Thursday, December 2, 2010

User review: Canon Pixma PRO9000 Mark II inkjet printer

What's a photographer to do when a client orders a 4"x6" from each of 600 files. Especially when a machine-print from either Costco,  Vistek or Henrys just won't do. So I suggested inkjet prints... more expensive than machine prints but guaranteed to look like the files as viewed on the computer screen. I was given the go-ahead shortly thereafter.

I can regurgitate the printer specifications and features but it would be more efficient for you to go to the Canon website as well as the various other websites with their reviews. Here is my layman's user review showing the cost per print as well as the image quality.

The printer cost $299 at Henrys, down from the regular price of $499. I also got the inks from Henrys at $19.95 ($26 at Future Shop). Epson Premium 4"x6" Photo Paper was $19 at Henrys ($25 at Staples). As luck would have it (for ease-of-calculation purposes), I printed exactly 600 - 4"x6" and used exactly 10 cartridges: 2-Yellows, 2-Magentas, 2-Photo Magentas, 2-Blacks, 1-Cyan, 1-Photo Cyan. The Red and Green cartridges were barely touched.

In summary, a 4x6 print on this Canon printer cost $0.533 in materials (ink and paper only). A Costco print would have cost $0.20.

The Canon Pixma PRO9000Mk2 is a dye-based printer, with the archival print-life surpassing by a wide margin the life of chromogenic (traditional photo) prints; approx. 80 years vs 22 years. Pigment-based printers (from Epson) are rated for 100+ years. Of course, the actual life of a print depends on several factors such as ink-and-paper combination, and atmospheric and storage conditions.

Image quality, based on default settings, is amazing! Colours tend to be more saturated than Epson (pigment-based) prints and the blacks aren't as nuanced as, for example, Epson 3800 prints. After all, this Canon has 1 Black cartridge while the Epson 3800 has 3 Blacks (Photo Black, Light Black, Light Light Black).

Speaking of inks, dye-based inks are water soluble (as opposed to the discrete globules of pigment-based inks). It stands to reason that nozzle heads are less prone to clogging, particularly after long idle periods. One notable feature on this Canon is that it has a user-removable print head. Since the print head is the one of the first items to malfunction, this is a welcome feature!

I haven't done side-by-side speed tests but the Canon is slightly faster. As far as costs are concerned, an equivalent Epson printer costs almost twice as much. The inks also cost significantly more.

I'm very happy with this printer (and so was the client). This one job alone paid for the printer...and then some.

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