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The ALPS MD-5000 is a photographic printer for the MAC or PC.

This is a review of what I deem to be MD-5000 weak points.

The MD-5000 is described at ALPS, and other places, so I won't go into all of the features.

Other reviews

Even so, here are a few other more professionally written reivews you might want to check out.


The ALPS MD-5000 has the following problems.

Color Reproduction

As far as color is concerned, what you see on your screen is not what you get on the paper/film.

In particular, the blues are especially off. If you have a nice blue sky on your screen, it will turn out teal or turquoise (not blue).

It is frustrating because it costs $1 to $2 to print a high resolution image.

There is an option to "Use Windows Color Matching" in the printer properties. The Help file and ALPS tech support said it should be selectable work but the option is grayed out. The option is located (Windows 95) at:

printer properties->Image Settings->Color Match->Use Windows Matching

After several frustrating attempts to enable "Use Windows Matching", I called ALPS tech support. He thought I should be able to do it, but couldn't figure it out either.

So, he referred the problem to one of the design engineers. This is very good technical support! However, when the engineer called me the next day, he had bad news. Supposedly, this feature only works in Windows 98. Not ever having tried it in Windows 98, I am skeptical.

ICM Files

(ICM stands for image color management, and it helps ensure that printer color outputs closely match what you see on your screen. Windows ICM is described at the Microsoft Web Site, here.)

The ALPS website does provide ICM files but instructions on their use are very poor.

After much research, I have deduced that I need the full version of Adobe PhotoShop 5.5 or greater to use the ALPS MD-5000 ".icm" files. (I think other printers, e.g., some Epson printers, support ICM directly in their driver--at least according to my reading of the Epson web site.)

PhotoShop 4.0 LE came bundled with my scanner but 4.0 LE does not support ICM files. The full-blown PhotoShop 5.5 will set you back about $500.00, and I am not confident ".icm" files will actually help color reproduction.

Tech Support

I have called ALPS tech support many times. The good part is their tech support is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and staffed with friendly specialists. ALso, they have an 800 number, and the waits are usually non-existent. But each time I try to solve this color matching problem they basically tell me that if the printer is printing it is not their fault if the colors don't match.

Dye Sublimation: Look mom, no dots.

The MD-5000 color reproduciton suffers even more while using dye-sublimation. This option makes the prints look very much like real photographs, as far as resolution goes.

So, unless you plan to drop another $500 on PhotoShop 5.5, I would avoid the dye-sublimation upgrade.

If you have a Mac, Birmy provides software for about $200.00 to do MD-5000 color matching. Contrary to Birmy's web marketing blurbs, they do not Support the MD-5000 on the PC, at least according to one of their sales people last week.

I also talked to Alps Tech support about Birmy, and according him, the technical relationship between Alps and Birmy has soured and it's unlikely Birmy will ever support the MD-5000 on the PC.

I have not used the Birmy software but it might help if you use have a Mac.

2400 DPI claim

The printer claims to be 2400 DPI (dots per inch). The most I can get out of it using PhotoShop 4.0 LE is 600 DPI. PhotoShop 5.5 might do better, but this is speculation.

D.P.I. only counts when dye-sublimation is disabled. Dye-sublimation uses continuous tones--not dots.

As far as Resolution goes, however, even 600 DPI looks great.

Device Driver settings don't work as advertised

The Driver's color matching does not work; indeed, if you experiment with some of the color matching and photo enhancment options in the printer properties, resulting prints look exactly the same with different settings.

I.e., the MD-5000 Driver (version 6.21) has bogus dialog buttons. After making several comparison prints while tweaking color settings, you discover that every print looks the same (bad), and you have wasted $10.00 or more on paper and ink.

The settings in question are:

Metalic Foils

The gold/silver foils are neat feature but very expensive. Worse, the printer will wind the cartridge even when it is not actively laying down foil.

For example, if you do a thin gold border around an image, and have a small amount of gold on the left side and a modicum of gold on the right, the printer will waste 8" of gold foil per pass.) At $12.00 a cartridge, this gets expensive fast.

Photographic Cartridges

Photographic cartridges (requires dye-sublimation upgrade) are expensive and difficult to find around town. They are available mail order, however, so stock up.

System used in this review

The following system was used in this review:
   Date:  Fri, 06 Aug 1999 14:38:41 -0700
   From:  "Angel Carrion"  | Block address
Subject:  Re:ICM


Yes, we do support our MD-5000 printer if you have problems with it, or need
assistance on how to install it. 
In respect to the icm control,  we have some icm profiles listed in our web site
( However, due to the variety and specific configurations of
the various appication programs available, ALPS regrets, we cannot support the
set up and use of these profiles.
For further assistance, please call your software application technical support.

Thank you for your inquiry. 

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