An easy-to-use printer/scanner/copier for family snapshooters.Kodak is really pushing the cost savings message with its first consumer all-in-one inkjet printer, the EasyShare 5300. Even before you unpack it, the box is emblazoned with bubbles claiming 'Save up to 50%' and listing the ink costs: $14.99 for the black cartridge and $24.99 for the colour. These messages are repeated on a sticker that covers the top panel of the printer itself. . . [more]
Kodak is really pushing the cost savings message with its first consumer all-in-one inkjet printer, the EasyShare 5300. Even before you unpack it, the box is emblazoned with bubbles claiming 'Save up to 50%' and listing the ink costs: $14.99 for the black cartridge and $24.99 for the colour. These messages are repeated on a sticker that covers the top panel of the printer itself.
Physically, the EasyShare 5300 is average-sized for its category, with a footprint of almost 47.8 x 37.3 cm and a height of just over 22 cm. Housed in pale cream plastic with a silver-grey trim around the scanner/copier platen, it looks elegant on the desktop and doesn't take up too much room. Paper is held in two trays: a Photo tray for 15 x 10 cm paper and a main tray for other sizes. A pull-out extender is provided for catching larger prints as they emerge.
Power is supplied via an AC/DC adaptor, which plugs into the rear panel. The supplied USB cable slots in above it. On the front panel are two memory card slots, the upper one accepting SD, Memory Stick and xD-Picture Cards, while the lower one is for CompactFlash. (Memory Stick Duo, miniSD and MicroSD cards can be 'read' via adaptors.) Most of the top panel is covered by the lid of the scanner/copier platen. Beside it is the control panel and 3.0-inch LCD.
Despite having lots of buttons, the control panel is logically configured. In front of the LCD are buttons for rotating pictures clockwise, zooming in or out, displaying a proofsheet of images on a memory card and transferring images from a memory card or connected device to a PC. Dedicated buttons in front of this array enter the Scan, Photo print and Copy modes. In front of them is an arrow pad with central OK button, which is used to navigate and select functions. Further forward are Cancel, Start and On/Off buttons plus an indicator light that flashes when something goes wrong.
Two optional accessories are available to extend the EasyShare 5300's usability: a Bluetooth transmitter for wireless printing and a Duplexer Attachment that enables users to print on both sides of a sheet of paper. We were unable to evaluate either of these accessories. Kodak claims prints from the EasyShare 5300 will 'last a lifetime' without specifying how long 'a lifetime' might be or the display conditions under which test prints used for makign this claim were measured. (As Kodak's testing methods differ substantially from the Wilhelm Imaging Research standards used by other pritner manufacturers, these claims cannot be seen as equalling generally-accepted standards.)
Family snapshooters are the clear target market for the EasyShare 5300. Designed for easy operation, it has straightforward controls plus a high level of automation. However, user-controllable adjustments are very limited. Setting up the EasyShare 5300 is very easy and Kodak provides a reasonably comprehensive instruction sheet. Preparing the printer for use took us just over 30 minutes.
You begin by loading paper in the two paper trays. The next step is to install the printhead and ink cartridges. (The EasyShare 5300 must be plugged into mains power before this can be done – a point not noted in the instructions.) Both the printhead and ink cartridges are packaged in sealed plastic bags and should only be removed from them immediately prior to installation. Orange and black protective covers must be removed before slotting them into place.
The printer is then calibrated by pressing the Start button, which produces a test print. This print is then scanned by placing it face down on the platen and pressing the Start button again. The final step involves loading the software from the supplied CD. A wizard-based interface prompts the user at each stage of this process. You are then ready to print.
Software installation is handled through a straightforward wizard-based GUI.
You are told when to connect the printer to your computer via the supplied USB cable.
Installation is completed when this screen appears.
The position of the Photo tray dictates which paper is used for printing. When it's pushed in, prints are made on the snapshot paper. Pulling the Photo tray out makes the printer use the main tray, which accommodates larger paper sizes. In both trays, paper is loaded printing side down.
Printing directly from a memory card is straightforward; you simply insert the card, select the picture using the LCD and arrow pad, use the Photo button to indicate whether to make borderless or bordered prints, set the print quantity, quality and colour or B&W then press the Start button. Similar settings are provided when you print directly from a PictBridge-enabled camera that is connected to the EasyShare 5300 via one of the USB ports on the front panel.
With either direct printing option, you can't view other shots and set up the next one for printing because the screen turns blue while a print is being produced. The default setting crops the top and bottom of images shot with a 4:3 aspect ratio and there appears to be no way of preventing this. Pressing the + zoom button lets you zoom in on the shot, with up to 5x magnification available. The area to be printed can be selected by moving the zoomed section with the arrow pad buttons.
Few other adjustments are provided, although there is a Scene Balance setting in the menu that is supposed to apply automatic brightness adjustments (although we saw little difference between prints made with this setting on or off. You can also imprint a date on prints and make index prints on 15 x 10 cm or A4 paper. Each thumbnail is between 19mm and 22mm wide with a 3mm white space between them. Proofsheets containing selected images can also be printed.
The EasyShare 5300 also supports Bluetooth printing from mobile phones, PDAs or compatible digicams – but only of JPEG images. An optional Kodak USB Bluetooth Adapter is required. Panoramic pictures created in digital cameras can be detected, based on the aspect ratio of the image. They will be printed automatically by the EasyShare 5300 with an output size of 300 x 100 mm when panoramic paper is inserted in the main paper tray.
Printing from Software
If you install Kodak EasyShare software, you can print pictures from the Albums you set up in the My Collection tab. The EasyShare 5300's driver interface is straightforward and allows you to select from three quality settings, two page orientations and the supported range of paper sizes. You can also choose between borderless and bordered prints and input the number of copies you want of a print. An ink level display is provided.
The printer driver interface.
The ink level monitor.
The instruction manual claims a Low Ink warning message is displayed when the level of one ink cartridge drops below 20% but we found it was only viewable when we used the printer driver or checked the ink monitor. You can save a selection of driver settings via the My preference box in the top right corner of the driver GUI.
The range of adjustments provided in Kodak's EasyShare software is very limited. You can rotate images by 90 degrees left or right but, since no fine-tuning is provided, fixing slanted horizons is impossible. Two cropping options are supported: cropping to a standard size (eight settings are provided) or free-form cropping. The latter provides a similar level of flexibility to a basic editing application.
The Kodak EasyShare printing interface is simple and uncluttered.
Plenty of layout options are provided.
Cropping options include pre-set image sizes and a 'freeform' selection.
Printing controls are straightforward.
The only other adjustments are automatic and include red-eye fixing plus Scene Balance and Colour Balance as well as two groups of special effects.
Using Scene Balance provides global adjustments for exposure, shadows and highlights with slider controls. The preview image is split vertically and the effect of the adjustments is shown on the right side, while the unadjusted image is on the left. The Colour balance adjustment requires the image to contain a grey area, which is used as a colour reference. No provision is made for adjusting individual hues.
The Scene Balance setting.
The Colour Balance setting.
The Scene Effects menu includes settings for B&W and sepia tones plus Forest, Scenic, Portrait and Sunset settings. All adjustments applied are global and you can compare them in the illustrations below.
No Effect Forest
Four Fun Effects are provided in the dedicated sub-menu: Spotlight, Colouring Book, Cartoon and Fisheye. Again, these adjustments are global and their effects are shown below.
Spotlight Colouring Book
You can also print through third-party software, taking advantage of the adjustments a more sophisticated application offers, like Levels and Curves controls, sharpening and image straightening through precise rotation. We found we had to rotate landscape format images through 90 degrees to match the paper orientation in the printer but, otherwise, we obtained better end results as a result of the greater range of image adjustments we could apply.
Scanning & Copying
Scanning and copying are just as straightforward as printing and the EasyShare 5300 can detect the size of the original and offer a range of output options including same size, fit to page and scaling copies from 10% to 500% in 1% increments. You can scan both photographic prints and documents of all kinds and also lift off the platen lid to accommodate over-sized originals and thick books. You can also scan a selection of smaller prints together and the scanner will detect and align them.
Several photo layout settings are provided for copying pictures. Copies can be borderless or bordered and you can copy one, two, three, four or nine per page. There are also facilities for producing 'posters' by copying an image onto two, three or four sheets of paper (which is then stuck together). Images can be previewed after scanning to ensure they are correct so you don't waste paper.
The scanning facility allows you to scan to a photo print, a folder on a computer or an application (such as an image editor). You can also scan to removable memory card in the card slot, or via a USB cable to a computer or external HDD.
It took just over three minutes and 18 seconds to scan and print an A4 photograph at same size. The quality of the print did not quite match the original as contrast is generally increased with each successive reproduction. However, it would be good enough to please family snapshooters. Copying a snapshot-sized (15 x 10 cm) print and outputting it at A4 size took only 13 seconds longer but, not unexpectedly, print quality was reduced, although it still bordered on being acceptable. The main problems were with image sharpness and colours were accurately reproduced, although with slightly lower saturation.
Output quality from the test printer was generally very good, although not up to the standard serious photographers would desire. Colour reproduction was a little uneven, with a slight bias towards magenta that suppressed greens. Non-expert users would be unlikely to notice these inaccuracies and would probably be satisfied with the rich colours and sharp detail in prints.
Kodak claims the EasyShare 5300 can produce a 15 x 10 cm print in 28 seconds. However, that doesn't appear to account for spooling time as in our tests it took just over a minute from pressing the Start button to outputting a snapshot-sized print. Spooling averaged 15 seconds for 15 x 10 cm prints.
Printing on A4-sized paper took only a little longer, averaging one minute and 42 seconds for a single print. When we printed two images in succession, we measured a spooling time of 28 seconds, after which it took one minute and 45 seconds to deliver the first print and another one minute and 11 seconds to produce the second.
In the course of our tests we produced 40 A4 prints and 28 snapshot-sized prints before the colour ink cartridge ran out. The black cartridge was barely used in these tests.
With the colour cartridge for the EasyShare 5300 selling for $24.99, the ink cost equates to approximately 50 cents per print for A4 enlargements and 13 cents for snapshot prints. Kodak will offer an 'Everyday Value Pack' containing 180 sheets of snapshot-sized paper plus ink for $35.99, which it claims will equate to 20 cents per print.
Printer type: Inkjet (3,840-nozzle permanent printhead)
Scanner: 1200 dpi CCD flatbed, to A4 size;
Copier: Copy with 10-500% scaling
Supported image formats: JPEG
Display: 3.0-inch, high-resolution colour display
Paper sizes: A4, 20 x 25 cm, 15 x 23 cm, 13 x 18 cm, 10 x 30 cm, 10 x 20 cm, 10 x 15 cm, 8.9 x 13.3 cm
Paper tray capacities: Main tray – 100 sheets of plain paper; Photo tray – 20 sheets of 10 mil thick photo paper (101 x 150 mm)
Max. paper weight: 200 gsm
Ink cartridges: 2-cartridge (colour & black), 6-ink system using 'pigmented' inks
Interfaces: USB 2.0, USB 2.0 (Mass Storage & PTP), USB EKPTP, Bluetooth 1.2, PictBridge, DPOF, MIPC, PTP/IP
Dimensions (wxdxh): 478 × 373 × 224 mm
Weight: 9.7 kg
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Rating (out of 10):
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- Print quality: 8.5
- Print speed: 8.5
- OVERALL: 8