Product Review: Sony SnapLab UP-CR20L Dye-Sub Printer

By Diane Berkenfeld

sony snaplab for reviewHaving the ability to print photographs on-site for your customers is convenient for them—but it is also a potential revenue source—as you can charge extra for this convenience.

I recently had the opportunity to test out one of Sony’s dye-sub printers and brought it along to an event I photographed. The event was a fundraiser for a charity I have been working with for the past two years. They requested on-site printing, and I was able to provide the solution, courtesy of Sony’s loan of a SnapLab UP-CR20L printer.

The SnapLab UP-CR20L is a workhorse dye-sub printer, able to print up to 6×8-inch prints. In addition to being used by event photographers for on-site printing, the UP-CR20L is also used as a kiosk/printer by photo labs and can be used for in-house printing for prints up to 6×8-inches.

Printer Specs:

  • The SnapLab UP-CR20L is 13 3/8-inches wide x 17 1/2-inches high x 17 7/8-inches deep, and weighs about 50 pounds.
  • The UP-CR20L runs on household 110 voltage. It features a 10.4-inch touch-screen LCD that is used to navigate through the menus.
  • The printer offers slots to accept CompactFlash (including MicroDrive), Secure Digital/MMC and miniSD, Memory Stick (including Pro and Duo format cards), and x-D Picture Card media; as well as a USB port and tray for CD-R/RW/DVD-R/RW disks. The SnapLab can also print directly from computers via USB 2.0. An optional Bluetooth adapter allows for printing directly from Bluetooth enabled devices. There is also an optional wireless adapter that allows the printer to receive images sent wirelessly from cameras that support it.
  • The printer supports JPG, TIFF and BMP files.
  • Printing resolution is 330 DPI.
  • Print sizes include wallets, 3.5×5, 4×6, 5×7, 6×8, index prints and multiple prints on one sheet of paper. Maximum print size is 6×8.
  • Printer modes include Full Mode, Quick Print Mode and Event Mode.
  • Simple image editing options are available including exposure correction, red-eye removal, printing color images in B&W or Sepia, and more.
  • While the printer is idle, promotional images can be displayed.
  • Text can be added to photographs, in a number of font choices, type sizes and colors.
  • Because the printer is used at retail, it can be set with print prices. Once a customer is ready to finalize their order, a password is needed for printing to begin. The printer can also be set to print without a password.
  • The number of prints that can be output from one paper roll/ribbon set depends upon the sizes of the prints being made. For example, you can get 350 6×8 prints out of one paper roll/ribbon. The speed of prints also depends upon the sizes being printed, but ranges between eight and 14.5 seconds each.

In-Use at an Event and as an In-House Printer

The printer is easy to set-up. The first time, I followed the directions, but after I’d done it once, I was able to quickly set-up the printer each time I moved it. The directions specify that paper and ribbon be removed before transporting the printer, so you’ll have to set it up for each event you take it to.

The event I brought the printer to was relatively small, so I was able to be the photographer and take care of the printing too. Depending upon the size of the job you’re shooting, you might want to bring an extra person to take care of the printing duties.

Once set up at the event, I took a couple of images and printed them out to make sure everything was in working order. After guests started arriving I began photographing groups of people. Once about a half-dozen or so images were taken, I swapped out CompactFlash cards and took the “used” card to the SnapLab and began printing. Since I’d originally decided to offer 5×7 prints only, I had brought a paper cutter with me to trim the prints. Each print was then placed in a print folder. On the back of the folders, I put stickers that had the event name, date and my website printed on it. I placed the completed photos in an area for folks to pick up their photos at their leisure.

Had the event been larger that it was, or if I was shooting at a quicker pace, I probably would have waited until I had more portraits shot before stopping to print.

Although the fundraiser had marketed the fact that a photographer would be there, some of the attendees were surprised to find out that images were being printed on-site. And, I can say they were all very pleased with the quality of the prints.

Because the SnapLab was on loan from Sony for review purposes, I didn’t have to worry about the cost of paper/ribbon. The host of the fundraiser and I decided not to charge an additional fee for the prints; but, there are a number of ways you can bring in additional revenue by offering on-site printing.

  1. Charge your client a set fee for the printing services.
  2. Charge your client a per print fee, for the number of prints made during an event.
  3. If your client is running a fundraiser or type of event that would sustain attendees willing to pay an additional fee, you can charge the attendees you photograph a per print fee.
  4. You could also throw in the printing costs for clients who spend above a certain amount of money, say for a wedding or Bar-Mitzvah, or other such event.

As I mentioned earlier, this review was done with a loaner printer, but if I were in the market for an on-site printer, I would find it hard not to consider purchasing the Sony SnapLab UP-CR20L.

Because the dye-sub prints are lab quality, I was comfortable offering them to clients, as I like the quality of dye-sub over inkjet. And because the SnapLab UP-CR20L is used at retail, I know it is a real workhorse unit, and meant to print constantly. It is also rugged, and I would not hesitate to transport it a lot. The printer offers a range of print sizes and offers the capability to load new borders and watermark artwork. So, in effect, you could personalize the printing for each client by creating specific artwork for those prints.

Another option, if you don’t do a lot of event photography/on-site printing, but do often print 4×6 up to 6×8 prints, is to use the UP-CR20L as an in-house small format printer. During the two weeks I spent reviewing the printer, I did a lot of printing, in the range of sizes offered by the printer; and in matte and glossy, which the printer can do with the same paper/ribbon. One of the print jobs I did was for a client who’s family reunion I recently photographed. I needed to print dozens of photos and they were all consistent, from the first of the group to the last.

The Sony SnapLab UP-CR20L is a great printer/kiosk and ideal for event photographers or those who do a lot of in-house small format printing. MSRP is $2,995.

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  1. Hello Diane, any idea what the cost per 6×4 works out at? Thanks.

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