can be attached to PictBridge-enabled cameras or Canon Direct Print devices.
Unfortunately, the downside of this beautiful looking machine is the clunky method by which the photo tray is inserted in the front: a fair amount of huffing and puffing is needed to slot it in correctly. However, once in place you have five sizes to choose from (Postcard, Wide, L, Credit Card and Mini Stickers) and you can view each image full-screen before you print.
What is impressive is the quality of the finished image. Each print takes four passes to complete and it’s fascinating to see the sharpness and clarity gradually emerge (postcards take about a minute), with the final pass adding a high-gloss protective layer that protects from splashes, spills and fingerprints. The CP740 uses 300dpi dye-sublimation printing technology that leaves images virtually grain-free, as each printed dot has up to 256 intensity levels per colour.
If you’re feeling a little more flush with money, the more expensive CP750 has extra features like ‘My Colors’ photo effects (which include Black & White and Sepia), an optional battery pack and IrSimple compatibility for infra-red printing from mobile devices. Both models have improved skin tone reproduction for enhanced flesh tones.
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