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Marine Goy
Morgane Alzieu
Published on July 30, 2010
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  • Resolution 9600x 4800 dpi
  • Mono/colour speeds 11.9 ppm / 9.1 ppm
  • Ink droplet size 1 pl
  • Cartridges required 6
  • Number of base colours 4
  • Scanner yes
Canon's website proudly presents the MP990 inkjet photo printer as a 'flagship Wi-Fi all-in-one'. For us, such a statement is like a red rag to a bull, as we've just got to find out whether this 'flagship' Canon printer lives up to the manufacturer's promises.

Hardware: not bad for a compact model!

The MP990 is a top-of-the-range multifunction printer designed with photographers in mind. Whether working with digital or 35mm film media, this all-in-one printer should, in theory, have something for everyone. It has a drop size of 1 picolitre, six individual inks (including a grey ink to improve print quality in both black & white and colour pictures), a 35 mm film and negatives adapter, a 4,800 dpi scanner, and a function for printing on CDs and DVDs.

The MP990 has an Ethernet network connection and Wi-Fi connectivity. It can print double-sided pages, as well as scan and photocopy. Its large 3.7-inch (9.5 cm) colour LCD isn't touch-sensitive and there's no fax or official compatibility with Linux drivers.

The large colour screen and user-friendly controls. Note that the screen isn't touch-sensitive

The adapter for 35 mm film and negatives is well designed and easy to use

The function for printing CD and DVD discs can be useful for anyone burning demo discs, portfolios etc. Once you've installed the software on your computer, the discs labels are easy to design and print. Take a look for yourselves in the video below:

Designing the disc

Our finished CD!

Speeds: fast!

For documents, print speeds are 11 pages per minute in colour and 15 pages per minute in black and white. To date, these are the fastest print speeds we've seen on a multifunction inkjet printer. They're slightly faster than Canon's already excellent MP640 and they put most of the competition to shame (such as the Brother MFC-795CW with its average print speed of 4 ppm).

Like most printers, the MP990 slows down when printing double-sided pages (duplex printing). Like most other models in the range, print speeds drop to 3 ppm.

The MP990 prints photos quickly. The MP640 takes 58 seconds for an A4 photo print, compared with 64 here, and 27 seconds for a 4" x 6" print (10 x 15 cm) compared with 32 for the MP990. If you're looking to split hairs, then for a similar price the Epson Stylus Photo PX810FW does slightly better for both photo print speeds and quality.

Quality: good for documents and photos

The real strength of this printer is that it does everything well. It gets five stars for document print quality as well as for colour and black & white photos. That's rare to see, and the same certainly can't be said for the Epson Stylus Photo printer, which prints excellent photos but lets itself down on documents.
In our test image below, the MP990 delivers print quality that's precise, easy to read and with accurate colours.

We were keen to see how well the MP990 printed photos. Although it's perhaps not quite as good as the Epson, it certainly still holds its own. Colours are accurate and a touch brighter than with the MP640. Detail is well reproduced, and we also found the black and white to be more contrasted thanks to the extra grey cartridge.

Scanner & Copier

In this field, the MP990 has almost exactly the same specs as the MP640. The key difference is that the MP640 has a CIS-type scanner whereas the MP990 has a CCD scanner, which is much better, especially for reproducing depth.

The scanner sets more new records for speed, taking 5 seconds for a pre-scan, just 4 seconds for a 75 dpi scan, and 5 seconds for a 300 dpi scan.

The scanner's native resolution of 4,800 dpi promised decent results, and we weren't disappointed. In spite of a colour discrepancy across the spectrum of 5.6%, the result is actually quite good. Flesh tones perhaps look a little light, but on the whole, colours and detail are reproduced accurately with no over-accentuation. However, facial features look slightly smoothed, which does make for a slight loss in definition. This is something we've noticed in almost all other manufacturers' models too.

Scanning a film negative gives good results. Although they do have a slight red tinge, scanned images are accurate and are much better than those obtained with most of the other scanners we've tested (Canon CanoScan LiDE 700F, HP Scanjet G3110, HP Scanjet G4050).

Original Scanned

Photocopies take 20 seconds for a black and white page or 28 seconds for a colour page, which is within average.

In figures, the colour differences for the scanner are as follows:

Energy Consumption & Noise Levels: nice & quiet!

This multifunction printer has an energy consumption that's in line with the average values recorded for the latest Canon printers we've tested (including the MP640), at 18 W in operation or 1.3 W on standby.

Noise levels are below average, with 45.7 dB recorded with the printer in operation. That falls between the MP640 (50dB) and the MX870 (43.9 dB).

Cost per page

The cost per page is 8.66 p. That's a little more than the 7.6 p per page with the MP640 and the MX870, but it's comparable to the 10.4 p of HP's new-gen printers.

ISO lifespan test for text documents
Cartridge Price (from)  ISO Lifespan
Cost per page
PGI-520BK (black) £7.95
322 2.47 p
CLI-521C (cyan) £7.81
1.74 p
CLI-521M (magenta) £7.49
445  1.68 p
CLI-521Y (yellow) £7.62
1.60 p
CLI-521BK (black) £7.75  1250 0.62 p
CLI-521GY (grey) £7.49 1350  0.55 p

ISO lifespan test for 4"x6" photos
Cartridge Price (from)  ISO Lifespan
Cost per page
PGI-520BK (black) £7.95 3705 0.21 p
CLI-521C (cyan) £7.81 339  2.30 p
CLI-521M (magenta) £7.49 335  2.24 p
CLI-521Y (yellow) £7.62 298
 2.56 p
CLI-521BK (black) £7.75  690 1.12 p
CLI-521GY (grey) £7.49 169 4.43 p

First page prints in 19 seconds
Like other Canon Pixma printers we've tested lately (the MX870, the MX560 and the excellent MP640), the MP990 is fast. Printing the first page takes just 31 seconds from start-up, 19 seconds from sleep mode and 11 seconds from ready mode!


  • Fast print speeds for documents (15 ppm in B&W) and photos (32 sec for a 4''x6'')
  • Very good print quality in documents and photos
  • Good, fast scanner / Fast photocopies
  • Practical flim & slide adapter / Prints CD/DVD discs
  • Compact, quiet, duplex printing, Wi-Fi, network connection


  • No touchscreen controls
  • No fax
  • Print speed slows down in duplex mode (3 ppm for B&W)
  • Not compatible with Linux drivers
  • Photographic film adapter isn't compatible with 60 mm film


The MP990 is a good, versatile multifunctional printer that ticks all the right boxes. Designed for anyone who's into 35mm or digital photography, the MP990 holds its own when printing both photos and office documents. It offers fast print speeds and good print quality.
5 Canon Pixma MP990 DigitalVersus 2010-07-30 00:00:00
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