Photo Printing Update

A few weeks back, I mentioned that I’d bought a Canon Pixma MP500 multi-function printer thingy. Now I’ve had a proper chance to use it, I thought I’d give a more detailed review of its various functions. So here we go, in no particular order.

CD Printing

I wasn’t expecting to make a lot of use of this function, but as I wanted to keep backups of my photos on CD, I thought I’d give it a try. I bought some printable CDs from CD-R Media (good prices, quick delivery) and used the software supplied with the printer. And it all works very well. To print on a CD, you have to reach into the printer and pull down a flap, then clip your CD into a special tray. The software tells you when the printer is ready, at which point you slide the tray into the printer and click OK. The first few times, this felt a bit awkward, but I soon got used to lining the tray up correctly. Printing a CD takes not much over a minute, and the results are as good as you could reasonably expect. The software makes it easy to add images and text to the design, and it all works very well. I’ve printed about 20 CDs so far, and I’ll probably be printing many more.

Photo Printing

This was the main reason for buying the beast, of course. While you can print from any application in the usual way, it’s worth having a play with the supplied photo printing software. This knows all about the printer, and knows how to talk to it. It also knows all about Canon’s various photo papers. If you tell it which paper type you’re using, it will know how much ink to lay down, and generally do the best it can to produce the prints you want. You can of course use any brand of photo paper, but I’ve been taking the easy route and using Canon paper. Now for small (6 inches x 4 inches or so) prints, using a home printer is probably not the best bet. You can get excellent prints from companies like Photobox for less than it will cost you to print them at home. But for small quantities, or for prints that you have to have right now, it’s not so bad. But for A4 size prints, home printing becomes a rather better deal. Good quality A4 size prints are typically going to cost around £2.50 or so. Today, I got some glossy photo paper in Jessop’s. Now normally, their price of £12.99 for a pack of 20 wouldn’t have tempted me, as it’s cheaper elsewhere. But they’ve currently got a “3 for 2” offer running on Canon paper, so I bought three packs, which works out at a whisker over 43p a sheet. Working out what the cost of the ink will be is far too complicated, so I’ll make up an arbitrary amount of, oooh, 50p. It may be less, it may be more, but it’s good enough for a rough guess. So printing an A4 size photo is going to cost me less than £1. Bargain.

Of course, it wouldn’t matter how cheap it was if the results weren’t up to the job. But as it happens, the results are, well, excellent. Photos are clear, crisp and bright. It’s amazing how far inkjet technology has come on since I bought my last colour printer. Photos printed on the HP had a tendency to show nasty banding, making it quite obvious that they were inkjet prints. But photos printed on the Canon look like, well, photos. Borderless A4 prints are quite excellent. Oh yes, did I mention that? It prints right to the edge of A4 photo paper, which is really nice.

If all it did was photo printing, I’d say it was good kit for the price.

Copying

I used this feature last week – rather than take my Metro Walks book with me on my Jarrow to Bede walk, I copied the relevant pages. It scanned the colour pages quickly, and printed out clearly and quickly onto plain paper. You wouldn’t want to use this to copy lots of pages, but for quick copies of smaller documents, it’s fine. It also showed that colour printing on cheap and nasty copier paper is of more than adequate quality, with no banding or other nasty things.

Scanning

I haven’t done a lot of scanning as yet, but the few tests I’ve done suggest it all works well enough. There’s the usual OCR software supplied, but I haven’t looked at that so far.

Conclusion

My first impressions are confirmed. This is a great piece of kit, and excellent value for money. At the time of writing, Amazon have it for £99 with free delivery, which is a good deal.