Digital Photography Now Printer Reviews

Printer review: Canon S900

11th March - 2002
By Ian Burley

12 pages of information and over 40 illustrations make up this detailed review of the new Canon S900 photo ink-jet printer.



Canonís S900 is the fastest consumer A4 photo ink-jet printer available. But is there a price to be paid for all that speed?

Page 1 - Introduction

Third generation technology

Canonís S900 (A4) and wide carriage (A3+) S9000 photo ink-jet printers represent Canonís third generation of dedicated photo-quality ink-jet printing solutions for the consumer market.

After being left behind by Epsonís superior photo ink-jet offerings for several years, Canon introduced the BJC-8200 Photo in 1999. A brand new 1536 nozzle 1200dpi print head, combined with reformulated inks, plus the introduction of Canonís Photo Paper Pro super glossy media, signalled Canonís intention to regain its photo quality lead.

Descendant of a flawed gem

The BJC-8200 was a slightly flawed gem. We marvelled at its ability to hide dot grain and deliver images that were not easy to distinguish from traditional photos. Ink costs were kept low through the use of separate ink tanks for each colour (click here for a DPN investigation into ink-jet running costs). However, the colour balance in BJC-8200 prints wasnít quite right and black density was considered a bit weak.

To its credit, Canon recognised the deficiencies of the 8200 and when the S800 arrived, wider gamut inks were introduced for both printers, old and new. If you have a BJC-8200, you can use the S800ís new BCI-6 generation inks, instead of the old BCI-5 8200 inks. A revised BJC-8200 printer driver for use with the new BCI-6 inks is available for download from Canonís Web site. BCI-6 inks continue to be used by the S900 and S9000.

Canonís S800 dealt with most of the BJC-8200 faults and was widely viewed as the benchmark photo ink-jet printer. It was also clearly the fastest photo ink-jet printer, thanks to its 1536 nozzle print head, faster processing and faster paper handling. Resolution was also increased from 1200x1200dpi to 1200x2400dpi with the S800. The S900 and S9000 use exactly the same print heads and print at up to 1200x2400dpi.

New features to add

Canon didnít rest on the S800ís laurels for long.  Epson had already introduced borderless printing and itís no surprise to find this included in the new S900, as well as the new S820D and S9000. Canon also decided to make the S900 faster still. It achieved this by doubling the print head nozzle count again to a remarkable 3072. That the S900 and S9000 can print photos as much as four times faster than an Epson 890/895 is, therefore, no surprise.

More showroom appeal

Canon has also simplified and improved the printer driver (click here) and for the first time there is continuous ink level monitoring. Elsewhere, the physical design of the S900 exhibits a lot more showroom appeal than its predecessors.

So, for the same money as an S800, you get a sleeker looking machine, twice as much print speed, borderless printing and an improved printer driver. But is this enough to keep Canonís competitors at bay?...


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