The Canon Pixma MG8250 sits at the top of Canon's current range of printers that are aimed at photo enthusiasts. It uses six ink cartridge in an effort to produce the best quality photos possible, but also has plenty of other neat features, including duplex printing, negative scanning and Wi-Fi support. It'll set you back around £250 if bought online.
The MG8250 is essentially a large black rectangular, matte black box with nicely curved corners. The top of the unit is home to a big 8.8cm colour display. Unlike a lot of recent models from manufacturers such as Kodak and HP, this display isn’t a touchscreen. Instead Canon has added a number of touch buttons beneath it that light up as you select different functions. It's not quite as immediate as using a touchscreen, but it still makes this model's menus easy to navigate.
Behind a flap on the front there's a memory card reader that supports Compact Flash, SD and Memory Stick formats. The cassette-style paper tray at the bottom can take up to 105 sheets at a time. Canon has also included a plastic tray that you can mount CDs or DVDs onto for direct disc printing.
This model is quick to set up. All you've really got to do is install the ink cartridges, put some paper in the tray and load up the drivers on your computer. There are onscreen animations to guide you through most of the process. The printer has USB and Ethernet ports, as well as onboard Wi-Fi; you can select your connection method while you're installing the software on your computer.
Scanning and copying
The MG8250's scanner is interesting, because as well as allowing you to scan the usual printed material and photos, it can also be used to scan transparencies and negatives. When you lift the scanner lid you'll find two small push-in clips on either side that allow you to remove the white reflector and get at the slide holder.
The scanner's resolution has also been bumped up to 4,800x9,600 pixels to make it more effective when working with slides and film negatives. Scan quality is very impressive; colours are accurately reproduced and it manages to do a good job of capturing finer detail in pictures.
Naturally, the scanner can also be used for photocopying. It's very quick to use for this purpose; it managed to pump out our black and white test page in just 12 seconds, whereas most competing models take around 18 seconds. The results were also excellent; copies looked very close in appearance to the originals.
Print speed and quality
If you make heavy use of your printer, then this model's fast print speeds will appeal; it won't leave you hanging around for long before it spews out its results. It rattled off our 10-page black and white text document in just one minute and five seconds, which is the among the fastest speeds we've seen on an inkjet model. Previous generations of Canon printers have been slow at duplex printing, but this model doesn't perform badly in this area. It took just two minutes and 53 seconds to complete five double-sided pages of our text document.
It was also speedy when it came to colour printing. Our 10-page graphics test took just three minutes and six seconds, while our business presentation was finished in a rapid two minutes and five seconds. It's also the fastest machine we've tested for photo printing; our 4x6-inch snap was delivered in just 32 seconds.
The other good news is that these speeds don't come at the expense of quality. Photo prints looked gorgeous, with rich, vibrant colours and impressive levels of detail reproduced even in darker areas of the image.
Our business presentation was also completely devoid of banding, while colours and detail on our graphics test were superb. It's no slouch for text printing either. Text on our test document looked so crisp and precise that you could mistake it for the output from a good quality laser printer, which is high praise indeed.
The fly in the MG8250's ointment is its relatively high print costs. The printer uses six separate ink cartridges, which really do help it to produce high-quality output, especially for photos. However, these cartridges aren't cheap and lead to higher than average print costs. We calculated that a black and white page will set you back around 3.6p, while a colour sheet costs around 8p. Both of these figures include 0.7p for paper costs, but they're still more expensive than their peers, apart from Lexmark's S-series models, which are similarly pricey to run.
The MG8250 is far from the cheapest printer to buy or to run but it does produce superb print quality across text, graphics and photos. Its print speeds are among the fastest in the business. Add in a great line-up of features and you've got yourself a top-notch photo printer.