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on 12 July 2013
LAST UPDATE MAY 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 here 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.

Our experience suggests it is best to buy only from ink specialists and to avoid all suppliers with an Amazon rating of less than 98%

SUPPLIERS REVIEWED

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.

OUR TESTS

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, 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.

Brand A.
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. That is because many suppliers use the images shown on this listing but are actually selling a different and inferior product.
Suggested printer settings for Brand A. Start experimenting with Magenta at -10

Brand B.
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. Unreliable printing could be a problem especially if the printer isn't used often. In addition to that, a particular problem with poor quality inks is that prints look muddy when compared to Canon. The cartridges are widely available but under many different labels which makes them hard to identify - and therefore to avoid! A good test of an ink-set is to print a desaturated photo. (See Canon settings) You won't get an almost perfect range of greys as you will with Canon ink but it should still be acceptable! If it isn't then ordinary prints of photos won't be good enough either. Time to look for a different make!

Brand C.
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. You can also find there a more detailed review. The ink is of quite good quality but the colours are not very well balanced. The main effect is that prints have a yellow cast. When yellow is reduced in the printer settings prints are significantly improved. Many people will be unable to distinguish them 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. Although the ink is better quality than is to be found in many compatible cartridges, unfortunately shorter printer life is one of the consequences of buying ink that inevitably won't be the quality of Canon.
Suggested printer settings: Cyan -3, Magenta 0, Yellow -39

THE CARTRIDGES

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 and professional business letters.
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on 11 April 2013
I've been buying a single set of similar inks from a different company for about the same price. I've been really happy with the results but I thought I'd give these a try to see if they work as well. I like to experiment. These arrived from the seller INKSBROKER very quickly and in good order. Installation was easy and my Canon Pixma 5350 accepted them with no problems.

I printed basic black text from a 300dpi standard colour formated page in Photoshop CS5. I examined the print for the clarity of the text on ordinary inexpensive white paper. This is a good indication of how quickly the ink formula will dry because slow drying ink will bleed and make text a little blurry. Most modern formulas dry very quickly while older formulas dry more slowly. It's not always easy to tell with a full colour printing.

Poor quality or old-school ink will print black text poorly because it tends to soak deeper into the paper and spread out before it starts to react with the air and dry. It becomes fainter with each passing minute until it's stable. Poor quality ink can reveal a kind of photocopy effect on cheap paper because it reveals the inconsistency of the paper itself. You'll see patches of light and dark areas. Here, I printed onto a medium quality paper and I'm very pleased with the results. You can however see that it's inkjet. I do get the same results with Canons own ink so it's on par with Canons. You'll need top end quality paper to make text look professional.

When it comes to printing colour photographs, the faster the ink dries the more detail is retained. You might have noticed that your full colour pictures don't look as good after drying? That's because the ink has soaked in and spread out. To test for drying time, I also check for the depth and consistency of the tone of a solid printed colour. I printed onto (of all things) cheap Poundland glossy photographic paper. It was £1 and has been sitting on my shelf for a few weeks. What the heck, I'll give it a try. Sometimes cheap cartridges will leave banding marks or produce colour inconsistency and you only see it easly when you print a single hue. When you print a single hue, especially a dark red you can really examine what the print heads are doing and even see how the printer track rollers are interacting with the paper. I do see a few roller marks here and there but other than that, I don't see any oddites in print quality.

I also checked to see if the inks are bright and cheerful by printing some yellow flowers that I colour enhanced in photoshop. This is an indiciation of the optical brighteners which are ink additives which chemically react with the ink formula to make the colours brighter and more pleasing to the eye. Their are a variety of additives that manufacturers can put into ink and the more they use, the more expensive it is. So when you buy ink this cheap you have to wonder where they cut corners. However, the colour image was instantly dry with good detail and colour brightness. I can't say it was worthy of publication in National Georgraphic but it was nice. Or I should say, it is more than good enough for my everyday printing, considering how cheap both the ink and paper are, you can't go wrong. I'm more than satisifed with the results.

Hope this helps someone a little. If you like my review, please click the button to say that you found it helpful. Cheers!
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on 12 August 2012
Superfast delivery. Ink cartridges were instantly recognised by my Canon printer. No mess, no fuss and inks printed just as bright and clear as the recommended Canon ink cartridges do. Also got the same volume of printed material from these cartridges as I do from the Canon cartridges so the verdict is - why buy the expensive 'recommended' cartridges when you can buy these superb value for money cartridges? Highly recommend this seller and I will be buying more cartridges from this seller as soon as I need some more. Many thanks, June
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on 30 April 2012
Really pleased with my order. Ink was of high quality,and i was pleased with the volume of printing i was able to produce for such a small cartridge.Really easy to use with my printer, no fuss and well packaged. Delivery service was prompt. Would certainly be using again.
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on 2 January 2013
Canon inks are annoyingly expensive. I have taken a gamble with these lower priced compatible inks. The build of the cartridges are of a poorer quality, but at the price charged, it is to be expected. Cartridges slotted in easily and off we go.

First thing I did was a print check. Print on paper and blank cd/dvd are of reasonable quality. Not as rich in colour depth as the original brand, but the difference is minimal.

For normal, everyday use it is great. But, if you are looking for replacement inks solely for the purpose to print high quality photos, then this is not the product for you.
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on 30 January 2012
Well worth the money, I wont be using the Canon's again as there is no difference in the print quality.

M
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 June 2013
Received on time, packaging fine, in fact no initial problems. Now, I have to admit that I feel I am a little biased as I feel the printer I purchased these for is excellent (Pixma MG5350). I have only replaced the Cyan cartridge which took seconds and the document using the said colour printed out perfectly.
I cannot believe that I put up with Epson and HP printers which would not allow printing if any cartridge was low.
Real happy so far but will update if I encounter any problems.
So far I would recommend.

Update 2014, this is me just reordering as I have found this product excellent.

January 2016
I just looked back my orders and see that I purchase these just about every year, just think of the saving over that period of time. I use them for printing the occasional Photos through a weekly newsletter to direct to printable CDs/DVDs. I have had one which gave me a little bother, I printed off a document which was very dark to the extent of bleeding. In Word I set the font colour to 70% Black, job done. Over a period of time I realized I wasn't having to make any changes so all has been well since.
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on 20 November 2012
Only use these if you want them for unimportant work and cretainly don`t use for photos or graphics. The colours are weak and muddy. The printed images are dark and blurred because the colour is so poor.
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on 16 March 2014
When they work you don't notice a difference in the print quality.

HOWEVER, the sponge stuff that transports the ink to the print-head is very hard in comparison with official ink cartridges. It's almost like a stale bit of bread vs fresh bread. This means that the ink cartridge may be full but the printer cannot suck up the ink from the sponge so the printer continually dries up leaving you with stripy pages.

For the price it's hard to complain but if they just spent a little more money on a better quality sponge then it would be a heck of a lot better.

I'd recommend you avoid this and pay a little bit more for a different/ slightly higher quality compatible cartridge
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on 20 January 2014
i buy generic inks for cheap, everyday printing...
i only use canon's when i need full quality prints.
i've bought quite a few for this printer over the last 18 months and have been quite happy with them.
this particular brand were the same price as the other cheapo inks,
when they arrived one of the cartridges had a slight leak. this didn't bother me too much as things like that can happen,
these catridges have two compartments in them, one full of foam filled ink and one just full of ink which leeches into the foam.
however, out of the 10 cartridges there were about half a dozen where the foam insert in the cartridge was clean foam,
ie they were not filled correctly... so i wont be buying them again.
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