A3 PRINTERS UNDER 500

 Pixma 9000

WHICH OF THESE DELIVERS THE GOODS?

When it comes to photo-quality printers, Epson and Canon are at the forefront with an ever-increasing portfolio of high-quality printers.

For the enthusiast and semiprofessional photographer who wants photo quality, an A3+ printer is the best option. Both Epson and Canon have an A3 photo-quality printer in their range that costs less than ?500-the Epson Stylus Photo 1500W and the Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mk II.

We tested both these printers side by side to see how suitable they are in terms of print quality, ease of use, and running costs. So let s see how they compare.

EPSON STYLUS PHOTO 1500W

A3 PRINTER WITH WIFI CONNECTIVITY

he Epson 1500W printer uses the Claria dye-based inks which indudes: Cyan, Magenta, Yeilow, Black, Light Magenta and Light Cyan. The printer offers WiFi connectivity as well as PictBridge and the ability to print labels on inkjet compatible CD/DVD disks.

A three-stage rear Photo Media support supports media sizes from A3 through to 6x4 inch. Prints are delivered to a front three-stage media tray. This tray feels flimsy when extended, but would require some very heavy-handed use to cause any real problems.

Some photographers may find it a limitation that the printer doesn t have a straight paper path feed, especially if they want to use heavier fine art media. There is a CD/DVD printing capability-Epson Print CD software application is included for designing the label.

The printer uses USB 2.0 and WiFi, which means you can share it with other users in your home/ office. A PictBridge port is located at the front of the printer for photographers who want to print directly from a PictBridge-compatible camera. When using PictBridge the print settings are set from the host camera, and functionality will vary depending on which camera model is being used.

The control buttons on this device are minimal: Power On/Off, WiFi, Paper Feed/Cancel and Ink buttons. There isn t an LCD screen or the facility to print directly from a memory card.

Moving on to assess the print quality, and dye inks pack in the punch with glossy media. Our test is a straight print using Epson A4 Premium Glossy Photo Paper and we let the printer manage the colours. Printing time was a respectable 1 minute 41 seconds, from take-up of media to final stop.

The colour gradients are very smooth from pure white paper base through to a solid colour. The smoothness is due to the 1,5pl drop size. A baby portrait that we tested is good but noticeably darker than the original file.

 Pixma 9000

The 1500W produced disappointing black and white prints-the shadow areas have a slight green cast, whereas the lighter greys have a magenta cast. We have seen much better from other Epson printers using the same Claria ink set. This printer doesn t have a set of dedicated grey inks, it mixes colours to produce grey tones. If the profile is not spot on then this could introduce a slight shift in colour.

The 1500W Claria ink cartridges are small especially for an A3+ printer. These 14ml cartridges are the same as used in other Epson A4 printers and are not going to yield too many A3 photos.

HIGHLIGHTS

PRINT FROM ANYWHERE WITH WI-FI CONNECTIVITY

SUPPORTS PRINTING FROM IOS AND ANDROID DEVICES VIA EPSON IPRINT APP

PICTBRIDGE SUPPORT

PRINT FROM 4 X 6IN (10X15CM), A6 POSTCARDS, 12X12IN ALBUM PAGES, PANORAMIC AND A3+

BORDERLESS PRINTING AND CD/ DVD PRINTING SUPPORTED

6-COLOUR, DYE-BASED CLARIA INK-SET FOR VIVID COLOURS AND HIGH-GLOSS PRINTS

PROS WiFi connectivity, ease of use, colour print quality

CONS No straight media path, b&w print quality, driver interface looking dated

CANON PIXMA PRO 9000 MK II

 Pixma 9000

A3 PRINTER WITH GOOD MONO

The Canon 9000 Mk II uses eight ChromaLife 100 inks which comprise: Red, Green, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Photo Magenta and Photo Cyan. It also offers PictBridge and USB 2.0 connectivity as well as CD/ DVD label printing.

This printer is a well-built solid unit that will be equally suited to a home or studio environment. Setting up the printer requires the user to install the print head cradle. This wasn t a problem and it s also reassuring to know that print heads are user replaceable if need be.

A two-stage rear paper tray folds neatly down into the printer to provide a useful area to keep boxes of paper. The Canon also has a front straight paper path for thicker fine art media or board up to 1,2mm. Sufficient clearance must be given at the rear to allow media to exit, two wheels at the rear are for easy printer repositioning when using the straight paper path.

The printer has ambient light correction, which means it can produce the correct colours for viewing prints under various lighting conditions. This can produce prints which may not match the on-screen version, but will look good under ambient lighting.

The 9000 Mk II produced vibrant colours using Canon Photo Paper Pro. The two extra colours Red & Green didn t seem to make a difference on our test prints. The reds are bordering towards dark orange and the greens have too much yellow. The baby portrait is lighter and warmer than the original but still pleasing to the eye.

The colour gradients are excellent with a subtle blend from white (paper base) to a solid colour. This is due to the 1.2 pl drop size and Canon s FINE print technology. The printing time for our full colour A4 page was 1 minute 56 seconds.

Although the printer doesn t have dedicated grey inks, it produced totally neutral black & white prints-the best quality mono prints I have seen from a printer without dedicated grey inks.

Finally, as with the Epson printer, the ink cartridges are far too small for an A3 printer, and with eight inks this may be costly to run.

HIGHLIGHTS

PRINT FROM 10X15CM UPTo A3+ & 14I WIDE

GLOSS, MATTE, FINE ART, CANVAS AND BOARD SUPPORT

 Pixma 9000

8 INKS FOR WIDE COLOUR GAMUT

16BITS PER CHANNEL

STRIKING MONOCHROME PRINTS

FINE PRINT QUALITY

AMBIENT LIGHT CORRECTION

PROS Excellent b&w printing, build quality, bundled software and drivers

CONS Small-capacity ink cartridges, colours can be oversaturated

CONCLUSION

Both Epson and Canon have a great deal of experience in producing high-quality photo printers and when it comes to colour print quality the Epson Stylus Photo 1500W doesn t disappoint. The Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mk II produced good colours and exceptional quality black and white prints.

Both printers come with Easy Photo printing software which gives you plenty of options and templates for your projects. Canon s software pips Epson s for usability, especially the Photo Print Pro with the advanced pattern print.

Both the Canon and Epson printer drivers are functional and have all the options that you are likely to need. However, having seen the same Epson interface over the years I can t help feeling that it s starting to look dated and is in need of an update.

If you re after a low-cost workhorse A3 photo printer then the 1500W will fit the bill nicely. The Canon Pixma 9000 Mk II doesn t have WiFi but it does produce superb prints especially on glossy media. If you want a more heavy-duty printer, then look at the Epson R2880 or R3000. For Canon consider the Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II or Pixma Pro-1.

Our clear winner in this head to head is the Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mk II.

Comments are closed.