Canon Pixma G550/G650 - cheap 6 ink-tank photoprinter

Started Sep 22, 2021 | User reviews thread
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techie takes pics Senior Member • Posts: 1,642
Canon Pixma G550/G650 - cheap 6 ink-tank photoprinter
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This is a brief impression of the new Canon Pixma G550 photoprinter.

It offers a couple of design choices which make it interesting for photographers.

Model numbers

The printer is the same as the Canon Pixma G650 (that model has a scanner and copier function). It is also branded as the G620 in other countries. The printer presents itself on the network as "Canon G500 Series".

Different design choice - 6 photo inks

It is obvious this printer was inspired by the Epson Ecotank series, down to the individually keyed ink bottles. It is however not a copy, but a unique product.

The Epson Ecotank is meant as a complete printer. It comes with a pigment-black ink for documents, a duplex unit and different paper-feeding options.
The Epson design choice is: A printer with large tanks is going to print a lot, so it must be versatile enough for all your printwork.

The Canon printer makes a different choice. Here the design philosophy is: You want a refillable ink tank printer for photos, but you already have an office printer at home. Therefore, this printer can be focussed on photo printing.
Here is another design choice: Since your documents are printed by your office-printer, pigment-black is swapped for another photo-color (red). That should lead to better quality ( I did not compare that, btw).

So the Epson is more versatile. But look at the price.
By focussing making this a dedicated photo-printer, leaving out the scanner, card reader and duplex unit, Canon can sell this printer for €209.

Cardridge-anxiety

One good way to destroy an inkjet printer is: "That image has a lot of color in it. How much ink will that cost?".
If you leave your printer alone, it will dry out.

That's where the tanks come in. The printer comes with a full load (not 50% as some budget printers). The tanks contain 60ml of ink, which is 4-8 times as much as cardridge based printers.

It takes away anxiety to print, and that's a good thing.

Selling point (or: Who is this printer for)

I don't sell prints. The only way I can justify a photo printer is to offset the costs of online photographic prints. If I can't do that, I should simply keep using online printing services.
Therefore a printer for me can not cost €600+.

At the same time it must deliver real quality. There is no point in printing your own photos if you can't get the quality.

I know they say 'annoyance over low quality remains long after the joy of the low price is gone' - but there is a limit to what I can spend, or I might as well buy from a professional printing service.

For me, it does deliver high quality at an amazing price.
At 1/5th of the cost per print, I can print something that looks great on my wall. I can give out great looking prints to friends and family.

Unpacking

The printer comes with 6 bottles and 2 printheads. It needs some installation which is not obvious.
I recommend to read the manual.

The ink bottles are keyed to their respective ink tanks and can not be mistaken. They fill the tank in a matter of seconds.

It takes 8 full minutes to align the heads and load the ink into the tubes.

Printer from the inside. You can see six ink tanks in all, and the two printheads in the middle.

Connecting the printer to the WiFi network needs to be done once. Entering the password with up and down buttons is never fun. The password only displays the last character entered - the rest is starred out. This, in my opinion, it cargo-culting and completely unnecessary.

Use

When you load the printer with paper you need to set the size and type of paper through the menu on the printer. It really needs to know this.

That is also why it's not an office printer: It has no extra tray for normal paper. Imagine that whenever you need to print a document, you first walk to your printer, load it and set the paper type.

Printing is easy. You can print from any program. Windows finds the printer on the network, and without installation of software or drivers it gives full access to all the features.
Linux does the same, and so do Android and iPhone.

The printer does throw an error if your computer tries to print on a different type of paper than is actually loaded.

Test of Quality

  • I made testprints at the maximum paper size.
  • I ordered the same at the same size at a professional printing service.
  • I used the test images from https://www.northlight-images.co.uk/
  • I compared matte and glossy prints and photo's
  • I did not use any ICC profiles.

Those photos cost me €20. Don't say I didn't take the quality seriously.
I had to wait a day for delivery. The Canon prints cost me €2 and were done in 10 minutes.

I used:

  • Canon PP-201 glossy paper
  • Brandless 'premium' glossy paper from a generic printing consumables webstore.
  • Brandless matte finish 'premium' paper.

I saw no difference in prints between different 'glossy' papers. Obviously there is a difference between glossy and matte.

Actual testing & results

I asked my neighbour who was a professional photographer in the film-days. I asked my daughter for an unbiassed first impression.

We looked at strawberries, skin tones, details, sharpness, colors, transitions, color cast and overall impression.

The Canon is a little sharper in some details. It also has a slightly warmer tone. Side by side, it looks like the colors are a little more saturated and the contrast is dialed up a notch. I think this is done in software to make the prints 'pop', much like is the fasion in mobiles today. It is noticeable in a side-by-side comparison. The print itself is excellent.

Impression of how I tested. You can't judge quality here.

Conclusion:

This printer goes beyond 'acceptable' prints. This is really, really good.
You can hand this to someone, and it's a photo.

Bottom line: What can it do

  • Borderless printing up to A4
  • Quality is like photographic prints
  • It is a great printer for enthousiasts who like complete the photographic journey by printing their photographs. If you do this often, this printer is good idea.
  • It prints directly from smartphones and tablets.
  • It is driverless. I have used it from an Android phone, a Windows computer, a Linux computer and an iPhone.
  • It's a workhorse. If you want an inkjet to dry out, then leave it alone. This machine is meant to be used.

What can't it do

  • No pigment. There are no pigment printers in this price segment.
  • It prints with Chromalife 100, not the 100+ version. I guess this where it met the Canon Cripple Hammer. It could easily have been made for Chromalife 100+, and they didn't.
  • Durability may be an issue. You probably would not use this to sell prints.
  • A4 is the maximum - I need to outsource larger prints than A4.
  • It's no speed devil: a maximum size print takes 4:40.
  • Black and white. Obviously when ordered it will make a print in black and white. But it only has black and grey to work with. It's not a dedicated B&W printer.
  • Not an office printer. It can print the odd document, but if you need that often, you should probably have a €100 laserprinter.
    If you have no printer, and you're looking for an allround printer: This is not it.
  • No full duplex printing, no card reader. This is not a feature of the Canon Cripple Hammer - this is how the printer can be this cheap affordable.

Bottom line

I am impressed by the quality of the prints I can now produce at home.
This really is an alternative to a true photographic print.

I think regular printing can improve your photography in a way screens can't. There is something final about a print which makes you more critical about the image - knowing you can't change it with a slider.

I recommend this printer to anyone who is looking for a serious photoprinter but is held back by the cost.
If you also feel that with cardridges you would either pay too much, or print too little, then this is the printer for you.

If you are a professional photographer, who makes money from selling durable photographs to high-paying clients, then a Canon Pro series printer will pay for itself.

But if you can not justify a €700+ printer, then you can get the €700 quality at 1/3 of the price. Just know this is a photo printer; it does not double as an office printer.

 techie takes pics's gear list:techie takes pics's gear list
Olympus PEN E-P5 Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Olympus E-M5 III Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F2.8 OIS +8 more
techie takes pics's score
4.5
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