Canon’s A3+ Pixma iX4000 printer is available in the UK for under £ 200 which makes it a real bargain, especially if it’s anything like as good a photo printer as the excellent Canon Pixma iP5200?
When I finished the test report of the Canon Pixma iP5200 all could think of to improve it was an A3 version. Well the new Canon Pixma iX4000 and iX5000 seem like exactly what I asked for, but there’s a problem. While the Canon Pixma iP5200/iP5300/iP4500/iP4600 and iP3600 all use 2 black cartridges - one for text and one for photographs, the Canon Pixma iX4000 and iX5000 use only one. The missing cartridge is the second black, which, unfortunately is the photo black. So how much difference does it make to print quality?
The first tests I made with the iX4000 were to print my standard composite test image with both the iP5200 and the iX4000 on Canon PR101, Ilford Galerie Smooth Glossy and Fuji Multijet Premium Glossy, to see if the missing ink really did make a difference. The answer was immediately obvious - oh yes it does.
In every case it was easy to identify which printer made the print just by looking at the black areas of the image. That’s not to say that the Canon Pixma iX4000 prints were bad - they looked great everywhere except the really dark shadow areas which had less detail and looked muddy and gray in comparison to the iP5200 prints. That lack of deep blacks makes photo prints look flat and less sharp than they should be. They just don’t have the bite of a really high quality print.
When Canon first used the five ink system it was called “contrast plus” and it gave Canon photo printers a darkest black or Dmax to rival prints from Epson or hp photo printers. Photo prints from the Canon S9000 era had one big weakness - even used with Canon’s own Photo Paper Pro, the blacks just weren’t that strong, Unfortunately the missing photo black in the ink system of the Canon Pixma iX4000 and iX5000 destroys their ability to be serious photo printers.