Design and features
You'll be struck by how similar this printer looks like a handbag when you first take it out of the box. But, at just under 3kg, the ES3 is a little too heavy to be entering into the aforementioned carry-all territory, instead relegating it to its intended use — a compact photo printer.
Like the ES30, a lower-specification model which we also reviewed, the ES3 is a dye-sublimation printer that uses paper and ink combined in the one unit. With a bigger screen than its smaller companion, the 3.5-inch LCD takes up a fair amount of space on the front fascia, with buttons flanking either side. At the top are slots for PictBridge connections, featuring CompactFlash, SD and a host of other device slots, as well as connection to a computer via USB.
The scroll wheel, which also appears on the EOS digital SLR line and many of the IXUS and PowerShot compacts, sits to the right of the LCD screen and can be used to navigate through menus and select photos for printing. Fortunately, using it is quite intuitive and it has a fair amount of resistance so it doesn't flip too easily between options.
There's a number of additional inclusions on this model, like 1GB of internal memory to store photos. Optional extras, such as decorative prints using in-built graphics are also available. The ES3 also has the ability to add special effects such as pinhole and soft edges to photos, and print gold and silver prints.
As with any other Selphy you may be familiar with, the ES3 prints photos in a four-pass process: for cyan, magenta, yellow and finally a protective UV coat to help stop fading and smudging. This means that it's not the quickest at delivering a standard 4x6-inch photo print. Expect the ES3 to spit out a finished colour print in just under a minute (52 seconds according to Canon), and a black and white print (a two-pass process) in under 30 seconds.
One disadvantage you may find is that the Selphy is only capable of printing up to a maximum paper size (the "Large" format) of 3.5x4.7 inches. And although this printer looks like a handbag (by its very definition portable), the ES3 is tethered to mains power, which means there's no printing pictures on the fly alongside your digital camera unless you're plugged into an outlet. An optional battery pack would have been very welcome.
As we noted on the ES30, the ES3 delivers some very nice looking, lab quality prints. There's good tonality and crisp rendition of colours, and the Selphy did a good job of shadow and highlight areas.
Unfortunately, the Selphy only prints on "postcard"-sized paper.
The cost per print works out to be 55 cents for a colour print (based on an average retail price of AU$27.95 for a pack of 50 prints at the time of writing) and 91 cents per sheet for a black and white print. Other print sizes, such as credit card photos and stickers are available as well. We're not sure if the AU$100 premium over the ES30 is worth it, but for a dedicated photo printer, it's hard to find much that's wrong with the ES3.