Canon SELPHY ES3 photo printer

A small Canon photo printer that employs dye-sublimation for exceptional results

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  • Canon SELPHY ES3
  • Canon SELPHY ES3
  • Canon SELPHY ES3
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5


  • Fantastic print quality, small, comprehensive media support, easy to use


  • Expensive consumables, no battery option, minor rainbow effect in some photos

Bottom Line

Costly consumables aside, Canon's SELPHY ES3 photo printer is a fantastic buy that provides excellent print quality in a small package.

Would you buy this?

Canon's diminutive SELPHY ES3 printer produces excellent photos. We wish it was possible to purchase a battery pack for it, but it is still a great way to get fantastic photos at a reasonable price.

The Canon SELPHY ES3 has a more cutesy design than the SELPHY ES2 but, thanks to an integrated handle and curved body, is larger than its predecessor. The size increase makes it a little easier to use thanks to bigger buttons and a 3.5in LCD screen.

Perhaps taking some cues from Canon's PIXMA multifunction and EOS D-SLR digital camera ranges, the SELPHY ES3 features a scroll wheel. The interface is surprisingly snappy, moving between photos stored on removable media quickly with few hiccups. If you begin to scroll through images swiftly the display automatically changes from a full screen to thumbnail view.

Menus are simple to navigate and let you add specific photos to a favourites menu and reprint previous photos. Apart from automatic photo optimisation and red-eye correction, Canon doesn't provide too many editing options on the SELPHY ES3; you won't be able to add clip-art or spice up photos.

The Canon SELPHY ES3 photo printer can connect to a computer through its USB port, but it also supports SD, MMC, miniSD, CompactFlash, MemoryStick and MemoryStick Duo memory cards. It even provides a separate slot for microSD cards. PictBridge-capable cameras and mobile phones can connect to the printer through a secondary USB port.

Disappointingly, there is no battery pack available for the SELPHY ES3 photo printer, unlike the SELPHY ES2.

Such a small body leaves little room for conventional ink cartridges and printheads, so the SELPHY ES3 uses a thermal dye-sublimation printing process instead. Using heat to transfer colours from a ribbon, the printer feeds through the media four times, printing each individual primary colour and then a finishing coat. The process makes the SELPHY ES3 photo printer slower than many inkjet printers. We experienced average speeds of 1min 15sec for a standard 4x6in photo, which is still quite reasonable.

The biggest advantage of a dye-sublimation process is the quality. The SELPHY ES3 photo printer manages to produce amazingly vivid and detailed photos that certainly rival those produced by most premium inkjet printers. Photos have a very accurate colour palette, and gradients are extremely smooth. The use of the dye-sublimation print process avoids the all-too-common banding issue in inkjet-printer photos, though on some occasions photos from the SELPHY ES3 exhibit rainbow streaks when viewed directly under a light source. Thankfully, this is rare and has no effect on viewing the photo under normal light.

Both the photo paper and the ink ribbon are integrated into the same package, and can be easily slotted into the side of the printer. Canon offers three different media sizes — postcard (4x6in), credit card (2.1x3.4in) and L (3.5x4.7in). An average printing cost of 43.9c per 4x6in photo is quite expensive considering that photo kiosks frequently charge just 25c per photo.

Costly consumables and no optional battery pack are the biggest flaws of what is otherwise a brilliant and compact photo printer. If you want to preserve your memories in 4x6in pieces, the Canon SELPHY ES3 is definitely the way to go.

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