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Canon courts photobook market

Wednesday, 21 March 2012
By Print 21 Online Article

Canon has made its first foray into the commercial photo and photobook printing market with the launch of its DreamLabo 5000 digital inkjet press this week.

While the new press has been strategically designed for commercial photo outlets, it is also suited to web-to-print and cloud-based photobook applications, with the unit combining high-definition digital inkjet resolution and double-sided auto cutting for offline binding.

In fact, the first DreamLab 5000 to be sold in the Australian market was snapped up by Victorian WtP photobook business, Pictureworks Group. Not only does the company’s online shop,, offer one-off photobook production for customers directly, it also handles larger bulk orders for other printers in the marketplace.

Pictureworks Group CEO, Andrew Smith, says the new press will be able to open his business up to a new product offering in the Australian market, the option of high-definition photobooks.

“We like to think of this as the birth of the high-definition photobook,” said Smith at the press’s launch in Sydney. “Our customers will soon be able to choose between standard definition photobooks and high definition photobooks.”

He believes the premium placed on the high definition capabilities of the unit will provide an alternative to cost cutting and “racing to the bottom” of the market on price to remain competitive.

“As a business our goal is not to be the cheapest, we’re seeking to create an end-to-end process for our customers with a beautiful output,” he said.

Certainly, this inkjet press, with its one-point definition has the edge over traditional chemistry-based photo processing, with print resolution comparable to digital offset. However, at a print rate of 40 sheets per minute for 4” by 6” photos at 2400 dpi by 1200 dpi, and a print head lifecycle of around 3000 hours by power-run time, the unit is designed for the commercial printer or for one-off and small-run production businesses.

At the DreamLab’s heart are seven super-wide, 305mm, inkjet print heads – one for each of the seven inks the unit uses: CMYK, plus photo cyan, photo magenta, and grey. The ink is dye-based rather than pigment, but with a non-fade lifetime of around 300 years. Unlike traditional photo machines, there is no chemistry involved.

Canon Australia’s national manager of Applied Technologies, Will Parker (pictured), believes the unit will be able to satisfy some of the production print market. He said the DreamLab provides “high quality printing for pictures and text, for on-demand jobs. It meets the requirements for production work.”

Canon’s managing director of Oceania, Taz Nakamasu, who spoke at the launch, said the unit was strategically designed to populate a unique space in the market.

“This is one of the most strategic new products Canon has introduced in recent years,” he said. “The development of the DreamLabo 5000 represents a unique space. The [Dream Labo 5000] ties our camera technology with our print technology, for channel partners to open up new markets.”

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