Canon PIXMA G550 Review | Trusted Reviews
If you want to print great photos but don’t want to sacrifice the high cost of ink, the Canon PIXMA G550 inkjet printer might be for you. Although it can’t scan or copy, its large ink tanks mean you don’t have to worry about refills or expensive ink. This printer uses six colors to create more detailed and colorful prints. While it’s not cheap, the results are generally worth it.
- Low running costs
- Strong photo quality
- Decent plain paper prints
- Expensive to buy
- Slow, especially on plain paper
- No automatic double-sided printing
- United KingdomRRP: £175
- United States of Americanot available
- EuropeRRP: €213
- Canadanot available
- Australianot available
A strong photo printerAdditional red and gray inks help the G550 deliver more accurate shades and a wider range of colors
ink tanksNo expensive and wasteful cartridges, just tanks filled with cheap bottled ink
Wi-Fi supportConnect and share wirelessly
Canon’s PIXMA G550 is an inkjet printer aimed at users who want to print great photos.
It doesn’t have a scanner, so you can’t scan or copy, but it does have six inks, allowing it to produce more accurate color and black-and-white photos. Best of all, it uses cheaper bottled ink, so prints cost less and there is less plastic waste.
But does it offer enough quality to make our list of best printers? Here are my thoughts.
design and functions
- Compact and smart
- Comparatively complex structure
- Simple mono display
For the most part, the Canon PIXMA G550 is a basic printer. It’s a single-function device, which means it can’t help you scan or copy images. Instead, it’s designed for printing only, supporting up to A4 or legal paper. It has a single paper tray on the back, a single output tray on the front, and there’s no support for automatic two-sided (duplex) printing.
However, the PIXMA G550 has a simple mono display, as well as a couple of buttons that you can use to configure and operate its core functions. Importantly, this printer supports Wi-Fi networks so you can easily share it around your home.
It doesn’t sound particularly impressive, but if you look again you might see the features that set this printer apart from the rest. Colorful ink tanks on the front show that this is one of Canon’s Megatank range of refillable inkjet printers. Ink comes in bottles, lasts forever, and is cheap to replace. And instead of the typical four-ink arrangement of black, cyan, magenta, and yellow, this printer adds red and gray inks to create a six-ink setup.
You probably won’t notice the difference on plain paper, but the G550 was designed to deliver great photos. The additional gray ink helps with fine shading control and enhances the contrast of black and white images, while the red ink extends the range of reproducible colors.
This unusual arrangement makes setting up the Canon PIXMA G550 a bit more complicated. You start by inserting the printheads, which look like two empty cartridges, and then set about filling the six large tanks from the bottles in the box. The tanks are arranged so you can drain three bottles at a time, meaning the process only takes a few minutes.
Canon says a full set of ink bottles is good for 3700 pages in black and white or 8000 pages in colour. When the supplied ink runs out you’ll pay around £11 for replacement bottles, giving the G550 a running cost of around 0.3p per black page, or a penny in colour.
While that’s far from the lowest values we’ve seen in this class, it’s still far cheaper than any cartridge-based equivalent. Canon also says a set of bottles can print 3800 10x15cm color photos, which works out at just 1.7p per shot. Even when you factor in photo paper, it’s difficult to print photos for less money.
It’s also worth noting that printing similar amounts with a traditional home inkjet printer will typically use 10 to 20 full ink sets – perhaps somewhere in the region of 100 cartridges. While some cartridges are refilled and reused, in most cases they end up in landfill, so choosing a tank-based printer can help reduce plastic waste significantly.
Print speed and quality
- Strong photo quality
- Reasonable plain paper quality
- This is not a fast printer
The first thing to note is that the Canon PIXMA G550 is not a particularly fast printer. It took 31 seconds to print a first page of black text and one minute and 41 seconds to complete a five-page job — a speed of just three pages per minute (3ppm). It achieved exactly the same speed on our longer 20-page text printing test, although it was undoubtedly hampered by a 16-second maintenance pause mid-job.
The fastest rate I’ve measured was 3.5ppm on a 25-page text test: That’s the slowest black text result I’ve measured in more than five years.
The G550 is also slow when printing color graphics on plain paper, although its 2.4 ppm isn’t that much of an outlier in our five-page test: I’ve tested plenty of inkjet printers that have fallen below 3.0 ppm here.
We test the inkjet photo quality on the best available setting, where they’re rather slow. In fact, the Canon PIXMA G550 took six minutes and 44 seconds to print a single A4 borderless photo and almost two and a half minutes for each 10 x 15 cm borderless snapshot.
All of this would be for naught if this printer couldn’t deliver the goods, but the results have generally been very good. Black text was reasonably clear and dark on plain paper, despite using dye-based inks, which perform best on photos.
The color graphics were also reasonably expressive, although they lacked the impact of the best pigmented inks. I was particularly impressed with this printer’s ability to reproduce smooth color transitions across the background of our presentation slides. Although somewhat let down by very subtle horizontal banding, this is something that wouldn’t bother the typical user.
Given that it’s truly optimized for photo printing, it’s no surprise that this printer delivers extremely good results. Using black and gray inks to play with, it produced a neutral and exceptionally detailed black and white print, about as good as any I’ve seen from a home printer.
Color prints blew me away a little less though. These had the warm hue typical of Canon, which can occasionally transition into highly saturated colors. It works great on some subjects, such as B. our fruit peel print, but it can lead to overly warm tones on others, especially when it comes to the skin. Color prints also lacked a bit of fine detail in the midtones, which might come as a surprise given the G550’s six-ink setup.
To be fair, however, this only became clear in a direct comparison with photos from another six-ink printer. The G550’s photos are a definite improvement compared to four-ink printers and overall very good.
should you buy it
You want cheap photo printing
The G550 really excels at affordable photo printing, with ink costs under 2p per postcard photo
You need an all-rounder
This printer might prove too slow for a busy home, and it’s a shame it doesn’t support double-sided printing
This is a strong photo printer with a commendably low running cost. Even if you factor in photo paper at around 15p a sheet, postcard-sized lab-quality photos can be issued for less than 20p each. This makes it ideal for avid snappers who want to create their own prints and experiment with them.
The Canon PIXMA G550 isn’t bad on plain paper either, but it’s noticeably slow here, especially when printing black text. It also lacks automatic double-sided printing. These limitations might pose an issue if you’re looking for a single printer to handle all the printing tasks in a busy household, but this is less of an issue for a little-used device.
How we test
Every printer we review goes through a series of standardized tests to measure important factors such as print quality, speed and cost.
We’ll also compare the features to other printers at the same price point to see if you’re getting good value for your money.
Tested printing with monochrome and color ink
The time required to print with different papers was measured
Print quality compared to other printers
frequently asked Questions
Yes, and it’s very talented at printed photos.
No, the Canon PIXMA is a single function printer.
Test data from Trusted Reviews
A4 black and white printing (single page)
A4 black and white print (5 pages)
A4 black and white print (20 pages)
Print A4 color speed (single page)
Print A4 color speed (5 pages)
Print A4 color speed (20 pages)
Canon PIXMA G550
Quiet Mark accredited
Date of first review
Ink cartridge support
Canon PIXMA G550
802.11b/g/n/a wireless networks, PictBridge Wi-Fi
GI-53 BK, C, M, Y, R, GY