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Old May 3, 2004, 5:45 PM   #1
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I purchased a Canon i9900 from eCost and received it on Saturday. This is my first Canon printer, but my interest in photographic printing goes back over 30 years when I had a wet darkroom and prepared both 16X20 Ektachrome and Cibachrome prints form 35mm and 2 1/4 color negatives and transparencies. My first inkjet photo printer was the Epson Stylus Photo EX and about 5 years ago I purchased an Epson 1270 which I have been using ever since. Both of these Epson printers have given excellent service, and I feel that the Epson 1270 produces outstanding photo output, although very very slowly.

I have now prepared a number of prints with my Canon i9900 in sizes ranging from 4X 6 in. to 13 X 19 in. All have been borderless. The prints have been made from two different sources. The larger prints were prepared from 4.000 dpi scans of 35 mm and 2 1/4 color negatives using my new Nikon 9000ED multi-format scanner and processed in Photoshop CS at 360 dpi for printing on the Canon i9900. Prints up to 11 X 17 in. were made on the i9900 from Canon RAW images taken with my Canon EOS 10D again processed for printing in Photoshop CS.

I have found a lot to like about the Canon i9900 and not much to dislike. As indicated by my background above, all I can compare the i9900 to is my experience with the Epson 1270 as a standard. Here are the major differences that I see between the two printers: (1) The i9900 is incredibly fast. My 360 dpi 13X19 in. color print was finished in 2 min 35 sec. on the i9900 (highest quality, auto color, borderless and Canon Photo Paper Pro settings). The same print on the Epson 1270 required approximately 30 minutes, and, of course, was not borderless since the 1270 cannot do borderless printing. (2) The Canon i9900 is the quietest printer that I have ever used -- photo printer or not. It is whisper quiet in operation, which is especially remarkable consdiering its speed. (3) Canon's printer interface is far more straightforward and easy to use than the Epson interface. While I have learned how to use the Epson interface over several years and am now comfortable with all of its settings, I far prefer the Canon interface. Canon does not offer fewer features in its printer interface, but rather organzies them and labels them much better than Epson.

Overall, I would rate the photo quality output of the Epson 1270 and the Canon i9900 as roughly comparable. There are differences, but they are subtle. Greens and reds on the i9900 are slightly more vivid (i.e. saturated) with the i9900 than with the 1270, and this is without turning on "Vivid" in the Canon printer settings. The output of the i9900 is slightly smoother and less grainy than that of the 1270. This is especially noticeable in flesh tones. I would stress, however, that in my opinion both the 1270 and the i9900 produce outstanding photo quality prints!

A couple of additional observations. The Auto Color settings on the Canon i9900 are superb, and appear to produce as perfect a match of print to what is on my Sony monitor as I could ever desire. I can see no reason for a separate color mangement program. I see absolutley no artifacts of any kind on any of the prints that I have made with the i9900. Banding is not to be seen even in clear blue skies with large areas of even blue. Note that the "Vivid" setting in the Canon i9900 printer interface does exaclty what it says, enhancing the saturation of blues and greens bringing out the sky and foliage in prints -- and it does it very tastefully, i.e. not over exaggerated neon-like colors. The package of software which comes with the i9900 affords some nice features -- web printing, album printing, easy borderless printing of camera jpegs. (Note that even though the manual does not say so, all of the software recognizes and works with Canon RAW images from my Canon EOS 10D.)

Just for fun I printed the same Hasselblad color negative scan (4,000 dpi scan) on both Canon Photo Pro paper and Espon Premium Glossy Photo Paper at 13 X 19 in. on the i9900. While there were very sublte differences in the two prints, they were indeed subtle and both were excellent quality.

Bottom line: the Canon i9900 is a fine printer. It outputs stunningly beautiful borderless 13 X 19 in. prints that show no edge effects on the borders (even though Canon warns that this is possible when you select borderless printing in the interface.)

I have switched from Epson to Canon photo printers with the arrival of the Canon i9900 for four principle reasons: (1) I do not like the "bronzing" produced by the Epson Ultrachrome inks on glossy photo papers, and I like to use glossy photo papers. That alone ruled out purchase of the Epson 2200 or Pro 4000 for me. (2) I liked the reported speed of the Canon photo printers, and I find the i9900 to be incredibly fast . (I am using it on USB 2.0.) (3) I strongly prefer the straightforward printer interface of the Canon photo printers vs. Epson photo printers. (4) With the i9900 Canon has, at the least, become equal to the output quality of any inkjet printer that I have seen (including the Epson 2200), and perhaps exceeded the quality of Epson photo printers with some images.

I should add that I have not seen the Epson Pro 4000, but I ruled it out for purchase based on its incredible size and weight (85 lbs!), cost of maintenance (ink cartridges are $70+ each), and the fact that it uses Epson Ultrachrome inks which exhibit bronzing on glossy photo papers.

Tom
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Old May 7, 2004, 5:14 PM   #2
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Thanks for a great review.

Now for a trickier question. The i9100s are being closed out for $200 (USD)less than the i9900. This printer is about the same speed and resolution but does not have the Red and Green cartridges. In your opinion is the vividness of the red/green worth the extra money ???

Also since you are printing a lot of test prints could you post the order that the cartridges run out of ink. It will be interesting to see how much of the new colors are used.

Good luck, thanks and enjoy the new "tax deduction"....




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Old May 7, 2004, 5:40 PM   #3
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I will be posting my i9900 review early next week and it will be VERY positive, this is an incredible printer to be sure. I have my own i9100 that I have been using for about a year now - it is an excellent and fast printer and for $200 less, will be a very good buy. I had the s9000 for a year before the i9100 and upgraded only for the i9100's borderless 13x19" capability.

Would I recommend anyone with an i9100 trading it off for the new i9900? That would really only depend on whether or not you are using this printer in a business and/or need to print the most prints in the least amount of time. The i9100 takes about 4:35 to print a 13x19" borderless, the i9900 makes that same print in 2:35! You don't notice much speed-up in smaller print sizes though and the i9100 makes gorgeous prints and compared to other brand printers, it's significantly faster. The i9900's prints are noticeably more "punchy" looking, kind of like the difference between a print from color negative film and a print from a well saturated slide.

The i9900 willprobably cost more to operate - 8 ink tanks vs. 6 ink tanks. Butso far it seems to use ink very similarly to the i9100. You see the Photo Magenta and Photo Cyan levels drop faster than the others - I usually go through 3 of the light photo inks for every one of the other colors. Any way you look at it, if you make mostly glossy photo prints, the Canon printers are tops. If you need to print on a wide variety of media including "art" papersand you makematte B&W prints then the Epson 2200 rules.

-Steve
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Old May 7, 2004, 6:08 PM   #4
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steve wrote:
Quote:
[snip]
Quote:
The i9900's prints are noticeably more "punchy" looking, kind of like the difference between a print from color negative film and a print from a well saturated slide.
[snip]
-Steve
Well that was the $200 question I was looking for (thanks).. for me at least I'll be getting the 9900.

The money doesn't bother me as much as the feeling that I will be getting something for it. The speed is a bonus the number of prints I will be making is not enough to warrant it. But the difference between slide and print film. That I can understand and want (and would feel cheated without it).

Looking forward to the review...
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Old Dec 4, 2004, 12:26 PM   #5
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be aware that the i9900 has come down in price a LOT in the last few months. It's no longer $500 and can be found for $409 shipped last week on amazon! I think they moved the price to $416 shipped now but it's still a deal. I agree that the Photo Magenta and Cyan do go fast, but it all depends on your printing. Are you a portrait photographer who needs skin tones, or a black and white and will zip through blacks? or nature/landscape who will zip through the new red and greens? like castle dude mentioned, if you are the latter, you will want the new i9900 to make the difference in red/greens.

also, if you are the latter (foliage/landscape), you will find the '6 ink' replacements that ebay and other sites sell in 'packages' will NOT carry red and greens. you will have to buy them separately or in the '8' ink package which is significantly more expensive!

The paper matters a ton. having used, canon, epson, and even 'off-brand' papers from ebay...i have found that I like Canon papers more, and even two off brand papers from ebay have been formidable in both being smudge proof (but i'm not sure how long it'll last on the shelf). I have say that I have not been all that thrilled with the HP photo papers. That is my opinion of course. And that is only the HP glossy. I have never touch HP matte after my fiascos with the glossy...

rebuttals invited. maybe i had a bad batch of HP paper...
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