"From Light to Ink" featured the work of Canon Inspirers and contest winners, all printed using Canon's imagePROGRAF printers. The gallery show revolved around the discussion of printing photographs...
The most difficult aspect of using Canon’s 10-pigment ink printer is getting it out of the box. It’s a heavy printer in a tightly-packed box. At least half of the setup time came from maneuvering the printer from doorstep to printer table. Otherwise, setup is easy, and I will come back to this after looking at the basics.
The Pro-10 is a midrange printer priced at the sweet spot of $699 SRP, although rebates are sometimes available. It uses Canon’s LUCIA pigment ink system, with two black inks and one grey for black and white printing. One of the inks is a Chroma Optimizer for reducing bronzing. There are two paper feeds, one of which is for thicker papers, with paper up to 13’ wide being accepted. Connections for both computer, via USB2, and network, via ethernet and wireless, are provided. A full list of specs can be found here at Canon.
Times have changed for printers, it is truly amazing how easy it is to set up this printer. Take it out of the box, strip off all the tape, drop in the print head, unpack the ten cartridges and put them into the print head, attach the power cord and turn it on. Then it’s time for system configuration. I have no room near my computer, so I set it up in another area. After plugging it in and turning it on, I used my router’s WPS feature to add the printer to my Wi-Fi network. This took all of two minutes and it worked immediately. It doesn’t look like manual setup would take much longer.
After this, I loaded the software from the CD. I loaded all the software onto my Mac because I wanted to test everything. If I were not reviewing the printer, I would have only loaded the driver, profiles, Print Studio Pro and the manual. There is no way, after my testing, that I would not load Print Studio Pro, a great application for printing. I will come back to this later. All of the software is available online.
Once the software is loaded and launched, everything is ready to go.
There is nothing complicated about the Pro-10. Turn it on, load it with paper, and print from the computer. Of course, there needs to be a good workflow to get the best printable image, but that is true with any printer. The trays and feeds are simple and obvious. The one “problem” I occasionally ran into involved the feed cover. With the feed for thinner papers, the feed cover needs to be opened to provide access to the feed tray. It is very easy to forget to close the feed cover, and as the printer was in another room, I would hit the print button, walk into the printer room a few minutes later and find that nothing had happened. When there are issues, lights on the front panel provide guidance.
In contrast with some past experiences with inkjet printers, I had no problems with paper feed once I closed the cover. The printer is very quiet—even quieter when in another room—and just does its job. 13″ × 19″ paper stayed on the output tray. Speed seems reasonable; highest quality 13″ × 19″ prints took almost ten minutes. This time can be shortened with standard quality prints.
Canon provides a very complete software suite with the printer that includes some very simple template options, direct printing from iPhones/iPads, image management functions, and, most importantly, Print Studio Pro. There is a Quick Menu that provides access to most of the software.
Photoshop printing can be a pain to set up, especially if you don’t print very often, and while Lightroom is a bit easier, it’s still not as intuitive as it should be, requiring controls on both sides of the application when in the print mode. It’s easy to print for the wrong size paper, or without upscaling when necessary. Print Studio Pro offers a wide range of options in a single window, making both simple quick printing and more complex printing possible, and it makes the right default choices. During testing, I made several prints using Lightroom’s Print Module that I had to toss, but this never happened with Print Studio Pro.
Print Studio Pro automatically installs for use with Photoshop, Lightroom and Elements. With Lightroom, it is a bit tricky to find it the first time—it comes up under File>Plug-in Extras. All printing options are in a single stack on the right, with a window showing the image on the paper on the left. It will do some multiple print layout but with nowhere near the flexibility of Lightroom’s Print Module, so if you need more than four images on a page, you should use Lightroom for printing. There’s an option for black and white printing and options for controlling color balance.
What I found most useful is the option to use “Pro Mode,” which optimizes printing based on a variety of factors, and is similar to “let printer manage colors” controls but seems to work better than most. If you don’t use Pro Mode, you can specify an ICC profile. ICC profiles will be most useful for non-Canon papers. As we shall see, the Pro Mode does an excellent job.
The final analysis is what matters most, and Canon has done an excellent job. The quality of color prints was overall excellent, even with the nose to the print eyeball test. The only issue is that the prints are slightly darker than expected. Initially I suspected a monitor calibration problem, and re-calibrated, with no change in the results. There had been very little monitor drift. Prints were almost identical using Print Studio Pro in both Pro Mode and with ICC profiles, and prints from Lightroom using the Canon profiles were just slightly lighter, which was visible in a close inspection of the shadows. Although this was noticeable, it might not be a concern. If it is, prints can be lightened in either Print Studio Pro or another application.
Skin tones were excellent in color prints. Black and white prints looked very good, although the tiniest amount of color shift could be seen. Because there is only one grey, very slight detail lost can occur, primarily in the shadows.
Print Studio Pro includes the capability to produce a “pattern print” that prints thumbnails with a range of CMY adjustments. This allows compensation in CMY, which Print Studio Pro provides, in case there is an issue with the color balance in the print. It’s very useful, and would be even more useful if it included a series that varied brightness.
Testing included use of two Canon papers: Pro Luster and Matte. Normally, I will choose the type of paper based on the image, but I wanted to see how a single image compared with the two papers. I chose a print that would be considered unlikely to be used for matte printing—bright colors, flesh tones and large black areas, and was not surprised by the result. The matte print was muted in comparison to the luster print and the black was not as deep, although shadow detail was better. I did find that a somber landscape looked quite good on the matte paper, although I still preferred the “pop” with the luster.
This is a high quality photo printer, very easy to set up and connect to a network, and has software that simplifies what Adobe products seem to complicate. Color prints look excellent once the brightness issue is addressed. Black and white prints are good, but if you want to do a lot of black and white printing, I would recommend moving up to the Canon Pro-1, which has a few more grey inks. At the price, it’s a great deal.
Where to Buy
Canon Pixma Pro-10, (compare prices) (review). From the Canon website: The PIXMAPRO-10 Wireless1 Professional Inkjet Printer makes that possible with features that ensure incredible output. A new 10-color LUCIA pigment ink system features three black inks for amazing monochrome prints, and a Chroma Optimizer to ensure the inks lay smooth on the paper which reduces metamarism and bronzing. Since the Lucia inks are pigment based, your prints will have incredible longevity and phenomenal photo vividness.