Dye Sublimation Printing: High Quality Color at a reasonable Price.

Alps has come out with a number of quality products at a fair price. Unfortunately, Alps printers are overwhelmed by the massive public relations and advertising campaign of Epson. The reports on the Epson model 800 are so glowing it is hard to get a word in edgewise for Alps. Before you got lulled into buying an Epson, be sure to read the warning about severe guaranteed fading of ink jet color.

Dye Sub printersNonetheless, we believe that Alps deserves equal air time. The Alps MD-2300 sounds like a wonderful machine, capable of producing continuous tone images in near-photographic quality. The next printer up in quality is a Kodak dye-sub 8600 series which costs $8000 and up. The Alps costs less than 10% of that, namely $749. Now Alps has a new model, the 1300, and it is even more cost effective, about $500.

Most dye sub printers really hog desktop real estate. Our digital imaging technology center is already overfilled with equipment, so it was a relief to find out that the Alps had such a reasonable footprint.

In 1999 new models of Alps printers are available, the 5000. Of course today (2004) Alps printers have long been out of business; only the ribbons are still available. Today everyone uses Canon, Epson, or HP inkjet.

Wow, a dye sub print from a printer that only costs $500! Now here is a cost effective way to achieve dye sub quality without spending more than is necessary.

Alps color inkjet printerWhile I was a Visiting Professor in Japan at the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, I had an opportunity to use the Kodak dye sub as well as the Seiko dye sub and thermal wax machines. The Epson 1520 dye sub we recently acquired has produced streaks and banding, a constant problem with color printers in general. Of course all printers print in a row, so some banding is natural. The banding, however, may be avoided by selecting different backgrounds or subjects. In other words, some pictures will have more banding than others. Or on some prints the impression by the narrow ribbons may be visible.

If someone handed me a batch of dye sub prints, from dye sub printers costing $8,000, I would have a hard time telling the difference between the Alps dye sub and the Kodak dye sub. Of course the main difference is that the Alps costs about $500, substantially less than $8,000! The difference is that the Kodak prints with an entire sheet of inked material the full size of the finished photography (namely letter size or tabloid sized depending on which model). The Alps can be more economical because it uses a narrow band of ink.

Iconography is the study of meaning in art. Mayan iconography is the study of the meaning of the paintings and sculpture. Here, the feline spots, are these jaguar spots or margay spots. From the size, shape, and arrangement they are specifically jaguar and not margay or ocelot spots.

he picture here is the Alps dye-sub. The color and the quality of the image was appreciably superior to non-dye sub Dye-sub Alps color printermode. This is sort of the difference between other dual mode printers, such as dye sub-thermal wax transfer printers, like the Seiko. The dye sub is always superior. Alps rates their printer at 600 dpi; virtually all other dye sub printers which cost horrendously more are rated at 300 dpi.

Comparison of dual color modes of the ALPS 1300 and more pictures.

It helps immensely if you select the correct paper. We review paper for ink jet and paper for laser printers in various places on our several web sites devoted to desktop publishing.


Last updated Jan. 28, 2004.
Previously updated May 25, 1998, review by Nicholasellmuth, updated July 9, 1999.