The Effects page lets turns your photo into a simulated color illustration, slide the
lever to increase or decrease the effect. You can also create a monochrome effect like
Sepia, Pink, Blue, Green or select a custom color. The Vivid Photo option enhances
the green and blue colors and contrast and may be too much for some images. You can also
enable or disable the Image Optimizer or Photo Optimizer PRO enhancements which help
produce better enlargements from lower resolution images.
The Photo Noise Reduction option helps reduce speckle noise
often found in blue areas such as the sky. It has two settings: Normal and Strong.
Left is no Photo Noise Reduction, Right is with PNR enabled.
(Click on either thumbnail to see a larger sample image)
The Profiles page lets you load, create or save custom sets of printer parameters for
the type of printing jobs that you do frequently.
The Maintenance page lets you clean the print heads with options for a regular
cleaning cycle or a "deep" cleaning cycle for really clogged heads. There is
also an option for aligning the heads or checking the print nozzles. You can
also set the Auto Power Off time, Custom Settings and the Quiet Mode. From here you
can also start the Status Monitor (see next frame.)
The Status Monitor shows you visibly the level of ink in each of the ink tanks. It also tells you the status of the printer and the setting of the paper thickness lever.
When one of the tanks is low the Status Monitor will pop-up to alert you.
The low tank(s) will have a yellow exclamation mark over it to let you know that
it needs to be replaced soon. The ink warning first comes on when there is
still some ink remaining so you won't run out in the middle of a printout and waste
a sheet of costly photo paper.
Here's the low Photo Magenta ink tank after I finished the current print job. The
chamber on the left side is full of ink when the tank is new. As you can see it
drained the left chamber completely and the foam-filled side that feeds the head is
very close to empty. The Photo Magenta and Photo Cyan tanks consistently run out
faster than the other colors when printing photos so there's little argument for the
need of these additional colors.
The Canon i9100 is an incredible printer, it's fast and quiet and there's no denying that the individually-replaceable ink tanks are more economical than the single, multi-color cartridges. I go through 2 to 3 of the light magenta and light cyan ink tanks for every one of the other colors so stock up on these. The Canon i9100 is a photo printer and has been optimized for this task. Everyday text & color graphic printing is accomplished much faster on the 4-color Canon i850 which also prints a very respectable photo. However, to produce the best possible photos the two additional "photo" inks make a big difference.
Installation under Windows XP Pro was quick and simple, the printer was good to go in about five minutes of taking it out of the box. The driver software is designed so that even novice users can produce photo-quality prints quickly. The key is simplicity, instead of numerous options for "dpi" resolution, microweave or high speed ... all you need do is select the paper type and size and the rest of the parameters will be set automatically to produce the best photo. Print after print came out looking exactly the way they did on the screen in Photoshop or PhotoImpact. The inability to get the printout to match the screen is probably the #1 complaint of most digital printing neophytes. There are advanced driver options to produce more Vivid blues and greens and to help eliminate the "blotchy" look of blue sky scenes.
I've tested a number of different papers and as expected, the i9100 like the s9000 and all other Canon photo printers that we've used make the best prints on real "Photo Pro" paper. Canon's Photo Paper Pro has the same "look and feel" of the best heavy-weight conventional photo lab paper. The downside is that it is more expensive than other photo papers.
The Bottom LineThe i9100's print quality is simply awesome. I was most satisfied with my Canon S9000 and now the newer i9100, my living room wall is covered with mounted 13 x 19" prints from both printers. The difference being that the i9100 can make borderless 13 x 19" prints. Canon Photo Paper Pro is somewhat difficult to cut, even with a very sharp rotary photo trimmer it is difficult to get a clean cut because the surface is so hard. Comparing S9000 prints and i9100 prints side by side with the naked eye reveals little difference. You need an 8x loupe to see how much smoother 4800dpi prints are than 2400dpi prints. I didn't see any speed decrease, the i9100 still cranks out a borderless 4 x 6" print in about forty seconds and a borderless 13 x 19" in about five minutes !
Would I recommend buying the i9100 if you already own a Canon s9000? Not unless you just have to have borderless 13 x 19" prints, otherwise I can't see much reason to upgrade, the s9000 is also an awesome printer. If you're buying your first wide format inkjet photo printer however - you can't do better than the Canon i9100.
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