Canon's Pixma Pro-1 sits at the top of the Pixma lineup, offering faster print speed, the convenience of 36ml ink cartridges and the ability to print on papers as heavy as 350gsm.

In advance of the official start of PhotoPlus we had the opportunity to sit for an interview in New York City with executives from Canon's inkjet printer division, including Katsuichi Shimizu, Chief Executive, Managing Director and Member of the Board for Inkjet Products Operations. On-hand to discuss the launch Canon's new Pixma Pro-1 13-inch inkjet printer, we asked about Canon's take on their current inkjet technology and how the company seeks to position itself as an alternative to the market leader, Epson, in the professional inkjet printer market.

Canon firmly believes that the number of DSLR users will continue to grow, and that, in Mr Shimizu's words, 'If you use a DSLR, then you should be making prints'. With a list price of $999.99, significantly higher than competing 13-inch models, the Pixma Pro-1 is aimed at users who are making money from their prints as well as those who have invested in higher-end cameras and lenses and expect the same type of perfomance from their printer. In the words of Michael Duffett, Canon's Senior Director of Inkjet Printer Marketing, 'our current printers such as the Pixma Pro 9000 and 9500 woud be perfect for the needs of a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera owner, for example. This (the Pixma Pro-1) is a top-of-the-line product that we are introducing, geared towards a 5D or 7D customer'.

In developing this model, Canon sought feedback from photographers in its Explorers of Light program and aimed to improve two areas; print quality and tonal accuracy. Mr. Duffett highlights a particular area of improvement stating, 'in a portrait of a person with dark hair against a dark background, you are now able to see all of the strands of hair, detail that would have been lost with previous generation printers.' As this example illustrates, Canon is fiercely targeting advanced users for whom a color managed workflow is a given and whose priority is to produce a print that contains as much detail from the image file in as accurate a fashion as possible.

Mr. Katsuichi Shimizu of Canon, Inc. sees a
strong correlation between growth of the DSLR
market and rising demand for a professional
desktop inkjet printer.

To that end, the Pixma Pro-1 features a 12-ink, reformulated version of the company's LUCIA pigment-based inkset, a new 12,288 nozzle FINE printhead and a gloss optimizer (GO) that is applied over the print area, providing a uniform image surface. Canon's longer term aim is to migrate these technology advances throughout their large format imagePROGRAF lineup as well. Indeed, Mr. Shimizu states that the Pixma Pro-1 represents, 'the pinnacle of image quality' for Canon's inkjet printers and is the culmination of many years of R&D.

The Pixma Pro 1 offers several other firsts for Canon's Pixma lineup, perhaps most notably the inclusion of 36ml ink cartridges, a move that offers not only convenience because you run out of ink less often, but can actually save users money over time, when compared with less expensive models that come with smaller capacity cartridges that typically carry a higher cost per ml. Canon also builds technology into their printers so that issues such as printhead clogs and the settling of pigment particles, 'never come across our customers' doorsteps to begin with', says Mr. Duffett, 'with a FINE printhead technology that is less prone to clogging than a piezo printhead technology'.

Canon has also designed the printer with an emphasis on providing many media options for the user, combining the capability to load thick fine art papers (as heavy as 350gsm) along with a coordinated effort with third party paper vendors that has resulted in 'over 120 paper profiles' which have been made available from inkjet paper companies such as Hahnemühle, Moab and Ilford. According to Mr. Shimizu, 'we have no intention' of forcing customers to use Canon papers. 'We prioritize third party paper makers', deferring to the wishes of photographers who want to print on papers from other manufacturers, or even using handmade media.

Following this theme of flexibility, Canon has provided in their print interface the ability to, 'tune the final output so that it can display accurately under specific ambient lighting conditions', according to Mr. Duffett. This means that users who know in advance the conditions under which their prints will be displayed can ensure faithful color rendering, even if the light condition under which the print will be ultimately displayed is different than the one under which the print is being produced and evaluated. In short, you could, from a single image file produce separate print versions, each tuned to a different ambient lighting condition. This approach may be familiar to users of third party RIP and printing software, but this is the first time a printer manufacturer has provided this capability out of the box. 

Mr. Shimizu sees Canon's future plans centered around developing more affordable printers, across a wider range of print output sizes. For now, Canon is placing their bets on a premium product aimed at professional photographers who want high quality prints and flexibility in choice of media.

The Pixma Pro-1 features 12 inks (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Red, Photo Cyan, Photo Magenta, Photo Black, Matte Black, Gray, Dark Gray, Light Gray and Gloss Optimizer) and a tubular ink delivery system similar to  those found on Canon's large format printers.