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Product Tour Summary
  • The Pro 9500 Mark II is a large, bulky printer
  • The paper trays fold out of the way tidily when the printer is not in use

Front

The Pro 9500 Mark II is a simply designed printer. There are no screens or menus, instead, there are only three buttons and a couple of flashing lights that warn of an error. This is because printers like this are designed to be controlled by computers, not to act as stand-alone devices. There are three ways for paper to enter the printer: the standard tray on the back, a single sheet feed just above the paper output tray and a flat path paper feed tray on the back of the device.

Side

In the side view, you can get a better view of the paper trays, which are in the open position.

Back

The back of the Pro 9500 is the home to the USB and power connections for the printer, as well as the flat path printer tray.

Ink Cartridges

The Pro 9500 ups the ante in terms of the number of ink cartridges; there are 10, while most other printers have 8 or fewer. Canon's own Pro 9000 Mark II uses 8 cartridges, for instance. The cartridges that the Pro 9500 Mark II use are Matte Black, Photo Black, Gray, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Photo Cyan, Photo Magenta, Red and Green. The ink is Canon's own Lucia formation that is also used on their professional large format printers, which they claim provides a wider gamut range than other types with fewer colors. The cartridges it uses are Canon type 9 cartridges that are only usable in this printer and the original Pro 9500, so you can't use a stock of ink cartridges from an older printer unless you are upgrading from the original Pro 9500. 

**In the Box **

The Pro 9500 Mark II comes with a pretty minimal set of items in the box. You get:

  • The printer
  • A set of ink cartridges
  • Print head
  • Power Cord
  • Two software CDs
  • Quick start guide

Noticeably absent from this list is a USB cable, a printed manual or any sample paper. The manual is available on CD (and can be, ironically enough, printed out from there), but the USB cable is a common, but annoying omission; don't forget to buy one if you don't have one available. Also absent is any sample packs of paper, which is another slightly frustrating omission.

Setup & Software Summary

The Canon 9500 Pro Mark II has good drivers for both Windows and Mac
Comes with a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements for both Windows and Mac

**Setup & Manuals **

Although the Pro 9500 Mark II is a fairly complex printer, the setup process is pretty striaghtforward and is well described in the included getting started manual. We were able to go from cracking the box open to making our first print in about 35 minutes. The setup process involves unboxing the printer, taking off the myriad bits of sticky tape that hold the bits in place during shipping, installing the print head, then installing the 10 ink cartridges and waiting for a few minutes while the printer initializes and checks the device out. Once that's all done you can install the drivers and software and run a test print that checks the print head alignment.

Like all Canon printers, there are two manuals for the Pro 9500 Mark II: the printed quick start manual that comes in the box and the full manual that is on the CD. Both of these are well put together and cover most of the things that you will need to know, with the quick start guide covering the setup process in detail. The full manual is divided into two sections, one for basic operations and one for advanced operations. Both manuals can be downloaded here.

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**Drivers **

Canon continues their excellent tradition of including drivers and software for both Mac and PC users on the same CD that is included with the printer. The drivers are the programs that sit between the image editing program and the printer itself, and control the printing process. On both platforms they were straightforward and easy to use, and we had no major problems performing common tasks such as printing, changing the type of print or setting the media to use.

Windows users get 5 different screens on their version of the printer driver: Quick Setup. Main, Page Setup, Effects and Maintenance.

Mac users are presented with 4 different screens for controlling the printer, with screens for Quality and Media, Color Options, Borderless Printing and Margin. The maintenance features of the printer are accessed through a separate program that isn't part of the driver.

**Software **

The software selection that comes with the Pro 9500 Mark II is reasonable: as well as the drivers and utility software described above, you get a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements, a decent (if a little basic in some respects) image editing and organizing program. However, most people who are willing to spend $849 on a printer will most likely already have a more powerful image editing application such as the full version of Photoshop installed, so it may not be that useful for most buyers. Also included is Canon's own Easy-PhotoPrint EX software (which is another basic image editing and cataloging application) and Easy-PhotoPrint EX Pro, which offers similar functions and runs as a Photoshop plug-in.

**Other Software **

The Pro 9500 Mark II does not come with any other software, such as network scanning or printing packages, etc.

Print Speed Summary
  • The Pro 9500 Mark II is a very slow printer
  • Printing documents on plain paper is also slow; about half a page a minute

**Photo Print Speed **

The Pro 9500 Mark II is not a fast printer, by any stretch of the imagination; in the highest quality printing mode, it took a lengthy 11 minutes, 24 seconds to produce the largest print size it can handle (a 13 x 19 print).  Smaller prints took a long time to come out as well: we measured the time to produce a 10 x 8 print at 4 minutes and 17 seconds, and a  6 x 4 print took1 minute and 50 seconds. That makes it the slowest printer we've tested by a long chalk: the Canon Pro 9000 Mark II could produce two prints in the time that the 9500 Pro Mark II took. do For more on how we test print speeds, see this page.

**Document Print Speed **

Printing in the highest quality print mode for plain paper (which the driver refers to as High), the Pro 9500 Mark II is not a speedy device: it managed a snail-like print speed of 0.56 pages per minute, which is even slower than the Pro 9000 Mark II. At the Standard quality setting, it was quicker; we clocked it at 1.08 pages per minute in this mode, which is better, but still pretty darn slow. But, to be fair, this printer isn't really designed for printing documents on plain paper; it is a photo printer, and low-end laser printers are cheap enough that you could buy one of them as well if you need to print plain paper documents a lot.

Print Initialization

Like most inkjet printers, the Pro 9500 Mark II has to stop every now and then to clean the print heads; if it didn't do this, they could get blocked as the ink dries in them. The Pro 9500 did seem to do this a bit more than most, though: it did so before any print that was more than a couple of minutes separated from the one before, taking a 15 to 30 second pause while the print clanked and thumped as it cleaned the print heads. It also puased mid-print occasionally while producing a large print, which made an already slow printer somewhat slower.

Color Performance Summary
  • The Pro 9500 Mark II had very good color accuracy
  • However, it had soem issues with deep blues
  • The color gamut of the Pro 9500 Mark II was very wide

Color Accuracy

Normally, we test printers using IlfordGalerie paper as well as the manufacturer's own. However, the Pro 9500 Mark II is a pigment printer, and IlfordGalerie is not designed to work on this paper. So, we tested it using just Canon's own Photo Paper Pro Platinum. For more details on how our color accuracy tests are done, see here.

Pro9500-MarkII-CA.jpg

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above may not match the results used for evaluating color accuracy. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the exact printed colors.

We found that the smallest color accuracy we got was from the default profile for the Canon Pro Platinum paper that we used, so that's what we would reccomend that you use to get the best results. As you can see, though, there were some colors that were some way off here; in particular, the darker blues had some significant color error. But the overall error was fairly small, and is not significantly different from what we've seen from other high-end photo printers.

We can also look at this printer's performance compared with some of the other printers we've reviewed recently

Color Gamut

Color gamut is the range of colors that a printer can reproduce. The wider the gamut, the wider the range of colors that the printer can manage, which means that photos will look more realistic. The Pro 9500 Mark II did extremely well here, managing to reproduce 65% of the Adobe RGB color space. That's the largest percentage we've ever seen, and most printers only manage between 40 and 50%. For more details on how we measure color gamut, see here.

Detail Performance Summary
  • The Pro 9500 Mark II produced very deep blacks
  • Fine detail was also extremely well reproduced

Depth of Blacks

To produce good looking photos, a printer has to be able to produce deep, dark blacks, which is what we measure here. This measure of the density of the blacks in a print is often called dMax (short for density Maximium), and the Pro 9500 Mark II did extremelty well here: we measured the dMax at 2.84, which is significantly deeper and darker than what other printers manage. For more details on how we test the depth of blacks in prints, see here.

Detail

The Pro 9500 Mark II did a good job of reproducing the fine details that make a photo jump off the page, both with black and color details.

The Pro 9500 Mark II did a decent job with our color gradients: most of them look smooth and have no major evidence of banding. There was some banding on the black and blue (the latter of which might show up in blue skies), and the yellow was being bolstered by adding some black at the darker end of the gradient scale. But neither of these are likely to be major issues when printing photos.

Next, we look at a number of real world examples to see how the Pro 9500 Mark II deals with them.

Pro9500-MarkII-SS.jpg

Again, the Pro 9500 Mark II did an outstanding job here; the details are rendered well, but without being overwhelmed by the black. The higher density of the blacks also makes the Alice etching really stand out from the page; the higher contrast between the paper white and the blacks provides much more impact than the softer blacks of the other printers.

Printing Modes

When printing photos onto glossy paper, there are just two quality settings: Standard and High. As the exmaples below show, we didn't see an awful lot of difference between the two.

Inks, Toner & Media Summary
  • A full set of the 10 ink catridges costs about $146
  • The printer does a decent job of managing the inks, warning you when they are running low

Ink/Toner

The Pro 9500 Mark II uses 10 ink cartridges, each filled with Canon's own Lucia ink formulation. Canon claims that this pigment-based formulation provides wider gamut range than others with fewer inks, and that the addition of a grey ink means that the printer can produce smoother and more accurate black and white prints. These are the same inks used in Canon's professional printers that are aimed at print shops. Each cartridge can be swapped out individually. At the time of writing, Canon sells the cartridges for $15.99 each, or $145.99 for a value pack that contains all 10 cartridges. That's more expensive than the catridges for the Pro 9000, which cost about $110 for a full set. In our informal tests printing a mix of documents (with the majority being photos), we found that the first cartridge to run out was the grey, which was finally exhausted after printing about 40 8 x 10 photos, 10 4 x 6 photos and 10 13 x 19 photos.

Ink/Toner Management

The drivers that control the Pro 9500 Mark II do a decent job of keeping you posted on how much ink there is left in the driver; the included utility program shows the estimated level in all of the tanks whenever you start a print, but  didn't seem to be overly pessimistic in its estimates; we started to got low ink warnings when the ink cartridge was shown as being about 80% empty, which meant it could still do a large number of prints. If one of the printer cartridges runs out, there is no way to do a print until the replacement is installed; there is no way to make do with what cartridges you have installed.

Media

The Pro 9500 Mark II can print onto a wide range of media, both in terms of size and thickness: it supports paper sizes up to 13 x 19 inches, and paper that is up to 1.2mm thick. However, it cannot handle a couple of common printing tasks: it can't print to banner sized paper that is longer than 19 inches, and it can't handle printing directly onto CD/DVDs. The Epson R1900 and can handle both, but  the Epson printers is missing the flat paper path that makes printing onto some thick and inflexible media possible. You can still print CD/DVD labels if you use one of the many peel-and-stick printing systems out there, but these don't tend to look as good as labels printed directly onto the disc.

**Paper Storage **

The Pro 9500 Mark II has only one tray that can store paper: the rear paper tray can hold up to 150 sheets of standard plain paper, or about 20 sheets of photo paper. The other two paper input paths (the manual feed path on the back, and the single sheet feed on the front of the printer) can handle single sheets only.

Other Features 

Ambient Light Correction - Canon's new Ambient Light Correction feature applies a color correction that supposedly compensates for the charctaristics of different light sources, shifting the colors to the blue if you are displaying it under incandescent lighting, for instance. We found the effect to be interesting, but we doubt that many people will actually use it; most serious photographers don't want the software messign with their colors, and few people know in advance what kind of light they will be showing the prints under. This feature is also only available with Windows Vista: XP or Mac users don't get access to it.

Controls & Connectivity Summary

  • Only three buttons on the printer body
  • No screen or other controls

On-printer Controls

There are a mininal number of controls on the printer body: three buttons and two lights. The three buttons are for power, reusming and cancelling print jobs and and to activate the front feed paper path. A light next to the power button shows when the printer is turned on, and the light next to the resume/cancel button flashes when there is a paper feed error.

On-Printer Display

There is no screen or other display on the front of the Pro 9500 Mark II; all options and features are controlled through the printer driver.

On-Printer Menus*(0.0)*

There are no menus or other controls on the printer itself.

Media Slots

There are no media slots or memory card ports on the Pro 9500 Mark II; all prints have to go either through the computer that controls it, or fro the digital camera via the PictBridge port.

Wireless & Network

The only nod to the networked world on the Pro 9000 Mark II is the PictBridge port, which allows an appropriately equipped camera or other media device to print directly to the printer with no computer. There is no provision for connecting the Pro 9000 Mark II directly to a network, wired or wirelessly. If you want to share the Pro 9000 Mark II over a network, you will have to do that through a PC or Mac that is connected to the network itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canon Pro 9000 Mark II Comparison Summary
  • The Pro 9500 Mark II is the superior performer in most tests
  • The Pro 9500 Mark II is $400 more expensive

Performance

In most of our tests, t he Canon Pro 9500 Mark II is the superior printer. It has a wider color gamut and significantly darker blacks. The only area where the two printers are close is in color accuracy, where the Pro 9000 Mark II was very slightly more accurate. But the difference there was minor; most users wouldn't even notice the difference between the two.

Inks & Media

Although the two printers share many common features, they use very different types of ink. The Pro 9000 Mark II uses conventional ink in 8 ink cartridges, while the Pro 9500 Mark II uses pigment-based inks in 10 cartridges. This also means that they require different types of paper: the Pro 9500 Mark II doesn't play nicely with many standard inkjet glossy photo papers, as the pigment inks aren't absorbed by the paper properly. The Pro 9500 Mark II will work with most heavyweight art papers, though.

Both printers have the same set of pros and cons when it comes to different sizes of paper; they can both handle paper from 4 x 6 inches up to 13 x 19 inches. But neither can handle the bigger banner sized prints that some others (such as the Epson R1900) can print to. Neither of the Canon printers can print to DVDs.

**In Use **

Neither printer is particularly fast, but the Pro 9500 Mark II is the slower printer by a significant margin, taking over 11 minutes to output a 13 x 19 print. Both were also extremely slow at printing documents onto plain paper; both produced less than a page a minute.

Conclusion

If you are looking for the best quality prints, the choice is clear; the Pro 9500 Mark II is the best pick. But there's also the factor of cost to consider: the Pro 9500 Mark II costs $849, while the Pro 9000 Mark II is $400 cheaper. So, for most users, the Pro 9000 Mark II would make more financial sense, but for the serious photographer who needs the best quality prints, the Pro 9500 Mark II is worth the extra.

Epson R1900 Comparison Summary
  • The Canon 9500 Pro Mark II has deeper blacks and a wider color gamut
  • The Epson R1900 is significantly cheaper

Performance

Both printers have similar performance in our tests on color accuracy, but the Canon is the clear winner in terms of how much of the color gamut it can cover: it covers a much more significant percentage of the Adobe RGB gamut. The blacks from the Canon are also significantly deeper.

Inks & Media

Boht printers use pigment based inks, but the Canon uses 10, while the Epson only offers 8. The mix of colors that they use differs; as well as the standard cyan, magents a yellow, the Canon uses light grey, light cyan and light magenta, while the Epson uses a red and orange to bolster skin tones. The Epson also offers a gloss enhancer catridge, which works to avoid the bumpy effect you get on some papers where the paper expands as it absorbs ink; the R1900 sprays on a clear ink that causes even the clear parts of the print to expand in a similar fashion.

The two printers also differ in the media they can handle. Both can handle photo prints from 4 x 6 inches up to 13 x 19 inches, but the Epson takes it even further by supporting banner sized prints at sizes up to 13 x 44 inches. The Epson can also print to inkjet compatible DVDs and CDs; the Canon can only use the print and stick type of labels.

**In Use **

The Epson is the faster printer, but neither is particularly speedy, taking just over 6 minutes (the Epson) or 11 minutes (the Canon) to produce a 13 x 19 inch print. Both printers were also slow when it came to printing plain paper documents; the epson managed jsut over 2 pages a minute, but the Canon managed about half a page a minute.

HP B8850 Comparison Summary
  • Both printers are slow to produce prints
  • The Canon has a wider color gamut and deeper blacks
  • The HP has slightly smaller color error

Performance

The Canon Pro 9500 Mark II was the superior printer in most of our performance tests; we found that it had a wider color gamut and deeper blacks. There was not much difference in terms of color accuracy, though; both printers had decent color accuracy, but had some issues handling some of the colors that we use in our tests, particularly with blues.

Inks & Media

The Canon Pro 9500 Mark II uses 10 ink cartridges, while the B8850 uses 8. Both printers include two blacks (one for matte papers and one for glossy) and a number of lighter inks; the HP uses a light magenta, a light cyan and a light grey, while the Canon uses a grey and a photo magenta and photo cyan. The chemistry of the inks is different; the HP uses normal ink, while the Pro 9500 Mark II uses pigment inks.  What this also means is that the pigment inks of the Pro 9500 Mark II won't work well on most glossy photo papers; you need to use paper that's designed to absorb the pigment ink.

**In Use **

The HP is the faster printer, but neither are going to win any land speed records. Printing a 13 x 19 print, the HP took 9 minutes and 13 seconds, while the Canon took a lengthy 11 minutes and 24 seconds.
The Canon Pro 9500 Mark II is a serious printer, in every sense of the word. The pigment inks it uses produce very deep blacks and could manage a greater range of colors than most. But it's also a seriously expensive printer, at $849, and most photographers will be happy with a cheaper printer that produces decent prints (such as the Canon Pro 9000 Mark II or the Epson R1900). As such, it will only appeal to serious photographers who want top quality prints and don't mind paying extra for it.

Performance:

The Canon Pro 9500 Mark II had great overall performance; we saw very deep blacks and a wide color gamut in our tests. The color accuracy was a little off, though; our review unit had some problems with deep blues.

Inks & Media:

A complete set of 10 inks for this printer costs about $110, and we managed to run through two sets of cartridges in our tests. Although the Pro 9500 Mark II can print on paper up to 13 x 19 inches in size, it is also worth remembering that it doesn't play well with many glossy inkjet papers; you need to use paper that can absorb the pigment inks properly. It also can't handle banner sized paper; 13 x 19 is the largest paper size that can be printed.

Other Features:

There are no other features; the Canon Pro 9500 Mark II doesn't include memory card slots or other extras.

Meet the tester

Tom Warhol

Tom Warhol

Editor

Tom Warhol is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.

See all of Tom Warhol's reviews

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