Canon Pixma iP8500

The iP8500's driver lets you quickly setup the printer by simply choosing the Media Type (Plain Paper, Photo Paper Pro, Photo Paper Plus Glossy, Photo Paper Plus Double Sided, Glossy Photo Paper, Matte Photo Paper, High Resolution Paper, T-Shirt Transfer, Transparency, Envelope or Other Photo Paper), the Paper Source (Paper Feed Switch, Auto Sheet Feeder, Cassette or Paper Allocation [if Paper Allocation is selected, the printer switches the paper feed automatically according to the settings that you manually enter]) and the Print Quality setting (High, Standard, Draft or Custom). The optimum Quality is automatically selected depending on the Media Type but you can manually select it using the Custom option. By default the driver is set for Auto color adjustment or that can be manually selected as well. The default options produce the best quality printouts at the fastest print speed. The "Grayscale Printing" box if checked will cause a color image to be printed in grayscale. The "Preview before printing" box will enable the Print Preview feature.

Clicking on the Custom button for Quality lets you manually select the printing speed from Fast to Fine. You can also select the desired Halftoning options. By default when using the Standard quality setting this slider is at the "3" position, the High quality setting is "2" and you can manually select "1" by clicking on the Custom button. The lower the number, the longer the print time -- but on this printer even printing with the "1" setting was incredibly fast.

Clicking on the Manual button for Color Correction lets you manually adjust the individual colors as well as the intensity. Here you can enable/disable ICM ( Windows Intelligent Color Matching), select a Print Type (Auto, Photo, Graphic, None) and Brightness (Light, Normal, Dark) setting.

Clicking on the Print Advisor button brings up this screen. It's kind of a built in FAQ to educate you on what settings are best for what media and etc.

The Page Layout options let you select the Page Size (see below), Orientation (portrait or landscape), Printing Type (normal-size, fit-to-page, scaled, page layout printing, poster, banner), borderless printing with an adjustable amount of extension, duplex printing, number of copies, printing order and collate options.

    Standard paper: From A5 size (148.0 x 210.0 mm / 5.83 x 8.27 in) to legal size (215.9 x 355.6 mm / 8.5 x 14.0 in)

  • Non-standard paper: From 54.0 x 86.0 mm to 215.9 x 584.2 mm (from 2.13 x 3.39 inches to 8.5 x 23 inches) in the sheet feeder; from 89.0 x 127.0 mm to 215.9 x 297.0 mm (from 3.50 x 5 inches to 8.5 x 11.69 inches) in the cassette.

  • Others: Envelopes (European DL and US Com. #10) Photo Paper Pro (A4, Letter, and 4" x 6" / 101.6 x 152.4 mm)

  • Photo Paper Plus Glossy (A4, Letter, 5" x 7" / 127.0 x 177.8 mm, and 4" x 6" / 101.6 x 152.4 mm)

  • Photo Paper Plus Semi-gloss (A4, Letter, and 4" x 6" / 101.6 x 152.4 mm)

  • Matte Photo Paper (A4 and Letter)

  • Glossy Photo Paper (A4, Letter, 4" x 6" / 101.6 x 152.4 mm, and Credit Card)

  • Photo Paper Plus Double Sided (A4 or Letter, and 5" x 7" / 127.0 x 177.8 mm)

    The Stamp/Background page lets you select an overlay stamp to print on your pages. Choose from Draft, Important, Confidential, Secret or define your own. You may also select a background image.

    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.

    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. Because of the lower paper cassette, the iP8500 also has a Bottom Plate Cleaning option. 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. 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 what a "low" ink tank looks like. 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 half empty. Unlike those opaque Epson and HP cartridges, you can actually see the ink level thanks to the use of clear plastic

    I always enable the Preview option (found on the Main driver page), this is displayed just before the printer begins to actually print. Here you can visually verify your image cropping, orientation, paper size, media type, paper source and the printing type (borderless / bordered) -- before accidentally wasting a sheet of expensive photo paper because a driver setting was incorrect.