Canon PIXMA MG8250 Printer review

Photo of Canon PIXMA MG8250 Printer
£250

Anyone spending north of £200 on an inkjet printer is in search of some serious all-round quality, and Canon’s range-topper doesn’t disappoint. Still, with quality lower down its line-up, is the MG8250′s advanced performance really necessary? 

Photographer’s dream?

Absolutely. The MG8250 has a flatbed scanner atop that can deal in both slides and negatives. And how – an optical resolution of 4800×9600 pixels is able to extract an enormous amount of detail, with some impressive colour and detail even from ageing shots. If this feature is useful for digitising archives, that huge sensor also means pin-sharp scans of printed photos and peerlessly crystal clear photocopies; scans take a mere 12 seconds (using the auto-scan feature within Canon’s Easy-PhotoPrint EX software) and photocopies just 21 seconds (using the manual controls on the printer itself) respectively. 

Other photographer-friendly features include a card reader hub that deals in SD, Memory Stick and Compact Flash formats. 

Its photo-centric intentions are also underlined by the size of its sole paper tray, which is capable of holding only 105 sheets of A4, though there’s also a rear tray and an adaptor in the box that allows printing direct to blank discs for multimedia projects. 

Wireless set-up

Naturally for a range-topper, WiFi connectivity comes as standard on the MG8250, and thankfully it’s an idiot-proof set-up. Those without wireless can rely on Ethernet LAN to link it to a broadband router, with the third option being a tried-and-tested USB cable direct to a PC or Mac. 

Looks-wise the MG8250 is nothing special, with a gloss black shell that could look too harsh for office environment were it not for the heavily curved edges and use of soft blue LED lights during operation.

LCD display

Touch-panels are becoming more common even on mid-range printers, but there’s something awry here; despite an oversized three-inch LCD screen adorning the top of the MG8250, it’s not touch sensitive. That won’t bother some – it’s hardly a must-have feature in our eyes, especially on a printer aimed at semi-professional photographers – though it’s still somewhat surprising. 

Navigating the MG8250′s features is done purely by three generic buttons below the LCD screen, whose function changes with each screen, and which this time are touch-sensitive and either nicely-lit, or completely invisible. That screen, which sports a pop-up design, makes things simple by using three simple icons on the home menu – copy, photo, and scan – though the GUI in general is not particularly intuitive, and takes a while to learn. 

Software

Canon’s Easy-PhotoPrint EX software is thoroughly comprehensive, but did run a little slow on our iMac. We were able to dive in and out of folders containing pictures, and mark specific photos for printing, even in multiples. It also worked with Dropbox folders. Although there is an option to print frames from Full HD movies, the software did not recognise any video stored on our computer. Canon iMage Gateway is less impressive. Although it is possible to login using the Easy-PhotoPrint EX software, it merely takes you to a website that is poorly designed, although it does contain a lot of resources for kids in something called Creative Park, including hugely impressive full-colour origami templates. There is an area where you can store your own photos and movies, though only if you have a Canon camera; this is cloud computing at its most restrictive.  

We had some problems kick-starting the core photo print mode, but it launched after our third try. Once the picture has been chosen it moves down to a light box, and from there it’s a case of choosing the exact paper, and one of 16 different layouts, though none of them are particularly creative (they’re all built around a rather rudimentary grid designs). Overall it’s impressive software in terms of scope, but the Mac version, at least, hangs far too often between screens, so it’s only worth using if you want to cue-up a load of photos for printing. 

Speed & quality

In our test from cold it took over 30 seconds for the print command to be received from a computer, and another 20 seconds of preparation and processing, though a 6×4″ full colour print was hence produced in a mere 19 seconds. On the second try, this time from warm, it took just 32 seconds in total before churning out a 6×4″ print in 16 seconds. Better still, the quality is excellent; we’re talking rich, vibrant and well saturated colours that are always natural, while detail is high without lending a stark or processed look. 

For the record, a full page A4 print took 01:29 seconds in total (though only a remarkable 49 seconds of actual printing time). Onto more regular print-outs, we calculated 01:03 for a 10-page mono document, while the same document took 02:45 in auto-duplex mode. 

Costs

The MG5350 uses five inks – four 13.5ml cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) and a 25ml black pigment cartridge. We found a deal online for £50 for four full sets, though yields differ too much for an accurate calculation; figure on around 4p per page. 

Company: Canon

Website: http://www.canon.co.uk/

Contact: 01737 220000

Positives
  • Speed, versatility, wireless, photo quality
Negative
  • No touch-panel, price, Mac software hangs

Verdict

Expensive, but worth it, Canon's flagship provides a strong challenge to rivals like Epson's SX445W. As well as pin-sharp pictures and excellent quality print outs from all sources, the MG8250 is quick and easy to use, though its Mac software is stodgy. It's a high-end choice, but for those after perfection this is an all-in-one that's hard to ignore.