Sorry Epson, Canon has stolen your ink-jet photo printer crown. For the last couple of years, Epson has been the unchallenged photo quality champion with its Stylus Photo family of inkjet printers. With its long standing reputation for photographic excellence with traditional film cameras, the wait for a Canon printer to seriously challenge Epson’s Stylus Photo has been surprisingly long, but the new BJC-8200 Photo has finally delivered.
The BJC-8200 comes from the same design stable as its recently launched sibling, the BJC-6100. Arguably prettier than the BJC-6100, the BJC-8200 actually shares most of the same physical attributes – individually replaceable ink tanks for each primary colour, a straight through paper path for heavier paper and card, USB and parallel ports, the fold down telescoping paper rest and the print head cartridge access door which lifts up, automatically prompting the cartridge and ink tanks to present themselves for examination. There is also an optional 600dpi 24-bit colour scanner head available.
Major differences, however, lie in the detail. The BJC-8200′s photo capabilities are not compromised to serve ordinary day-to-day document printing. While black ink comes in its own separate tank like the five other colours, it’s not a pigment black like in the BJC-6100, so text on plain paper is not as reassuringly dark. Plain paper print detail is actual quite poor by today’s standards – a criticism which is less easily directed at the Epson Stylus Photo. There is also no choice between standard colour inks for graphic printing and photo colours – the latter is standard. There is no high capacity black tank either, as Canon doesn’t expect the BJC-8200 to be used for printing lots of text.
If it’s poor at ordinary printing tasks, it more than makes up for it in photo printing, though to produce really stunning results you need to use Canon’s own PR101 Pro photo paper. Magically, the paper dries the ink almost instantly, bringing photo print quality to new heights and enabling bi-directional printing, which virtually halves the printing time. Canon has beaten the competition on two fronts; an A4 photo emerges after under 4 minutes, practically twice as fast as anything else, and image quality has to be seen to be believed – it’s undoubtedly the best yet. On top of that, the printer is impressively quiet.
Nothing’s perfect, though, and when using cheaper ordinary glossy photo paper, results were disappointing in a relative sense. Although they would normally be acceptable to most, when compared to the prints using the PR101 Pro paper, the superiority is immediately noticeable. Using ordinary photo paper also slows throughput down. Plus, the BJC-8200 will only be pushed into action by its owners as a document printer in emergencies.
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