View Full Version : Kodak 8500 Dye-Sub Printers

Stephen Willard
30-Dec-2004, 01:33
I do all my color processing and printing using traditional darkroom methods. Making small prints for a portfolio to give
to a gallery can be a very time consuming process in a darkroom. I do make master prints of each composition I develop.
I use the master print as a standard to insure consistency from print to print and my website images.

I have been considering using a digital solution for making portfolios. My intent would be to scan the master print and then
print it using a digital printer. I believe this could be faster for making portfolios. I have looked at prints made from inkjet printers,
but I have not been impressed with the images. Kodak makes a series of digital printers using a dye-sub process which is supposed
to produce photographic quality images. In particular, I am looking at the Kodak 8500 printer as a possible solution. Has anyone
had any experiences with this printer? Can you comment on the quality of the images made from this printer?

Ted Harris
30-Dec-2004, 07:17

I have seen output from the 8500 and it can be very nice but no tnecessarily better than output from the best of the current crop of inkjet printers. Have you seen output from, for example the Epson R800 or 4000 printers? When you say small prints I assume you mean up to 8x10. I hafe to beliee that you have either not seen 8x10's from the latest generation o fp hoto printers or have not seen them used to their full capability. Finally, for the best images why would you not be scanning your original negatives or chromes?

Stephen Willard
30-Dec-2004, 09:32

You are probably correct. I have not seen prints generated from the latest Epson machines. I will
now consider the printers you noted above. They appear to be less expensive to buy and operate.

The master print I generate for each composition is used to ensure consistency for all my
work no matter what media it is displayed on. This insures there are no surprises when my customers
order from my website or from a portfolio. What they see is what they get, and nothing less, but in most cases much more.

I have found scanning from the master print requires less work to match the master print. Usually what
I scan in is very close to what the master print looks like on my screen. The film sizes I use are 4x5, 5x7,
and 4x10. I do very little 4x5 shooting. I am assuming that you need some kind of film carrier for any scanner.
5x7 and 4x10 are not common sizes. If I scan from film I would have to purchase a new scanner that could handle
these formats. The size of prints I intend to print on 8.5x12 paper would be 6x7.5, 6x8.4, and 4x10. This is not big stuff
and would not need a lot of pixel power.

31-Dec-2004, 10:51
What are the advantages of dye-sub over inkjet?

Struan Gray
31-Dec-2004, 13:56
I have used one of the older Postscript-compatible Kodak dye subs extensively, which takes the same ribbons and paper as the 8500, so I assume the image quality is similar. The only advantages it has over current Epson inkjets (I have a 2100) is speed and the ease of producing transparencies. In all other respects the Epson inkjets beat it hollow.

Specifically: the Kodak prints show more metamerism than my 2100 pigment prints; the Kodak's gamut is smaller, and it blocks up really easily on greens; the Kodak can only print on a single type of paper. Kodak prints always looked a tiny bit soft, even to the naked eye. Also, after a couple of years, the Kodak prints often had a few white spots or odd coloured small blobs, even after a service and when kept in a clean room. Consumables are more expensive for the Kodak. The prints go reddish fast (under a year) when exposed to a standard office environment, but keep well in an album.

The supposed advantage of dye sub is true contone prints, with no dithering or dot pattern. Dye sub prints scan nicely with no moiré worries, but for viewing and display the small droplet size and advanced dithering of current photo printers have made the point moot.

I was glad I bought my Kodak dye-sub back in '94, but there's no point today.

Stephen Willard
1-Jan-2005, 08:08

Thanks for your input, but 1994 was ten years ago, and there are new generations of dye-sub printers just as there
are new generations of inkjet printers. Your points are well taken though. Thank you.

There were two reasons why I initially was considering a dye-sub printer. First, Kodak has now become the
number one digital photographic solution in the consumer market. Their Easy Share system consist of a family of
cameras that doc directly with a small printer. No photoshoping is needed to produce high quality 4x6 prints. The
printer they use is dye-sub, and the footprint is small.

The second reason is the article written by Ctein in Photo Techniques about a year ago. He concluded that dye-sub was
notable better than inkjet. Clearly, in a year things can change, but Kodak is on the verge of releasing a new dye-sub
printer noting significant improvements to replace the 8500 at half the price. Personally, I welcome this competition
in the printer market.

If I call the different manufactures and ask them for samples I will probable receive material that exhibits only their
strengths and avoids conditions where they are weak. So this is not going to be easy. Oh well.

All of the information I have received on this string has been very informative. I am now looking at inkjets as well.


Dave Mueller
5-Jan-2005, 07:32
This past Summer I had a job as a photographer for a local whitewater outfitter. I shot the guests rafting, and we sold 5x7 or 8x10 prints from the 8500. We had no problems with the hardware, and I was impressed with the print quality. However, I recently purchased a cheap inkjet ($100 Epson R200) for home use. As far as resolution goes, I can't see any difference, but I no longer have access to the Kodak to do a real side by side comparison. With the Kodak, you only have one paper choice, and either matt or glossy finish (determined by the ribbon - the last pass is an overcoat). I haven't checked on the archival stability, but if it fades you can always print another one. At this point in the game, the only advantage I have heard about is the wider gamut of the dye-sub versus the inkjets, but I don't know if that takes the new 6 or 7 color ink sets into account. I think we figured about $2 per print for materials. The paper and ink from Kodak come in 100 sheet kits, 100 sheets of paper to a box (sealed in 50 count packs), and two ribbons to a box (each ribbon yields 50 prints). As an aside, it was kind of neat to unroll the used ribbon and have a negative for each CMY image layer.

Struan Gray
10-Jan-2005, 14:58
Stephen, this is a bit late, but if your're still reading I'd just like to emphasise that the issues I had with the Kodak prints were caused by the dye ribbons and paper, not the printer they were used in. In this case the printers haven't actually changed much since '94 (I was using my printer up to mid 2003). I have seen a fair bit of 8500 output and unsurprisingly it looks very like what I used to produce on my machine - the consumables are the same.

Kodak will gladly send you sample prints, so you can make your own mind up. My gripes are really just suggestions about what to look out for.