Anycubic Photon vs Anycubic Photon S In-Depth Review
Anycubic Photon Basics
The Photon and Photon S are incredibly similar machines. They share many of the same specs, so expect some repeats in this section. To start, the Anycubic Photon features a 4.5”L x 2.5”W x 6.1”H build volume for 405nm resins. Most parts, including the exterior, are made from metal and all the blue parts are anodized aluminum. With the Photon you get nice, sturdy construction and reliable components.
The Photon uses a 2K LCD masking screen, which is standard among SLA printers in this price point and produces models with exceptional detail down to 20 microns. Notably, the Photon’s firmware has been updated to include an anti-aliasing function for even smoother prints. Check out our Anycubic Photon review for more details.
Anycubic Photon S Basics
Similarly to the Photon, the Anycubic Photon S starts with a 4.5”W x 2.5”D x 6.4”H build volume. Use 405nm resins to print with excellent accuracy via a 2K LCD screen. Printing is a bit faster with the Photon S due to an upgraded LED array beneath the screen. This makes for slightly quicker exposure times for each layer.
Like the original Photon, the Photon S offers simple offline USB connectivity. Thankfully, the Photon S’s interface and touchscreen have been updated since the Photon, making for a smoother and more reliable experience. Read our Anycubic Photon S review for more information.
Anycubic Photon vs Anycubic Photon S Similarities: Design and Operation
At their core, these two SLA printers are extremely similar. They’re both roughly the same size and share very similar designs, although the Photon S is made from hard plastic as opposed to the Photon’s aluminum casing. Both feature just one form of offline connectivity, that being by USB. Both printers also share very similar print quality, mostly due to the fact that both printers use a 2K resolution masking screen. Anti-aliasing comes with both printers as well, which helps models look even smoother as if printed at a higher resolution.
Luckily, both the Photon and Photon S are easy to set up and easy to use, though later we’ll talk about some of the “quality of life” differences between the two. For now, know that both printers are simple to set up, take up the same amount of space on your desk, and use the same limited connectivity options. You’ll also get very similar results when printing with either machine.
Anycubic Photon vs Anycubic Photon S Differences: Quality of Life Improvements
Okay, so what actually accounts for the $200 difference in price between the Photon and the Photon S? Basically, Anycubic took feedback from the community after their Photon launch and implemented many of the changes customers wanted to see. These changes include more stability on the Photon S’s Z-axis thanks to dual Z-rods instead of the Photon’s solo rod. That means less variation through the Z axis, resulting in even fewer artifacts and less visible layering during a print.
The touchscreen received an overhaul, too. The Photon S’s touchscreen is bigger, more responsive, and has a more intuitive and easy-to-use interface. Since the Photon’s lackluster touchscreen was an issue for many customers, we’re happy to see this change in the Photon S.
“Under the hood”, the Photon S also provides a slightly more powerful light which provides about 10W more power. That makes for slightly quicker print times. Overall, the Photon S is an upgrade to the original Photon. The only way that the Photon exceeds the Photon S is by using aluminum casing instead of plastic. Since this change shows no effect on print quality, it’s easy to overlook.
Anycubic Photon vs Anycubic Photon S Verdict
So, we’ve determined that the Photon S is superior to the original Photon. It features a better interface, faster printing, and a more stable Z-axis. The question then becomes, is it worth the extra money? From this perspective, the Photon S is difficult to justify. Without any tremendous improvements like a higher resolution masking screen, larger print volume, or significant speed increase, the Photon S is just a bit better than the Photon. What’s more, the models printed from either machine look near identical.
At the end of the day, we recommend the Anycubic Photon to most users unless you have the Photon S’s extra cost burning a hole in your pocket. You’ll save a lot and can buy extra resins, filters, gloves, and other accessories instead.