New printers are far more capable: Canon iP4300

Our several year old ink jet printer died the other day. It was an Epson Stylus Pro 5000. I knew it was on its way out, so I had been researching printers a little recently. I knew that printer quality and features had been growing substantially in recent years.


I found a review by M. David Stone of the Canon iP4300 InkJet printer and was intrigued, but a little skeptical. Upon seeing it at the local office supply store, I wasn’t impressed. How good can a $100 printer be? 


I told my wife I was considering it, and upon learning the price she immediately said not to get it: she wanted a really good quality printer.


Here are some features I really like

  • 2 paper trays. I can keep photo paper in the cassette, and plain paper in the auto sheet feed. When I choose a paper type, the paper source is chosen automatically.

  • Automatic switching of paper trays based on paper type

  • Automatic power on when a print job is requested.

  • Automatic power off after n minutes of inactivity

  • Quiet operation (our old printer was as big as a tank and sounded like one too.)

  • The photo printing seemed very high quality and very fast.


Sure, the light plastic frame didn’t seem as solid as the Epson, but it functions well. I easily added the Canon as a shared printer to the several home computers on our home network.


One bug I found: the printer driver itself has a print preview feature (in addition to any preview that client application software might have), but it seemed to be disabled from any shared printer.  I pushed the “Help” button on that dialog, which only described that the button would allow a preview. How do I figure out what makes the button disabled?


Another bug: the automatic paper tray switching based on paper type seemed only to work on the machine the printer was attached to. On other network machines, I had to choose the paper source manually.


Our old printer had a feature that would mirror an image, for iron on transfer sheets. I couldn’t find such a feature on the Canon, but then realized that choosing “T-Shirt transfers” would do it.


I took some Fox program code and printed it out in color. It looked really good.


I logged onto my home web server from my office at Microsoft, chose a photo, printed it. I got a warning picture indicating that the paper output tray needed to be opened (kids). So when I got home, I opened the tray and the picture printed.


The printer cost less than the accessories that I bought along with the printer: more ink cartridges and a USB cable, but it was still a small fraction of the price of our old printer.

Comments (3)
  1. rstrahl says:

    The price is in the ink cartridges <s>… You’ll probably spend $40 or more everytime you need to replcae the cartridges.

    This is something you can probably appreciate: Here in Hawaii I have major issues with ink. On most printers I can’t begin to use cheaper replacement ink as the ink doesn’t work. Even with the ‘full cost’ ink I often get banding and color inconsistencies with various printers. On top of it the ink seems to clog when let sit for more than a week or so. The latter seems odd but I’ve never had these issues on the mainland with more moderate climate <s>.

    I’ve been a big fan of color lasers for business needs. They’re cheap (although not as cheap as ink jets <s>), have a pretty long cartridge life, are fast and usually do much better with text. OTOH, you wouldn’t print family photos with them (although images print surprisingly good if you have the right paper that works with lasers).

  2. Ian says:

    I’ve had my iP4300 for a few weeks now and am very impressed with the print quality … but ink clogging is a real issue.

    I’m finding the black ink clogs every few days, and I have to do a clean operation which sorts the problem … for a few days. Then it needs another clean and so we go on. Obviously this will cost a fortune in wasted ink! I’m in Wales, UK – nothing extreme at the the moment temperature wise.

    I’m going back to the shop tomorrow to arrange a replacement.

  3. Ted says:

    I decided to replace my 5-year-old HP940c just 5 weeks ago.

    I am not a computer pro or a print wizard. I just need an affordable and reliable quality photo printer.

    I wanted a stand alone photo printer with two trays, 4 to 8 ink cartridges, duplex printing and under $200.

    After reading what seemed to be 100s of web reviews, I narrowed my choices down to Canon’s ip6700 and ip4300 printers and an Epson printer.

    I decided I did not need an on board viewer or the ability to print without a computer so I opted for the ip4300. Of course the price of $99 helped a bit.

    The software installation seemed a breeze although after everything was up and running I find the Canon Setup Utility 2.3 always reports the printer is busy. Setting the printer it up thru the My Printer program was no problem so this may be a non-issue since I do not use the pictra-bridge function.

    Easy PhotoPrint 3.6.1 is a breeze to use. Unfortunately it only sees Jpeg and Easy-PhotoPrint image files.

    I have 6 other photo editing programs available and as expected, they all work seamlessly with the ip4300.

    To date I have printed around 27 8×10 and 40 4×6 photos plus nearly 100 pages of text documents; here the two-sided print function is just great.

    The printer status window shows ink cartridge levels: Red is slightly less than ¾ full, yellow is ¾ full and the other 3 still show full.

    The ink level monitor reports adequate ink for printing.

    I typically use whatever paper is available and gives me the best bang for my buck. So far I cannot see any difference between those I use.  

    I must admit I have not tried the recommended high-end Canon papers yet.

    Just be sure to select the proper media type.

    The print I have made over the years with these papers and my previous printers still look perfect after 5 to 7 years in the US. None have lasted for more than 3 years in Thailand unless protective measures were taken. This is also true of lab prints made in Thailand and here.  

    The photos are brilliant, every bit as good as I get from the lab. The text is also very good.  So far, my friends and I are very impressed with the results and this is with the print quality set to standard.

    Speed… This is so much faster that my old printers. Once I tell the program to print, the ip4300 wakes up from standby and in about 10 to 15 seconds starts printing. 30 to 60 seconds later it is outputting completed photos or documents. That is nearly ¼ the time I am used to.

    This unit is also quiet with an additional quiet mode setting. I have not needed to use it yet.

    So far I am only guessing on photo print output from a cartridge. I have seen estimates up to 150 to 300 4×6 prints at 5% coverage the estimate from Canon puts it in the 200 to 400 range depending on cartridge and paper used.

    I am basing my cost on that. This put the 4×6 print in the neighborhood of $0.25 to $0.40 each including the cost of paper.  

    I expect it to be much less than that based on my short experience.  4×6 lab prints are $0.12 to $0.40 each and I could get very close or beat the low-end price with my old printer and expect to do so with this one.

    Hands down it is cheaper to do 8x10s with this printer. I can do them for   under $1 each (150 sheets of paper at $18 and a Canon ink kit at $60). Lab 8x10s here start in the $1.49 range.

    Cost of ink was an important consideration. A complete Canon 5 ink kit will cost $60 to $75. Individual cartridges range from around $14 to $16.

    Larger ink cartridges are not available so I am stuck wit the Canon units or compatibles or a continuous ink supply system (ciss).

    These are not truly compatibles. They require you install the ‘chip’ from the original cartridge. Some ink level functions on the printer may not work. Of course if canon finds out, the warranty is voided.

    The chips may become unusable after changing them often or after the printer recognizes what is going on. That may take up to the equivalent of 15 or more original cartridges.

    Then you must buy original cartridges again and start with those chips after the tanks are used up.

    Compatibles are in the $2 to $5 range and a refillable ciss from China is around $50. It is about $150 from England.

    The ciss come with cartridges connected to ink bottles via hoses. The system can come pre-filled with about 5 to 8 times the normal cartridge’s supply of ink. It is also available empty and you must buy the ink at around $10 for US 4oz, approx 118ml. It is a bit cheaper by the pint and larger quantities.

    If either of these will work for you and you don’t mind that the ink monitor may not work then this could reduce the print costs down to around less than 20% of what I predict using OEM Canon ink cartridges.

    I was disappointed to find out after the fact that for US distribution, the CD/DVD print function is disabled. It is available on European and Australian models so they have 3 input trays.

    No reason was given but the units marked for the US have a cover plate installed where the ‘F’ CD/DVD loader goes. The software likewise does not include anything for this and the on board function is programmed out.  

    There is a kit you can get for $15 or so and instructions for its installation. There is also as a download site for the required software and directions on reprogramming the onboard function.

    I also found a Website in England offering the Canon CLI-8 ink cartridges with 16ml of ink instead of the 13ml available in the US. The printout estimate however was the same as for the 13ml tank.  

    Canon told me there were no larger cartridges available for the printer. I did not ask if there were any with more ink in them. This was the case with my HP cartridges. Those Grande cartridges were the same physical size but had about 60% more ink in them.

    This same site offered to refill and reprogram the chip so it is seen as new.

    From the USA, shipping and service cost equal the cost of new purchases.

    The CD writer, ciss and use of compatibly cartridges all seem simple enough to install and use but Canon may void the 1 year warranty if they are used. If you don’t need it now, then wait until the warranty is up before installing or using these. This is what I plan.

    Canon does not give a duty cycle (prints per month workload). I have seen Russian estimates from 10000 to 25000, far more than the 1000 to 2500 I might see over the coming holidays.

    No printer will offer everything but this is a great unit for the price. For me, the cost of using it is still up in the air but I expect it will be cheaper than my last printer.

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