Olympus P-400

The Olympus P-400 is the first professional size dye sub printer that is truly affordable enough for the average user.   It isn't "cheap" by any means with an MSRP of $999 (now just $799) and an average cost of around $2.50 per 8x10" print. For those that need the permanence of dye sub and the speedy output this is still very reasonably priced. You'd easily pay $3 or more to have an 8x10" print made so I'm sure it will find a home in many digi-portrait studios or out in the field with event photographers. The P-400 can only be used with the Olympus dye cartridge and special paper so your media choices are quite limited. Each cartridge consists of enough ribbon to print 50 full-size, card, photo-album, or index sheets. The glossy paper has the look and feel of real wet-processed photos and even bears an Olympus water mark on the back. You can put these prints side by side with "real" photo prints and not see any difference except the ones from the P-400 you print yourself in 90 seconds. Don't let the dots per inch (dpi) specification throw you. Many of today's inkjet photo printers are rated at 720dpi or 1440dpi and yet the P-400 is only 314dpi?  The difference here is the fact that this is a continuous tone printer, it does not spray little droplets of ink in a pattern to create the picture. Because of the vast difference in printing technology you can't compare the two by dpi values alone. Although I am sure that most users will be connecting this printer to their computer, it can be used completely standalone. The LCD display is low-res (192x192 pixels) and monochrome, but it's readable enough to select pictures and make printer option choices. Print speed suffers greatly in standalone mode, especially when printing multiple images on a single page. Each image must be processed and the printer's CPU is no race horse. I'm sure that even the "print it on the spot" event digi-photographers will want to hook it up to a good laptop computer. The bottom line ... this is truly a wonderful photo printer. Its image quality is indistiguishable from real, wet-processed photos and it is much faster than comparable photo inkjet printers. The only downside that I could find is that the maximum print size is 7.64 x 10 inches which falls just short of the magic 8 x 10 figure. This is the first and only (as of December 2000) affordable, professional size, dye sublimation printer -- and it is a winner !