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Canon Pixma iX4000

None of this means that the Canon Pixma iX4000 is a bad printer. In fact it is a bargain if you’re looking for a good general printer, but I really wish they’d left that fifth ink in. If they had the Pixma iX4000 would open up affordable but high quality A3 printing to photo enthusiasts everywhere, just as the Epson 1290 did in the past. Hopefully one day Canon will make an A3 Pixma with the 5 ink system, but for now the Canon Pixma iX4000 and iX5000 are a huge disappointment.

On the plus side the printer seems well made, even if it’s not what you’d call pretty. Some savings have been made by using self colored plastics rather than the universal silver painted plastic seen everywhere at the moment. That’s one sacrifice I’m quite happy to see - it makes no difference to the printer’s abilities. In terms of speed the iX4000 is slightly slower than the Pixma iP5200, but I don’t think the difference is big enough to bother anyone. Paper feeding is a touch violent and noisy but again I’ve had no problems with paper jams. There are improvements in the driver compared to the Pixma iP5200 - more serious color control is on offer with some proper color management options rather than just auto or Windows ICM. With the iX4000 you also have contrast slider and in the color management window you can select Driver Matching, Windows ICM or None. Having None as an option is important as it allows you to use Photoshop to manage the ICC color profiles - this seems to work well, and is a big improvement. Still no saturation slider though.

Overall then the Canon Pixma iX4000 and it’s slighly faster brother the iX5000 are not the great photo printers I’d hoped for. As a general home or home office printer that can make the occasional A3 photo or graphic this is an excellent printer, but I just wish Canon had used the same five ink system as in the iP5200 - If they had, this would have been a great enthusiast’s photo printer, offering low ink costs and great photo prints.

As it is, this is still a bargain for an A3+ printer, and output is OK for general home or home office use, but it’s not nearly good enough to satisfy any serious photographer. Canon please, please, please can we have a version with the five ink contrast plus system? That really could be a bargain.

Conclusion

Having used the Canon Pixma iX4000 for a couple of weeks I have to say I’m disappointed with it as a photo printer. The lack of a proper photo black cartridge means that the printer uses a composite black  - in other words black areas are simply all three colours mixed together. This loss of a deep black gives almost all photos a slightly muddy look, and this, combined with Canon’s usual brighter than reality reds and blues makes any photo prints with dark or shadow areas look brash and unpleasant. It’s all relative of course - if you’re using high quality photo papers the difference between this printer’s output and that from a Canon, Epson or hp photo printer is quite easy to see. If you’re printing graphics or using cheaper paper it will be less noticeable, and the printer would still be a bargain for A3+.

I’ve decided to pass this on to my student son Ewan - for him the robust construction, low running costs and the ability to print A3 graphics will be far more important than absolute photo quality, but if your interest is a general home printer that can turn out high quality A3 photos, this is close but not quite what you’re looking for. The old Epson Stylus Photo 1290 was slow but easily produced far better photo output than the Canon Pixma iX4000. 

If you  really need a reasonably priced A3 photo printer, the Epson Stylus Photo 1400 is what you’re looking for.

iX4000 IMG_3352

Canon Pixma iX4000 and iP5200 side by side - the iX4000 is quite compact by A3+ printer standards.

Canon Pixma iX 4000 Ink System

It may seem strange that this and many other printers use colour ink to create black areas in photos. The Canon Pixma iP5200 has two black ink cartridges - one pigment black for text and one dye black for photos. The iX4000 misses out the photo black so it has to use the colour inks to make as near black as it can get. The large black ink cartridge in the iX4000 is only used for text, and although it does give high quality text, photo output suffers.

ChromaLife 100 Fade Resistance

Quote from Canon:  For improved fade resistance, the printer  supports Canon™s ChromaLife100: a system of genuine Canon dye-based inks, which  deliver exceptionally broad colour gamut, and specialised photo paper designed  to work together with FINE print heads. This technology triangle™ of nozzle  design, ink and media produces prints that rival silver halide quality and  longevity. Prints resist fading for 100 years when album-stored, 30 years when  displayed under glass and 10 years when exposed to the effects of the air

© David Gold
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