Printing

For anyone who has printed from Photoshop in the past, printing to the Pro-10 is no different when using the print function in the program. Canon also provides an optional plug-in for its Print Studio Pro program. Selecting the plug-in is done through the Automate menu (found under the File menu). This opens another interface for printing which might be simpler and more easily understood to the novice Photoshop user.

For a seasoned Photoshop users who has his or her workflow streamlined, Print Studio Pro will probably never get installed. An important note when using Print Studio Pro; selecting the paper size automatically sets the print size based on the layout selected. The only workaround is to set the margins manually, which is possible as Print Studio Pro offers virtually the same options as the Canon printer dialog.

Plug-in Print Studio Pro has many of the same functions as the Photoshop print dialog but requires additional input to print non-standard sizes.

For those of you who have never used, or don’t want to use Photoshop, Canon offers a third way to print, with Easy-PhotoPrint EX. This stand-alone program is so easy to install and use that the novice computer user can be up and printing great images in a few minutes. As with the Print Studio Pro plug-in, Easy-PhotoPrint EX automatically sizes the image based on the paper size and layout selected. Unlike Print Studio Pro, you aren’t able to set custom margin so you can’t print a 4x6 on an 8x10 sheet of paper. Better to spend the time learning Photoshop, in our opinion.

Stand alone program Easy-PhotoPrint EX offers even less variability that Print Studio Pro. Once you select the paper size, this menu shows you (limited) layout options.

When printing via the Photoshop print dialog, one option might not be apparent: Clear Coating using the chroma optimizer. There are three options; the default is Auto, the program decides where to place the chrome optimizer, you can choose to coat the entire image or load a custom form file created in a graphics application. The intent of the chroma optimizer is to level the ink height throughout the image. This allows for a uniform glossiness and a higher Dmax (a number that represents the tonal range; from the darkest black with detail to the brightest white with detail). The chroma optimizer also reduces bronzing and metamerism. All of our testing was done with the Clear Coating set to default.

Print speed and longevity

Simulating the speed test in our Pro-1 review, we printed an 8"x10" image centered on 8 1/2"x11" paper. We began timing when the rear slot feed mechanism engaged the paper and stopped when the paper was ejected. We averaged the times of three separate prints. For glossy photos, printed in High quality mode our print time was almost identical to Canon's claim of 3 minutes and 35 seconds. Printing a glossy 8"x10" in the standard quality mode proved to be almost exactly one minute faster. Interestingly, when printing on matte paper, we saw a significantly slower time of 4 minutes and 35 seconds. Be aware that when selecting Fine Art Matte as a media type, you can only print in High quality mode.

 Print Quality Time to complete an 8x 10 inch print
 High quality (Glossy) 3 minutes, 30 seconds
 Standard quality (Glossy)  2 minutes, 35 seconds

For the Pro-10, Canon claims 70 years light fastness; under glass when printed on Canon’s semi-gloss paper using the LUCIA inks. More information can be found at Wilhelm Imaging Research.

Black & White printing

One of the main differences between the Pro-10 and the Pro-1 is the number of black/gray inks. The Pro-1 with twelve inks includes five blacks; Photo Black, Matte Black, Dark Gray, Gray and Light Gray. Canon has chosen to reduce the ink set for the Pro-10 to ten. This reduction is accomplished by reducing the number of black/gray inks to three. The Dark Gray and Light Gray are missing from the Pro-10, resulting in a smaller footprint, lower weight and possible inferior black & white printing.

With only the one gray ink, we expected to see more colors being used when printing our B&W test image. As you can see from the two images below, the Pro-10 produces a very acceptable black and white print, with a minimal amount of color inks.

This gray scale image was printed on the Pro-10. We expected to see substantial color in the enlarged section to the left. Image courtesy of Larry Danque at film2file.com. Though color drops can be seen in this enlargement, they are much fewer that one would expect.

While the differences between the black and white prints from the Pro-1 and Pro-10 was negligible in our test, it stands to reason that the five black/gray inks in the Pro-1 should give a more smooth tonal gradation in all B&W prints than the three black/gray inks in the Pro-10.

Ink Cost and Usage

Currently, the US retail price for the Pro-10 individual inks is $14.99. You can get a slight discount if you buy the 10-pack ink set at $134.99 but eventually you’ll want to replace only the inks that are used up in printing and for comparison purposes we’ll use the cost of buy each ink individually. With the ink tank capacity of 14ml the cost per ml is $1.07. This is only slightly more than the Pro-1’s $1.00 per ml cost. The benefit of using the Pro-1 with its 36ml inks is you’ll run out less frequently, resulting in a more efficient work flow.

Before we began our usage test we installed a new set of inks and used the same three images that were used in the Pro-1 review, rotating between both the images and alternating between glossy and matte papers. Our goal was to utilize both the matte and photo black inks. We did, however, deviate from the Pro-1 usage test in setting the quality to high for all of the printing (in the Pro-1 test we used the default Standard setting). Our reasoning here was that most photographers will use  the highest quality settings for the majority of their printing. Canon has published data on what you can expect to get from each color. You can find the information here.

Ink usage test image 1 Ink usage test 2
Ink usage test image 3 

We ran through the usage test twice (Canon sent us two extra complete sets of inks which proved very useful). Both tests were done alternating between glossy and matte as well as between the three test images shown above. We printed each image as an 8"x10" on an 8 1/2"x11" sheet of paper. In the first test, we selected matte paper from the drop down menu under Quality and Media. Upon completion of the usage test we found that the photo black ink had run out and the matte black ink was still at 100%. After a phone call to Canon Tech Support and a few emails we learned that if one wants to utilize the matte black ink a Fine Art paper must be selected.

To utilize the matte ink in the Pro-10, you must select a fine art paper in the printer dialog.

The second usage test we as planned with a somewhat equal depletion of the photo and matte black inks. Note that the gray was the first ink to run out. We replaced the gray ink and continued printing until another ink was fully depleted (Yellow). We ended up using approximately 1.3 tanks of gray and a full yellow with a total of 34 glossy and 61 matte prints. As we printed the matte and glossy in groups of 30 we were on our second glossy group when the yellow and gray ran out. Had we alternated in smaller numbers, we would have had a more equal result. In all we printed 95 total prints with the following ink remaining.

Gray ran out first, then yellow with comparable amounts of Photo Black and Matte Black inks remaining (we ended up printing more matte prints than glossy, hence the lower level of matte ink above).

Fine art paper margin

When you select a fine art paper as we did in the previous test you loose the ability to print borderless. Worse yet, you must select a different paper size, which substantially increases the margins (see the images below). The bottom line – you cannot print a full 8"x10" print on a sheet of 8 1/2"x11" fine art paper. In our tests, printing an 8x10 image on fine art paper results in an 8" x 8 5/8" print.

Glossy print, a full 8" x 10" Fine art matte print, substantially cropped on the sides. Only 8" x 8 5/8". The black borders indicate the amount of image area cropped from the sides  compared with the glossy print at left.

While this is one of the few complaints we have with the Pro-10 (and the Pro-1 as well) it is a significant one. Until Canon addresses this issue the Pro-10 is a far less attractive option for users who want to print even semi-regularly on fine art matte papers.


Click here to go to page 5 of our review of the Canon Pixma Pro-10