Pixma Pro9500 Mark II review

Canon’s Pixma Pro9500 Mark II is the first new model in the world of professional-grade printers since its predecessor went head-to-head with HP’s Photosmart Pro B9180 in the summer of 2007.

The new Pro9500 uses the same ten-ink system of ‘Lucia’ pigment-based inks as the first version. This supplements the standard cyan, magenta, and yellow inks with ‘photo’ versions of cyan and magenta – lighter versions for a wider range of shades. This is topped up with red and green inks (for more accurate representations of skin tones and plant life respectively) and finished with three blacks.

The Pro9500 Mark II doesn’t change the Mark I’s colour system. Where we saw an improvement is when working with 16-bit images in Photoshop: the Pro9500 Mark II ships with new XPS drivers for Windows Vista and CUPS drivers for Mac OS X, enabling such images to be printed without down-conversion to 8-bit – which photographers working with Raw images shot with digital SLRs will appreciate.

To print using these drivers you need to first install them from the Custom Install function on the drivers’ disc. The Getting Started manual doesn’t mention them at all – that information is buried inside the electronic manual. This is indicative of the Mark II’s software overall, which is a mess and poorly documented.

Printing 16-bit images requires Canon’s Easy-PhotoPrint Pro software. This can be used from Photoshop through the Automate menu. While it can be fiddly and slow to use – due to it offering every image you have open in Photoshop up for printing – selecting the right output driver and paper properties is simple.

The software’s main purpose is to avoid a clash of colour management between Photoshop and the printer driver, but it also provides access to the new Ambient Light Correction. This allows you to print images to look ‘correct’ under different types of fluorescent lights with colour temperatures from 3000K to 6500K. However, this feature isn’t available on Mac OS X, the platform most designers will be using.

Easy-PhotoPrintPro also runs as a plug-in for Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software for EOS camera users – but not as a plug-in for Aperture or Lightroom.

Also new, apparently, is version 2 of Canon’s Colour Management Tool Pro, which allows you to profile specialist papers if you own a high-end spectrophotometer such as X-rite’s Eye-One Pro. However, Canon hasn’t included the software in the box, and at time of writing it wasn’t on the company’s website. We’ve seen the first version, which is easy to use, but is not available for Mac OS X 10.4/5.

OUR VERDICT

The Pixma Pro9500 Mark II is an excellent printer that photographers capturing Raw images will appreciate due to the quality of its 16-bit output. Illustrators and designers working in 8-bit may prefer the HP B9180’s price tag – which is £140 lower – built-in calibrator and network connectivity.

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