Canon photo paper pro pr 201

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This is pretty much what I’d expect given the media and canon profiling settings. The software I’m using is what most people who would make custom profiles for you would be using, even if they are less likely to use the 2900 patch targets I prefer.

However, if you look at the supplied Canon paper profiles, an interesting difference is visible.

The image on the left was printed (actually on Canon Matte Photo Paper) without BPC and the more washed out one on the right with BPC.

comparing use of BPC

I’m left wondering if some of the reviews questioning the quality of the supplied Canon profiles, fully investigated the range of printing settings? Where I tried some other Canon papers, the profiles were more than adequate (I’d probably be able to improve on them, but whether many could tell, wasn’t clear).

Several Canon profiles come in different versions, seemingly optimised for speed and quality – I couldn’t really see any problem with either, but the explanations in the manual could do with more clarity.

Canon actually have listed quite a range of , and Innova, one of my regular UK paper suppliers, have a  for their media.

My profiling targets were printed using the Adobe Color Printing Utility to ensure that I was getting them printed correctly without any hidden colour management being applied. This has been a problem in the past with some print set-ups.

Black and White

Canon printers like this one have a specialist black and white print mode.

You just choose it in the driver and you can print good neutral black and white prints with no further adjustment.

If you’re using a third party paper, then you need to choose a media setting that approximates the type of paper you’re using.

As a test, I printed my B&W test image on a lustre finish photo paper (not an economy brand, but not expensive)

It looked quite good, but I suspected that the shadows were a little blocked up.

Printing out 51 step wedge, I measured the actual printed values in order to make a QTR correction profile (the method is explained further in one of my  articles)

The top of the graph shows the typical high ‘b’ values caused by the presence of some optical brightener in the paper. The important bit is the line of ‘L’s

It’s actually quite straight and only has that flat bit from 96-100% which does indeed indicate crunched deep shadows.

Making a QTR profile to correct this produced an almost completely linear output and a perceptibly better print of the test image.

graph of black and white print linearity

Note too, the slight wobbles in the ‘a’ and ‘b’ lines. These show where different inks are being used for different densities of printing.

Following this, I tested some Canon art papers, and although a correction profile could be seen to have some effect, print non-linearities with papers such as museum etching and photo rag were pretty minimal, and at that level where I might not even bother to use them.

Ink colours

With all those black inks to choose from, you might expect that only the black inks were in use. An actual check of printed test images shows the presence of yellow, cyan and magenta in the mix.

The three images below were taken with our  at x5 on a 1Ds3, lit with an MT-24EX flash.

Important note: – These image have been processed to emphasise the distribution of yellow, cyan and magenta ink dots. They are magnified a lot and even wearing my glasses, I can’t see the dots by eye – the prints look very neutral, and I’d be happy supplying them to most people wanting my B&W prints (note though that I do say most., not all)

The paper was the lustre finish one measured above (the white specks are dust on the print, black specks are sensor dust).

Light printed area (15%) mostly cyan and yellow dots, with a few light magenta.

print detail, showing ink dots 1

Medium (50%) mostly cyan and yellow dots.

print detail, showing ink dots 2

Dark (80%) – a few more magenta dots are visible.

print detail, showing ink dots 3

These colours could be introduced either to counteract any warmth of the pigment blacks/greys or even to better match the greyscale of the paper to the paper white.

A personal view ;-) … Some may be concerned at the appearance of colour inks, when considering print longevity, but I’m of the opinion that if this matters to you that much, why haven’t you got a large format printer with a black only ink set, or driven by software such as .
There does come a point when such details are pretty irrelevant to most people, but if they are important to your work and clients then you need to be doing a lot more experimentation and testing, rather than hoping to buy a ‘perfect’ off the shelf printing solution ;-)

Additional software

I regularly use Canon’s print plugin to drive our iPF8300. It’s robust, simple, effective and very easy to use.

I’d hoped that this approach might appear in the PRO-1 software.

You can see two Canon tools in the Photoshop ‘Automate’ menu below.

canon print plugins

However, I forgot that despite its marketing as a ‘professional’ printer, this printer comes from the consumer division of Canon.

Suddenly we get all kinds of whistles and bells added to a print application, right from image selection options.

through to layout and ‘image enhancement’ options

This is a bit of a mess from a usability point of view. All I wanted to do was print the image I have open in Photoshop.

As a print option for software like Canon’s DPP it may be fine, but even on the odd occasion I’d use their software, it’s only for some aspect of RAW file conversion. Print Studio Pro is similar, but entirely different…

Canon can get it right, their plugin works just fine with my iPF8300. Why not produce a similar basic print plugin for the PRO-1?

I see the hand of consumer marketing in the PRO-1, not quite prepared to embrace the product as for ‘professional’ use and coming up with overly complex solutions for consumers and irritatingly complex ones for advanced users.

If Canon do release a bigger version of this printer, to replace the iPF5100 for example, then I sincerely hope they follow the software directions found in their large format printers rather than the mish-mash here. This isn’t just my own dislike of what they’ve produced, but also an appreciation that the plugins (such as I use with our 8300) may actually contain tweaks and improvements to print quality, compared to just using the normal Photoshop print dialog.

That said, do have a look at what the supplied software does, there may be a function hidden in their somewhere that is just what you need (such as some of the layout options you can see above).

Canon Colour Management Tool Pro

The Canon Colour Management Tool Pro is a standalone bit of software which allows for calibration and ICC profile creation.

It works with X-rite spectrophotometers, including i1 Pro, i1 Pro with UV Cutoff filter, ColourMunki Photo and ColourMunki Design. There is no support for the iSis or i1Pro 2 as far as I can see.

canon profiling tool

Obviously, it’s designed to work with a Canon printer, which it does perfectly well.

Those wishing to experiment somewhat, and owning an i1 or ColorMunki spectro, might like to look inside the application package contents to find the actual target images (2 tiff files for a total of 731 patches). These could of course be printed any way you like to make profiles…

Update 2014 – Info from Canon help

An optional measuring instrument is required for measuring the color differences to use Color Management Tool Pro.
Color Management Tool Pro supports the following measuring instruments:
X-Rite ColorMunki Series and i1 Series (not supported by the special display measuring instrument)
You have to install the software that came with your measuring instrument before installing the driver for the ColorMunki series or the i1 series.
With the i1 Series, the calibration base plate, the chart measuring ruler, and the measurement backup board are required in addition to the measuring instrument.
The i1 Series supports both i1 Pro and i1 Pro2.

Conclusions

Let’s get one thing clear, this printer can produce excellent looking prints.

Colour and black and white images produced prints I’d be more than happy to put my name to. Right from initial printer profiling, the attention to print quality is clear, and the gloss coat adds a visible improvement to prints on some glossier surface papers.

The supplied Canon paper ICC profiles produced acceptable results, and in terms of building custom profiles, the printer was extremely easy to profile. Do note though, the differences I observed when choosing BPC options when printing. This is a printer though that will likely benefit from getting custom profiles created.

For black and white printing, results ‘out of the box’ were generally acceptable, but could in many cases be slightly improved with the creation of linearising profiles.

Print speed

Print speed varies with quality settings and print area, but A3+ colour prints at normal resolution came out in less than three minutes (notably faster than the previous 9500 mk2 I looked at). Highest quality settings took a lot longer and to my mind were not generally worth the extra wait, since differences in visible image quality were minimal.

I’m of the opinion that printing images with higher PPI settings (400 or even 600 if the resolution is there) along with careful attention to print sharpening (i.e. not just hitting the ‘sharpen for print’ button) will more readily improve your visible print quality than going for the slower and more ink thirsty ‘highest quality’ settings.

The printer also happens to be one of the quietest I’ve tested.

Software and printer usage

The printer driver worked just fine via Photoshop. The supplied additional print software just tried to do too much – I can see that tools such as the layout options may be of use, but overall the software just didn’t feel like something I wanted to make the effort to learn (but do have a look at it, it might do just what you want).

After power up, the printer takes a minute or so to get itself ready – not as long as our large format 8300, but longer than the office printer.

The styling of the printer is quite striking, with just two buttons on the front. No LCD display for example.

Initially I thought this was just fine, since why did I need a complex interface when I could do everything from the laptop next to it. It was when I was driving the printer from the Mac in my office, for a manual feed print, that I realised how little use a single flashing light was in working out what I might have done wrong. After a couple of weeks use I started resenting the need to walk away from the printer to find out what it wanted to tell me to do.

The lack of LCD screen is obviously a key design decision for this printer, one that after a while I’m not so sure about.

Margins and paper sizes

When I looked at the Canon 9500 Mk2 printer, the biggest issue for me was the huge top and bottom margins imposed on some media types. Unfortunately this feature persists into the PRO-1.

Given that I like printing some of my B&W images on cotton rag papers, the mandatory 35mm margins are most unwelcome.

Look at how much of the page below is truncated on an A3 sized print – it makes printing on small paper sizes (say cards) completely impractical, if you use good quality art paper.

margin size and print area

You might think that you can get round this with judicious setting of custom paper sizes, but no, that margin is set in firmware.

The only way round it is to print with a different media setting, but of course this invalidates profiles and potentially makes it difficult to get good quality ones, even if you make them yourself.

Back to custom paper sizes…

The printer has no roll paper support, so if you want to make panoramic prints, you might think of a specialist paper, such as the  I was looking at, from Paper Spectrum (a local supplier within cycling distance).

The picture below shows a box of 297mm x 900mm (panoramic A3) that I was going to try out.

I’d successfully printed a 210mm x 594mm with a custom page size.

900mm wide panoramic paper

So I went and created a new paper size…

900mm custom page length

Mildly annoying was the fact that I was able to print this, with no warnings or otherwise…

failed panoramic print

Then I looked in the manual (something I get less and less keen to do, the more printers I test).

There it is, clear to see.

A maximum page length of just over 26 inches.

Yes, really… 26 inches. Looking at how the paper actually fed perfectly well through the printer, I’ve no doubt that the mechanism is quite capable of handling the 900mm (36 inches) paper, but someone somewhere would rather you bought a larger printer to do it.

Problems with this particular printer

The sheets of A4 lustre photo paper below, have just been taken out of a new box.

As you can see, there is a very slight curl. This was enough to leave head strike marks at the start and end of every sheet printed.

Even after various cleaning methods (outlined earlier) there were still small marks (enough to render the print unacceptable for commercial sale).

Exerting a bit of pressure against the curl (using the curved edge of the printer) was enough to get the sheets quite flat, but still elicited some strike marks.

How much of this is due to the printer being damaged in transit, I cannot say, but the printer does seem rather intolerant of any curl in media at the top and boom of a sheet.

Ink costs

Buying a Canon PRO-1

We make a specific point of not selling hardware, but if you found the review of help please consider buying the PR-1, or any other items at all, via our link with Amazon.
 /  / 
 / Amazon Canada link

It won’t cost any more (nor less we’re afraid) but will contribute towards the running costs of our site.

PRO-1 at , 

If there is one area that regularly appears in on-line discussions of printers of this size, it’s how much ink they use.

To their credit, Canon publish , and the  they adopt to work them out.
>I must preface this part of the discussion by saying that although I printed a fair few pictures, I was starting with a used printer, with partly filled ink carts, and didn’t have nearly enough spare ink carts to test this in a rigorous methodical manner.

Let’s just take Canon’s figures for A3+ paper and colour photos.

Ink tank Average yield (pages) PGI-29C 230 PGI-29M 281 PGI-29Y 290 PGI-29PC 400 PGI-29PM 228 PGI-29R 454 PGI-29MBK 505 PGI-29PBK 111 PGI-29DGY 119 PGI-29GY 179 PGI-29LGY 352 PGI-29CO 90 Estimated supplemental yieldInk yield may vary depending on texts/photos printed, applications software used, print mode and type of paper used.

I should still note though, that a ‘back of the envelope’ calculation shows that if you printed around 20 square metres of paper a month (125 A3+ sheets), then compared with the 17″ , you would spend over £1500 a year extra on ink (based on MRP for inks)

This is certainly not to say that the PRO-1 is particularly expensive, just that if you are printing a lot of images, then you really should be buying a bigger printer.

Looking at the values, and how the inks ran down during testing, I’m inclined to think that these figures are not unreasonable, particularly the relatively rapid use of gloss optimiser. I see however, that the PGI-29CO cartridges are slightly cheaper to buy than the inks.

It’s worth noting though that these figures represent continuous printing, and when the printer first turned up, it used up rather a lot of ink in cleaning – the message here, being not to ship printers around full of ink, particularly by normal carrier.

Being of a curious nature, I weighed the ink cartridges before and after replacement.

With the black cartridge I dismantled, I’d waited until the printer absolutely refused to print – there was a very tiny amount of ink in the bag I opened.

If I were unwise enough to change a cartridge at the very first ‘low ink’ warning, then almost 20% of ink was unused. Waiting until the second ‘ink may run out’ warning, still had around 7% of ink remaining.

I’ve had to be careful in this review to make a distinction between the slightly battered printer we’ve reviewed and what a carefully looked after one would be like.

Overall

The printer is huge and very heavy for an A3+ printer – the build quality reflects this, and it’s an elegant design.

With the 12 inks, print quality is excellent for both colour and black and white, on a variety of media. The gloss coating ‘ink’ effectively lowers (but does not eliminate) gloss differential issues on some shiny surface papers.

The larger ink tanks give better value than smaller A3+ printers and are easily replaceable.

Paper size limitations and the need for a 35mm border at the start and end of some paper types may be a problem for some users. The printer also seems rather intolerant of residual paper curl at the top and bottom of pages.

Update: October 2014 – Canon release a , that increases print area, canvas support and ink level detection. The details are not clear, but it does not seem to completely remove the restrictions on top and bottom margins for fine art papers or change the maximum print length.

Summary

A 12 cartridge pigment ink based A3+ printer (14″ width) that produces excellent black and white and colour prints.

Supports a range of media, including thick paper and printable CDs. Some annoying limitations on print sizes and margins, with certain media types.

Operating Systems: Mac OS 10.3 – 10.8, Windows 2000/XP/XP x64/Vista/Win7.

PRO-1 at , , 

SPECIFICATIONS (from Canon)

Product Specification PRINTER FUNCTIONS Print Resolution Up to 4800¹ x 2400 dpi Print Engine Inkjet, 12 Single Inks, LUCIA ink system with Chroma Optimizer. Minimum 4pl droplet size & FINE print head. Photo Lab Quality Speed A3+: Approx. 2m 55s (Standard)¹ Ink Cartridge Configuration 12 separate ink tanks:
PGI-29PBK, PGI-29MBK, PGI-29DGY, PGI-29GY, PGI-29LGY, PGI-29C, PGI-29PC, PGI-29M, PGI-29PM, PGI-29Y, PGI-29R, PGI-29CO Ink Tanks Life 10×15 photo¹
Photo Black: 1300 photos
Matte Black: 1925 photos
Dark Grey: 710 photos
Grey: 724 photos
Light Grey: 1320 photos
Cyan: 1940 photos
Photo Cyan: 1445 photos
Magenta: 1850 photos
Photo Magenta: 1010 photos
Yellow: 1420 photos
Red: 2370 photos
Chroma Optimizer: 510 photos
A3+ photo²
Photo Black: 111 photos
Matte Black: 505 photos
Dark Grey: 119 photos
Grey: 179 photos
Light Grey: 352 photos
Cyan: 230 photos
Photo Cyan: 400 photos
Magenta: 281 photos
Photo Magenta: 228 photos
Yellow: 290 photos
Red: 454 photos
Chroma Optimizer: 90 photos
Estimated Supplemental Yield Media Type Plain Paper, Fine Art Paper “Museum Etching” (FA-ME1), Fine Art Paper “Photo Rag™” (FA-PR1), Photo Paper Pro Platinum (PT-101), Photo Paper Plus Glossy II (PP-201), Photo Paper Plus Semi-gloss (SG-201), Matte Photo Paper (MP-101), High Resolution Paper (HR-101N), Photo Stickers (PS-101), Other (Fine Art Paper, Fine Art Paper 2, Glossy Photo Paper)¹ Media Input Rear Tray: Max. 150 sheets
Manual Feeder: 1 sheet
Direct Disc Print Tray: 1 printable CD, DVD or Blu-Ray Disc Media Size Rear Tray: A3+, A3, A4, A5, B4, B5, Letter, Legal, 25x30cm (10×12″), 20x25cm (8×10″), 13x18cm, 10x15cm
Manual Feeder: A3+, A3, A4, Letter, 36x43cm (14×17″), 25x30cm (10×12″), 20x25cm (8×10″) Media Weight Rear Tray: Plain paper (64 to 105 g/m²) and supported Canon special media up to approx. 300 g/m²
Manual Feeder: Canon special media up to approx. 350g/m² and 0.6mm DVD / CD Printing Available as standard Two Sided Printing Available by manual operation only Borderless Printing Yes (A3+, A3, A4, Letter, 36 x 43cm, 25 x 30cm, 20 x 25cm, 13 x 18cm, & 10 x 15cm sizes)¹ INTERFACE AND SOFTWARE Interface Type – PC Ethernet: 10/100Mbps (auto switchable)
Hi-Speed USB 2.0 (B port) Interface Type – Camera Direct Print Port: Camera direct photo printing from PictBridge compliant digital cameras & camcorders Interface Type – Mobile Phone / PDA Photo printing via PictBridge Supported Operating System Windows 7 (32 and 64bit), Windows Vista (32 and 64bit), Windows XP SP2, SP3
Mac OS X v10.4.11 – 10.7 Minimum System Requirements Windows 7: 1GHz or faster CPU, 1GB RAM (32bit) / 2GB RAM (64bit)
Windows Vista (32 and 64 bit): 1GHz or faster CPU, 512MB RAM
Windows XP SP2, SP3: 300MHz or faster CPU, 128MB RAM
Browser: Internet Explorer 6 or higher
CD-ROM Drive
Display: 800 x 600 or better
Mac OS X v10.6: Intel Processor, 1GB RAM
Mac OS X v10.5: Intel or PowerPC Processor (G4, G5, 867MHz or faster)
Mac OS X v10.4.11: Intel or PowerPC Processor (G5, G4, G3), 256MB RAM
Browser: Safari 3 or higher
CD-ROM Drive
Display: XGA 1024 x 768 or better Driver Features Borderless printing, Greyscale printing, Vivid Photo, Clear Coating, Manual Colour Adjustment, Linear Tone, Photo Noise Reduction, Photo Optimizer PRO, Photo effects, Collate, Multiple page per sheet print, Booklet print, Poster print, Scaled print (20-400%), Fit-to-Page print, Quiet Mode, Auto Power Off¹ Software Included Easy-PhotoPrint EX with HD Movie Print¹, Easy-PhotoPrint Pro², Easy-WebPrint EX³, Solution Menu EX, Colour Management Tool Pro (download) GENERAL FEATURES Power Source AC 100-240V, 50 / 60Hz Power Consumption Standby: Approx. 1.6W
Off: Approx. 0.4W
Printing: Approx. 24W¹ Temperature Range Operating environment: 5° – 35° C Humidity Operating humidity: 10 – 90%RH (no condensation) Acoustic Noise Levels Approx. 35.5 dB(A)¹ Dimensions (W x D x H) 695 x 462 x 239 mm Weight Approx. 27.7 kg





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