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The Pixma iP 8500 prints colour photos quickly. A 5 x 3-inch photo took just 23 seconds, and mixed business graphics with text was also quick – our single A4 page completed in 24 seconds.
However, since the printer has an internal duplexer, we ran our 20 page, duplex text print and were surprised when the iP 8500 took nearly 13.5 minutes to complete the job. It appeared to stop after virtually every side to prime its black ink cartridge, even though the cartridge was newly installed and we’d set the driver to use only black ink.
So the print speed is variable, but what you really want to know about is the print quality, and it has to be said it's pretty amazing. Canon claims to have added the red and green inks to enliven a range of colours and photo magenta and photo cyan give more accurate reproduction of light shades. Across a whole range of different photo types, the Pixma iP8500 excels at producing prints that are very close to photographic quality in tone and clarity.
Even though the printer has a permanent head, which shouldn’t need to be replaced during the life of the printer, and the individual ink cartridges should result in lower running costs, the Canon machine still isn’t cheap to run. The cheapest price we could find for an ink cartridge was £7.61 and genuine Canon Photo Paper Pro came out at just over 60p per A4 sheet.
Very unusually, Canon’s quoted page count for each cartridge, 210 pages at five per cent cover, was greatly exceeded in our tests. We had our first ink-out warning at 388 pages and only saw a drop in print quality after 467 pages, well over double Canon’s modest claim.
Using this print figure gives a cost per 20 per cent cover, full-colour page (slightly smaller than a 10cm x 15cm print) of 60.7p. In calculating a 20 per cent costing, we’ve assumed that using photo or red and green inks means correspondingly less CMYK inks, and since they’re all the same price, it won’t matter what the mix is. Canon could dramatically reduce the overall print cost if it made its photo paper available at prices similar to HP or Epson. Epson’s can be had for around 40p per A4 sheet and we can buy HP glossy photo paper for under 20p.
The Pixma iP 8500 is intended for printing digital photographs and at this it is supremely good. Whether printing on A4, 10 x 15 or on CDs, photos come out superbly natural and detailed. It’s also quick when printing photos, but don’t duplex plain pages if you’re in a rush. Running costs are relatively high, so you need to balance that against the output quality.