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Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II A3+ Printer Review

Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II A3+ Printer User Review - Brian Wadie takes, prints and sells photos for a living, print quality is key. So does the Canon deliver?

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Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II

The Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II is now an established machine so my review is from the point of view of a potential buyer, as a replacement for my existing HP B9180 rather than repeat the detailed technical reviews already published by others. Following close behind my review of the new Epson R3000 it allows me to make a brief comparison between these three high end A3+ pigment ink-jet printers, which will follow shortly.

Canon Pixma Pro 9500 MK 2 Features

The Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II uses 10 Lucia Pigment Inks, supplied in 14ml cartridges, which is designed to produce a wider range of colour tones and with two black inks + a grey Canon claim it will produce “Superb Monochrome Prints”. 16 bit printing is possible, printing from the original RAW files, which could provide a better colour tonal range in the finished print.

It handles a wide range of Canon’s own and other manufacturers’ papers including Fine Art Paper through the top paper feeder, and photo board to 1.2mm thickness via a Flat Paper Path. It is also able to print onto suitable DVDs and CDs.

Connection to the computer is only possible via a USB2 but the inclusion of a “PictBridge” port on the front of the machine permits printing direct from the camera (I do wonder if anyone would use such a “High End” printer in this way though).

There are LCD lights on each cartridge station to show if the cartridge is full (constant light) or nearing depletion, (flashing light). When the ink is depleted the printer refuses to print and a message appears on the printer driver screen telling the user to replace the relevant cartridge / cartridges - but I would prefer the inclusion of a front panel LCD to provide this information in a more easily accessible form.

The print heads are replaceable by the user, should this be required but, as with the other printers in this category the ink waste container is not.

Canon Pixma Pro 9500 MK 2 Handling

The Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II gives the impression of being a solid, no frills printer which is well built and, when closed up has the same “Grey & Black Brick” appearance as the Epson R3000.

Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II

My review machine came with ink cartridges installed so I cannot comment on the ease of set-up but there is nothing to suggest it would be anything other than straight forward.

Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II Inks

Having located and downloaded the correct drivers and software from the Canon website installation on my Win 7 64 bit PC was simple and quick and the printer was up and running without any problems with blocked nozzles or paper feed. Indeed, throughout the test this machine performed faultlessly and my impression is that it is a solid “Workhorse” which I would have full confidence in using on a regular basis.

Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II

Paper handling is either via the top loading tray or straight through paper path:

Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II

Canon Pixma Pro 9500 MK 2 Performance

In this review period I was able to evaluate performance with the following papers:

Canon Fine Art Paper “Photo Rag”
Canon Pro Platinum gloss paper
Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy 2
Canon Photo Paper Plus Satin
Canon Matte Photo paper
I also performed a B&W print test with Innova IFA 11 (their equivalent to 315gsm photo rag).

Test prints were made using the same images as those I used when evaluating the Epson R3000 but unfortunately I will not be able to show direct comparisons of the prints I produced. This is because my old scanner died and has been replaced by a new & different model which produces scans of a markedly different colour quality. I will however record my visual observations comparing the output.

I printed the test prints using the Canon supplied profiles letting the software manage colour. The results were generally very acceptable but on close inspection there was variation in the quality, depending on the subject being printed so I will present my observations in a way that reflects this. I didn’t have the time or material to evaluate the use of custom profiles / colour adjustment using the supplied Canon software but have no reason to expect that this wouldn’t reduce or remove completely any differences I saw.

One point of interest / slight aggravation was that when printing on Photo Rag and using the Photo Rag setting in the printer driver it required a 35mm border (refusing to print unless this was set). Whilst this may be acceptable with A3+ prints it does make printing on A4 paper a bit pointless. I did try printing using the Matte paper settings which allowed printing without the border but the image quality was not that good, as you will see below.

Skin tone & detail:

Skin tone Photo Matt Plus 2 Gloss Photorag
Original Photo Matt Plus 2 Gloss Photorag
PT101 Satin Photorag - Crop  
PT101 Satin Photorag - Crop  

Photo Rag gave the best colour and tonal match with the original image followed by Matte, Platinum Pro & Glossy then Satin.

Black & White:

Black and White Marina Matt Photo Plus Photorag  Photorag Matt Setting
B&W Original Matt Photo Plus Photorag Photorag Matt Setting
PT101 Satin  Innova Glossy Photo Plus
PT101 Satin Innova IFA11 Photo 2 Gloss

Photo Rag and Innova IFA11 (very similar to Photo Rag) gave the best quality prints with strong blacks and a wide range of grey tones. This was then closely followed by the Pro Platinum paper then the Satin Matte and Glossy. I rated the prints on Matte and Photo Rag printed with Matte settings as very poor with the prints lacking strong blacks and “bite”.

Strong Colour and Contrast:

Saturated and Contrasty Matt Gloss
Original Matt Gloss
PT101 Satin Photorag
PT101 Satin Photorag

The best match was with Pro Platinum closely followed by Photo Rag and Glossy, each of these providing prints with rich colours and strong tonal range. Satin was very slightly less successful with the colours looking a little softer and I judged the Matte print to be unacceptable with washed out colours and lack of impact.

Subtle Colours & Tones:

Subtle Colour Matt
Original Matt Gloss 2
PT101 Satin Photorag
PT101 Satin Photorag

I was unable to discriminate between these prints each paper providing what to my eye was a good match between the digital image and print. However, my wife who is a trained artist tells me that there were small but perceptible differences with the Glossy paper just being the best with slightly richer and more natural colours.

Gloss Differential was visible on the Glossy, Pro Platinum and Satin papers but was not obtrusive and was only really apparent when the prints were viewed at an oblique angle to the light. (For some reason it was most apparent on the prints of the subtle colour / tone image).

Using it as an office printer with high quality 90gsm inkjet paper presented no problems.

Canon Pixma Pro 9500 MK 2 Verdict

This is a well established, solid and reliable printer capable of producing prints of a very high quality which I would have no hesitation in exhibiting for sale in my usual outlets. A number of my friends who are full time professional photographers use this as their primary printer and confirm this opinion. It is simple to use and I never once had a feeling that it may give me a problem. The lack of Ethernet connection is, for me, the only reason I would hesitate to consider this as a future replacement for my existing HP B9180.
The Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mark II is a well established, solid and reliable printer capable of producing prints of a very high quality.

Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II Pros:

This printer produces high quality images on a wide range of different papers
It is quiet and refined in operation
Totally trouble free it has good build quality and exudes reliability
All the cartridges have dedicated print heads so there is no matt to gloss cartridge flushing when changing from matte to gloss papers

Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II Cons:

No Ethernet connection
Small cartridges means that they deplete quickly, particularly the Grey cartridge
Lack of front LCD panel (whilst not essential it surprised me how much I missed the information supplied by this on both the Epson R3000 and my HP B9180)


Canon Pixma Pro 9500 MK 2 Specification:

Price £495
Contact www.canon.co.uk
Size 660 x 355 x 193mm
Weight Approx. 15.2kg
In the box Canon PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II Printer, USB Cable, Power Cord, Quick Start Guide, 10 Individual Ink Tanks, Set-up software and user's manual CD-ROM, EWS Booklet, Canon UK Warranty Card
Max document size A3+
Ink system/type InkJet 10-ink with minimum 3 pl Micro-Nozzles & FINE print head
Quantity of inks 10
Monitor None
Print speed - photo High-quality A3+ Photo: 7 minutes 55s
Resolution Up to 4800¹ x 2400 dpi
Pictbridge Yes
Roll media No
CD/DVD printing Yes
Connectivity Hi-Speed USB 2.0
Software Windows: Easy-PhotoPrint Pro, Easy-PhotoPrint EX, CD-LabelPrint, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Mac: Easy-PhotoPrint Pro, Easy-PhotoPrint EX, CD-LabelPrint, Adobe Photoshop Elements

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I've had 2 A4 pixma printers, the latest one the 980. I've never been entirely happy with the colours from this, though they are OK. They seem to exaggerate the yellows slightly.
Also the B&W settings produced prints, on no matter what paper, had a faint greenish tinge.... So I for one would prefer to test this printer before use, and that wouldn't be practical.
I'm currently using an EPson 1400 with a Fotospeed CIS system which works very well. But for both, to get B&W I find the best way is to print using B&W setting onto PLAIN paper, set to fine/best quality, but using gloss or satin or any photo paper. My prints are then pretty good, but a little contrasty and grainy (which I like) and you can't print borderless.

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