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The M8120 is one of the first printers to use Canon's new Intelligent Touch System, where the buttons that control the printer are touch controls on the printer body itself. The buttons are only illuminated when they are needed, depending on which mode the printer is in: buttons that aren't relevant don't show up, presenting a simpler interface for the user.See the two photos below for an example of how this process works.

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The printer when it is turned on: the three buttons below the screen choose the mode

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After the mode is chosen, more buttons light up as they are needed

The scanner is located underneath the top panel.

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The scanner bed of the MG8120

Ink Cartridges

The MG8120 uses 6 ink cartridges in all: the standard cyan, magenta, yellow and a large black, plus a gray and photo black. The idea of the two black cartridges is that documents are printed using the standard black, but photo prints use the separate black which is more suited for photo paper use. The gray ink also allows for better black and white photo reproduction, Canon claims.

Photo Print Speed

Canon claims that the M8120 can produce a 4 by 6 inch photo print in approximately 20 seconds. That's an ambitious claim, but we have found previous Canon printers to be pretty speedy. We'll have to wait to get this printer into our labs before we can say too much about the real print speed, and the speed at printing different sizes. 

One interesting feature here is the new Full HD Movie Print feature, which can print a still frame from a movie captured by a Canon or other compatible camera or camcorder. This works directly with the captured video file: you just put the memory card into the printer and it loads the video file and allows you to choose the still frame to print.

Document Print Speed

Canon did not reveal any details of the plain paper print speed of this printer, and we were not able to test this.

Ink/Toner

The MG8120 uses 6 ink cartridges in total. These include 3 standard color cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow), a gray ink and two black cartridges. The largest of these is a pigment black used for printing on plain paper, while the other black is used for printing photos. The gray ink is used for printing black and white photos.

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Media

The MG8120 can handle paper sizes from 4 by 6 inches up to legal sized paper. At all sizes, prints can be borderless. As befits a photo focused printer, it can handle a wide range of paper types, from plain paper up to thick, heavy photo papers such as Canon's own photo rag paper.

Paper Storage

There are two paper trays on the MG8120: a slide-out paper tray on the front of the printer that can hold up to 120 sheets and a special paper tray at the back of the printer. The paper tray to use can be selected from the controls on the top of the printer or from the driver software.

On-printer Controls

The MG8120 uses a different approach to the controls on the printer than most: rather than a sea of physical buttons, the printer uses touch controls that are only illuminated when they are required. So, if you are printing a photo, the scanner control buttons don't show. When they are not in use, the other controls are pretty much invisible: they look just like another part of the case.

CANON-MG8120-buttons1.jpg

The printer when it is turned on: the three buttons below the screen choose the mode

CANON-MG8120-buttons2.jpg

After the mode is chosen, more buttons light up as they are needed

In our limited time with the printer, this control system seemed to work well, with a logical layout that did a good job of presenting just the buttons that are needed. This would definitely be a plus for novice users, as the interface is less intimidating than most multifunction printers.

On-Printer Display

On the top of the printer body is a 3.5-inch LCD screen. Canon didn't specify the resolution of this, but it did look clear and bright to us. This screen can be folded flat against the printer body, or tilted up to 90 degrees when in use.

On-Printer Menus

The menus on the MG8120 are pretty simple and straightforward, with three options on each screen that match up with the buttons below the screen. Thescroll wheel and directional pad below the printer screen offer two ways to move through menu screens.

Media Slots

The media slots of the MG8120 are located on a panel under the left side of the front of the body. Support is offered for all variants of Memory Stick, SD and CompactFlash memory cards. Unusually, the printer can also write out to these memory cards, so you can scan directly to memory card or copy documents to them over the network.

The media slots of the MG8120

Wireless & Network

WiFi is built into this printer, with support offered for 802.11 b/g/n networks. In combination with the included driver software, this allows any computer on the network to scan from or print to this device. You can also print directly from Apple iPhone and Android mobile devices with software that Canon offers for free download.

Scan Features

The MG8120 includes a scanner under the lid. This offers an optical resolution of 4800 by 4800 in normal scan mode, or 4800 by 9600 in film mode. With interpolation, this can be increased to 19200 by 19200, although it remains to be seen how much of a price there is in terms of image quality from this upscaling. The scanner works internally with a 48-bit color depth, but this is downscaled to a more usual 24-bit color in the outputted file.

No auto sheet feeder is included on this printer: you have to place the pages yourself, one by one. There is, however, a film holder that makes it easier to scan slides and negatives. This is cleverly built into the printer on the underside of the lid, and has a built in holder for 35mm film negative strips.

The film holder of the MG8120

To scan film, you insert it into the film holder and use the Canon software, which automatically runs the scan and detects each image, saving them as separate files. The scanner and software can also cope with mounted 35mm slides, but other slide and negative sizes are not supported by the software. They can be scanned manually, but the software that automatically detects and creates individual scans doesn't support them.

Scan Speed

Canon didn't supply any figures for the scanning speed, and we are not able to test this.

Copier Features

Because it includes a scanner and printer, the MG8120 can act as a copier, and Canon claims that it can produce a full color copy in 15 seconds. We weren't able to verify this claim. Copies can be enlarged up to 400 per cent, or reduced down to 25 per cent. Up to 99 copies of a document can be produced, and a number of features to enhance the quality of the copy are included, such as face brightening (which tries to improve the quality of detected faces in photos) and fading correction, which tries to boost the contrast of faded documents or photos.

One thing that is missing here is an auto sheet feeder (ASF): to scan multiple pages, you will need to do them one page at a time.  There is no optional ASF available, so this will not be suitable if you frequently need to scan large documents.

The MG8120 is an interesting package for the photographer who wants an all-in-one device; it combines a document printer, photo printer and photo scanner into one. And the specifications look great: the printer and scanner are high resolution, and have a lot of features that could make scanning and printing easier. We weren't able to test the performance of the printer and scanner, though.

Canon is also breaking new ground with the Intelligent Touch control system, which simplifies the interface by only showing buttons that are relevant to the mode it is in: printing buttons for photo printing, copier buttons for copying, etc. This new approach looks promising; it definitely simplifies and clarifies the interface for novice users, but it remains to be seen how it works in everyday use.

This is also not a small printer: at 18.5 inches wide and 15.5 inches deep it takes up a lot of desk space, and will dominate all but the largest desks. However, it does fold up nicely, so it won't take up any more space than that when it is not in use.

Meet the tester

Richard Baguley

Richard Baguley

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