The small, yet innovative evolution of Canon’s Pixma range of single and multi-function inkjet photo printers has always kept them at the top of the tree and needless to say, have dominated our Editor’s choice list too. Thanks to a nice combination of quality and high speed. The iP4850 can give you some surprises, like the Canon iP4700 which it replaces. The Canon Pixma iP4850 Photo Printer comes with a wide range of features that make it highly capable of printing photos, documents, plain papers and more.  Let us see what this mid-range photo printer and inkjet document printer has in store for us in this review.

But first a look at the highs and lows of the Canon PIXMA iP4850

Positives:

  • Excellent quality for both documents as well as photos
  • Lightweight, compact, solidly built and meticulously put together
  • Good print speeds with superior precision
  • Rear tray paper feeders & Dual full-sized A4 cassette
  • Direct & Auto duplex printing onto DVDs & CDs

Negatives:

  • No Ethernet connectivity or Wi-Fi
  • Running costs – bit higher than some of Canon’s previous models including the iP4500
  • Short of all-in-one extras such as scanner, copier, etc
  • No major advancements over the Pixma iP4700
  • No memory card slots, therefore direct printing is only through the PictBridge interface

Design features:

The Canon PIXMA iP4850 Colour Photo Printer (product code: iP4850) is perfect for pleasure or work. This photo inkjet printer is an absolute beauty – a black printer built with a smart silver lining and comes as an excellent option if fuss-free good quality and stylish printing is what you are after. The Canon Pixma iP4850 is built with more or less the same printing specifications like the Canon MG5250 multifunction, but is short of copying and scanning like the built-in colour screen that will for sure keep costs down. The machine is much cheaper too, carrying a price tag of around £99. It obviously is one of the cheapest printers from Canon designed with a 1-picolitre print head that gives you nice detail for both grayscale and colour prints.  Physically identical to the iP4700, it has a glossy finish and same low profile and coming to the printing, there is not much difference between the two with only minor changes under the hood.

Canon PIXMA iP4850 Colour Photo Printer

Performance:

Five-colour ink system:

The Canon iP4850 Photo Printer is built with a five-colour ink system which can take five different ink cartridges and this has been exclusively designed for the latest range of Pixma printers. The print head comes as a separate unit and can be replaced if required. The ink consists of dye-based black ideal for photo printing, pigment black made use of for only plain paper printing and the regular dye-based magenta, cyan and yellow inks suitable for both plain paper documents and photos. The difference in print quality is therefore hardly noticeable with the same perfect sharp detail and colour tones in photographs and diagrams. We found the text blemish-free and bold and the iP4850 can print double-sided and directly onto optical discs with the tray supplied by the manufacturer.

Print quality:

Photo printing and full quality do not seem to suffer though. The PIXMA iP4850 Colour Inkjet Printer can produce nice image detail in its well-saturated and rich photo prints, with very few perceptible flaws. We did observe a little amount of detail loss in certain yellow print areas.  It is able to manage Greyscale prints with not a great deal of graininess noticeable on gradient and excellent detail in darker printer areas. The pigmented black ink can give solid-looking, dark lettering; on the other hand the illustrated business documents featured rich colours. The photos seem to be brilliantly coloured with clear black and whites. The default settings can give a bit of over-saturation, but found the effect both attractive and simple to change if you do not like it. The only downside is that there was some discernable dithering on certain areas of subtle shading.

Print cost in Pixma iP4850:

All the ink cartridges are available online at a price little under £12, though these are pre-releases prices. The print cost of 3.5p per mono page, 6.9p per colour page and 10.4p per mixed-colour page is likely expected in future. Not to mention that the pigmented black pages at this time seems to cost more than we had expected. We also found that 6x4in photo costs 32p and 52p on Canon Photo Paper Plus and Canon Photo Paper Pro II respectively.

The running cost of the PIXMA iP4850 is quite reasonable in terms of the manufacturer’s quoted print figures. But take into consideration, the actual number of photos you plan to print as these figures is a measure of the rated page yield when it comes to monochrome and text documents. Photo printing consumes a lot of ink, therefore you will need to replace the print cartridges soon after a period of use. You will be able to purchase a complete set of ink for approximately £40 at the manufacturer’s recommended retail price, though some online stores offer them at much cheaper prices.

Print speeds:

There have been some obvious improvements that Canon has made over its predecessors when it comes to print speeds such as the mono text sped of 9.7ppm and draft speed of 13.8ppm which is appreciable. It just took under a minute to print a full quality 6”x4” photos and 4 minutes is what it took for a ten-sided draft colour duplex print. Having said this, the speed enhancements to draft printing has led to a slight slump in quality. The mono text seems to be slightly jagged and looks a bit grey, however no problems as such was observed in its legibility, though the draft colour looks quite washed out and the small fonts are speckled and jagged. We also instantly noted a significant upgrade in its document speed. All the previous models that measured rates of 5.8ppm in colour and 8.8ppm in mono have been increased to 6.1ppm and 10.5ppm respectively. With the exception of this, it is more of the same with the A4 photomontage still taking 1min 38seconds.

No scanning/copying functions:

The Canon PIXMA iP4850 Inkjet Photo Printer does not come with a flatbed scanner for scanning documents or copying them either. It is short of an LCD colour screen and the photo printer does not have any memory card slots for printing directly. This in particular is a bit of a concern with the claims of the PIXMA iP4850 as a photo printer and it would have been a handy inclusion. However, the iP4850 is PictBridge-compatible and this means you can connect the camera directly for printing that way. You need to know a bit about the printing interface of your camera and do have the cable close at hand too.

Paper handling:

Paper handling for the PIXMA iP4850 is offered by a 150-sheet cassette and 150-sheet rear tray.  When you load the paper tray through the rear tray, the PIXMA iP4850 has the ability to print on both sides and this is a useful feature to have if you need to cut down on paper costs. Generally, 20 sheets of photo paper (6x4in or A4) can be loaded at once. The PIXMA iP4850 defaults to photo paper in the tray and plain paper in the cassette, but the maintenance setting of the printer software helps you to change this in no time. You will have no trouble setting up the PIXMA iP4850 and its software and this may take only about 10 minutes. The printer comes with two USB ports. The PC can be connected via the rear connector whilst the front could manage PictBridge.

The upright feeder comes in pretty useful when you are loading the photo paper and this means you do not have to swap paper every time when switching between photo printing and document. A few printer models including the Epson PX720WD and HP Photosmart Plus come with a separate photo tray, but you only get a photo tray of postcard size which is of no good when it comes to A4 photo printing.

On many older models of Canon, there is a paper feed switch you may find on the front of the printer, but Canon has done away with this on the Pixma iP4850. This actually can help avoid slight confusion because the printer driver can override the paper feed switch anyway. There is an automatic option that helps choose the rear tray for printing photo and lower cassette for printing document, though this could be overruled in Printer Properties.

Canon PIXMA iP4850 Inkjet Printer

Advanced Media Handling:

With the two-way paper feeding allowing one to load several paper types at the same time, the PIXMA iP4850 gives you real versatility enabling you to print directly onto compatible Blu-ray discs, CD-ROMs and DVDs. You can easily print documents on double sides of the paper with the help of the Auto Duplex feature.

Software & tools:

One feature that gives the Canon a cut above the rest is the accompanying software and tools. The iP4850 makes use of new CLI-526 and PGI-525 inks, but of course the advantage does not really lie in its extra capacity, rather the tanks are chipped and users utilizing a complete set of Canon inks can have full access to ‘Creative Park Premium’ – an addition to Canon’s existing art and creativeness website.

Creative Park Premium:

This is an online service that allows you to download illustration and photos from world-renowned artists and photographers including the likes of Beatrix Potter and Norman Rockwell, et al. You can use the images freely and the website allows you to convert into professional looking greeting cards, calendars, prints and other creations. It comes as a neat bonus though it is a must-have feature. Note that the access is available only with machines installed with Canon genuine inks.

Full HD Movie Print:

If the ‘Creative Park Premium’ does not seem to excite you, the other recent addition in PIXMA iP4850 is the Full HD Movie Print which enables you to capture memories by transforming your digital camera movie moments of Canon into lovely prints using the Full HD Movie Print. Just play your movie with this software and pause for capturing a frames or frames for printing. Advanced and new Canon technologies improve the photo quality of the image produced, which you may never conceived possible from a movie. If you have a PowerShot or Canon EOS camera that can record HD video, this function can capture a still from any scene, improves and prints it as an excellent quality photo. Barely a mainstream aspect and it is a shame that not much video types are supported, but yes the appeal can be seen.

Easy-WebPrint EX- Intelligent software:

Easy-WebPrint allows you to easily and quickly clip and combine formation from multiple numbers of web pages. Auto Photo Fix helps optimise your photos with correction including removal of red eye. The Easy-PhotoPrint EX helps in creating easy layouts for printing calendars, photos and features a Flickr search function for finding suitable images that are publicly available.

Dimensions:

Weighing 5.7kg, the iP4850 is relatively compact at 431mm (W) x 297mm (D) x 153mm (H). Like most printers, there is an increase in the overall depth once you extend the input and output trays completely, but to a space-friendly 550mm in this case.

Manufacturer warranty:

The product is covered under a manufacturer’s warranty period of 1 year from the original purchase date.

Verdict:

Launched earlier this year, the quality of the Pixma iP4850 is more than enough for printing documents everyday. There is the high quality mode that makes colours slightly vibrant if you want the best. But that is it. Same PictBridge port, USB interface, two paper trays with running cost above average. To be honest, there is nothing at all available to lure owners or users of the iP4700 to upgrade. Said this, the speed enhancements and several additional features add to the performance of this reliable single-function document and photo printer. You do not get a USB cable which comes as a disappointment to some people, but we thought it is sensible because why do you need a new cable with every machine once you have one. And do not get startled if you do not find one in the box!

Canon PIXMA iP4850 Colour Photo Printer – Technical Specification Details

Manufacturer Canon
Model Name Canon PIXMA iP4850 Colour Photo Printer
Model Number iP4850
Printer Type Ink-jet (colour)
Multifunction No
Ink type Pigment-based black, Dye-based black & colour
Inkjet Technology Single Ink technology – 5 unique ink tanks
(PGI-525PGBK, CLI-526C, CLI-526BK, CLI-526Y, CLI-526M)
Max. Printing Speed Up to 11.0 IPM (mono)
Up to 9.3 IPM (colour)
Max. Printing Resolution Up to 9600 x 2400 dpi
Dimensions (W x D x H) 431 x 297 x 153mm
Weight Approx. 5.7 kg
Ink drop size 1 picolitres
Number of ink colours 4
Number of ink cartridges 5
Paper input capacity (max/standard) 300 /300
Paper inputs (max/standard) 2 /2
Paper size/weight A4 (max)/ 300gsm (max)
Media Type Plain Paper, Photo Paper Pro Platinum (PT-101), Envelopes,
Photo Paper Plus Semi-gloss (SG-201), Photo Paper Plus Glossy II,
High Resolution Paper (HR-101N), (PP-201),
Matte Photo Paper (MP-101),
Glossy Photo Paper ‘Everyday Use’ (GP-501),
Photo Stickers (PS-101),T-shirt Transfer (TR-301)
Media Support Front Tray: Up to 150 sheets
Rear Tray: Up to 150 sheets
1 printable DVD, Blu-Ray Disc or CD (Direct Disc Print Tray)
Standard Media Capacity Rear Tray: A4, A5, B5, Legal, Letter,
Envelopes (Commercial 10 or DL size),
13 x 18cm, 10 x 15cm, 20 x 25cm
Cassette: A4, A5, B5, Letter
DVD/CD Printing Yes
Borderless Printing Yes (Letter, A4, 13 x 18cm, 20 x 25cm, 10 x 15cm)
PC Connection Availability Hi-Speed USB (B Port)
Automatic Duplexing Yes
PictBridge support Yes
Memory Card Support No
Direct (PC-less) printing Yes
Compatible OS Mac OS X 10.4.11 – 10.6, Windows XP/Vista 64-bit/7 32-bit/
Vista 32-bit/7 64-bit
Printing Software Canon Easy-PhotoPrint EX (including Full HD Movie Print)
Canon Solution Menu EX
Canon printer drivers
Canon Easy-WebPrint EX
Driver features Collate, booklet print, multiple page per sheet print,
scaled print, poster print, Photo Noise Reduction,
fit-to-page print, photo effects
Power Consumption Peak power consumption:17W
Idle power consumption:1W
Power Supply AC 100-240V
Noise Level 46.5dB(A)
Operating Temperature 5° – 35° C
Accessories Power cable
Warranty 1 year