If you need to print pages bigger than A4, the price of a suitable ink-jet printer climbs sharply. The economies of scale don’t apply in the same way on these machines and this Canon i9950, intended for semi-pro photographers or well-heeled home customers, comes in at well over three times the price of an equivalent A4 printer.
The design of the i9950 is all about curves. The wide carriage is housed in a semi-circular case, with complex paper feed and paper output trays to hold paper on the way in and out. The output tray is a four-element, telescopic assembly, which can be moved vertically upwards to enable a CD carrier to be positioned under the print head. The printer can cope with specially coated CD blanks and paper from 15 x 10cm, through A4 to A3+, which enables a full-bleed A3 page.
There are only two control buttons on the i9950, for power and paper feed, but there’s also a PictBridge socket, so you can use the printer with a compatible camera, without the need for a PC connection. At the back are USB 2.0 and Firewire sockets, though the Firewire connection can only be used with Canon’s Mac drivers, which is a shame.
The unique thing about this range of Canon printers is its eight-colour print technology. As well as photo-cyan and photo-magenta inks, common as add-ons to the basic four-colour CMYK set in photo printers, the i9950 introduces red and green inks, to increase the colour gamut (range of printable colours) in these two colour spaces.
All these inks are dye-based and all are printed in tiny 2pl drops from the permanent print head, which contains 6,144 separate nozzles. Each of the ink cartridges can be fitted and replaced independently, which should give you good economy, and they simply click into place in the head carrier. On typical print subjects, they’ll all be used at different rates, so separate inks are important.
The usual ‘install drivers and support software and plug in printer’ regime gets you up and running and there a good set of support applets supplied by Canon. These cover basic photo editing and label production, but you’re going to need something more expansive, like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, for serious tweaking prior to printing.