It's been on the market for a while now, and we've taken it for a good spin - so how does the eyeball test place the hooked-on-cpp Kodak Easyshare 5300? Very nicely indeed.
I'll plant my flag in the sand and state I've had a 'thing' for HP printers. I've always liked their colour reproduction and how I could get grey point goodness, plus I've rarely had issues with banding. Meanwhile, my first encounter with this particular printer back at PMA in Melbourne didn't go too well.
Getting this into the office, it was a breeze to setup - far and away the easiest printhead and cartridge install I've encountered. An included calibration sheet was the first print out of the gate (it scans the sheet then prints it out) and on first run there was some scary smearing from black into yellow - things were looking grim. A first photo print saw noticeable banding issues in flat colour areas. Read on for the good news that was to follow. Good news, you say? But that sounded like a rotten start? Yes, and yes. But what quickly became apparent was those issues were the mark of a printhead just waking up to itself. From print number three and beyond, across 6x4 and 8x10, the results were very nice. Without putting any work into tweaking colour calibration, this printer delivered skin tones that looked good and a general tone to all images that rang true. Bright lighting, dark lighting, and high saturation images were tested.
Two problem areas I found were less than idea colour patterns when dithering subtle tones in bright white areas, and the darker images looked a little grainy.
These are issues a serious photographer might get upset with, and rightly so. But for a $299 home printer that works like a charm, is easily user serviced, and is entirely clear on how much you're spending per page to get your prints. I'm a big fan of clear and standard ink longevity indicators, and I think clear, standard cost per page should also hit every box in the business. With a cost between 30c and 20c per page, depending on how you buy your inks, I think this is a good unit to see hitting the market.
We must also credit how simple it is to switch between large general purpose printing and 6x4 photo printing. You keep both drawers loaded, and just push in the photo drawer when you want to use it. Push it, it clicks, and a little light comes on right beside to say that is where you are printing from. Too easy!