Our daughter gave us a Kodak Instant Dock Printer PD460 photo printer for Christmas. This compact printer makes 4×6-inch prints on special photo paper, using a dye-sublimation process.

Most consumer inkjet printers promise the ability to print photographs. I own an HP Envy printer that is allegedly capable of it, but the darn thing just can’t keep 4×6 printer paper straight through the printing process. It also it uses a ton of ultra-expensive ink only to yield photos of so-so quality.

I’ve long been curious whether a dedicated photo printer would be a better choice, especially compared to sending my images out to be printed. This Kodak printer let me satisfy my curiosity.

The printer retails for about $140, and includes a starter print cartridge and ten sheets of paper. An extra $10 buys this printer in a bundle with two more cartridges and 80 sheets of paper. Additional 80-print packs retail for $35, which works out to 44 cents a print.

Pretty much any big-box or drug-store photo department beats that price. Walmart charges 12 cents for a 4×6 print. The major US pharmacy chains charge a little less than 40 cents per print, but you can usually find discount codes. But there’s the hassle cost of driving to the store to pick up the order, or the wait to have it shipped. Yet those services can also print enlargements, which the PD460 can’t. My HP Envy printer ostensibly prints enlargements up to 8×10 inches, as well.

A printer like the PD460 can make sense when you want just a snapshot-sized print or two right now. You have to be able to afford the printer in the first place, and the up-front costs of the printing supplies. If that’s not a problem for you, it’s convenient and fun to run off a print when you want one.

While you can use the PD460 to print a large batch of images, it is arguably less effort and unarguably more cost effective to send them out.

The PD460 does surprisingly pleasing work. Colors are true to the digital image and sharpness is good. The paper’s finish has a gloss to it but is not highly reflective of light, which makes prints look clean. The paper stock is flexible but not flimsy.

You print directly from your phone via Bluetooth using the Kodak Photo Printer app. There’s no way to print from your desktop computer, so clearly Kodak means for this printer to preserve memories you capture with your phone camera. The app shows you thumbnails of your photos, the most recent ones first. Tap the one you want to print. Tap the Print button to print it.

Select the image to print…
…and print it from this screen.

You can also manipulate the photo. Tap the square-with-a-slash icon in the upper left of the photo to add a border. Tap the Edit icon in the upper right to crop the photo; adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, and sharpness; apply filters; add colorful frames; and crate photo collages. The collage option also lets you create ID photos, such as for a passport. You can adjust brightness right on the photo itself with the slider, as well, and convert the image to black and white.

After you tap Print, the printer makes a heck of racket, whirring and grinding while it sends the paper through four times. The cartridge contains sheets of dye, yellow, magenta, and cyan, followed by a sheet of a laminating material. Each pass lays down one of these four sheets in turn. After a minute or so you have your print, and it is dry to the touch. Break off the perforated ends of the paper and you’re done.

I printed a bunch of images from my phone and then photographed them on my dining table with my Canon PowerShot S95. It’s always tricky to represent a print — do you scan it? do you photograph it? In the end, you’re making an image of an image and something will be lost in translation. Take my word for it that these are good enough representations of these prints. Here’s my wife and four of our kids in downtown South Bend.

The Kodak Instant Dock Printer PD460 makes 4×6 prints, but phones make images in the 4:3 ratio. The PD460 crops the left and right sides off the photo. To print the entire photo, pinch the photo in the app to shrink it. The print will have a top and bottom white border; if that bothers you, cut it off with a scissors. I pinched imprecisely so the border is uneven, but this gives you the idea.

I was eager to print some of my film photos using the PD460. You’d think it would print any digital file on your phone, but I had mixed success when I tried. I went to my Flickr app and downloaded a bunch of film photos I wanted to print. The PD460 prints lab-scanned images just fine.

It doesn’t usually successfully print images I scanned at home, though. Sometimes the app crashes when I tap the Print button and sometimes the printer spits out a blank print. Next I uploaded a few home scans to iCloud and waited for them to appear on my phone. More of those images printed, but I still got some blanks. I don’t get it; isn’t a JPEG a JPEG?

I learned the hard way to not reuse a piece of photo paper that came out blank. It is laminated, and dye won’t stick to it. Then the dye sheets get all jammed up in the printer. I was able to clean the sheets out of the printer with tweezers, but after that when I tried to print the app gave me an error, “Photo Paper Unrecognition.” Long story short, the manufacturer exchanged my printer for a new one.

I tried printing images from various film stocks, especially those known for bold and highly saturated color seeing if I could find the printer’s limits. Here’s a print from a scan of Kodak Ektachrome E100G.

Here’s a print of a scan of Fujifilm Velvia 50. The printer didn’t flinch.

I also found that the printer was capable of rendering good detail, as in this brick wall.

This print of a scan of Fujifilm NPZ 800 didn’t render the detail in the brick wall, however. The intense color blew out the detail.

On this photo, color from the intense blue sky is smeared onto the bright yellow traffic sign. This is also from NPZ 800.

By the way, I tried printing a collage through the app. It works, but it’s not very exciting.

I also tried a black and white conversion. All it does is desaturate the photo, which doesn’t yield a realistic tonal palette.

Here are a couple more prints, just because I’m delighted with how they turned out.

The PD460 is not manufactured by Kodak, but is rather a Kodak-licensed product produced by a company called Prinics, Inc, based in Suwon, South Korea. That’s who answered my support email and eventually agreed to exchange my printer.

In the end, the Kodak Instant Dock Printer PD460 is a fun gadget that easily and quickly makes snapshot prints of comparable quality to your local store’s photo department. It’s not without its limitations, and it may not be the right solution for printing your home film scans. But it does good work — better than some prints I’ve gotten from the drug store.

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29 responses to “Kodak Instant Dock Printer PD460”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Interesting and comprehensive review! You know, I basically stopped doing street photography, when my local Walgreens stopped processing film, and more importantly, stopped making 3.5 x 5 inch prints. I don’t know how their prints look now, but none of these small print machines can seem to match what I was getting 12 years ago when I was just taking a roll of film out of my Olympus Stylis Epic, dropping it off and getting back what I want; without spending any amount of time fixing stuff on a computer screen. Does this really output prints the same quality as my Walgreens photo department 12 years ago?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This little printer’s prints are surprisingly good. I’ve gotten worse quality from CVS lately. But I don’t know if they compare to what CVS/Walgreens could do 10+ years ago. They did better work in the past, for sure.

  2. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    Very nice review. At the office, we had 8×10 dye sublimation printers 20 years ago. The supplies were very expensive back then.

    In your collage, I saw some photos of 126 Verichrome Pan cartridges. Is an Instamatic review coming soon?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Well you certainly have an eagle eye! Two weeks from today in this space I will indeed review an Instamatic! I hadn’t shot 126 film since probably 1982 so it felt like coming home.

  3. Paul Russell Avatar

    Canon produced several versions of their “Selphy” printer that used dye-sublimation to produce 4×6 prints. For several years pre-pandemic, our local Lions Club offered free Pictures With Santa printed on one of these printers. We used a digital camera and 2 microSD cards. We could print photos from one card while continuing to take photos on the other card.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s cool. Wonder how much more productive you’d’ve been if you could have beamed the photos to the printer wirelessly!

      1. Mike Avatar

        I used the Selphy for our church Christmas party pictures. I linked the camera wirelessly to my laptop and the Selphy connected with USB to the laptop for a snap and print family pictures. The photostock is nice, but once you break off the perferated edges, it’s not quite 4×6. It’s a good printer for a one off print. But for larger runs, Walgreens is most more cost effective.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          That’s the same conclusion I reached with this Kodak printer: great for one-off prints, but for larger runs, send the files to Walgreens.

        2. Paul Russell Avatar
          Paul Russell

          When our Lions Club started the Pictures With Santa project about 20 years ago, we used a Polaroid or similar instant camera on loan from a camera shop. The club paid for the film packs and we gave the photos to the families for free. At some point, use of the instant camera was no longer an option. We wanted to continue the project and we wanted to continue giving the photos to the families within minutes. We did not have a location where they could pick up the photos days later and we did not want to incur the additional expense of mailing the photos, since we were already giving them away for free. One of our club members had a digital camera and Selphy printer, and offered the use of them for this project. The print quality was better than the instant camera photos, so it was definitely good enough for photos that we continued to give away for free. A small unexpected bonus was that kids – and even some adults – were fascinated by the way the photos were produced by the Selphy printer.

          The pandemic put a stop to the Pictures With Santa project and it has not been restarted, at least not yet.

          1. Jim Grey Avatar

            Nice. Looks like these printers can be great tools for situations like these!

  4. Kurt Ingham Avatar

    We used something similar in the early days of digital- when not everyone had a computer, and a photo wasn’t quite ‘real’ unless it was printed

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I remember those days! Now I don’t want all of the prints. Just the best images!

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        Interesting comment…my sister, who is an artist, illustrator, and art school educator, has always taken street snaps, sent in the film, and just threw the film and prints she didn’t want away, put her selects in scrap books! She really bought into point-and-shoot digital: she can bring her SD card to Walgreens, pick what she wants to print, and when she gets them back, she clears the memory card. Much less waste! I, on the other hand, tossed the prints I didn’t want, but saved all the film.I now have over 300 rolls of color negative film from my street snaps, in sleeves, and I need contact prints of all of it!

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Clearly, your sister thinks the print is the photograph! My mom was the same way. I had to pretty much order her to stop throwing away her negatives.

  5. Marc Avatar

    The reviews (Amazon) I’ve read indicate you don’t get near the number of prints from the refills. Was that your experience? How much adjusting did you do preprint? Do you have experience with a tiny Zink printer?

    I’m considering one of those long camera usages (but not a year) like “The Leica as a Teacher” or the digital version where he wants you to print X b&w so was looking at these small printers.

    Great review Jim!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m confused by that, because the ink and paper that come with the printer only gives you 10 prints, while the refills give you something like 80 each. Or maybe it’s 40. But whatever, Waymore than the pack that came with the printer. I did next to no adjusting of the images before I sent them to the printer for the film shots that I printed, I just sent the post-photoshopped version that I made long ago whenever I got the images back from the lab.

  6. P Avatar

    Regarding the printer crashing when you were trying to print your own scans, JPEGs are indeed not just JPEGs, unfortunately. The color information (or lack thereof) can be encoded in different ways, and they can have a variety of different tags, many of which can confuse some software. JPEG is really just a container format. JIF, JFIF, EXIF, and so on are what really dictate the makeup of the file. It’s confusing. Normally, color JPEGs will be standard sRGB, but they can employ other color spaces as well, such as Adobe RGB. The color space used is usually embedded via an ICC profile. If it’s not, it’s typically assumed to be sRGB. Did you have any issue printing your color scans or just B&W scans? If you had issues with color scans, my bet is your scans have an embedded ICC profile, that it’s Adobe RGB (since you use Lightroom and Photoshop), and that the printer’s software doesn’t know how to handle it. Try converting them to sRGB and see if they’ll print. B&W JPEGs can be encoded as three-channel color images (8-bpc, 24-bits total [bpp]), but they can also be encoded as single-channel 8-bit grayscale images (luminance only, no chroma components). Do you know what yours are? My best guess is your scans are encoded in a way the printer doesn’t recognize/understand, or they’re utilizing an embedded color space the printer can’t deal with. More than likely the printer is designed for standard sRGB JPEGs only. The owners manual may or may not tell you these things. Modern manuals are typically a farce. Anyway, I hope that helps you figure out the issue.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      oooooOOOOOOOOOOooooo now that’s useful information. I can try re-saving one of my scans making sure it is using sRGB and see if it prints. Thank you!

      I used to write manuals for a living, and one reason I got out is because I could see that nobody wanted to ship them with equipment anymore.

      1. P Avatar

        Sounds good. Let me know if you’re successful.

        Yeah, it’s really sad how pathetic—if not altogether non-existent—owner’s manuals are today. I miss the days when every electrical/electronic device and piece of software came with a 100+ page book, teaching you everything you’d ever need to know about your device (and then some). Specification sheets also used to actually be useful, exhaustively detailing what was and wasn’t supported. Today you’re lucky if the spec sheet for a device tells you at what voltage it runs. It’s a joke.

        1. Andy Umbo Avatar
          Andy Umbo

          Ditto, the lack of manuals is a pox on us, especially because it seems like there is no great intelligence spent trying to make similar tech items function the same way. My parents expected technology to run like a refrigerator, they could not understand why two similar tech items would not share a common concept of function. I had no answer for them other than “branding”. I can shuffle through the Mac OS on a new computer of theirs, but the PC OS seems to change radically in each permutation, and seems to pander to computer geeks that want something new every time there is an upgrade and opsys change…Bah!

          I don’t need a smart phone, and always use a flip phone (with a user serviceable battery change BTW, for about eight bucks), and yet I was forced to get a new flip phone when my service provider got bought out, and compared to my old flip phone, my new one works entirely differently, and two years down the road, I still can’t set it to function the same way, and it may not even function the same way, and it never had a manual. I don’t know why tech people want me to join a religion to use their products, or put any amount of time into learning how to use what is supposed to be a basic phone. Tech geeks haven’t gotten over the idea that the general public doesn’t want to turn their tech items into a part time job and something we want to spend any time at all trying to gain some sort of tribe mentality in being involved with.

          1. Jim Grey Avatar

            It is actually 100% about not wanting to pay technical writers. They are a cost center, not a profit center.

  7. J P Avatar

    When we bought our first digital camera, there was a promotion that got us a small dedicated photo printer. It did a decent job but was slow and expensive and lower quality than you could get from CVS or Sam’s. I concluded that it was mostly a gimmick with limited utility and I quit using it. Yours seems more useful.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It is fairly useful. The prints are of good quality. But if I didn’t have it already, now that I know what it can do, I’m not sure I’d buy it.

  8. Janice Avatar

    The Kodak Snapshot photo paper (4×6) doesn’t fit this printer. Please advise what paper to order that will work with this instant dock printer?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There is a special paper for this printer.

      KODAK Dock Plus & Dock Photo Printer Cartridge PHC-80 – Cartridge Refill & Photo Paper- 80 Pack https://a.co/d/bYSi5Vp

  9. Janice Foster Avatar
    Janice Foster

    Thank you Jim Grey!

  10. Ginny L. Avatar
    Ginny L.

    I’m trying so hard to find out when/how often you need to change the cartridge? I just used up the initial 10 sheets of paper. Can I just load more paper or do I need to change the cartridge as well? In other words, are the cartridges made to last only as long as the individual paper packs?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Ginny, cartridges are always sold with paper and vice versa. The cartridge supports only the number of sheets in the pack and that’s it. So when you run out of paper, your cartridge is also empty.

      1. Ginny L. Avatar
        Ginny L.

        Thank you for your reply! I was fairly certain that was the case, and I felt silly asking, but I never came across anything that actually stated it! Very happy I came across your post about this printer. I gained other helpful info through other people’s comments as well as yours!
        Many thanks!

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