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One of the features of the PIXMA MP980 is its different set of inks. Rather than supplementing the normal CMYK quartet with light cyan and light magenta, Canon has added grey, which can also be thought of as ‘light black'. The main use for this is in reproducing black and white photo prints. Canon has decided that the basic four colours are good enough for colour photos and is instead improving the range of greyscales it can reproduce.
Looking at the results we obtained, this looks like a good move, particularly for the photo enthusiast and possibly even the semi-professional. Colour prints are well up to Canon's high standards, with smooth colour transits across areas of sky and plenty of detail in even deep shadows. Foreground detail is also good and colour rendition is bright, but still natural.
A black-and-white image shows improvements in the light greys, as you'd expect, and the grey is a pretty neutral, showing little colour cast. Canon still includes a double capacity, pigmented ink tank for printing text and using its separate black print head which, with its deep swathe, produces reasonable speed.
Although Canon claims a top speed of 11ppm for both black and colour prints in normal mode, we couldn't achieve more than 6.38ppm printing black and 3.37ppm in colour. Introducing duplex print, as before with Canon all-in-one, kills the speed to 2.29ppm, taking 8:44 to print our 20 page text document.
In contrast, printing photos is pretty quick, with second and subsequent prints in a multi-print job taking around 20 seconds for a good quality, 15 x 10 cm print. However, the first photo, and for that matter the first page of any document, only starts after around 25 seconds 'thinking' time.
The only consumables are the six ink tanks and at the best prices we could find, a black page will cost 3.44p, with a colour one coming in at 6.54p. The black page cost is relatively high, but the colour one, probably more relevant in a machine aimed primarily at photographers, is good. The cartridges are widely available and you may be able to find them at better prices than we did.
This is another excellent machine from Canon, with the extra facilities of improved black and white print and negative and transparency scanning. Media handling is slightly less versatile and duplex prints are as slow as ever, but the extra flexibility of wireless networking is compensation.