Canon Pixma iP3600
Priced at just $139 the Pixma iP3600 is a handsome and compact little unit in its piano black livery. It takes five ink cartridges made up of magenta, cyan, yellow, photo black and a double-sized plain black.
Ted Gibbons | Tuesday, December 01 2009
Product type: Photo printer
RRP incl GST: $139
Cheap to buy and reasonable to run, the Canon produces good, but not great photo prints.
Priced at just $139 the Pixma iP3600 is a handsome and compact little unit in its piano black livery. It takes five ink cartridges made up of magenta, cyan, yellow, photo black and a double-sized plain black. The four standard-size cartridges retail for $28 each, and the double-sized black is $30, making $142 to fill the iP3600 up. Loading the inks and print head is a simple process and each cartridge lights up red when properly seated in position.
A top feature of this printer is that it provides a bottom front-loading tray for plain paper, while all photo paper loads in the rear tray. With this system there is no need to unload plain paper when you want to print a photo, and vice versa when you want to print a document.
As an entry-level machine, the iP3600 offers only USB connection to a PC, and while it does provide a PictBridge connector for a digital camera, there is no LCD screen on the printer for previewing or editing images. No memory card reader slots are provided either.
Loading the provided software on a PC is a fast two-minute install and you’re then provided with the Easy PhotoPrint EX application for preparing and editing your images, and the handy MyPrinter interface to check the status of the printer – like ink levels – and troubleshoot any problems.
It was only when I folded out the paper output tray that I began to see where a few dollars may have been saved on this machine, it was very flimsy and just asking to be broken off.
Within the Easy PhotoPrint software I was pleased to see I didn’t have to first load images into a library. The Pixma was happy to use a normal file menu search to locate images. Clicking on an image then pulled it into the next pane of the software, and you could then select the number of prints you wanted simply by clicking up/down arrows below the image. All images chosen for print are then loaded into a horizontal pane at the bottom of your screen.
While you’re preparing images here you can also access plentiful correction and enhancement options. Automatic adjustments include red-eye removal, face sharpening, and digital face smoothing. If your photo subject is anything but a blemish-free youth, the face sharpener can be pretty cruel, bringing pores, spots, blotches and wrinkles into sharp relief. Face smoothing takes things in the other direction by adding an almost soft focus filter to skin for that magazine-style Photoshopped look. It’s also possible to compare what you’re doing to the original image by placing the original and the adjusted image side by side. If you overdo anything, just hit reset to take the image back to what it was before.
Manual correction offers a blemish removal tool so you can be more selective about what you edit out, and also provides colour, contrast, brightness, and sharpness adjustment.
The next step is to choose your type of paper and paper size, and then what kind of layout you want – borderless, framed, two-up on a page etc.
Knocking out a 6 x 4-inch borderless print took the iP3600 anything from 37 to 46 seconds, which makes the average very close to the 41 seconds Canon claims on the printer’s packaging.
Printing an A4 image took just over three minutes on average.
Print results showed good resolution (Canon claims a printing resolution of 9600dpi), brightness and shadow detail but I found colours to be a little inaccurate, with greens in particular being washed out.
Running the iP3600 until it ran out of ink in at least one cartridge produced a total of 140 6 x 4-inch prints. At this point the yellow cartridge was empty, the cyan and magenta were at half-mast and the blacks were still essentially full.
A 100 sheet pack of Canon’s Glossy 6 x 4 paper sells for $30 online, so if we say we’ve used $28 worth of yellow ink, $14 each of the cyan and magenta, and used 140 sheets of paper at 30c each, we’ve spent $98 to get 140 prints (or 70c a print). That’s not a very scientific analysis but it provides a comparison to an online service or a kiosk that will charge you $28 in total for 140 prints at 20c a print.
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