The joy of photo printers (and free software)
For some time now, I've wanted to pick up a compact photo
to take with me on assignment, with the blessings of those I
am taking photographs for. A little under two weeks ago, I
did, purchasing a Canon
It's a sweet little printer, using the old technique of
dye-sublimation to create true continuious tone prints,
glorified halftoning that even the best inkjet printers use.
do the prints come out looking indistinguishable from what a
would produce -- they're water- and smudge-proof.
I did my homework; apparently the majority of Canon's
were supprted under Linux via the gutenprint
not the ES1 specifically. No big deal, it should just work.
the absence of direct Linux printing, I could print from the
directly or shove a memory card into the printer. All in
should Just Work.
My first test involved taking a few converted-from-RAW
out of my archives, copying them to a CF card, and trying to
I got a rather crass Incompatible JPEG Format error
of the printer. Interestingly my camera also errored out on
images, complaining that The image could not be
After some heavy digging it turns out the printer makes
heavy use of the
EXIF data, and if it's not present (or in many cases, simply
the printer gives up. WTF? Why can't Canon document what
in a JPEG rather than just displaying a useless error
As I shoot RAW images, not being able to convert, crop,
print a random image via a CF card seriously sucked. So,
I'll try Plan
B: Print the images from the camera via the universal
Apparently my Nikon D200 camera can't print RAW images.
if the camera could only print JPEGs, the NEFs have a
JPEG image in the file that would print just fine. Sigh.
Onto Plan C:
Print directly from my laptop.
Apparently the SELPHY ES1 is incompatible with Canon's
To some extent I expected this, as it uses a different
but that's mostly because the printer's physical engine is
differently -- and it's also why I bought this model over
Thanks to this incompatibility, I can't print from Linux
Plan D: Print from Windows. Surely that will work, right?
The printer worked just fine from Windows... but the
prints were all
quite dark. Too dark. After some digging, I found the
panel and knocked the brightness up a few notches.. and
perfect (yellow-ish color balance, mostly) the images were
acceptable. But this would mean I'd need to boot into
Windows to print,
which really sucks as the rest of my RAW workflow is
Fortunately, the printer is USB-based, which means that
thanks to a
wonderful tool called Snoopy2, it's trivial to get a full
dump of the
entire communications chain between the printer and its
with this dump, I could figure out the protocol and hack
After an initial learning curve, I succeeded. I was able
a binary dump indistinguishable from what Windows generated
course, for the image data). So, cackling with glee, I
dump this out to the printer.
The device write() apparently blocked on the very first
data. After much experimentation, I discovered that the
of data needed to be broken apart and written separately. The
initialization sequence and the Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan
image data all
needed to have pauses between them (the printer sends a
when it's ready) or the printer's USB interface locks up
Sigh. So I split apart my dump file into its logical
dump them separately to the printer.
Not only did it print, but the brightness and color
great. Yes, the images look much better than what their
driver manages to put out.
Ah, I love Free Software. When it doesn't JustWork(tm),
you can fix
it so it does.
All that remains is getting my patch
integrated into upstream gutenprint, and figuring out a
intellently spool the printer data in a CUPS-compatible
Oh, this was the first image I printed:
I took it last weekend at Paradise
Beach. I have no idea who this guy is, but he was out
on a windy but otherwise beautiful day.
Oh, as a footnote -- about a month before I ordered my
announced its successor models, the ES2 and ES20. Same
basic specs, but
when untethered the printers had fancier (and faster)
feature sets. I
needed a printer for next weekend (November 16-18) and
nobody had a
useful ETA on when they'd show up, so I bought the ES1 at a
On the 9th, four days after I received my ES1, everyone
them in stock. Sigh.
Syndicated 2007-11-11 14:38:31 from Solomon Peachy