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on 12 July 2013
ORIGINAL REVIEW JULY 2013
LAST UPDATE DEC 2016

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 extremely poor to very good. This is also reflected in the reviews. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to tell which suppliers on this listing are supplying good quality and which are not! That is still true three years after our original review. It's a risk to buy from this listing!

Quality and continuity are the two significant problems associated with compatible inks at the bottom end of the market. Price is the all important factor and many suppliers have bought in whatever they have been able to get at the lowest cost irrespective of quality. 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 of better quality have been unable to compete on price and have since fallen by the wayside.

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 nor on their own listing

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. Wasn't 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 Brand A in boxed sets. (which you normally pay extra for!) See the 5 star review here by Spiff. However, the offer didn't last. Inksbroker re-joined this listing but declined to answer our enquiry. It appears that the inks are no longer the same.

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. 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. It's probably not currently available on this listing. The image for Brand A is shown below and is quite distinctive. You will see it widely used on Amazon listings and elsewhere. Unfortunately, the large majority of suppliers of compatible inks are not concerned to supply inks that necessarily match the image they use and what the buyer gets may well be something that is different and inferior. One firm we have found to be reliable for Brand A is Ink Squid. 2 sets currently cost £7.70. Click Ink Squid (It's probably best to avoid other suppliers on this listing in case they are not selling the same ink)
Suggested printer settings for Brand A. Start experimenting with Magenta at -10

Brand B.
These cartridges are of variable and generally very poor quality and are being sold extensively to unsuspecting buyers by suppliers who have a tendency to arrive on the scene and then disappear! The cartridges often contain inks that are weak and dry slowly. The photo black, especially, has a tendency to run which leads 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 has caused a blockage of the print-head on a number of occasions. Unreliable printing could be a serious issue especially if the printer isn't used often. A particular problem with poor quality inks is that prints look muddy when compared to Canon. The cartridges have a tendency to leak which is due either to the low quality internal sponge that is used or the fact that the ink is too watery. (or both!) Recent reviews suggest that very poor quality ink continues to be sold on this listing.

Brand C.
The ink is very widely available but for the most part cannot be identified because cartridges containing it are sold in unbranded form. The one brand we did find is "Jetplay". It's probably not currently available on this listing but can be found on Amazon's Jetplay listing. At the last update a double set of inks cost about £9. 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 one downside of Jetplay we found is that the cyan ink tends to clog which has, in turn, reduced the life of the printheads. For more information about Jetplay ink see my review on their listing. Click Jetplay
Suggested printer settings for Brand C: 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 1 June 2017
A case of you get what you pay for! Based on the pretty positive reviews, I thought i'd give these ago! The positives, they arrived well packaged, each individually sealed and with the additional little plastic seal you remove prior to use. Fine I thought! So... the negatives, well as you can see by the photos attached, as soon as you remove the tab, the ink dribbles out.... thankfully (ish) over my hands rather than my cream carpet! :( Terrible design! I've brought plenty of non-Canon branded cartridges over the last couple of years and none have done this!

A quick review of my hands, the photos are after three attempts of scrubbing the ink off, hot water with soap, washing up liquid, and body scrub...nothing, zip, nowt!! I've literally tattooed my own hands! I'm off to hunt out some Swarfega next.. if not Vodka (to drink!)
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on 20 October 2015
I have purchased these before so over long term use I can be confident that they work and do not cause printer problems. Also really excellent value for money. A complete bargain in comparison to "branded" ink replacement cartridges.
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on 4 July 2017
Very affordable replacement cartridges to allow you to keep your printer going.
Print quality and colour is fine.
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on 13 March 2017
Quality inks very good price , arrived quickly
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on 24 March 2017
Good ink, worked out well for me to get these to replace my current cartridges
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on 19 December 2012
I have just received these inks and a new printer in time for Christmas. The inks are of good quality, the colour on the photos are excellent, and the new canon printer recognised them immediately. Well worth getting and the cheapest of this type on the market that I have seen!
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Can't fault the quality and value of these inks, an absolute bargain and excellent quality. I always order these now and prefer them to the genuine ones.
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on 17 April 2014
Very good quality for what you pay, especially compared to the prices of branded equivalents. Might not use these for printing good photos, but for day to day tasks, it's excellent.
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