Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II A3 photo printer

Canon's flagship photo printer creates beautiful colour and greyscale A3 photo prints

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Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II
  • Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II
  • Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II
  • Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II
  • Expert Rating

    4.75 / 5

Pros

  • Great print quality for both colour and monochrome content, good ink cartridge life, good paper handling and support

Cons

  • Painful ink replacement and paper consumable costs, slow print speeds, you'll need to choose paper carefully

Bottom Line

If you have the money to run it, Canon's PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II A3 photo printer will blow you away with its image quality on both full colour and monochrome content. It produces prints we'd be happy to hang in a gallery.

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The Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II is a high-end A3 photo printer that uses pigment-based ink. The PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II uses 10 individual pigment ink cartridges with separate monochrome ink tanks for grey, gloss black and matte black. To get the most accurate print quality you'll need to use a colour-management-friendly image editor and correctly calibrated screen, which may be a hassle for Windows PC users. If you can spend some time getting your digital workflow correctly set up, though, it's near impossible to be disappointed with the results that the Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II can create.

Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II design


The Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II has a near-identical design to the PIXMA Pro 9000 Mark II, which sits slightly lower in Canon's professional printer line-up. Most photo papers can be loaded into the top feeder, which has a sliding paper guide to accommodate anything from A3 to 6x4in stock. High GSM papers such as Canon's Fine Art Museum Etching and Photo Paper Pro Platinum must be fed through the front feeder, which accepts media up to 1.2mm thick.

The Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II connects via USB 2.0 using a standard USB B connector on its rear. A USB host port on the front of the printer works with any PictBridge-compatible camera — we tested it with a EOS 550D digital SLR as well as a range of compacts. Since the PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II has no colour or monochrome LCD screen, printing via PictBridge requires a little faith — users must select the prints they want on camera and hope for the best.

Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II setup


Setting up the Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II printer itself is the easy part. Installing inks is simple thanks to clearly labelled tank slots, and apart from power the only cable required is a USB connection to your computer. Similarly, a software disc full of useful maintenance and monitoring software installs quickly and is free of unnecessary bloatware.

The real challenge in getting colour-accurate prints from the Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II comes from your screen and your computer's colour profiles. Even in Windows 7, Microsoft's attempts at colour management are headache inducing. You'll need to make sure your monitor uses the most appropriate colour profile (perhaps requiring manual screen calibration), as well as using a colour-management-aware image editing program. We should note that the printer is not at fault here in the slightest — but nonetheless you'll need to spend some time getting settings right. Alternatively, you could just buy a Mac and forget the whole ordeal.

For our testing, we used a combination of FastPictureViewer, Adobe PhotoShop CS4 and Adobe LightRoom running on a Windows 7 PC.

Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II performance


The Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II is not a fast printer. It hasn't been designed to pump out pages like the Fuji Xerox WorkCentre 4250, nor does it compromise between quality and speed like the Canon PIXMA MP550 multifunction. In our tests, a High quality A3 colour photo print on Photo Paper Pro Platinum stock took 10min 25sec to complete. If you want to print a lower quality copy as a draft (or to give to someone you don't really like), Standard quality on A3 produces a print in a mere 7min 14sec. A4 prints are faster at 5min 1sec for High quality and 2min 45sec for Standard.

A3/A4 Document Print Speed Results
Model Price Type A4 Standard quality
(minutes)
A3 Standard quality
(minutes)
Canon PIXMA iX7000 $799 Inkjet (Pigment-based) 1min 30sec 2min 37sec
Canon PIXMA Pro 9000 Mark II $1099 Inkjet 54sec 2min 11sec
Epson Stylus Photo R2880 $1499 Inkjet (Pigment-based) 1min 31sec 6min 39sec
Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II $1399 Inkjet (Pigment-based) 2min 45sec 7min 14sec

Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II picture quality


Put simply, the print quality of the PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II is excellent. We generally opted for High print quality, using Standard only to compare printing speeds and overall print quality.

Printing 14.6-megapixel pictures — that's 4672x3104 pixels at a 3:2 image ratio — at A3 sizes produced prints that were full of intricate detail. Both full colour and monochrome prints display smooth, subtle gradation changes with no banding or posterisation evident. It may have taken significant effort to correctly set up our digital workflow, but the results were worth the time spent. A range of image-altering options, such as Ambient Light Correction and Vivid Photo in the PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II's printing settings, allow you to tweak colour saturation and other options, but we opted to leave these options disabled and tweak files ourselves during the image editing process. Using Canon's supplied Easy-PhotoPrint Pro software we were able to match our camera's ICC profile to the printer for accurate colour reproduction, and the ability to print from RAW image files removes any need for quality-stealing JPEG compression.

We were consistently impressed with the prints produced by the Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II in A3, A4 and 6x4in sizes. They rival anything we've seen from professional photographic labs, and using this printer gives you the freedom to tweak colours, sharpness and other minutiae as you wish.

Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II consumable costs


Printing at High quality consumes large amounts of ink. For example, we were able to wrangle 11 A3 monochrome prints before the initially half-full PGI-9GY pigment grey ink tank reported it was empty. This fits with Canon's reported ink yields of 19 11x14in prints from a full PGI-9GY grey pigment ink tank.

Projected Ink Yields
Ink Cartridge Colour Price Approximate Page
Yield (11x14in)
PGI-9PM Photo magenta $31.50 53
PGI-9PBK Photo black $31.50 73
PGI-9MBK Matte black $31.50 167
PGI-9PC Photo cyan $31.50 71
PGI-9GY Grey $31.50 19
PGI-9M Magenta $31.50 121
PGI-9Y Yellow $31.50 121
PGI-9C Cyan $31.50 84
PGI-9G Green $31.50 228
PGI-9R Red $31.50 109

Buying a full set of 10 ink cartridges will set you back $315. Completely recharging the printer is an expensive proposition, with a fresh set of inks costing one fifth of the price of a brand new printer.

High quality paper stock is also expensive, especially in A3 sizes. Twenty sheets of Canon's A3+ matte Fine Art Museum Etching 350GSM paper costs a whopping $233.95, while 20 A4 sheets of the premium Photo Paper Pro Platinum is much cheaper at $31.96. You can of course purchase cheaper papers from Canon as well as other brands, but if you want the best quality, profile-matching paper you'll need to pay handsomely for it. The overall print cost of the Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II is $3.01 per 11x14in photo (excluding paper costs), which is roughly on par with buying multiple prints from a bricks-and-mortar photographic store.

Conclusion


Canon's PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II A3 photo printer is an expensive proposition, and it certainly takes its time printing high quality A4 and A3 photographs. We don't really mind about either of these points, though. The print quality that the Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II produces is excellent, with none of the flaws that we've seen on cheaper, non-pigment inkjet models. If you're an avid photographer keen to try printing your photos in large sizes, you won't be disappointed with the image quality of the Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 Mark II A3 printer.

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