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Canon IVY Review

This portable printer captures the fun of old Polaroid cameras with a fresh twist
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $100 List | $90 at Amazon
Pros:  Convenient, simple, inexpensive, bluetooth connectivity
Cons:  Relatively low resolution, single print dimension
Manufacturer:   Canon
By Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Apr 6, 2020
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#9 of 13
  • Color - 35% 4
  • Black and White - 35% 4
  • Print Capabilities - 15% 3
  • Operating Cost - 10% 6
  • Set-Up - 5% 9

Our Verdict

What we like about this printer is that it's inexpensive, simple to operate with a smartphone, and as a result, it's a chich to get pics out of digital space and into the real world. The ZINK instant film that the printer uses has a peel-off backing that turns the picture into a sticker. This system, combined with photo editing apps, promotes impromptu creativity. While the image resolution in these images is poor when compared to desktop printers, the pics coming out of this machine are the best of the mini printers.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

When was the last time someone gave you a real picture? Not an email or a text containing an image, but something you could hang on your fridge. The Canon IVY is about the same size as a phone which means that it's easy to slide in a back pocket or a bag when you're heading out to meet with friends. When you take that selfie, portrait or landscape that captures the experience you're having, you can edit and print the image right on the spot. Among mini printers, the IVY produces the best image quality and one of the more compact designs.

Performance Comparison

Look at those colors! Not bad for a mini printer.
Look at those colors! Not bad for a mini printer.


As we present our critique of this printer's color quality, keep in mind its renderings were compared not just to other mini printers but desktop machines as well. As such, the images do not rate well overall. However, the IVY rendered the highest quality prints among the subclass of mini printers.

To make our analysis of the color images produced by the Canon as objective as possible we split it into two parts: resolution and overall impression. Assessing resolution is pretty straightforward when you have identical images produced by different printers laid out side by side as we did. You simply look for the fine detail (or the absence of it) that is present in the original image. While the Canon is below average for the class in the resolution department, it was remarkably good for a mini printer.

The overall impression portion of our analysis was a bit more complex as we took more factors into account. Specifically, we were looking for color fidelity to the original and definition as well as shortcomings such as bleeding, microbanding, and poor tonal transitions. The Canon had the most pleasing skin tones of all the mini printers. However, the printer produced a bit of a blue cast and it tended to show some streaking. Yet, these shortcomings were largely concealed by the 2" x 3" image size.

The grayscale images produced by the IVY are surprisingly sharp.
The grayscale images produced by the IVY are surprisingly sharp.

Black and White

The black and white analysis followed along the same lines as the color metric. While many other mini printers struggled to produce decent quality grayscale photographs, the IVY kicked out images with resolution comparable to the low-end desktop machines. In many ways, producing a quality black and white is more demanding than the color counterpart, so a result like this was surprising and impressive.

The images were in no way perfect, however. The Canon produced a noticeable magenta color cast in the mid grays, though it faded as the grays moved into darker and light tones. Additionally, the printer maintained good detail in the highlights. All and all, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of this machine's black and white prints.

The compact size of this machine is the primary reason that it is limited to 10 sheets of paper.
The compact size of this machine is the primary reason that it is limited to 10 sheets of paper.

Print Capabilities

The Canon IVY's print capabilities are necessarily limited by the simplicity and size of the machine. It only prints on one kind of self-developing paper (ZINK), and in just the 2" x 3" format. It did kick out prints relatively fast at 40 seconds, but it can only hold 10 sheets of paper in its internal tray.

Again, the IVY looks pretty bad in comparison to desktop printers. However, it's capabilities are on par with what the other mini printers can do. Moreover, it does them in a smaller, sleeker package.

While the cost comparison between the desktop printers (4" x 6") and the mini printers (2" x 3") is the same  you're getting half the picture.
While the cost comparison between the desktop printers (4" x 6") and the mini printers (2" x 3") is the same, you're getting half the picture.

Operating Costs

Convenience comes at a cost and the IVY is no exception to this old adage. Discovering the cost per print is easy for the mini printers — unlike their inkjet counterparts — as one doesn't have to figure out how much ink they are consuming per print. The ink, or in this case the thermal-activated dye, is in the paper. As a result, the math's easy. You just divide the cost of a pack of paper by the number of sheets in the pack, and voila, you have an the exact price per print.

It cost $0.50 per photo to print with this model. While that doesn't seem like too much money, consider that the desktop printers' cost per print is often less and they are printing an image that is twice the size. But, as they say, time is money, and the Canon has no maintenance aside from loading paper. This is not the case for desktop machines. Accordingly, one could argue that it all balances out in the end.

One thing is for certain  set-up on the mini printers is as easy as 1-2-3.
One thing is for certain, set-up on the mini printers is as easy as 1-2-3.


As far as printers go, you will be hard pressed to find a machine that is easier to get up and running than the Canon Ivy. Seriously, if you know how to download an app onto your phone and how to make a connection to a device using Bluetooth, then you're going to be printing in less than 5 minutes.

This ease of use is markedly different from the desktop machines that require several steps in the set-up process including the downloading of software to get them printing. As such, all the mini printers including the Canon crush the desktop printers in this evaluation. As an added bonus, the mini printer's use of Bluetooth means that it's never been easier for your friends to print off your machine.


Value is often a personal evaluation. However, we think that for the right person this machine offers quite a lot of fun, novelty, and convenience for not a lot of money. It's true that the cost per print is a bit steep, but that is largely balanced by the machine's lack of maintenance. All and all, we believe that this printer offers great value.


The Canon IVY is a sweet little machine. It offers relatively good resolution in both color and grayscale. It's compact, inexpensive and convenient to use. However, it is limited. You can only print on one kind of paper and only in the 2" x 3" format. Yet, the machine requires no maintenance besides the addition of paper. So, if you're not trying to be the next Ansel Adams, but instead are looking for an easy way to turn digital images into real photographs, then this is the machine for you. Say cheese!

Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer