Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Thermal Printing Fun!

Here's the camera itself. This one was a gift from Gregory Short, who acquired it from AliExpress. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of similar thermal-printing cameras online at Amazon and other places. This one has both a front- and back-facing camera!

The rear screen with menu:

The thing has a "speaker" (technically accurate, though of horrid sound quality) but no headphone jack, and supports "playback" of MP3 files, if you load them into the micro-SD card. You can record photos without the SD card installed, but need it to record video. It also has three games, including Tetris. There are dozens of party modes with the camera, including this one that makes me look like I'm ready for a vacation:

Note the blown highlights in the selfie image. This problem plagues both the camera image and printing, hence my preference for the Dot Matrix printing mode.

There's a more pragmatic reason why you might want one of these: the cost of printing is so cheap you'd need some math skillz to figure out the per-image cost. The camera comes with three rolls of thermal paper, and replacements I've seen online cost around $16 for ten rolls, each of which can print 60 images, which amounts to under 3 cents per photo! Sure, it's impermanent thermal paper (though I've had thermal printings last for years when kept at room temperature or colder, and out of the light), but there's so much fun to be had, especially if you post the images online, where they'll live prolly longer than the prints themselves.

It may have been excessive to dedicate what ended up being a 19 minute video to this essentially junk camera, though I did cut lots of other footage from the final edit, but toys like this, built for kids with pure play in mind, seem to exude an ability to pull into its vortex of creativity even the most jaded adult. That is perhaps what pure creativity is all about: finding that inner child hidden deep within, and letting him or her out to play one more time.

Thermal typecast via Canon Typestar 220.
Edit to add:
Link to Ted Munk's blog:
Link to Gregory Short's blog:


Blogger Munk said...

Yuh, I've had 4 solid days with this silly thing and still keep finding fun ways to use it! (:

10:07 PM  
Blogger Mike A. said...

The dot matrix mode reminds me of the photos in the local newspaper I used to work at a million years ago. I think these would work well in a zine or handbill reminiscent of those times.

5:56 AM  
Anonymous Gregory Short said...

You and Ted are turning this "junk" camera into a JEWEL! I think the beauty of such a limited technology is it forces us to look at photography, and the world itself, in a new way. I am thrilled you are enjoying the camera.

By the way, I bought a 10-pack of rolls on Amazon (completely different from the one you purchased), and the quality just wasn't there. The paper was much thinner, and the print quality was reduced dramatically. So then I ordered a 20-pack of rolls on AliExpress, and they appear to be the same or similar quality as the ones that came with the camera. The only difference I can see is that they don't seem to tear as easily--or as cleanly. Makes me wonder if the grain is going a different way!

Anyway, thanks for the video and the post!

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Cheap Assignments Help said...

You're actually pursuing some extremely intriguing directions right now!

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2:47 PM  

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