Canon’s PIXMA iP8500 Photo Printer; Top Of The Line Model In PIXMA Printer Offerings

The first Canon letter-size photo printer to employ the ChromaPLUS eight-color ink system, the iP8500 is also the top of the line model in the PIXMA series. Replacing the Color Bubble Jet Photo Printer line, the newer machines boast some extra features, as well as greater speed and quality, thanks to new technology described in our sidebar. The iP8500 should be of greatest interest to serious photo enthusiasts, because it uses a full eight of the ChromaPLUS inks.

The inkset includes additional red and green dyes, not available with the six-color printers, for deeper, richer tones. According to Canon, the red ink provides a 60 percent increase in the orange/red gamut. The green ink adds a 30 percent increase in the green gamut, ideal for a more accurate and deeper rendition of grass and foliage.

This 4800x2400dpi model produces very high resolution, but it's actually the smaller ink droplet size that produces superior results, especially in mid tones: smoother, more finely detailed prints with better color tonality. Because the micro-fine ink dots are virtually undetectable, the prints appear truly continuous in tone, resembling traditional photographs. While the older i950 already made prints of photographic quality, the iP8500 can produce even better results, noticeable especially when closely examining 8.5x11" prints.

Basic Print Making
Thanks to the user-friendly aspects of the iP8500, I was making my first print 15 minutes after opening the box. A simplified guide, plus automated software loading from the Canon CD-ROM disc, made the setup straightforward. Eight individual ink tanks are included and each slips into a shared print head that must be installed by the user; this part of the process is not intuitive, but the Canon diagram was helpful. After a print head alignment I was ready to start making prints from images in my PC.

When compared to earlier six-color Canon printers, the PIXMA iP8500 generates images with even richer tones, particularly in the red and green spectrum. Overall print quality is also superb, when printing from a high-resolution image file, using Canon Photo Paper Pro and the printer's best quality option. (Original image made with Nikon D70 with high color saturation setting; printed at High Quality level with Enable ICM setting from a 16MB file in Adobe RGB color space.)
Photos © 2005, Peter K. Burian, All Rights Reserved

In order to test the most basic features, I loaded some glossy Photo Paper Pro and specified the media type, Auto Sheet Feeder, High Quality, and Auto Color Adjustment. All other settings were made by the printer driver software with full automation. In about 60 seconds of nearly silent operation, the PIXMA iP8500 completed a very nice 8.5x11" color print in just over a minute while a 4x6" print took only 30 seconds. That's faster than average for a top-quality output; even higher speeds are possible at slightly lower quality levels.

Evaluation: Although this is a high-end photo printer that will satisfy imaging enthusiasts, the PIXMA iP8500 is surprisingly uncomplicated in its basic operation. I was pleasantly surprised with the overall look of the letter-size color glossies. They're bright, sharp, and richly colorful with great clarity and definition of fine detail. Some of the prints are a bit too light overall, but they're better than those I would expect from a conventional enlargement made by a high-volume photofinishing lab.

The printer driver software screens offer many user-selectable options that are easy to find and access. It's worth reading the Owners Manual however, to fully appreciate the purpose of each feature, particularly those intended for image optimization..


tom2's picture

There are a lot of machines that are created to be used in combination with a computer. One of the more commonly used machines for this purpose is the printer. The Canon PIXMA is a sleek styled unit that has a very contemporary look. Styled in the modern design of chrome and black this unit includes the black and color ink tanks used for printing.

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