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Canon Pixma iP8720 Review First Look & Getting Started


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The Canon Pixma iP8720 was announced in January 2014 and is the successor to the Canon Pixma iX6520. It is a 13" wide, five color, dye based photo inkjet printer. Designed for bold color reproduction on any quality inkjet paper, the iP8720 is a photo printer that should be considered by the graphic designer, agency, business user, and greeting card enthusiast.

Just the Facts

13" wide photo quality inkjet printer

Print 4" x 6" up to 13" x 26" banners

Six Dye Based Inks - Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Black, Gray, Pigment Black

Estimated Retail Price $249

Ink Cost - About $11.99 for standard size and $17.99 for XL size

Standard Ink Tanks - Holding about 7 mL of ink each

Opening the Box

The Canon Pixma iP8720 box arrived in good condition after its long journey. The printer came well packed with all of the accessory pieces stored in separate bags. After plugging in the printer, the quick start guide got us started in a few simple steps.

The Canon iP8720 shipping box includes:

  • iP8720 Wireless Inkjet Photo Printer
  • Power Cord
  • Setup Ink Tanks
  • Setup CD-ROM
  • Disc tray
  • Manuals and other document

Inks

The Canon iP8720 uses Chromalife 100+ dye based inks, model CLI-251. The printer also uses one pigment black ink cartridge for text and document printing.

The printer comes with starter ink cartridges. A small amount of ink will be used in the printer setup, but you will still have plenty left to make prints and become familiar with the machine. Once installed you will see a light on the front of the ink tank illuminate and glow steady red. The same light blinks slowly when you're low on ink and quickly once the tank has been depleted.

Canon iP8720 Ink Tanks Included

  • Black CLI-251
  • Cyan CLI-251
  • Magenta CLI-251
  • Yellow CLI-251
  • Gray CLI-251
  • Pigment Black PGI-250

CLI-251 inks are available in standard and XL sizes. Ink volume in each is listed below.

 

Ink Volume in milliliters
Standard CLI-251 7 mL
XL CLI-251 11 mL
   
Standard PGI-250 15 mL
XL PGI-250 22 mL

Anatomy of a Canon ink tank

A - Bottom of ink tank and ink outlet.

B - Ink reservoir

C - The onboard chip stores and reports ink level. It does not really know how much ink is physically in the tank. Rather, it starts at 100%, then records nozzle firing data sent from the printer and subtracts volume. The system is very accurate, and you will indeed have a dry tank when it comes time to do a replacement.

Print Head

The iP8720 print head / ink cartridge assembly comes in a separate sealed bag. A large orange plastic cover must be removed to reveal the head. Installing the head, then inks into their carriage is simple and takes about a minute.

Being able to inspect an inkjet print head up close is very interesting. It gives you a good idea of the amazing technology involved in inkjet printing and the truly small scale of a print head.

 

Getting Ready to Print

Once all of the inks were installed, the printer charged up and was ready to begin printing in less than five minutes.

The assembled printer is 23.3"(W) x 13.1"(D) x 6.3"(H), and weighs 18.6 pounds.

You'll want at least 4" of clearance from the back of the printer to the wall for proper operation.

When fully extended, the front paper tray extends 12" from the front of the printer.


Front Control Panel

The front control panel of the iP8720 consists of three controls:

  • Power button with light
  • Resume / Cancel button with warning light. Errors will be displayed by different sequences of blinking. Consult your online manual for help with decoding the sequence should you have a problem.
  • Wireless connectivity button with indicator light

Connectivity

The iP8720 can connect to your computer via Wireless LAN, Hi-Speed USB, or PictBridge(Wireless LAN).


Media Paths

The iP8720 has one media path and a CD/DVD printing tray

Red River Paper's experience thus far is that the rear tray can hold up to 50 sheets, depending on the thickness of your paper. Photo papers like luster, satin, and glossy at 10.4mil are expertly handled by the iP8720 with no misfeeds. If you're using matte paper or thick media, fewer sheets should be fed in at one time. Fine art stock, canvas, and specialty paper should be fed one sheet at a time.

Top standard media tray

CD printing tray


CD Printing Capability

Above you can see the CD holder that comes with the printer. The holder is placed into a front slot on the left side of the machine. Please note that you'll need specialty CD or DVD media coated for inkjet printing. Canon's My Image Garden software is provided to set up and print discs.

Print Speeds and Results

Print Quality

The iP8720 offers the appearance of continuous tone. That is to say, when you're printing a typical photograph, the dots of ink that make up the photo are not visible at normal viewing distance or even fairly close inspection. This is especially true when printing on satin, luster, and glossy media. Solid blocks of color are uniform and smooth looking. Only in some mid-tone areas will you occasionally see a few dots. Again, one would need to be unnaturally close to the print to see them! As far as inkjet printing goes, the iP8720 produces outstanding photo quality.

Print Speed

A test file at 240ppi (shown at right) was printed and timed using the settings listed below:

8x10 Satin Time
High Quality (Level 2) 1 minutes 41 seconds
Standard Quality (Level 3) 1 minute 7 seconds
   
8x10 Matte Photo Paper Time
High Quality (Level 2) 1 minutes 54 seconds
Standard Quality (Level 3) 1 minute 38 seconds
   
4x6 Satin Time
High Quality (Level 2) 1 minutes 41 seconds
Standard Quality (Level 3) 1 minute 7 seconds

Quality Settings & Print Differences

We printed the target file on 66lb. Arctic Polar Satin and 47lb. Premium Matte using the Photo Paper Plus Semi Gloss and Matte Photo Paper media settings, respectively. The prints were allowed to dry eight hours, and then evaluated under balanced 4700k Solux lights.

Below are examples of printing at Level 2, the highest setting and Level 3 or standard quality.


Satin - Level 2 (Better)

Satin - Level 3 (Standard)
   

Satin - Level 2 (Better)

Satin - Level 3 (Standard)
   

Satin - Level 2 (Better)

Satin - Level 3 (Standard)

   

Matte - Level 2 (Better)

Matte - Level 3 (Standard)

Matte - Level 2 (Better)

Matte - Level 3 (Standard)

Matte - Level 2 (Better)

Matte - Level 3 (Standard)

Little noticeable difference between print quality settings is apparent at viewing distance. Upon close inspection, the highest quality setting made smoother tonal transitions and cleaner edges (areas of the photo where color shifted drastically). The most obvious difference was apparent in solid colors. Using the highest quality setting yielded much better solid color rendition with the least amount of grain and banding.

In conclusion, printing at standard or better quality for photographic printing seems to make little difference except for print speed. However, for graphics and art reproduction, where solid colors are common, we recommend using the highest available print quality setting.

Printer Driver Tour

Quick Setup Tab

The Canon iP8720 printer drivers are basically unchanged from previous printer models. We're starting on the Quick Setup tab, which contains most of the controls you'll need for printing.

From this menu you can choose the media type (paper type), paper size, print quality, and other important features.

Main Tab

We recommend using this screen as much as possible as it gives you access to the custom print quality and manual color controls.



Media Type

When setting up a print job, you must tell the printer the type of inkjet paper (media) that you are using. Think of the media type as part color profile and part ink throttle. Different inkjet papers need different amounts of ink to perform properly - and this is where the media setting becomes important.

If you are using ICC color profiles, the media type is critical. You have to set the media according to your profile's instructions in order to get the best results.

Note! You will not see alternative paper brands, such as Red River Paper, in this listing. Only manufacturer inkjet media are in this drop down.

 

 


Quality Options

Print quality can be controlled from the Quick Setup and Main tabs.

Quality Choices

On either the Quick Setup or Main tab, quality settings of Standard and High are available when using photo quality media.

To access the custom quality menu, go to the Main tab, click on the Custom radio button, and then click Set. A slider controls the print quality setting. Level 2 corresponds to High and Level 3 to Standard quality. You will also find a third quality choice, the Level 1 setting. Canon has not given this setting a named label. We will call it "Highest" for the purposes of this review.

Only glossy, semigloss, and luster media settings have Highest quality as an option. Lower quality settings such as Fast (Level 4) are available when plain paper or envelope media are selected. You would choose this setting for text and light graphic printing.

 

 


Color / Intensity

The iP8720 driver color controls have an Auto and Manual mode. In Auto mode, the printer is completely in control of color management. You'll choose this setting if you are not using a printer color profile, and if you have found the printer's default setting to offer adequate output quality.

For finer control, or to use printer color profiles, click the Manual radio button then click Set...

 

On the Color Adjustment tab you'll find a number of sliders. These are "rough" controls for color saturation, brightness, intensity, and contrast. We say rough because there is no color managed preview of your image with the changes. The workflow pattern would normally be print, adjust, print, and adjust until you got the desired results.

One answer to the problem is to use a printer color profile (click for this printer's profile library) for the iP8720 and your paper. Profiles take the guesswork out of correction and faithfully reproduce your file to the best of your paper's ability.

The iP8720 will perform at its best if you download and use a printer color profile. Red River Paper and Canon both provide profiles for this model series. You can certainly print using printer color management (the printer driver in control of colors). Just keep in mind that the printer really comes to life when printing with a profile.

 

 


If you are using a printer color profile (ICC profile), then you will select the Matching tab. Under the heading Color Correction you'll find:

Driver Matching - this is the default setting when the printer driver manages colo.

None - this setting turns off the printer driver's color controls. Use this setting when you have a printer color profile and are using it to print via Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, Qimage, and the like.



Page Setup

Controls for paper size, print orientation, and layout options are on the Page Setup tab.

 

 

Borderless Options

Of particular interest are the Borderless print controls. When Borderless is selected, you will notice the Amount of Extension slider appear. When printing without borders, the iP8720 will automatically stretch out the edges of a file to insure ink covers the edges of the paper. You can increase or decrease this function. Move the slider to the left for more extension. If you have a photo with important details at the edges reduce the amount of extension to avoid those areas being cut off.

 

 

Borderless Sizes Choices

 

At right, you will see all of the possible Canon iP8720 borderless size options. These are set by the factory and cannot be modified.

 


Custom Paper Sizes

Like other Canon printers, the iP8720 allows you to define custom paper sizes. The limits:

Paper Width: 12.95" - After some experimentation, we found that a custom size set to 13" causes a print error. Using 12.95" fixed that issue. You will notice 16.54 on the width scale. This seems to be a software coding error.

Paper Height: 26.61" - We found the effective maximum print height is 26".



Maintenance Tab

The Nozzle Check, Head Cleaning, and Print Head Alignment are all critical tools to have if you experience a drop in print quality. You can call up your printer status dialog from this screen.


Custom Settings

You will find a very important control in the custom settings menu, Prevent Paper Abrasion. Always turn it on when you use heavy or specialty media. We recommend using the feature with papers over 12mil thickness.

Ink Drying Wait Time controls the pause between print head passes. Because dye inks dry rapidly the setting will likely not need to be changed.

If you use custom sizes and encounter a driver error relating to paper size and setting compatibility, try turning off the Detect Paper Width option.

Included Software

Descriptions are taken from the Canon online manual.

My Image Garden

My Image Garden is an application that allows you to utilize photos taken with digital cameras and other images saved on your computer, in many ways for various purposes. You can organize a vast number of images easily, or create collages, cards and other items from your favorite photos and print them. Moreover, you can perform various scans with one click.

Quick Menu

Quick Menu is software that allows you to easily start the applications and manuals supplied with the machine, or quickly access online product information. In addition, with simultaneously installed Image Display, you can enjoy patterns of collages and other items created automatically by the item recommendation function of My Image Garden as well as slide shows of images saved on a computer.

Easy-WebPrint EX

Easy-WebPrint EX is software that allows you to easily print web pages displayed in Internet Explorer.

You can print a web page by automatically reducing its size to fit the paper width to prevent the edges from being cropped, or by selecting pages in preview.

My Printer

My Printer is an application that allows you to display the setting screen of the printer driver or look up solutions to operational problems.

 

Performance with Different Paper Types

Our line of premium inkjet papers includes over 30 that work well in the Canon iP8720. You can see the most popular papers here and order a sample kit here.

Photobase Glossy, Satin, Luster, Metallic

Typical of five color inkjet printers, the iP8720 performs best with high tech photobase papers. These are the glossy, satin, luster, and metallic products that look and feel like a photo lab print. Papers like 68lb.UltraPro Gloss 2.0 and 66lb. Arctic Polar Satin and the stunning Polar Gloss Metallic 255 (formerly 66lb. Polar Pearl Metallic) are sure to please when paired with the iP8720.

Photo Matte

Of keen interest to greeting card lovers and graphic artists are the matte photo papers. These are products with a smooth surface and have no reflection. They are perfect for images and work where fine detail is important. A flat surface means more light gets directly back to your eyes. This means you see more detail and are not distracted by glare. Papers like 47lb. Premium Matte, 60lb. Polar Matte, and the light-weight 32lb. Premium Matte all performed well with good black density and excellent detail.

You will greatly benefit from use of printer color profiles when printing on matte surfaces.

Fine Art Papers

Because the iP8720 has the all important rear top paper tray, it can use specialty and heavy papers that range from 100% cotton to fiber-based bartya. Make sure to set the "Prevent Paper Abrasion" feature in the printer's utility when using these inkjet papers.

First Impressions

After spending five days with this printer and printing about 50 images, we find the Canon iP8720 an excellent replacement for the iX6520. The printer's speed and color quality are on par if not slightly better than the older machine.

Positives

  • Photo quality from the iP8720 is good and is for all intents continuous tone. Dots become visible only on magnified inspection of a print.
  • Good color gamut made even better with printer profile use.
  • Print speeds making it good for greeting card and higher volume print jobs.
  • Robust paper handling from both the regular paper tray.
  • Compatible with virtually any quality inkjet paper.
  • Better fade resistance from ChromaLife 100+ inks.

A Fine Inkjet Greeting Card Printer

If you are looking for a greeting card printing solution, we say the iP8720 is a fine choice for the job. Like most Canon printers, the iP8720 will feed card stock consistently through the standard paper tray. Being able to put a stack of Pecos River Gloss note cards into the tray, set the job and walk away is huge for card printers. Add in the speed, photo quality, and robust build and you have a professional quality desktop card printing system.

Issues

It would be nice to be able to print images longer than the 26" limit set by the driver. Paper sizes like Red River Paper's 13x38 allow for large scale images and design printing. The standard ink cartridge capacity of 7 mL seems small in comparison to other desktop models. The XL tanks at 11 mL are a better choice. However, we feel that pricing for the larger tanks should reflect some volume discount, but that is not the case at this time.

Have Questions? Want to Know More?

Please Contact us via the support center with your questions about the iP8720, or anything inkjet related. We're happy to share our knowledge from 16 years in inkjet printing with you!

 

 

 

 

 

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