The Kodak Professional 8500 Digital Photo Printer is an affordable 8 x 10-inch, color printer that's perfect for advanced amateurs right up to professional users and mini-labs. Priced at $999, the Kodak 8500 is the least expensive of Kodak's professional grade printers and within the budget of us "normal" folks. The Kodak 8500 produces consistent results using dry imaging technology so there's no worries of clogged heads or spilled ink.
The Kodak 8500 delivers true 8 x 10-inch printed size photos in gloss or matte
finish and thanks to the protective laminate overcoat, your pictures are water
resistant and highly durable. The Kodak 8500 printer is compatible with Windows
PC and Macintosh computers. Not including the spooling time, the Kodak 8500
produces a dry to the touch photographic print in about 75 seconds. The printer
uses thermal dye diffusion to achieve 314 dpi continuous tone prints with the
look and feel of real photographs. And it does this quite economically with a
per print cost of less than two dollars.
Kodak 8500 Consumables
The ribbon cartridges come in Matte and Glossy, your choice. The same paper is used with either ribbon, the 4th pass of the printing system applies the "Xtralife" glossy or matte laminate overcoat finish. Each ribbon cartridge is good for 50 prints and comes boxed with two ribbons making it a 100 print pack.
The 8.5 x 12" paper is about $68 per 100 sheets and the ribbon packs are about $120 so your approximate "per print" cost is around $1.88 per 8 x 10" - this is just the
consumable cost without figuring in the cost of the printer itself.
If you've used a modern inkjet photo printer like an Epson then I am sure that you've been overwhelmed by the driver software choices. The Kodak 8500 like most dye-sub printers has a relatively simple set of driver options. If you use the same ribbon type then you probably won't even need to go into the driver.
The first page of driver options lets you specify the paper size, ribbon type
and whether or not to apply the Xtralife coating. Beats me why anyone would choose
not to apply the Xtralife coating, this is your matte or glossy finish but it is
also the UV resistant coating that makes the print last like a real photograph.
Other options are for paper orientation, rotation and mirroring, number of copies
and scaling percentage. The image sharpness is settable for High, Normal or Off and
I find the prints look the best with it set on "High." The Enhancement option is
used only if you notice a registration problem between the color passes, it is
Also included in the software bundle is
Adobe Photoshop Elements, the "junior" version of the famous Adobe Photoshop
program. Allows for quick corrections to creative editing with digital camera,
scanner or any kind of digital images.
The Kodak 8500 like all dye-sub (actually dye diffusion thermal) printers uses a ribbon that has page-size pieces of yellow, magenta, cyan and the clear protective coating. The print head is a page-wide thermal unit with thousands of individual heating elements. The dyes on the ribbon are vaporized and then diffuse onto the surface of the paper. These dyes are transparent so one secondary color can be (and is) placed on top of each other to produce the primary colors (red, green, blue). Technically known as the subtractive color process, it yields continuous tone prints with 16-million possible color variations. The end result is a digital print with the same brilliant range of colors, UV resistance and the overall durability and longevity as a conventionally processed film print. And it delivers these high quality results, print after print, with very little fuss and bother thanks to its dry and inkless printing system.
The only other "page size" dye diffusion thermal printer that we have used and reviewed is the Olympus P-400. The Olympus P-400 has a small flaw, it is incapable of printing a true 8 x 10" size print. It was sold and marketed as an 8 x 10" printer and ruffled more than a few feathers when the users discovered that the A4 (8.25 x 11.7") paper came out with a printable size of just 7.64" x 10". The P-400's per print cost is approximately $2.80 ($25 paper + $45 ribbon for 25 prints), but can be brought down some by buying the paper in 100-sheet packages.
The Kodak 8500 is a solid piece of hardware that is made to survive in the commercial world and it feels like it too when you pick up the 27+ pound printer. The fit-n- finish is excellent and it's pretty quiet for a dye-sub type printer that is constantly moving paper back and forth. The front and rear are outfitted with dust covers where the paper slides back and forth to avoid any damage to the print. Being a thermal printer you can hear the cooling fan cycle on and off as the printer sits idle. Hooked up to my Pentium 4/2GHz Windows Pro PC the average print time for a full-frame 5-megapixel image was 50 seconds to spool and process and about 75 seconds to make the actual print. The prints look just like real photos and they even say "Kodak" on the back, what more can you ask for?
You can easily change from glossy to matte finish prints by simply swapping out the ribbon cartridge. The glossy finish prints are probably (my opinion) more durable than the matte prints because of the thicker protective layer. Matte prints are excellent for portraits or other photos that will end up behind glass in a frame but for most other prints I'd recommend the glossy finish.
If you're tired of fooling around with inkjet printers, clogged heads and prints that aren't waterproof or won't last as long as real photographs - then maybe it's time to think about buying a dye diffusion printer like the Kodak 8500!
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