Top critical review
104 people found this helpful
on 12 July 2013
LAST UPDATE APRIL 2016
ORIGINAL REVIEW JULY 2013
At the time of our last update Amazon were describing the cartridges as "by ECS" which suggests that all the suppliers are selling the same thing. This isn't the case. Each seller sells what they like! For more than a year we bought cartridges from this listing which have varied from very poor to extremely good. This is reflected in the reviews which range from very dissatisfied to very pleased. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to tell which suppliers on this listing are supplying good quality and which are not!
Many suppliers join the listing to sell a job lot, often of various mixtures or inferior quality and then leave. On the other hand, suppliers of good quality ink tend to find they cannot compete on price and they, too, don't stay around for very long or simply change what they are selling. Quality and continuity are the two significant problems associated with compatible inks at the bottom end of the market. More than forty suppliers came and went during our year long test! We would be cautious when considering firms who are "fulfilled by Amazon" This is not an endorsement by them and quality can be poor.
Suppliers who were ink specialists and had an Amazon rating of 98% and over were more likely than most (there were exceptions!) to be supplying reasonable quality. On the other hand, small private sellers were very likely to be selling poor quality.
The ups and downs of buying on this listing!! We have rated the suppliers based on a combination of the price we paid, quality and service. For an explanation of the brands please see our tests below.
Inksplus+. BRAND C £5.35. Our rating 7/10
Good value for money. Supplied cartridges under the JetPlay label (Brand C) . Wasn't available on this listing when we last updated our review but can be obtained on the Jeplay listing at about £2.50 per set more (See our tests below)
Ink Jungle. MIXTURE £5.56. Supplied loose. Our rating 4/10
The colours and large black cartridges supplied were Brand A, and the photo blacks Brand C. Firms who mix brands usually do so indiscriminately and are best avoided. Mixtures can significantly affect printer function and the quality of printing. Was available on this listing when we last updated our review.
BVH Direct. BRAND A £5.74. Supplied loose. Our rating 10/10
Not only were these inks very good value when we bought them but a considerable plus was that the firm was willing for customers to specify their own colours. However, the offer didn't last. BVH changed to Brand C and then withdrew from the listing. Good firm to deal with. Worth looking at their other listings including other sites.
Wantmoreink - Delcomcomputers. BRAND C £6.29. Cellophane packed in sets of 5. Our rating 6/10
The inks were reasonable value at the price. Interestingly, the firm originally said they were offering continuity of supply which they based on a claim that they were themselves importing the cartridges in considerable quantities. Shortly after that they withdrew from the listing!
Prestige Cartridge. BRAND B £4.78. Supplied loose. Our rating 3/10
Like BVH they were willing for customers to specify colours. They were good communicators and anxious to please but they were also keen to be the cheapest and quality was sacrificed as a consequence. Subsequent sets we bought were a mixture of different and mainly very poor quality cartridges. Are not currently available on this listing.
Inksbroker. BRAND A £5.52. Supplied in boxed sets of 5. Our rating 9/10
Initially, the firm was keen and gave a good impression. They supplied very good value inks as boxed sets (which you normally pay extra for!) Unfortunately the offer didn't last. Inksbroker have re-joined this listing after a long absence. It appears that the cartridges are no longer Brand A as originally supplied.
From November 2012 until January 2014 we bought sets of inks from several suppliers throughout Amazon as part of a research project into the quality of compatible cartridges for the Canon 525/526 series. Nine images and a colour palette including greyscale were printed on Image Digicolor card using Canon Pixma iP4950 and MG5250 printers with the test cartridges and compared to the same prints from Canon cartridges.
We identified two sets of inks which we have designated Brand A and Brand C and are very reasonable in quality. We also found a significant number of cartridges which originate from different sources, probably all from China, and while these had different inks and therefore different characteristics, they were of low quality and we have designated them all under Brand B.
The ink is of good quality and has high vibrancy which is probably due to the optical brighteners it contains (see the review by Spiff) However, we found that it varies from one manufactured dye batch to the next. The most usual effect has been to produce prints with significant 'warmth' and a reddish cast in areas of grey. Images like snow scenes are especially affected. By adjusting the printer settings many of the prints from our last test we liked even better than those from Canon ink. Although perhaps unsuitable for professional use because of the variable colour balance, overall it is an attractive low cost alternative to Canon. Brand A is available throughout Amazon and elsewhere but suppliers can be difficult to identify Search on Amazon for "Ink Squid Canon 526" This is a firm we have found to be particularly reliable over the years for Brand A. We recommend you only buy from InkSquid. Very many suppliers use the images shown but are actually selling a different and inferior product.
Suggested printer settings for Brand A. Start experimenting with Magenta at -10
These cartridges are of poor quality. Often they contain inks that are weak and dry slowly. The photo black, especially, has a tendency to run which led to prints of lower detail and smudging at contrasting edges. Some banding has been quite noticeable in prints with larger areas of a single colour. The inks, especially the magenta caused a blockage of the print-head on a number of occasions - not good news! Unreliable printing could be a problem especially if the printer isn't used often. The inks are generally reasonably well balanced for colour and most images didn't benefit from an alteration to the printer settings but the quality is generally poor and most of the prints look muddy when compared to Canon. The cartridges are widely available but under several different labels which makes them hard to identify - and therefore to avoid!
The ink is very widely available but, like Brand A, for the most part cannot be identified because cartridges containing it are sold in unbranded form. The one brand we did find is "Jetplay". Double boxed sets are currently available on Amazon's Jetplay listing at around £8. The ink is of quite good quality and produces pleasing prints. However, the magenta is biased towards red and the yellow is too strong. The main effect is that prints have a yellow cast. Although this may not be noticeable by looking at an individual print, the difference when yellow is reduced in the printer settings is marked. This produces much better colour balance of all prints. Also definition and contrast are significantly improved. The fact that the magenta is not really magenta cannot be overcome but by altering the printer settings (see below) many people will be unable to distinguish prints from those using Canon ink. The downside of Jetplay is that the cyan ink tends to clog which has, in turn, reduced the life of the printheads. To put that into perspective, the ink is much better quality than many compatible cartridges on the market and shorter printer life is one of the consequences of buying ink that inevitably won't be the quality of Canon. One other thing to note is that black and dark colours will smudge when printed on low cost photo paper. This is the fault of the ink. Paper is not usually a problem.
Suggested printer settings: Cyan 0, Magenta +10, Yellow -20
As far as we are aware, most compatible cartridge shells for the Canon are made in China and then filled with ink by other firms either in China or the USA. For our tests we used in excess of 150 cartridges. Non have been as good as Canon. One of the main differences is the quality of the sponge which can affect the flow of ink. Canon tends to tolerate being kept in the printer for much longer. The problems we have experienced with the compatibles include a failure of the printer to recognise the cartridge, ink spills and leaks and blockage of the print-heads. Brand A cartridge is very reliable, Brand C a close second and Brand B a poor third. In all cartridges the chip performed identically to Canon with ink level announcement. The colour cartridges of both Brands A and C contained around 10.5ml of ink and were still printing satisfactorily when the printer stopped and announced the ink might be out. Brand B cartridges were very variable and contained as little as 6ml.
The other main difference between Canon and all the compatibles we tested is that the large cartridge that contains black ink is a pigment black in Canon but a dye black in the compatibles. As a consequence, text printed in black with compatible cartridges has much lower intensity and also does not have the water resistant characteristics of Canon. This makes the ink unsuitable for some uses such as for printing envelopes.