Canon Pixma MG8120
The Canon Pixma MG8120 uses six inks; Magenta, Black, Gray, Pigment Black, Cyan and Yellow. However, the Pigment Black ink is only used for text printing, while the dye-based Black handles photographs. Setting the printer up is straightforward: a print head cradle has to be inserted first, followed by the ink tanks (odd that Canon calls these tanks rather than cartridges). Software and printer installation is equally stress-free, just let the Easy Install wizard take care of things for you.
As with many multifunction devices, when setting up the MG8120 you will be prompted to install several so-called bonus applications, most of which are very basic. It may be advisable to check out what is being installed by selecting a custom install.
|The MG 8150 boasts a generously-sized platen for scanning A4 or letter-sized documents||Five of the MG 8150's six inks (minus Pigment Black) are used for photo printing, and the printer is capable of excellent results.|
The MG8120 has a high-gloss piano-black finish which is guaranteed to instantly show up any fingerprints and dust - arguably not an ideal choice. However, the construction of the unit itself is of a very high standard with good attention to detail. I like the way the trays close flush to the printer body, which also serves to prevent household objects accidentally falling into the works.
On the top surface there is a flip-up 3.5" (8.8cm) TFT screen display which displays the MG8120's various menu and status screens. When turned off, the printer appears to lack physical controls, but once powered up, a series of illuminated touch sensitive buttons appear beneath the display. These look very stylish and respond quickly to touch.
The MG8120 provides the option to print directly from various media – SD, Compact Flash and Memory Stick cards and and USB flash drives. It also supports PictBridge-compliant cameras, although bizarrely, the PictBridge port is tucked away at the base of the unit - why didn't the designers incorporate it into the Memory card compartment?
The MG8120's rear feed paper tray is well concealed at the back and can be folded out to hold up to 150 sheets of photo quality media. The plain paper tray is located in the base at the front of the unit, this will also hold a modest 150 sheets. Though, if you choose the double sided printing option, (only available for plain paper), then you have effectively got a 300 sheet printing capability. As far as build quality is concerned, my only real concern about this printer centers around these trays. Both the front and rear media trays seem rather fragile, and neither inspire long-term confidence.
A separate CD/DVD label printing tray is included with the MG8120, this slots in at the front, but you have to manually align the arrows on the tray with those on the body of the printer. These arrows are located inside the printer and if you view at wrong angle then you can easily end up a couple of millimeters out, resulting in an off-centre label on your CD/DVD.
Having made my opening statement regarding Photo Capable printers I wasn't expecting a high quality photo print from the MG8120 since it only uses five inks; CMYK and a single gray. Our borderless test print took 2 minutes 14 seconds, not an unreasonable time, but I've have seen faster. However the color quality that this printer produces is outstanding, especially when printing on Canon Pro Platinum PT-101 media.
Our test print displays excellent skin tones on Sophie, she has a pleasingly warm skin tone, albeit perhaps a bit too warm for total accuracy. Thanks in part to the two monochrome ink tanks, the black and white shot however, is totally neutral without any hint of a cast. The print accurately displays the many subtle tones in both shadow and highlight areas and the final result is about as good as I'd expect from anything outside of a dedicated monochrome printer.
The RGB CMY BGW color patches display clean solid vibrant colors, although slightly darker than the original file. The original image is viewed by transmitted light through the monitor, whereas our print is viewed by reflective light, therefore you are never going to achieve total accuracy. The gradients are very smooth from a solid color to white. I was pleasantly surprised how well four colors managed to produce such subtle tones - I have seen prints created with printers that use more colors which pale by comparison.
The cotton reels which add roundness of tone to the colors are accurately reproduced. The black and white cotton reels show fine detail in the strands, i.e. the black areas haven't blocked up and the white areas haven't burnt out. Text characters are well defined although the serifs are tending to break away. (Serifs are the short strokes at the base of a character also known as the feet).
White text on black is a tough test for any printer, and the Canon coped well with this although fine strokes in the letter ”e” were missing. This is nitpicking though and ultimately the MG8120 produces excellent quality photos which will satisfy most users. Even the most demanding photographer will find it hard to fault.