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Are High-End Ink Jet Printers Worth Your Money?

Photo Quality: Black-and-White

OriginalCanon Pixma IP8500
Epson Stylus Photo R800HP Photosmart 8450

The Pixma IP8500 is the only one of these printers without a specific cartridge for black-and-white prints. And that can be seen right away. The black is heavily accentuated over the entire photo, and while the result is still very good, it's far from matching what its two competitors were able to do. The Photosmart 8450 has a cartridge dedicated to black-and-white, containing black ink and shades of gray. Thanks to this cartridge, the result was nearly perfect. Only a slight lightening is visible compared to the original. Without the black photo cartridge - which unfortunately is optional -, however, the Photosmart 8450's black-and-white prints had a very slight tendency to move towards sepia. But here again, the Stylus Photo R800 did best. In addition to the usual black ink, it has a dedicated black photo cartridge for improving contrast. The result is that it's very hard to tell the difference between the print from the Stylus and the model.

Text Quality

IP8500 - Corps 2IP8500 - Corps 10IP8500 - Corps 72
Epson R800 - Corps 2Epson R800 - Corps 10Epson R800 - Corps 72
HP 8450 - Corps 2HP 8450 - Corps 10HP 8450 - Corps 72

The quality of text output may be relatively unimportant for printers like these, almost exclusively dedicated to photography, but it's a point that can't be neglected. The test document was printed with standard settings rather than in draft mode. The Photosmart 8450 was far behind the other printers. Though two-point text remained legible, the page as a whole was very pale. The Stylus Photo, on the other hand, stressed the depth of the black, which tended to make the ink run slightly with small fonts. The Pixma IP8500 provided a good compromise and seems to produce the best results in terms of text quality.