Check out these 13x19 dye-based printers if you want your pictures bold and
beautiful. Plus, the pigment-based Canon PIXMA Pro9500.
Great photos deserve to be admired -- and not as tiny snapshots. They should be at least 13x19 inches. Pigment printers can be pricey, so check out two dye-based alternatives from Canon and Epson.
Canon PIXMA Pro9000
This new eight-ink model ($420, street), which makes borderless prints up to 13x23 inches, replaces the six-ink PIXMA i9900 and performs better with ChromaLife100 dye inks. It sets a speed record in this category, producing colorful 13x19-inch borderless prints (on Canon's new Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss) in just 2 minutes, 27 seconds, and borderless 8.5x11-inch prints in a blazing 1 minute 5 seconds. Canon attributes this speed increase to the high-performance, 6144-nozzle FINE print head that's capable of producing 2-picoliter ink droplets.
Canon Pixma Pro9000 Test Results
Image quality: Excellent for color and b&w prints on Canon Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss. Color accuracy: Excellent (5.6 Avg. Delta E). Color gamut: Large, with some saturated yellows and dark purple-reds outside the Adobe RGB color space (transparent blue area in graph). Max. black density: Extremely High (5.7 L). Print speed: Color: Extremely fast. 13x19-inch borderless, 2 min 27 sec; 8.5x11 borderless, 1 min 16 sec. Black-and-white (using grayscale control): Extremely slow. 8x10 bordered print, 16 min 45 sec.
Canon Pixma Pro9000 Gamut
Unlike the i9900, there's an advanced grayscale control in the print driver that lets you produce very pleasing black-and-white prints, in a variety of tones, directly from color images. Unfortunately, b&w printing takes more than four times as long (over 16 minutes for an 8x10). The Pro9000 can print on thick matte papers, canvas, and fine-art cut sheets (up to 14x17 inches) using a second paper path. The printer has built-in wheels so it can roll forward for the required 15.7-inch clearance. Nice touch.
The printer comes with Canon's Easy-PhotoPrint Pro software and Digital Photo Professional version 2.1. The supplied color profiles work very well with Easy-PhotoPrint Pro, producing stunning prints with high color saturation, excellent color accuracy, and decent blacks. Pure reds were on the reddish-orange side, but sky blue, dark purples, yellows, and greens were among the most accurate and saturated from any printer that we've tested.
Canon also includes a useful manual that details print-driver settings for a variety of papers in programs such as Adobe Photoshop. But the supplied profiles didn't work well in Photoshop CS3, and we recommend the Easy-PhotoPrint Pro plug-in to get accurate color.
Canon claims that prints on its Photo Paper Pro and Plus will last up to 100 years in an archival photo album and up to 30 years on display. That's longer than most silver-halide prints, but not as long as those from Canon's PIXMA Pro9500 or Epson's Stylus Photo 1400.
Bottom line: If you're looking for a super-fast printer with a wide color gamut and fine-art paper compatibility, this is a great choice.