Canon has announced “Mark II” versions of its Pixma Pro9000 and the Pixma Pro9500 13" by 19" photo printers. The updated models are identical (even in price) to their predecessors; Canon says that the sole improvement in each unit is better print speeds:
- The Pixma Pro9000 Mark II is an 8-ink, dye-based printer priced at $500. It reportedly offers three times the print speed of the first-generation model.
- The Pixma Pro9500 Mark II uses 10 pigmented inks—including matte and photo black inks and a gray ink for neutral black and white output—and is priced at $850. Canon says that the 9500 Mark II’s print engine is 1.5 times faster than the earlier version.
Both printers have USB 2.0 and PictBridge ports; a top-loading paper tray that will hold up to 150 sheets of paper; and a straight-through paper path that can handle fine-art media up to 1.2 mm thick. They will include Canon’s Digital Photo Professional and Easy Photo-Fix software, as well as Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 6.0. The printers will run on Mac OS X, Windows XP and Vista, and Vista users will be able to take advantage of Canon’s Ambient Light Correction software in the print driver, which “optimizes print color for the lighting conditions where the final print will be shown.”
As noted, the new models are using the same inkset and printheads as the previous generation, but print speed gains will be quite welcome, especially in the Pixma Pro9500 Mark II: the older 9500 was painfully slow compared with Epson’s Stylus Photo R2400 and R2880 (see our R2880 review for more details). The Pixma Pro9000, on the other hand, was already quite fast, beating even Epson’s Stylus Photo R1900 in our standard- and high-quality print tests.
The first-generation versions of the Pixma Pro printers were both solid units that had little to distinguish them from their counterparts by Epson and HP. The Pixma Pro9500 (see my Macworld review here) was a good printer overall that produced true-to-life photos on both matte and glossy papers, and did a good job with black-and-white printing as well. To me, its weakest point was the poor quality of the ICC profiles that came in the box, but properly profiled, the 9500 was capable of printing excellent photos, and we know more than a few photographers who are happy with their units.
The Pixma Pro9000 was also a good printer, matching up well against Epson’s Stylus Photo 1400 with vivid, dye-based output and good print longevity (an estimated 100 years, under glass, for Canon’s glossy paper). Thanks to its eight inks (vs. the Stylus Photo 1400’s six), the 9000 had an edge in color gamut, although it really didn’t translate into quantifiably better images, especially when you factor in Canon’s inattention to the profile aspect of the printing equation.
We’ll plan to run both units through our standard test suite once they’re available in May. If you want more info, you can check out the press release on the Canon site.
[Updated March 10 with more details on the print speed changes.]