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Canon Pixma IP8500 and the Epson R800
Canon Pixma IP8500 and the Epson R800

This article is a tad old, but its still very relevant. I recently decided that my cheap ass Canon S520 (paid $50 refurb at Frys) is lacking compared to modern printers. I also recently started doing more photography and decided it might be nice to have a nice printer. Tom’s Hardware did a nice review of the 3 current $300-400 range printers from Canon, Epson and HP. Anyway, so sum up…

The Canon and the Epson were very close and better overall than the HP. The Canon IP8500 had the edge in Speed. The Epson R800 has its edge in better Quality and print Longevity (uses pigment based inks instead of dye based). The Epson also had a couple little features I think might be nice the canon doesn’t, roll paper, firewire, and better fine art paper selection. The Canon on the other hand has pictbridge (lets you print from memory cards), duplex printing (double sided) and a user replaceable printhead. The Epson print head is not user replaceable, so if its damaged or clogged and can’t be cleared using self-cleaning it needs to be sent in for repair. Although, I hear in the latest models this is less of a concern, I would use your printer occasionally to keep the heads clean and follow the directions when replacing ink. I’ve also heard one of the caveats of any of Epsons printers is that if you switch print qualities they tend to go crazy about head cleaning and in general they tend to be fussy if you don’t use them often.

I hear the Canon prints can have some color variation compared to the Epson’s when viewed in different lighting conditions, as well as they tend to be a bit exaggerated which can make printing portraits (which have subtle skin tones) a little challenging. On the other hand your average pictures will look brighter and more vibriant.

From pcworld’s review, they both seem to have almost identical photo print costs.

A. So if you need the extra speed and want to sacrifice a very small touch of quality for a nice boost in speed, the Canon is your man.

B. If you demand the highest quality and want fade free water resistant archival quality prints on a variety of papers and follow the directions to keep your heads unclogged the Epson is a winner.

After taking a look at some print samples from both printers, its very very close. I would need to have identical prints to really tell you which one is better, but it does look like the Epson has the edge. Its detail from its 1.5picoliter drop size just seems to edge out the 2picoliter drops on the Canon.

I think for most users the feature list will be the deciding factor since they are so close to each other in quality.

P.S. Ok, I take it back, after reading tons of additional reviews I think the less hassle of the Canon is winning over the archival inks of the Epson. They simply clog too often from user reports than I think is worth it to me. I don’t print every day and I don’t want to waste $10 in ink warming my printer up every couple of weeks.

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