Canon PIXMA G3600 Multifunction Printer

      Photo Review 8.6

      In summary

      Canon’s PIXMA G3600 and G2600 printers have been developed for consumers who print documents regularly and are concerned about high ink cartridge costs. Because of its printing, scanning and copying functions, the G3600 will suit home office users and normal households who want an everyday printer/copier unit for tasks associated with domestic, school or university projects.

      These printers will also appeal to clubs, social groups, schools and small businesses as well as photographers who need a general-purpose multifunction printer that is cheap to run for their regular business and would like one that can produce the occasional photo quality print. Provided you use the right paper and appropriate driver settings, the G3600 is capable of producing acceptable prints up to A4 size and panorama prints up to 676 mm long.

      From a photographer’s viewpoint the G3600 uses  only four inks, which means it may not be able to reproduce subtle tonalities.


      Full review

      The recently-released PIXMA G3600 appears to be Canon’s answer to the Epson EcoTank WorkForce ET-4550, which we reviewed in October 2015. Both printers are multifunction models with scanning and copying facilities and both are characterised by having user-refillable, high-capacity ink tanks. Neither printer is designed for photo printing but, having found the Epson printer delivered better photo quality than we expected, we felt we should also test the new Canon printer.


       Angled view of Canon’s new PIXMA G3600 showing the built-in ink tanks on either side of the output chute. (Source: Canon.)

      Currently, the PIXMA G3600 is only being sold in Australia through Harvey Norman outlets and its listed at AU$499. The PIXMA G2600, a model with similar specifications but without integrated Wi-Fi is listed in Canon’s online store at AU$429  but can be purchased for less than AU$400 if you shop around.

      The main selling point for these printers is their user-refillable ink tanks.   Both the Canon and Epson printers actually cost more up front than their regular equivalents but users will be able to save money on the inks (and generic inks are available for as low as AU$33 for a set of four bottles for the Epson printer or   about AU$70 for the Canon set).

      Who’s it for?
       Like the Epson EcoTank printers, Canon’s PIXMA G3600 and G2600 printers have been developed for consumers who are often required to print documents and are concerned about high ink cartridge costs. Because of its printing, scanning and copying functions, the G3600 will suit home office users and normal households who want an everyday printer/copier unit for tasks associated with domestic, school or university projects.

      These printers will also appeal to clubs, social groups, schools and small businesses as well as photographers who need a general-purpose multifunction printer that is cheap to run for their regular business and would like one that can produce the occasional photo quality print. Provided you use the right paper and appropriate driver settings, the G3600 is capable of producing acceptable prints up to A4 size and panorama prints up to 676 mm long.

      But both these printers have limitations that should be taken into consideration. Firstly, they only use four inks, which means they may not be able to reproduce subtle tonalities. Secondly, neither Canon nor Epson makes any claims about the durability of prints made with these printers, although the Canon’s black pigment inks should be significantly more fade-resistant than the colour dyes ““ or Epson’s all-dye ink set. Check out the Longevity section below for more information.

      Multi-function capabilities
       All multifunction printers combine the ability to scan, copy and print documents and most include Wi-Fi connectivity, usually with support for Wi-Fi Direct printing. Both the PIXMA G3600 and Epson ET-4550  support duplexing (printing on both sides of the paper). However, the ET-4550  has an automatic document feeder and supports automatic duplex printing, while the PIXMA G3600 just provides instructions on how to flip the stack of sheets to ensure the reverse-side image is the right way up.

      The Canon and Epson have other significant differences. The table below lists the main common features and differences between the flagship models from each manufacturer.


      Canon PIXMA G3600

      Epson ET-4550

      Printing resolution

      4800 x 1200   dpi

      5760 x 1440 optimised dpi

      Nozzle configuration

      BK  320 nozzles,  C/M/Y  each 384 nozzles

      BK 400 nozzles, C/M/Y  each 128 nozzles


      CMY dye plus K pigment

      CMKY dye (unspecified)

      Ink yields

      Black 6,000 pages; Colour 7000 pages per colour

      Black 6,000 pages; Colour   6,500 pages per colour

      Max. print width

      216 mm for borderless printing

      Max. paper length with Custom setting

      676 mm

      1200 mm

      Supported paper weights

      64-105 gsm plain paper; max. 275 gsm for photo paper

      64-95 gsm plain paper; max. 300 gsm for photo paper

      Scanning system

      A4 Flatbed colour image scanner

      Scanning resolution

      600 x 1200 dpi

      (19200 x 19200 dpi interpolated)

      1200 x 2400 dpi

      Supports faxing



      Memory card slot


      LCD screen



      Cloud support

      Printing, Facebook, Dropbox, Google Drive, Instagram, SlideShare

      Google Cloud Print, Scan to Cloud, Epson Email Print, Apple AirPrint

      Power consumption

      Approx. 14W, 1.7W in Sleep Mode

      Approx. 11W, 1.5W in Sleep Mode

      Manufacturer’s warranty

      12 months

      12 months (24 months upon registration)


      445 x 163 x 330  mm

      515 x 241 x 360 mm


      5.8 kg

      7.4 kg  

      Cost of one set of inks



      RRP (AU$)



      Canon claims the PIXMA G3600 ‘can endure 5 years of use or a duty cycle of 15,000 pages’. Epson lists a maximum duty cycle of 3000 pages per month but recommends a monthly volume of 800 pages, which is equivalent to 48,000 pages over five years.

      Setting up
      Being 1.6 kg lighter than the Epson ET-4550,  the Canon G3600 is easier to manoeuvre onto a desk. Integrating the ink tanks into the body of the printer gives the printer a 445 x 330 mm footprint that takes up less space than the Epson printer

      Once all the packaging has been removed you simply install the cartridges and pour in the ink, taking care to remove the top of the bottle carefully and inserting it into the tank in a way that avoids spills. Empty ink bottles should have their lids replaced before being be placed in a plastic bag for disposal.

      If you follow the instructions in the videos on Canon’s setup pages (  you should be able to transfer the ink to the tanks without spillage. Frame grabs from these videos are reproduced below to show the key steps in the process.


      Steps in the process of loading the ink cartridges (left) and pouring the inks (right).

      Once the inks have been loaded, connect the printer to the mains and switch it on. Check to see whether the Alarm lamp is glowing (it shouldn’t be). Then hold down the Stop button until the On lamp flashes again to initialise the printer, a process that takes approximately six minutes.


      The setup page should give you the option of selecting a printer connection method (Wireless LAN or USB) and provide instructions on installing the software, which can be downloaded from the web or installed from the supplied CD-ROM, the latter being Windows-only.


       The default settings on the first page of the printer driver.

      Once the printer is connected, load a couple of sheets of A4 paper, check that the ink is ready and make a test print by clicking on the Execute button on the screen. The printer will produce a test print containing a brief explanation of the Quick Menu and Online Manual. The setup is now complete.


      You’re then given the option of installing the software, which should take between five and 10 minutes. There’s an option to activate Image Display, which shows examples of the photos saved on your computer as they are or transformed into calendars and other items with Canon’s My Image Garden software. You can also activate the Quick Menu display.


       The Online Manual with the Image Display and Quick Menu overlaid.

      The Quick Menu is a separate layer that can be moved around the screen. It provides one-click access to various functions with icons that take you directly to auto scanning, My Image Garden, a slideshow display of saved images, Easy-PhotoPrint EX and Easy-PhotoPrint+. Along the horizontal axis you’ll find icons for the Inkjet Cloud Printing Centre, display notices, ink model numbers, purchasing consumables, launching My Printer and accessing the basic and more detailed online instruction manuals.



      Clicking on the box in the lower right hand corner opens a more comprehensive set of options, shown in the screen grab above. They include Diagnose and Repair Printer, Quiet Settings and Auto Power Settings as well as Photo/Video Layout Print, Card Print, Collage Print and Calendar Print.

      Unlike the Epson ET-4550, the PIXMA G3600 doesn’t have a separate paper cassette. Paper can only be loaded via the rear chute, which can accept up to 100 sheets of plain paper at a time. The output  chute is a large opening (240 x 40 mm) that can allow dust and moisture to get in and the short pull-out tray has a small flap to stop prints from shooting out onto the floor.

      Scanning and Copying
       The PIXMA G3600 is able to scan and copy text documents, magazine or newspaper pages, printed photos, postcards, business cards and optical disk covers. The maximum size for originals is 216 x 297 mm. But without an automatic document feeder, scanning and copying documents users must load the output paper and original to be copied manually.

      First the paper is loaded in the rear chute with the print side facing forwards. Then the original is placed on the scanner platen with the side to be copied facing down. Both must be correctly aligned, the former with the paper guides and the latter with the mark on the platen.

      Once the document cover has been closed, the copying process is initiated by simply pressing the Black or Colour button, depending on what type of copy you require. Pressing the Colour button copied an A4 original that was roughly 50% printed photo and 50% black text in just under 29 seconds. With the Black button, a monochrome copy was produced in just under 15 seconds.

      As with the Epson ET-4550, the condition of the original and the paper on which it is printed determine overall quality. We found scanned documents retained the tones in the originals, although with a general loss of intensity that led blacks to be rendered as very dark grey. Scanned photos had significantly lower contrast and saturation and fine details were lost. The end results would be acceptable for occasional usage but not when high quality was important.

      There’s about a centimetre of leeway in the hinges at the back of the document cover to allow for magazine and book pages to be copied. But copying originals larger than 216 x 297 mm will present problems because there’s not much scope for re-orienting the page and copying it in sections before stitching the scans together.

      Although the PIXMA G3600 provides no control over the scanning process, it can work with Canon’s IJ Scan Utility software, which is found in the Canon Utilities sub-menu when you scan through the applications list in the Windows start menu.   IJ Scan Utility lets you set resolution, select the output file format (JPEG, TIFF, PNG or PDF) and set the image quality at Low, Standard or High.


      It also lets you preview or open the scanned image in a selected application (Canon My Image Garden is the default but you can add others), send it to Dropbox, attach it to an email or output a scanned document to text using OCR. IJ Scan Utility also includes settings for Scan and Stitch for combining scans of originals larger than A4 size, as shown in the screen grab below.


      As with the Epson ET-4550, we assessed of the printing performance of the PIXMA G3600 separately for normal office printing and photo printing, because they are quite different. And, like the ET-4550, the same driver handles both tasks. Unfortunately, the G3600’s  driver is fairly basic and designed primarily for office tasks.  


      The Quick Setup page of the printer driver set up for photo printing.  

      Most of the supported settings are found on the Quick Setup page that opens first when the driver is accessed. Here you can select the type of printing you want (Standard, Photo Printing, Business Document, Paper Saving or Envelope), choose Borderless Printing, Grayscale Printing or Colour/Intensity Manual Adjustment and select the media type, paper size and Print Quality (Standard or High). There’s also a Paper Source selection but only Rear Tray is available.  


      The Main page of the printer driver.  

      Some of these settings are duplicated on the Main page of the driver, where you can also find a checkbox for selecting Preview before printing.


       The Page Setup selections in the printer driver.

      On the third page of the driver you’ll find a number of Page Setup functions, among them page size and layout selections and duplexing controls. You can also set the number of copies, specify margins and specify stamping and background functions for customising the output. Each driver page has a button for restoring the default settings.

      For office-style document printing, most applications are covered by the default plain paper setting (which includes copy paper) and the additional envelope setting in the setup sub-menu (with COM10 and DL sizes). Clearly-identified buttons enable users to choose between greyscale (B&W) and colour via the control panel, although this choice can also be made in the driver. The table below compares the production times for the PIXMA G3600 and Epson ET-4550.


      PIXMA G3600

      Epson ET-4550

      Copy speed

      2.5 ipm

      Black text – 11 ipm; colour text – 5.5 ipm

      Time to print A4 document Standard quality

      15.1 seconds

      10-~16 seconds

      Time to print A4 document High quality

      1 minute 10.9 seconds

      2 minutes 1 second

      Time to copy A4 document

      30.6 seconds

      1 minute 17 seconds

      The difference between the two printers’ copying and printing times can be explained by the fact that the ET-4550 adjusts for the amount of detail and tonal variations in the original. Output quality for most document printing was generally better with the Epson printer.

      For photo printing, the Media Type selections in the driver lists Canon’s Photo Paper Plus Glossy II, Photo Paper Pro Luster and Photo Paper Plus Semi-gloss plus generic settings for glossy and matte papers. You can print photos through either your computer’s operating system, Canon’s Easy-PhotoPrint EX or Easy-PhotoPrint+, the My Image Garden application or an image editor like Photoshop, Lightroom or GIMP.

      Printing from a web service is also supported via the Canon Inkjet Cloud Printing Centre and the PIXMA/MAXIFY Cloud Link or Google Cloud Print. The screen grab below includes the Photoshop Print Settings dialog box plus the Printer Properties Quick Setup page for Photo printing.


      ICC profiling is not supported when printing through an image editor but when printing photos through Photoshop (as we did for our tests) you can choose whether to let Photoshop or the printer manage the colours. If the former is selected, the default printer profile displayed is Canon IJ Color Printer Profile 2005. You must also check the Disable ICM required from the application software box in the Print Options sub-menu on the Page Setup page in the printer driver. We couldn’t see any differences in the end results from either method.

      By adding the printer to your LAN network, you can also print wirelessly from smart devices equipped with Windows 10 Mobile without having to install drivers, or download apps or software. Wi-Fi connections are supported via a wireless router or an access point. Up to five devices can be connected to the printer via Wi-Fi for printing and scanning documents and photos a convenient facility for homes where several computers are in use.

      Photo printing times vary, depending on the quality setting and the size of the print. Interestingly, the Media Type setting appears to have no impact on how long it takes to output a print.   The table below compares the average time taken to print an A4 photo with white borders with the PIXMA G3600 and Epson ET-4550.


      PIXMA G3600

      Epson ET-4550

      A4 Photo standard quality

      ~ 2 minutes

      ~3 minutes

      A4 Photo high quality

      ~3 minutes 20 seconds

      ~3 minutes 40 seconds

      Output Quality
      In general, the PIXMA G3600 produced surprisingly good quality for a four-ink printer and most prints were quite similar to those we achieved with the Epson   ET-4550. However, we think the ET-4550 delivered slightly better quality with greater consistency in output for both colour and B&W prints.

      Both printers delivered a decent amount of detail and colour reproduction was good enough to pass muster for normal consumers (the target market for both printers), although not up to the standards expected by serious photographers. We noticed faint traces of horizontal banding in some of the colour prints we made with the Standard quality setting in the PIXMA G3600, although not with the High quality setting. You have to look closely and compare the prints with the same images printed on dedicated photo printers to see them. (We didn’t see banding in any prints made with the Epson  ET-4550.)

      Banding was more noticeable in B&W prints, even when the High quality setting was used. You can create a B&W print by simply checking the Grayscale box on either the Quick Setup or Main page of the printer driver. This uses all inks and has potential to introduce unwanted colour casts ““ and traces of magenta could be seen in the darker areas of prints made from a colour original with this method.

      Most colour casts can be eliminated by converting the image into B&W before printing and this process will allow you to tweak the tonal rendition and contrast to obtain the best possible results. To eliminate all colour casts, you need to print with only the black ink and this is achieved by selecting Plain Paper, Business Document and Grayscale  in the printer driver.

      However, with this setting, the printing time is reduced to about 48 seconds, compared with just over three minutes if you print with all colours using the High quality setting. Banding was more obvious in prints produced with these parameters.

      There was no trace of gloss differential or bronzing on prints made on the Canon glossy or Lustre papers, which is as you would expect when using dye inks.

       While Wilhelm Imaging Research has conducted preliminary tests on the inks used in Epson’s four-colour EcoTank printers, it has yet to publish anything on the Canon bulk ink system. The results for the Epson system aren’t encouraging if you want long-lasting prints; the four-ink printers have permanence ratings of between two and seven years for prints framed behind glass and a maximum of five years for unprotected prints. Prints on Epson’s photo papers have ozone resistance ratings of between one week and one month before deterioration sets in.

      We can only assume the Canon inks will have similar durability ““ although we’ve found nothing on the web to confirm or refute this assessment. A spokesperson for Canon said: ‘Canon is not doing testing for the longevity of the inks for PIXMA G Series‘ which suggests these printers probably don’t use the company’s long-life dye inks.

      If you take the risk of making photo prints with either the Canon or Epson printer, you’ll have to wait and see how they fade over time. Prints from either of these printers should be seen as suitable for short-term display on bulletin boards or fridge doors and school projects but not for images you’re keen to preserve.

      As an aside, we printed an A4 book of photos on matte paper when we reviewed the ET-4550 in October 2015. These prints show no signs of fading, a little over a year after the prints were made. Although it’s a one-off sample, it suggests the potential for prints from these printers to maintain their colours for at least a year when stored out of direct light.

      The main reasons for buying these bulk ink printers are to save money on ink and reduce the frequency of replacing ink cartridges. However, you pay a lot more for the bulk ink printers up-front.  Eliminating the need for frequent cartridge changing could tip the balance in their favour, particularly in rural areas where access to office supplies is limited.

      On release, the listed price of the Epson ET-4550 was AU$200 higher than the price of the PIXMA G3600 (AU$499) but it offers features like an LCD touch screen, auto duplexing and a higher scanning resolution. It also has lower power consumption and is quieter when operating than the Canon machine.

      The cost in ink to print one A4 page in colour, using the ISO29183 standard is 0.6 cents per page for the Epson ET-4550 and about 0.8 cents per page for the PIXMA G3600. Using the same standard, per page costs with a normal inkjet multifunction printer are closer to seven cents per page, a roughly tenfold difference in favour of the bulk ink printers.

      Both Canon and Epson have bulk ink multifunction inkjet printers available for well under AU$200 (with some under $100). And both use long-lasting dye inks; in Canon’s case the ChromaLife100  dyes that claim a 100-year-lifespan, while Epson’s Claria Home Ink has slightly longer fade resistance.  Ink yields are typically between 180 and 300 A4 prints per standard cartridge and between 450 and 700 A4 prints per high-capacity cartridge,

      If a bulk ink printer is too costly, you could consider purchasing a cheaper printer and use a continuous inking supply system (CISS). There are several brands to choose from. While these systems aren’t as easy to set up, they provide similar savings on ink costs and you might end up with longer-lasting inks. The risk of voiding your warranty is pretty low and your savings in ink costs could be enough to cover the price of a new printer before the warranty expires.

      If you only print occasionally, a cheaper printer and regular cartridges will be a better investment and you’ll obtain longer-lasting prints. You can probably find low-priced cartridges for normal printers online and as long as you don’t mind changing cartridges frequently (some cartridges contain as little as 5 ml of ink) you’ll come out ahead.  

       Epson had the benefit of being the first to market a bulk ink printer in Australia. Its ET-4550 gained an Editor’s Choice nomination, partly because of its novelty value and because it had potential to save users a lot of money over time.

      It also answered common complaints about the costs and inconvenience of conventional inkjet cartridges.  We felt it had potential to lead to future developments that saw the use of long-lasting inks in this type of printer, a need that still exists.

      As you can see from the specs comparison at the beginning of this review, there’s not much difference between the ET-4550  and the Canon PIXMA G3600 and the reservations we listed in the ET-4550 review apply equally to both machines. In our opinion, the ET-4550 produces slightly better output quality than the G3600 with both the default and Photo driver settings.

      If you do a lot of printing and don’t need long-lasting prints, both printers could save you money and give you the convenience of being able to print long runs without having to swap cartridges. However, if your printing volumes are low, neither printer represents a good investment, particularly for photographers who want long-lasting prints.

      This is why we haven’t nominated the PIXMA G3600 as an Editor’s Choice. It doesn’t perform any better than the Epson printer, its inks are more expensive and it lacks a few of the ET-4550 capabilities. But it does have a few advantages.

      People who rearrange their offices (or move home) frequently will be better served by the PIXMA G3600 because the ink tanks are built-in and have rubber seals. This makes it easier to relocate. Filling the tanks on the Canon printer is also a cleaner process as the ink bottles and tanks have been designed to minimise spillage.

      As we mentioned in the ET-4550 review, we’d like to see a  6-ink A3+ photo printer with refillable cartridges that used long-lasting dye inks. Should such a printer arrive on the market, regardless of whether it’s made by Epson or Canon (in that case with the ChromaLife100 ink set), we would immediately snap it up for printing photo books. And we suspect a lot of our readers would do likewise.



       Printer type: Multifunction inkjet
       Functions:Printing, scanning, copying
       Printing resolution:4800 (horizontal) x 1200 (vertical) dpi
       Ink delivery system: Refillable ink tanks
       Ink bottles: GI690 BK (Black, 140 ml) pigment ink, GI690 C, M, Y (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, 70 ml each) dye inks
       Ink yield with supplied inks: 6,000 Pages Black / 6,500 Pages Colour
       Paper sizes:A4, A5, B5, LTR, LGL, 4″x6″, 5″x7″, 8″x10″, Envelopes (DL, COM10), Square (5″ x 5″), Business Card, Custom size (width 55 mm – 215.9 mm, length 89 mm – 676 mm)
       Max. paper weight: 275 gsm
       Scanning system:A4 Flatbed colour image scanner
       Scanning resolution / bit depth: 600 x 1200 dpi / Greyscale: 16-bit/8-bit; colour: RGB each 16-bit / 8-bit
       Copy speed: Approx. 2.5 ipm
       Interfaces:Hi-Speed USB (2.0), Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n),
       Power consumption: Standby  – approx.1.7 Watt; copying – approx. 14 Watt; off- approx. 0.34 Watt  
       Acoustic noise:Not specified
       Dimensions (wxhxd):Approx. 445 x 163 x 330 mm
       Weight:Approx. 5.8 kg
      Distributor: Canon Australia; 1800 021 167;



      RRP: AU$499 (exclusive to Harvey Norman); US$300

      • Build: 8.5
      • Features: 8.4
      • Print quality documents: 8.5
      • Print quality photos: 8.4
      • Print speed documents: 8.9
      • Print speed photos: 8.7