A S C R A P B O O K O F S O L U T I O N S F O R T H E P H O T O G R A P H E R
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17 April 2015
You've heard this before. The story of a compelling hardware product matched with troublesome software. It's what we found with the OpticFilm 120 and, to a different degree, with the DNP DS40.
There are not a lot of dye sub printers out there any more. And we don't know of any quite as well built as the DS40. That's the compelling part of this package.
And it's especially compelling if you're a pro delivering the goods at special events.
The prints are gorgeous, for one thing. And the ability to print 4x6, 5x7 or 6x8 prints without changing media in either glossy or matte finishes is a tremendous plus. That they come out of the printer quickly is icing on the cake.
This isn't the right printer for art prints. You can't print on porous art papers. And you can't print larger than 6x8. Not even panoramas.
It's also not as portable as advertised. It's quite heavy.
And it's noisy.
But if you need to bang out glossies or matte prints in the supported sizes, you really can't beat the DS40.
FIRMWARE | Back to Contents
Given it's professional breeding, it's more than a little disappointing to find the DS40 does not play well on networks.
Most USB printers, which is all the DS40 is, can be plugged into a router's USB port to make itself available to any device on the network with the appropriate driver installed.
Not the DS40.
The only way we could get it function on our local area network was to set it up on one machine as a shared printer. That machine consequently had to be powered up to receive and queue print jobs, a less than ideal situation.
SOFTWARE | Back to Contents
And that driver, at least on the Mac side, fell far short of professional expectations, too.
During the course of our multi-part review we heard from a number of DS40 owners who were having trouble printing from various versions of OS X. We ourselves had trouble with the Lion driver running under Lion, Mavericks and Yosemite.
Which really makes you wonder how a professional device can go two operating system upgrades without updating its driver.
The best DNP could do was to release a public beta of its Yosemite driver, citing two known problems with it and not allowing the download until you acknowledge you've been so informed.
One of those problems was simply reporting the wrong status of the printer. Offline when actually online. It's hard to believe DNP knows its way around OS X when it can't get something like that right. Canon, Epson, Brother, HP all manage on our network.
But the beta driver worked much better if not perfectly and we're grateful. We were finally able to finish the review.
RECOMMENDATION | Back to Contents
At more than $1,000, the DS40 is targeted to the professional market. And we can recommend it for that market with a couple of warnings.
The first is to dedicate an older laptop to it, much as you would a scanner, providing a console that will not need updating to function. Don't expect DNP to issue updated drivers for new operating systems in a timely manner.
The second is to recommend a Windows console so you run Party Print. DNP seems to have inherited Sony's preference for supporting Windows over Mac OS in general.
The third is to have some means of transporting the printer if you want to use it offsite. It's heavy. You'll need more than an airport roller or backpack. You'll need a trolley.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY| Back to Contents
Purchasing through those links supports extended reviews like this one.
CONCLUSION | Back to Contents
If it sounds like we're being harsh considering what wonderful prints the DS40 produced, it's probably because pulling our hair out takes away keyboard time for reviews. No man can do both.
But don't misunderstand us. DNP has given new life to the dye sub. We've been through a few generations. Fargo, Kodak, HiTouch, Canon. The DS40 is the best we've ever used.
Dye subs will still fade within your lifetime but the prints are spectacular, giving you a chance to relocate before your customer realizes what's happened.
When it behaved itself, we liked it so much that we began to hope DNP would engineer a $150 version of the DS40 for home use that uses exactly the same media and supports the same three output sizes.
Home users may balk at spending $100 for media but they are used to it from buying inkjet cartridges. This $100 media goes a lot further and can be handled immediately.
We'll give the DS40 three photo corners. But we really hope to see them around in five years with a networkable professional version of this printer and a home version with the same versatility.
(Editor's Note: This is the fifth part of a multi-part review of the DS40 printer. Links to the other stories are in the main table of contents at the top right of each story.)