Canon PIXMA iP4600 Photo Printer

Pixma iP4800I can’t live without a photo printer so when my Canon i960 suddenly died after many years of reliable service, I started searching for a replacement. Because of the good luck I’ve had with Canon printers, I decided to stick with the brand.

Three “strucks”

The first thing that struck me is that there were only three current choices for consumer, full-sized photo printers at the Canon website. I wanted a dedicated printer because I’ve never cared much for multi-function printers – one function goes and you’re without a fax, copier AND printer while it’s in for repair.

The second thing that struck me is how much the prices of printers have come down since my last purchase. Plus you get a lot more features for the money.

5 ink tanks with LEDsThe third thing that struck me is that the photo printers under my consideration only use five ink tanks (four dye-based inks plus a pigment-based black ink). My i960 had six and I always thought more is better. A Canon sales person explained that inks have improved during the years. For consumer-level photo printers, there is no longer the need for photo magenta and photo cyan.

I was skeptical, but found the explanation to be truthful.

Why I bought the Canon iP4600

I decided to buy the Canon iP4600. It cost only $20 more than the Pixma iP3600 and has more total print nozzles: 4,415 vs. 2,368. Not only was it on sale but I received an additional 10% off under the Canon Customer Loyalty program. Next day shipping was free too.

Set-up

It took me about 30 minutes to complete the initial set-up. Fortunately, the instructions in the Getting Started Guide are very easy to follow. The iP4600 is a fairly large printer, but is better and more contemporary looking than my previous printers. It has some useful features such as automatic duplexing, two paper trays and automatic paper selection.

Image quality of the Canon iP4600

I was always pleased with the photo output of my i960. Images produced by the iP4600 are on par with it; in fact overall the colors seem ever so slightly more true-to-life. Using Canon’s own photo paper and ink tanks yield photo lab quality prints with a longevity of up to 300 years!

About the iP4600’s automatic paper selection

The iP4600 has two paper sources with automatic paper selection: a rear tray and a front cassette.

But understanding how the automatic paper selection works is not readily intuitive. When plain paper is selected (A4, B5, A5, or letter-size) the printer feeds the paper from the bottom Cassette. If you select other paper types such as matte photo paper, the printer prints from the Rear Tray. You can override this by manually selecting the paper source as you go through the printing steps.

Easy-PhotoPrint EX software

The Easy-Photo EX software that comes with the printer functions similarly to the previous version I used, however it is much improved.

During the print process, you can accomplish basic editing tasks such as cropping a photo, correcting red-eye, brightening faces, removing blemishes and noise reduction. If you’re not into editing photos with special software, this method may be all you need to spruce up photos.

Saving print job settings and selections

One feature that is particularly welcome is that you can save print jobs.

Saving a print job creates an EL6 file and data folder

Saving a print job in Easy-PhotoPrint EX creates an EL6 file and data folder

Before exiting the Easy-PhotoPrint EX software you are given the option to save the work. An EL6 file is created (filename.el6) that remembers your photo selections and settings. An associated Data folder is also created that contains copies of the cropped and edited photos. Simply click on the EL6 file to open the same print job. Very convenient and useful.

The iP4600 manual

Do install the instruction manual when installing the printer driver and software. To get a full understanding of some of the new features and functions, you really need to read the manual.

The manual is divided into three parts: Basic, Advanced and Troubleshooting. It is fairly easy to navigate and information is well-written and illustrated.

Very pleased with the Canon iP4600 printer

Pixma ip4800I couldn’t be happier with my choice of the iP4600. The features are much improved over other printers I’ve owned, image quality meets my expectations and it costs a lot less money than expected.

My previous printer could sit idle for 4-6 weeks at a time. It never had clogged nozzles and I never had to buy new print head. I personally attribute this to using only Canon ink tanks and performing routine maintenance: a nozzle check, and an occasional cleaning or deep cleaning of the print head if needed.

I’m going to give the iP4600 the same care and hoping, in return, it will give me many years of the same reliable service as my i960.

If it doesn’t, you’ll hear about it here.

What I like about the Pixma iP4600

  • Produces lab quality photos
  • ChromaLife100 system ink lasts up to 300 years when stored and handled according to specifications
  • Prints laser quality black text (I use ultrabright white bond paper when not using photo paper)
  • Relatively fast printing
  • Quiet compared to other printers I’ve owned
  • Ink lamps (LEDs) glow to indicate when an ink tank is correctly installed, when it is low or when it is empty.
  • Much improved Easy-PhotoPrint software (EX)
  • Rear cover can be detached to remove jammed paper
  • Automatic duplexing (two-sided copying)
  • Automatic red eye reduction
  • Pictbridge compatible

What I dislike about the iP4600

  • Ink cartridges are expensive
  • When turning the printer on, start-up time for the first print is sloooooow
  • Getting Started Guide should include instructions about automatic paper selection – for first time users of this feature (and those who dislike reading manuals), it’s easy to erroneously assume how it works and waste lots of ink and photo paper trying to figure it out.

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