Canon Selphy CP900 review

A quick, smart photo printer, but it's expensive and our results weren't perfect

3 Feb 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT


CMYO dye-sub, N/A print speed, USB, 802.11b/g/n wireless, 61x178x127mm

While an inkjet might seem like the obvious choice for printing photos at home, it's not the only one. The Selphy CP900 is the latest in Canon's range of dye-sublimation photo printers. It comes with a large colour screen, a memory card slot and support for wireless networking.

Canon Selphy CP900 Open

For the uninitiated, dye-sublimation printers use a ribbon that's permeated with a solid dye. As the paper moves through the printer, the ribbon above it is heated, causing the dye to sublimate (become a gas without first becoming a liquid) and re-solidify on the cool paper, forming an image. This takes place in four quick passes beginning with yellow, then magenta and cyan to complete the image, then finally a clear protective overcoat.

Supplies for the CP900 come in matched packs of ribbons and paper, so the 36-sheet KP-36IN supply will print exactly 36 6x4in prints, for example. You can even use the prints as postcards thanks to address and stamp markings. Other formats, including sticker packs are available, but the printer can't handle anything larger than postcard size.

Canon Selphy CP900 Closed

This is a small and attractive printer but, like other dye-subs, it requires a deceptive amount of space on the desk. The lidded clip-in media tray makes it about 300mm deep, and you must leave around 200mm of free space at the back to avoid blocking the paper as it emerges from the back of the printer during prints. It's important to keep the working area free from dust, as it can cause quite significant blemishes on a dye-sub print. With ribbons lasting only a maximum 36 prints, you'll be changing them fairly often, but it's a simple clip-in job and there's no mess.

Canon Selphy CP900 Print Settings

The Selphy doesn't do much but print photos, so the driver has comparatively few options

The CP900's thermal print head means it needs a quiet cooling fan and uses slightly more power than you might expect, but it's quieter than most inkjets and faster than any we've tested. Over a USB connection, it takes around 55 seconds to print each borderless 6x4in print, although we found this increased to nearly 90 seconds over Wi-Fi, which is almost double Canon's 47-second claim.

Canon Selphy CP900 Image Adjustment Screen

You can tweak the colours and contrast of prints; many of ours seemed muted using the default settings

Prints from the CP900 were free of grain, and didn't suffer any obvious softness - a potential weakness in the dye-sub process. We weren't overly impressed with their colours, though, which seemed muted. The printer also struggled to cope with the smooth progression of shades in the blue sky of one test picture, seemingly running out of range at the darker end and tending toward blocks of a single shade.

This Canon Selphy CP900 is a quick photo printer, but the best photo inkjets produce superior prints. Alternatively, for those in less of a hurry, an online service such as Snapfish has no upfront fee and each print costs about half as much.

Basic Specifications

Rating ***
Maximum native print resolution 300x300dpi

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A4 N/A
Quoted speed, colour A4 N/A

Tested Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.0 N/A
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.0 5m 33s

Print Quality

Number of ink colours 3
Number of ink cartridges 1
Maximum number of ink colours 3
Maximum number of cartridges 1
Quoted photo durability 100 years
Quoted photo durability source Canon (album storage)

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfaces USB, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Optional printer interfaces none
Size 61x178x127mm
Weight 810g
Duty cycle N/A

Paper Handling

Maximum paper size 6x4in
Standard paper inputs 1
Standard paper input capacity 12
Maximum paper inputs 1
Maximum paper input capacity 12
Duplex (code, cost if option) No

Photo Features

PictBridge support Yes
Borderless printing 6x4in
Direct (PC-less) printing Yes
Supported memory cards SDXC, MMC
CD printing No


Printer technology CMYO dye-sub
Supported operating systems Windows XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Other inkjet features 6.8cm colour screen
Other inkjet options none

Buying Information

Price £82
Consumable parts and prices £29
Quoted life of supplied black cartridge N/A
Quoted life of supplied colour cartridge(s) N/A
Quoted life of supplied photo cartridge(s) N/A
Price per colour A4 page N/A
Price per mono A4 page N/A
Warranty one year RTB

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.0 N/A
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.0 5m 33s