The Canon SELPHY CP900 is a truly portable and mobile* printer, that is aimed at photographers of all kinds, not just iPhoneographers, but Instagramers and digital camera photographers.
Whilst the CP900 has a wide range of features, and has been designed for both smartphone and digital camera users alike, this review will concentrate on just the features that are applicable to iDevice users.
Like all the printers in the Canon SELPHY range, the CP900 has been designed to produce 6x4 inch photo-lab quality prints, using dye sublimation technology, but unlike the other models, the CP900 has also been designed to appeal to users of social photo sharing networks, like Instagram, with its dedicated square format paper, holder and dye-sub cartridge.
SETUP: The SELPHY CP900 was a breeze to setup. Following the simple quick guide I had the printer unboxed, loading with paper and dye-sub cartridge, and attached to my wireless network, and ready to print, in no-time at all.
FEATURES: The Canon SELPHY CP900 features…
- Ultra-compact, portable photo printer: The SELPHY CP900 photo printer fits perfectly anywhere in the home and it’s portable enough to take to parties and family events.
- Wi-Fi connectivity: Wi-Fi support lets you print quickly and easily from smartphones, tablets, PCs and compatible cameras without a cable.
- Fast, lab-quality, durable prints: Anyone can print professional quality long lasting photos in less than 1 minute by simply pressing a button. Dye sublimation technology provides superb depth and colour gradation for a similar look and feel to traditional lab prints without the wait. A postcard-size print, for example, takes around 47 seconds. A special overcoat protects each print against splashes, spills and fading and lasts up to 100 years stored in an album.
- 6.8 cm (2.7”) tilt LCD: The user-friendly design includes a 6.8 cm (2.7”) LCD with a tilting function for easy operation and viewing. On-screen instructions are simple to follow and include support for 13 languages.
- Print from memory cards, cameras or USB sticks: For quick prints just connect your PictBridge-compatible camera directly to the printer. You can also print from a range of memory cards, including SDXC, via the integrated card reader, and from USB flash drives for greater flexibility.
- Range of print sizes: The printer offers many ways to share your memories including postcard (148 x 100mm), square (50 x 50mm) or credit card (86 x 54mm) sized prints – all in super-quick time.
- Auto Image Optimise: Auto Image Optimise with Scene and Face detection ensures superb results. It detects and corrects image imperfections, adjusting the brightness and colour of scenes and faces while reducing unwanted noise, giving your prints extra clarity and richness.
- ID Photo Print: Whether for personal or professional use, ID Photo Print with Face Frame Guide lets you create and print ID photos in widely-accepted sizes or set a custom size. Print multiple ID photos in the same or different sizes on one sheet to save paper.
- Optional battery: Print on the move indoors or out with the optional rechargeable Battery Pack NB-CP2L (requires CG-CP200 Charger Adapter). A single charge delivers over 36 postcard size prints.
- SELPHY Photo Print software: The supplied SELPHY Photo Print software lets you easily create your own calendar, choose decorative frames, or add clip art and speech bubbles to your prints with Creative Print mode.
PRINTING: Printing from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch really is easy with the CP900 and Canon's FREE Easy-PhotoPrint app [App Store Link].
Once the printer is setup and Easy-PhotoPrint installed, simply launch the app, let it discover the CP900 on your wireless network, select one or more photos from your devices album/library, choose the paper size along with border or borderless and tap print. After about a minute, and 4 passed (dye-sub technology layers cyan, magenta and yellow dyes with each pass, one on top of the other, then adds a protective layer on the 4th pass), your first dye-sub photo-lab quality print will appear.
As mentioned above, the SELPHY CP900 has been designed for both traditional photographers and those who like to shoot and share their photos via social networks like Instagram, and as such has been designed to print both 3:2 and 1:1 ratio images, however these ratios are not without their own problems. Like most digital cameras, the iPhone defaults to a 4:3 ratio, and so this mismatch in ratios causes a problem when trying to print a full frame 6x4 image, as the printer heavily crops from the top and bottom of the image, as well as slightly from the sides. During testing, and to try and overcome this problem, I cropped several of my test images to 3:2, and whilst this did help, the printer still slightly cropped all edges, which was a big problem with tightly framed shots.
When it came to printing Instagrams (or any other square format come to that), the 1:1 ratio worked well if printed with a white border on the standard 6x4 paper, however the current square format media from Canon, which is in the form of a sticker/label, with a printable area of just 50x50mm, proved very disappointing, and left me wondering why Canon had bothered with this type of square format add-on pack.
IMAGE QUALITY: Whilst the photos are, as you would expect from a manufacturer like Canon, clear and sharp, I was a little disappointed by the quality of some of the colours, as for me the results lacked vibrance, and tended to have a slight cyan bias, with blacks lacking real depth, which was more apparent when printing black and white only images.
So, having used this printer over the past couple of months with my iPhone and iPad, here are my likes and dislikes.
- Printer build quality - Like all Canon printers, this one is well made.
- Setup - Setting up the CP900 was extremely easy in all respects.
- Printing - Printing was very easy with the aid of Canon's Easy-PhotoPrint app.
- I liked the idea of the square format, but the current media let this format down.
- *Canon offer an external battery pack, that makes the CP900 truly portable.
- Printing - Because of the 6x4 aspect ratio, if printing borderless, then too much of the image is cropped out. If the original image is cropped to a 3x2 ratio, and then printed borderless, the printer still crops off too much.
- Printing - When printing 6x4 with a border, the white border is to thick.
- Colour prints - I found the resulting colour photos had a slight cyan bias, and blacks were not as good as they could be.
- Black & White prints - I found B&W prints lacked contrast and again had a slight cyan bias.
- Instagram printing - I was disappointed with the supplied square print media, which was in the form of a sticker/label, which had a usable print area of just 50x50mm.
- Price and running costs: The printer is reasonably priced, however the cost of the paper and dye-sub cartridge pack makes this an expensive printer to run.
So, what do I really think about the Canon SELPHY CP900? I should point out, that this printer does offer more features than I've covered in this iPhoneographers review, and that I'm also a big fan of Canon products, having owned and used their first EOS 35mm Auto-focus SLR camera way back in 1987, through to today, where I own and use (when not using my iPhone) a Canon 60D, Powershot S110 and to print, the new Pro-100 A3 printer.
So, since 1987, I have owned and used lots of Canon photographic equipment, from cameras to printers, and whilst the Canon SELPHY CP900, like all these products is a nicely designed, well made, and easy to use product, it is badly let down by its excessive image cropping. Add to this the running costs and and less than perfect colours, [for me anyway], from an iPhoneographers [only] point of view, this product has proved to be a real disappointment.
At the moment, I'm only giving the SELPHY CP900 2 stars, as it just does not tick enough boxes for me from an iPhoneographers point of view, however, if Canon let me keep the printer, then I will do a more long-term test, making use of the printers built in features, as well as using the supplied computer software to make prints from my iPhone and Canon cameras.
One last thing. To end on a more positive note, I have been liaising with the SELPHY product manager in Japan (in fact this review unit was sent to me at his request), and despite my poor 2 star rating** for this printer, I have been assured the issues I have raised will be addressed, and that future improvements will be made to ensure the SELPHY range offers a richer experience for iPhone and other smartphone users.
For more information on the Canon SELPHY CP900, as well as pricing and availability, visit your regional Canon website via Canon.com
** Please note: This 2 star rating is based purely on the experience of using this printer with an iPhone, and does not include the extra features this printer has to offer.