Canon Pixma MP990

Canon's Pixma MP990 missed out on last issue's photo printer group test but it fits right in to that category as a highly specified multifunction aimed at 'serious photographers', as Canon puts it.

NameMultifunction photo printer: Canon Pixma MP990
At a glance:9,600 x 2,400 DPI print resolution,WiFi connectivity,Six-colour printing
Summary:An impressive all-round performance from Canon's flagship multi-function photo printer. It really is a capable piece of kit.

Canon’s Pixma MP990 missed out on last issue’s photo printer group test but it fits right in to that category as a highly specified multifunction aimed at “serious photographers”, as Canon puts it. We’re serious photographers and many of our readers are as well, so into the PC World lab it went.

The Pixma MP990 is an imposing device; at 470 x 385 x 199 mm it needs a lot of desk space and at $599, it commands a premium price. It’s got a stack of features starting with wireless and wired LAN connectivity, USB by cable and flash drive (USB cable not supplied), PictBridge, and no less than three memory card slots including the professional’s choice – Compact Flash. There’s also CD/DVD disc printing, auto duplexing and slide and film scanning.

Interfacing with the MP990 is done on a 3.8-inch TFT display, controlled by a neatly laid out control panel with an iPod-style “Easy-Scroll Wheel” which works very well. Following the Getting Started guide made the setup procedure straightforward – drop in the print head, pop in the cartridges (red LEDs glow when each cartridge is properly seated), plug in a USB cable and you’re almost ready to go. The software takes a while to install but it’s a seamless process, requiring little user intervention. If cables aren’t your thing, then getting the MP990 printing wirelessly is a doddle – enter your Wi-Fi network settings using the scroll wheel and the PC software takes care of the rest.

The software suite has a good range of applications, including Canon’s Easy-PhotoPrint Ex, which makes printing very simple indeed; selecting images, paper sizes and so forth takes no time at all. ArcSoft PhotoStudio is the supplied image editing application but Canon recognises that advanced photographers will use advanced software, so it also supplies Easy-PhotoPrint Pro, a plug in for Adobe Photoshop CS or Canon Digital Photo Professional.

Ease of use and plentiful software is all very well but print quality is critical and the Pixma MP990 performed well in this regard. It’s a six-colour printer, with black, cyan, magenta, yellow, photo black and grey inks. Print resolution is 9,600 x 2,400 dpi and images printed on Canon’s Photo Plus Glossy II or Everyday Use Glossy paper were crisp and detailed, albeit not quite as sharp as the Epson TX710W tested in the July issue. Prints benefited from being adjusted in software or having the “Vivid Photo” box ticked as saturation was a touch light. There wasn’t even a hint of banding and wide areas of colour were absolutely uniform. The grey ink is claimed to enhance monochrome images and these were fabulous, with deep contrast and no colour abnormalities whatsoever.

The print and copy quality on plain paper was good, as was the resolution of scans, with deep colours and crisp edges.

Ink consumption was reasonable and there were no paper jams or operational hitches at all. Print speed on 4 x 6-inch prints at best quality was quick, averaging in at 61 seconds from the same laptop we used in last month’s group test, while A4 prints had an average print run of just under four minutes.

All in all, Canon’s Pixma MP990 puts in a very good performance. There’s nothing to complain about in terms of operation, ease of use or image quality. Compared with the HP and Epson units from last issue, the Canon’s price seems steep but then again, it had absolutely no issues with excessive ink consumption or wireless setup, so perhaps the cost is justified.

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Ashley Kramer

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