on November 10, 2011
I bought this printer 2-1/2 years ago, and it has performed flawlessly since the day I unboxed it. Of course, I bought it for a specific reason: to print fine art quality, pigment ink photographs. If you are a photographer looking for a printer that that can accept a variety of papers and deliver beautiful permanent prints (up to 13x19) every single time for a reasonable price, then I can highly recommend the Pro 9500 Mk II. I have used it for numerous professional jobs and it has never let me down.
Who should NOT buy this printer?
- Don't buy this if you want an everyday printer to print out email, Google maps, web pages, etc. The LUCIA inks that this printer uses are designed to produce beautiful photographs that last 100 years. It's a complete waste of money to use them for everyday trivial prints. Buy a cheap inkjet for $100 if that's what you want to do.
- Don't buy this printer and attempt to feed it cheap 3rd party inks. The whole reason this printer exists is to delivery highly stable LUCIA inks to fine photography papers. Cheap inks defeat the purpose of owning this printer, and won't give the same results. The LUCIA inks for this printer run about $120 for a set. I go through several sets a year, so the expendables for this printer are not insignificant.
- If you want to print 500 photos in ten minutes, please go to a photo printing service. This printer is designed to produce spectacularly beautiful high resolution fine art prints one print at a time. It takes 5-10 mins to produce a single 13x19 photo, but it's worth the wait. It's not designed for super high volume speedy printing.
- Don't buy this printer if you are not willing to devote the time to master ICC color profiles and professional level photo applications such as Lightroom, Photoshop, or Aperture. Sure the 9500 can print from any photo program, but if you want to realize the highest quality fine art prints that you can produce, then you'll have to use professional tools. This means having a proper workflow, a calibrated monitor, and the willingness to learn how to get better at producing fine art prints.
- Don't buy this printer if you plan to purchase cheap paper in bulk at Staples. You are wasting your time and money. Buy quality fine art papers and this printer will reward you every time. My favorite papers to use with the 9500 are:
Ilford Gold Fibre Silk - one of the best all around Baryta coated papers. Absolutely beautiful
Canson Infinity Baryta - another great Baryta paper
Hahnemühle fine art papers such as Museum Etching, William Turner, and Bamboo - wonderful heavy matte papers
Red River Polar Pearl Metallic - a stunning paper that makes photos punchier and dramatic
Ilford Premium Photo Glossy - a resin coated paper that I use for high gloss photos or for printing proof sheets
-Don't buy this printer if you plan to leave it unused for six months at a time. You are just asking for a head clog. I sometimes go a month without using it, and have never had a problem, but I wouldn't push it much longer than that. If you don't need to print anything, then run a test print through every three or four weeks to keep the inks flowing and the head from clogging with dried ink. You don't want a stubborn head clog when you are under deadline.
How to get the most out of this printer.
- Download and use the specific ICC color profiles for each paper for which you intend to print. Most fine art paper companies provide downloadable profiles for this printer.
- Calibrate your monitor.
- Work in a high gamut colorspace such as ProRGB or Adobe RGB. If you are shooting and working in sRGB, you simply won't realize the full potential of this printer.
- Know how to use your photo application software specifically for printing. Look into getting pro-level software if you don't have it. These applications will allow the computer to do the color management instead of the printer, and you will get much finer control. Plus the editing capabilities of these programs will allow you to make very fine adjustments and tweaks.
- By using the paper manufacturers ICC profiles, you won't be limited to the wide borders that this printer imposes on prints done with the built in profiles
- Make sure you have up-to-date drivers.
- Keep the printer doors closed up when you are not using it to keep the dust out.
- Alway keep an spare set of inks handy so that you can replace a cartridge that runs out in the middle of a print. If you replace the ink promptly, the 9500 will continue the print without a hiccup.
- If you want to print on heavyweight (or thick) papers, learn to use the front feed feature. This printer has a fantastic straight paper path for thick or heavyweight media.
If you do all of these things, I hope you will find this printer as enjoyable as I have over the last two and half years.
UPDATE: It's December 2013 and I have had this printer for almost 5 years. It's still going strong with no problems to report, and it still makes absolutely beautiful prints.
on January 31, 2011
I'd say this printer is currently the best in it's class for print quality. Not by a lot, but it's noticeable if you look. I don't think you'd go wrong with a competing Epson, or the Canon 9000. The Canon is built a little better, and the  prints are the best you can get this side of a larger printer (the Image ProGraphs are occasionally better, but not by much).
Addressing some of the "issues":
This is a professional/prosumer photo printer. Use decent paper, use profiles, and expect it to use a lot of ink. That's what it does. That's what they all do. 'Art' paper delivers fabulous results. If you're using Costco glossy paper, this isn't the printer for you. Don't use cheapo refill cartridges either-you're wasting your time and money if you do. If you're not [mostly] printing photos, this isn't the printer for you. Remember, the printer is just an ink delivery device. It's the ink and paper that you're looking at in the end-and that's what you're paying for in the end as well. ie: good paper and good ink are worthwhile.
Ink tanks are all similar size in this printer size range. Sort of imposed by the size of the printer. Higher capacity would probably add six or eight inches to the width of the printer. They have to fit somewhere. If you print a lot of larger format prints, it's probably worthwhile to move up to a 17" or 24" printer (which are much bigger, but also have larger ink tanks. Canon IPF 5100 is a fabulous printer).
Print speed isn't very fast. It's precise and slow, and it prints really well. Faster prints would require reduction in quality or bigger printheads (and a bigger printer).
Print quality is NOT dull. It's vibrant if you use compatible papers with ICC profiles, and print accordingly.
Yes, there's a 35mm border imposed on Fine Art Photo Rag. My understanding is that it's there so that the print heads and paper rollers can guarantee flatness and optimum head speed and things like that when it's laying down ink. You can get satisfactory results on it without the border if you profile it using a different paper setting. It's thick stuff though, so you need to make sure that the head height is appropriate as well.
The Canon 9000 is dye ink, the 9500 pigment ink. The 9500 has gray and matte black ink. The pigment ink is more archival. Dye inks do pretty well these days though. The 9000 is a lot cheaper. I figure because it has smaller heads, fewer ink tanks, and because it doesn't need to add in a 'mixer' for the ink (the 9500 shakes the ink to keep the pigment in suspension). The Epson purges ink like mad. One of the main reasons I moved to the Canon. The 9500 makes better prints too.
For most people's prints that I've seen, a $99 printer is all they need. Four to six colors seem to do it. Those are made of plastic, and are disposable after a couple of years. They do great prints for what they are. If you want mechanical and image quality, the 9500 is great printer. A few dollars a print in the end. Maybe 50-60 8x10's to break even over pro lab print costs?
If it sounds like you're the sort of person who's willing to pay for this quality, the 9500 mkII is certainly worth checking out. If you're not, try looking at the Canon ip4820 or the Epson Artisan-they're both nice enough printers, and they're a lot cheaper (and only letter size prints). Epson R3000, 2880, or 1900 are all worth a look if the Canon doesn't thrill you. (3000 has bigger ink tanks). Or, move up to a better printer. Canon IPF printers have a 12 color system, and they print really well. The HP Z3200 is a nice 24" printer too. Epson's print well, but do seem to waste a lot of ink in cleaning. Really, almost any photo printer made these days does a pretty good job. I find the Canon worthwhile to own, and I'm very happy with what it prints.
on November 25, 2009
I have used the Epson R1800 (and the smaller R800) for several years and when it wasn't clogged it printed beautiful prints. The heads finally just clogged up and I was forced to get another printer. I have used other Canon products for decades so biased toward their products. I thought the Canon would be better on the clogging, and I haven't had it long enough to judge that yet. So far I am somewhat disappointed with the printer. There are two limitations so far that are signficant for my use.
I'm more interested in matte papers and fine art papers, and really don't print glossy. Getting used to this printer has been somewhat frustrating. I had been using Epson Presentation Matte and getting really nice prints from a relatively inexpensive paper with good dark blacks and good shadow detail. Duplicating that with Canon has been a challenge. I haven't been able to determine yet if it's the profiles or the printer. My next step is to try custom profiles. I have tried several brands (Ilford, Moab, Harmon) and their suppled profiles and for some of them the blues have a purple cast, and the blacks and shadow detail are muddy. The Canon fine art paper is very nice and matches well with color, good deep blacks and shadow detail(see limitation in next paragraph). So I have yet to find an acceptable photo matte combination.
This printer has a maddening limiation for fine art papers. Canon has decide to disable the ability to print on either end of the paper (requires a 35mm margin on each of the long ends, about 1.3 inches) so you can't even print an 8x10 out of an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper. When I called Canon I got a run around and no sensible explanation except the engineers decided to disable the function of the printer and no workarounds. So while the image quality of the Canon fine art rag is very good, it is very expensive to use because of this limitation (which requires you to use a much large piece of paper to get the size print you expect because of all the wasted paper, 13x19 piece of paper to get an 8x10 ). I have since found other reviews mentioning this limitation, and I sure wish I had seen it before purchasing. I don't know if you can fool it with custom profiles.
In general it has required far more work to try to find paper combinations than I ever experienced with Epson where the profiles and papers just seemed to work. I'm still hopeful that I can find the right combination with some customer profiles, but right now the jury is out.
on July 3, 2009
I have been looking at large photo printers for a while, and I heard that the 9500 mark II was due out in May. So, I decided to save my penies. I have had this printer for about 2 weeks or so. I cannot complaine at all!!
I did a decent amount of research on this product before I decided to drop the cash for it. Unfortunatly, reviews are few and far between. Everything I heard and saw about the printer was from Canon press releases or the Web site. Not exactly a non-biased pool of information. But non the less, I took the plunge and got it. I have not regreated it one bit!
It offers large 13x19 borderless printing, amazing color reproduction, and it can even adjust the color for the type of light the photo will be viewed under. Canon also offers a full range of fantastic photo paper. I enjoy the look and feel of the Canon Photo Rag. This paper though, does not support boarderless printing. Make sure you read the print on the paper. Ink does not seem to fly out of the tanks. I have printed about 20 or so prints, and I have only had to replace the matte black tank (I do a lot of night shooting and had a bit of a learning curve to understand my new printer. It might last longer depending on your style and experience).
Since this is my first real photo printer, I had a bit of learning to do when I first plugged it in. However, the included "electronic manuel" had all the information that I needed. I was soon printing fantastic large color and B&W prints.
The construction is solid. It is not a flimsy bit of plastic that will fall apart! Opperation is quiet and fast. I have not exactly timed how long it takes to print, but it is done with a 13x19 print in just a few min. It does have a large footprint. So be ready to have some desk space! Some papers are too thick to use the top loader, ie museum etching, so you will have to front feed them. The prints will come out the back of the printer. So depending on what you print on, you will need to have the back of your printer open and free of clutter.
Over all, this printer is amazing! I know Canon has gotten some heat over its performance on glossy paper. I do not normaly print on glossy paper and have not yet done so with this printer. But on the Photo Rag Paper the prints are amazing. And the print is the important thing. Photos are ment to be seen, and this printer does an amazing job creating a print. I would definatly recomend this printer!!
on January 18, 2010
My last *5!* printers were all Epson printers. I always purchased the top of the line models. I always felt they had the best overall image quality, which was of paramount importance to me. The last two I had had amazing image quality, but I got so tired of constantly wasting ink to clean the print heads so I could get a decent print. Even still, I would print 5 or 6 pages, and then it would clog again, but printing 20 pages unattended, I'd come back to 15 ruined prints, on expensive paper no less. I wasted so much money on ink and paper for that darn Epson printer, I probably could've bought 2 of these Canon printers. Well, I've made the switch now, and after one month, I have to say I'm so happy I did. The color gamut of the Canon is obviously much better, and even prints on crappy paper look better than the Epson ever did. I don't suspect my printer will work error free over its life, but after the first month, its been flawless. The one thing I'm missing though is after some 15 years with Epson printers, i knew all the setting I could use to get a certain look, now I'm back at square one, but even with defaults, I get pretty amazing color fidelity. I've always trusted Canon to make my cameras (since my original EOS film camera in college), now they are winning me over to their printers as well. Thanks!
(edit 7-25-11) I'm editing this review (going from 5 stars to 4) as I've had this printer now for a couple years and I have some additional perspective I can add. I still love the quality of this printer, and after 2+ years of operation I can say I have never even once had to run a head cleaning utility to remove streaks in my prints. Still has amazing color gamut and resolution. My *only* gripe with this printer (and its a big one) is the ink usage. It's a 10 color printer, and I can pretty much ensure now that every time I turn it on, it will need a cartridge replacement. At $120 for a full set of cartridges, that's a pretty hefty sum to keep backups around. I always do, but its gets tiresome. It also feels like it "replenishes" ALL the ink cartridges when replacing even just one. I have instances where I have one cartridge I replace and then during the "replenishing" stage, another cartridge mysteriously runs out of ink. I only use the printer a few times a month, so it seems like I'm not getting the maximum usage from the ink because of that. I purchased a much lower cost ink-jet now for day to day printing, but even that one, also a Canon, sucks up the ink like its free, though at a MUCH reduced cost compared to this one. So Canon, if you are listening, please ease up on the ink usage, or I might have to look elsewhere for my next model.
on October 15, 2009
I am pretty much a Canon user. All three of my cameras are Canons and I have a PIXMA MP500 (All-in-one) printer. I was just about to by a high end Epson when Canon came out with this PRO 9500MkII printer. It is one of their first pigment ink printers and the 13" by 19" size was what I wanted. I have been very satisfied with this purchase. Its footprint is not too big and it closes up tightly when not in use. It use of ink seems very reasonable and I am very pleased with the prints. I calibrate my monitor every two weeks and this printer gives me the colors see on the monitor (I have not calibrated the printer.) Most of my printing is for fine art photography and at a 11" by 14" inch size. One of the first serious prints I made was accepted in a juried show and looked great when compared to the others in the show.
I am very pleased with this printer and would highly recommend it.
on September 11, 2010
I was convinced to switch to Nikon digital SLRs back in 2001 when the new commercial line of Fuji Frontier printers finally showed that perfect graduated skin tones is now possible.
Fast forward several generations of cameras later, I got myself a small Canon Pixma iP4300 dye printer for instant print gratification. I was blown away at what a cheap $130 printer could do and I stopped going to the commercial wet/digital labs.
Having improved my photography skills, specifically on landscapes, I decided it was time to move up to a larger printer fit for prints that I can proudly hang on someones wall. I debated long and hard between the dye-base 9000 and the pigment-based 9500 because of my concern about losing punchier colors in exchange for better B+W prints, which at that point I wasn't doing enough of.
In the end, that option for B+W tipped me over and after calibrating and printing on various Canon media such as super gloss, Platinum Pro II, satin, Premium Matte, and Photo Rag - I can only say that this printer makes nothing but gorgeous prints! The colors of my images from pre-visualization to my DSLR LCD to the desktop LCD and finally to print is spot on! I mean really spot on - tender pink of flowers to Oriental complexion to sunset hues to B+W seascapes all come to life as 13x17 prints.
I now have a stash of media and frames ready to go anytime and the delight and amazement I see on people's faces when they see their prints is priceless!
on October 17, 2010
I have not printed many photos with the printer as of yet. What I have printer so far look great. The printer is much slower than the HP Photosmart I'm replacing. Because of the size of the printer I could not put it on the computer desk and had to put on a table on the other side of the room. I needed to add a USB hub between the computer and printer to make the distance. Sure wish the printer had wireless and/or Ethernet like the HP printers.
If your buying expecting to get a rebate; good luck. Do a Google search and you will find many complaints. The company handling the rebate sent me a letter with very little detail stating "... rebate can not be honored. UPC label is missing. UPC is invalid." I sent the Printer and EOS 7D UPCs per the pictures in the instructions. The printer has multiple UPCs. I sent the one that matched the picture on the rebate form. Some have said they want the UPC that has the serial number. I have 30 days to resolve or I'm out $500. Never again!!!
on December 10, 2009
As a former owner of the Canon i9100 13x19 6 color process printer, I have to say that Canon has outdone themselves with this printer! The quality of the prints is AMAZING! My only complaint is that the printer is SLOOOOW. It took over an hour to print seven 13x19 pics. I am also VERY impressed with the black and white results. Unlike my Canon i9100, this printer doesn't seem to "tint" the grayscale printing with ANY color ink at all. With my old 9100, the black and white's looked a little pinkish in color. On this printer, my Black and Whites are gorgeous. Ansel Adams would be proud!
on January 24, 2010
With the purchase of a Canon 50D, I felt I was pushing beyond the limits of my HP printer, so I bit the bullet and got the Canon. To be honest, on 3x5 and 4x6, the detail was pretty much the same, but the color rendering was much better on the Canon. On larger picture sizes, there is no competition, the Canon produces amazing quality prints.
If you have a Mac and are running Snow Leopard, installation is a bit of a pain, since the included install disks do not work, so you have to pull down the latest drivers from the Canon website, but perhaps they have fixed this by now.