Alistair Maclean's Web Site
Canon PIXMA Pro 9000

Big Printer, stunning quality

I'm no Pro, and I can't afford professional level printers or for that matter much in the way of equipment (tempered by a modicum of Scottish thiftiness), but I have been trying for a long time to find a printer that I could get good quality from and didn't die within weeks.

I was willing to pay a little more, but not a lot more.

I believe sometime in 2006, Canon brought out the PIXMA Pro 9000 printer. This uses dye based inks, meaning that the prints are not as long lasting as those from pigment based inks, but the replacement inks do tend to be a bit less costly. The printer also had the advantage of being one of the few economical A3 paper sized printers (13 x 17 inches or so.)

I had gone through a succession of Epson printers before buying a smaller Canon printer. The Epson's I always found fouled the print head and ink had a tendancy to gum up the works. So, even if you did use it everyday, or just once a month, you had the same expensive ritual of unclogging the print heads.

I was tired of it.

The little Canon printer, an S890, had done great service and lasted well. So I was happy to buy another Canon printer. Canon printers are not the most widely available around here.

I bought this, sight unseen, from B&H Photo in New York. The printer arrived with a big sample pack of large sized papers for about $600.

I have had the printer about a year at this point and I am very happy with it. It prints beautiful images and does so on large paper giving the images even more impact. The printer fits in a shallow cupboard we have in the study here. I had to remove the cupboard door and some trim, but the printer fits just so! It's out of the way, and although I can't use the straight through print path, I find that I avoid the very heaviest papers anyway, so it's not an issue.

I have to say though that it's been a bit of a battle to get it to print the way I want it to. And that is the subject of the rest of this missive.

Printer Settings

I spent weeks and a good few sheets of paper finding some things out about the printer, some of which I dare say might be in the manual. Few people call me bright, with a straight face. I had been reading around about the colour casts on some black and white images produced by these colour printers and found someone commenting that they needed to turn off the printers handling of colour to get anywhere. This was a revelation!

Though interestingly, I think I found that this handling goes both ways, as we will see.

Colour printing

To get the best out of colour printing, and for the biggest images I am doing this directly from Photoshop, I found that you need to switch off the Printers colour controls. This is done through the Printer control.

Printer control

You need to select Manual "Colour / Intensity", then a second dialog comes up. On this dialog you need to set the Colour Correction to "None".

Printer control

This hands control of the colours to Photoshop and the printer drivers, not the printer itself. This really helps control the colours you produce.

Black & White

Interestingly, I think I have found that for the printing of black & white images you need to do this colour setting deal the otherway round. You have to tell Photoshop to generate an image but leave it to the printer to handle the colours themselves. On the Printer driver you then have to set it to do Gray scale printing. I have found this produce much less colour cast, and a colder, truer, black and white rendition.

Printer control


If you are going to print all over a 13x19 inch piece of paper you will use a lot of ink. I have to say though, that this printer is remarkably economic in its use of ink, even when set to the highest quality. Granted, if you image is solid black, or solid any colour primary colour, the ink drains very fast.

From prior experience, I have decided to bite the bullet and only use Canon ink. The printer uses 8 cartridges of which two (red and green) never seem to go down much. The usual villains seem to be Photo Cyan and Photo Magenta. The ink is available on the web from $12 to $15 a cartridge. The cartridges have LEDs in them and presumably some electronics, so there don't tend to be a lot of other choices. I have not found an all black ink setup, like those available for the Epson printers.

© Copyright A. Maclean 2008
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