"From Light to Ink" featured the work of Canon Inspirers and contest winners, all printed using Canon's imagePROGRAF printers. The gallery show revolved around the discussion of printing photographs...
When I was asked to test and write a review for the Canon PIXMA iP8720 Wireless Inkjet Photo Printer, (compare prices) (review) this printer I thought sure, I have extensive experience with printers and I can put aside my loyalties. I honestly wasn’t expecting to be too impressed by it. You see, I have been using a certain brand since they first introduced an 8.5 × 11 inch, 3-color “photo” printer many, many years ago and I have been very happy with them.
Well I couldn’t be more wrong!
Quality and pricing
It’s not like Canon doesn’t have a history in the printing industry. They have been making large, hardworking business machines for decades (not to mention their history with photography in general). I’ve been shooting Canon for over thirty years and have never been disappointed with the quality of their gear. So it should come as no surprise that they have developed a top-quality, six color (more on this later) printer that is fast, efficient, quiet and handles paper up to thirteen inches wide. All this before I even talk about the very reasonable price of $300. (I have found it retailing for as low as $255).
Before we get started, let me give you a brief history of my printing experience. Long before the digital revolution began, I worked with some semi-automatic commercial printers and enlargers; lots of smelly darkroom chemistry. I am familiar with the constant monitoring and calibration needed to keep the paper and chemistry in line. I also had the privilege working closely with some of the first custom print shops of our latest revolution. So, my level of expectation for color and contrast is fairly high.
Straight out of the box, it is pretty nice. Certainly not an overwhelming footprint, considering it prints thirteen-inch wide paper. After downloading the appropriate driver, set-up was uneventful, just the way I like it. The one thing that I thought was a nice touch is that they wrote the driver software to support as far back as OS 10.6.8 for the Mac and Windows 7 for the PC. This was a pleasant surprise and will be welcomed by some small businesses, amateurs starting out and those of us who won’t fall into this new iteration of planned obsolescence. So, thank you Canon. It is also equipped to print wirelessly as well as supports iOS, Android, and Windows RT, for anyone who wants to print directly from their mobile devices.
When I first began testing, I picked out a beauty photograph of a bride I shot in one of my classes with delicate highlights and reasonable shadow detail and put it through the usual Photoshop retouching that I would give anyone. I chose the Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II and set up the printer for A3+ 13"x 19" 33 × 48cm (borderless). The options available to me in the printing software were just enough. The drop-down menu for Quality and Media gave me a choice of draft, normal or high quality print; of course I chose high. Color Options offered color correction sliders for RGB, intensity and contrast along with a brightness menu of light, and normal or dark that will help with any unusual color shift you might experience. However, if you want consistently good quality prints or are running a studio of any size, your monitors should be calibrated regularly. The borderless menu gives you an interesting option. As with all borderless printing, the image must be enlarged a bit to get to the edge of the paper. You have a slider that lets you minimize or maximize the amount of that enlarging factor. The final menu is straightforward and lets you create a margin that suits you.
For the first test print, I kept all the options in the default modes and I couldn’t be happier (that never happens). The skin tones were right on and the shadow areas read nicely and a borderless 13 × 19 inch enlargement only took four minutes. During the next couple of days, I pushed this printer hard and tried to get to its limits, but I don’t think it has any. I went back-and-forth between the glossy and semi-gloss papers, printing some of my stock images from straightforward landscape scenics to close-up flowers and insects. The printer, paper and ink combination performed equally well with all. So, then I thought I would definitely trip it up and printed some of my Corel Painter drawings. I could almost hear the printer snickering as it printed the image and the results looked just like my monitor. If you want to make black and white images from your color files, my suggestion is to make the conversion in your choice of software, then under the Quality and Media menu, always choose the “Grayscale Printing” button to eliminate any color cast. Once you select that button you enable the Tone slider under the Color Options menu. A full +50 of either cool or warm will give you a nice overall tone reminiscent of a soft selenium or sepia respectively.
Here are some of the features that work for me
The resolution—9600 × 2400. What’s not to love there?
Six ink tanks, one of which is a double size pigment-based black for crisp text, Grey, Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow Chromalife100+ inks
Extremely fine ink jet nozzle droplets
The Stapling Margin, an easy way to off-center your business presentations
Page Layout printing is handy for making small versions of your presentations or inexpensive (aka cheap) brochures. Just remember, using the 2up selection will turn your presentation to horizontal (landscape) format, so if you only have the normal vertical (portrait) binders, this will only be helpful if you choose the 4up option.
Auto shut off—If you are used to your printer always being on, then you will have to get use to this one shutting itself off after a period of non-use. This is ultimately a good thing for everyone’s energy bill and overall energy conservation.
Quiet mode—It is a bit quieter than the regular mode, but the normal printing mode is certainly quiet enough to set in motion and go to bed, assuming that you work at home
Built in wireless—everything is going mobile so this option will be helpful
There are plenty of other nice features that you may or may not use, but overall the single best thing about this printer is that you can plug it in and make really nice prints right out of the box. For the advanced photographer to the small business or studio, this would be a perfect printer to create beautiful prints up to 13 × 19 inches as well as all the business documents you may ever need.
If you are like me and haven’t taken a look at what is available on the market, I suggest you go take a look at this model from Canon and maybe while your out, see what else is out there.