When most people talk about printers, they talk about them in terms of printing documents and Web pages, but with more and more high-resolution cameras around, it's becoming more common for people to print large photos at home. If you want those big prints to look good, that means buying a medium-format printer, such as Canon's Pixma Pro9000.
Though it bears the Pixma Pro moniker, the £400 Pro9000 replaces the , which like this printer, is an eight-ink dye-based printer. If you insist on pigment-based inks, Canon also offers the , but it costs more (around £550) and uses a pigment-based ink set.
Compared with the i9900, the Pro9000 is slightly larger, checking in at 660 by 193 by 356mm with all its trays closed. That means you'll need to devote a decent amount of desk space to this printer. Also, if you plan to use the printer's front straight-loading path, you'll need to keep 40cm clear behind the printer, since you need room for the front-loaded paper to extend out the back. Though this can be awkward, some photo buffs prefer to keep some fine-art papers flat instead of feeding them through the normal L-shaped path, and the front-loading path is a welcome addition over the i9900, which didn't offer such a paper path.
Unlike some less costly inkjets, the Pro9000 doesn't include a built-in card reader. The assumption is that if you're printing at this size, then you'll most likely be printing from a computer. However, Canon does include a front USB port, in addition to the high-speed USB 2.0 port on the back of the printer. The front port lets you print directly from a PictBridge-compatible camera or camcorder.
nice touches include wheels on the back of the printer, to make it
easier to position and reposition on your desk, as well as damped tray
mechanisms that keep the front and rear trays from slamming open.
There's no roll-feed option, so if you're looking to print panoramas,
you're stuck cutting down larger pieces of paper, because Canon doesn't
offer specific panorama-size papers.
While Epson has always had a reputation for having more photo and art paper options than Canon, Canon has bolstered its offerings lately. Compared with the available papers for the similarly priced, but pigment-based, Epson R1800, the Pro9000 can accept a similar number of official Canon papers as that competitor can accept Epson papers. However, while both offer standard choices such as glossy, semigloss and matte, the selections beyond that are slightly different. For example, Epson offers two sizes of scrapbooking paper, one of which is sized to the scrapbooking standard of 300x300mm (12x12 inches).
Canon offers photo stickers and T-shirt transfers (for iron-ons). If you plan to use any out-of-the-ordinary papers, it might make sense to check out the offerings of Canon and its competitors at a local camera store, or on their Web sites -- Canon's is here. If you're looking to print onto CDs or DVDs, you'll have to skip the Pro9000, since it does not offer that feature.
As usual, Canon's print driver is very good. Controls are very straightforward and there's even a clearly marked None option in the colour management section, which comes in handy if you want a third-party program, such as Photoshop, to handle colour management. There are also a competent set of controls for black-and-white printing.