Pros: Prints stunningly beautiful photos; very fair price if you know where to look.
Cons: Printing is expensive, both with expensive ink and fancy paper.
The Canon Pixma Pro9000 printer is a one-trick pony - but what a trick!
This printer is designed strictly for the professional or advanced amateur photographer who wants to showcase his work to the world. If you take beautiful photographs, you will have beautiful prints. Period.
It is important to note that a high-quality photo printer is, by definition, not at all cost effective to print anything but photos. It is heavily optimized for expensive photo paper that costs $0.50 to $2.00 a sheet. You should still have a color laser or ordinary inkjet to print routine documents and web pages.
Canon: The Classy Inkjet Company
Why do I say this? Because Canon does not sell their printers with partial, "starter" half-filled cartridges. You get the real deal, a full load of ink included with the printer. Since in the case of this printer the cheapest option for new ink cartridges is $90 for all eight (!) ones required, this is no small thing even if you're paying $500 for the printer.
Getting it cheap
Few people who are not pro photographers selling their prints can justify $500 for a photo printer. After all, you can make much cheaper prints using your inexpensive color laser, even if they look like, well, cheap prints. Fortunately, this printer is not as expensive as it looks at first glance.
It seems doubtful that Canon makes a profit selling this printer, seeing that it includes a $400 rebate when bought with a Canon DSLR. Owners of evil, non-Canon DSLRs such as myself can take advantage of the "used" deals on amazon.com. You can buy this printer for about $250 (including shipping) from a well-rated seller who has bought the printer and claimed the rebate. The rebate UPC code is removed, he gets the rebate and you get a cheap printer. I bought through Amazon merchant Peter_Pan and the printer arrived quickly (much faster than promised) and safely.
The Canon Empire
So, why does Canon offer a $400 rebate on this printer? It is, after all, a highly complex machine that was clearly expensive to construct. The answer is that a full load of inkjet cartridges costs $90 through Amazon and full-sized (13x19) photo paper costs $1.30 a sheet even with the great deal I got. So don't feel sorry for Canon. They will be very happy I bought this printer :).
I am too early in my ownership experience to determine how much ink it takes to create an image, but I will monitor the situation and report back.
In the mean time, most informed reviews I have read say that the ink cost of this printer is substantially lower than competing printers. Of course that doesn't mean the same as "cheap" in any impartial sense. I am sure it's quite expensive to make these prints, but remember it would also be quite expensive at a real photo lab too.
You should be prepared for very high ink usage when running this printer or any similar unit. Normally, when you print a typical document, it has very low ink coverage, say only 5% of a typical document contains ink, the rest is blank. But when you print a typical photo, almost all the paper is covered in ink, and you are probably using special paper designed to absorb huge amounts of the stuff.
It's probably not a good idea to cheap out on ink. In my research, you're not saving much money - even third party inkjet cartridges are quite expensive. Everyone loves the quality of the Canon inkjet cartridges even as they hate the price. But if you consider the price of professionally made prints, the cost of ink seems pretty reasonable. Most users of reused/remanufactured cartridges for this printer seem to regret it.
Ease of Use
The printer is simple to unpack, although as with many units there is a lot of orange protective tape to remove.
Loading the rear tray with small-sized paper is very easy.
The procedure to load the front tray and take advantage of the straight paper path for huge paper is very confusing. You have to go through a bunch of steps and listen to the printer clank away as it rearranges its insides to prepare for the exotic task. Then you have to push the paper almost all the way through the printer, so part of the paper is already on the other side. After that you punch the load button and the paper loads. Then you can finally print. It's pretty confusing because it's very counterintuitive - it just doesn't seem like the way a printer should work, but it does.
Once you go through it a few times, though, it becomes second nature and of course all inconvenience is forgotten when you see the addictively beautiful prints coming out the front.
Low Noise but Shaky
The printer is very quiet, for a printer. You're likely not to notice the sounds at all, if you have music playing on your computer. Otherwise, they are more or less quiet wooshes with the occasional clank - not very annoying at all.
However, you may not want to put it on the same table as your computer, because the print head motions can cause the table to shake a bit. This is distracting and annoying. (I had a really short USB cable so I had to put it on the table until I get a longer one.)
If you are a talented amateur photographer such as myself, it's addictively fun to be able to print your photographs on the spur of the moment. Big prints are awesome, personalized gifts, and they cost much less to make than your recipient will think they are worth. (Well, if you choose the right recipients, that is.)
Canon inks are exceptionally high quality, and the prints are stunning. The printer does exactly what it promises, at a more than fair price if you get the right rebate deal. And while the ink cartridges are pricey, they are significantly cheaper than photo lab fees.
I was afraid the printer would sit around collecting dust after the initial rush of trying it out, but it turns out that is not the case. Printing photos at this level of quality is seriously addictive, and of course during the holidays they make perfect gifts for friends and family - gifts with real significance in your lives.