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Printing

Printing with the Pixma Pro-1 is a straightforward process that will be familiar to current desktop printer users. The screenshots below are from a Mac running OS 10.6 and show the printer driver settings available when you print through an image editing application such as Photoshop. Windows users will find similar options.

Selecting the media type appropriate to the paper you have loaded in the printer is crucial to getting expected results. You must also specify which input tray you are using as well as the desired print quality setting.
When a glossy media type is selected the printer driver gives you three options for applying the chroma optimizer. In addition to the Auto option shown here, you can apply the optimizer over the entire image or load a custom form file created in a graphics application.
If you're printing from color-managed software like Photoshop, and set it to to manage the ICC profile conversion, the printer driver disables its Color Matching options. This goes a long way towards preventing users from inadvertently performing color conversions in both the printing software and the printer driver.

If you elect to allow the printer driver to manage colors, Canon provides a Color Options menu in which you can adjust hue, brightness and contrast. You will have no visual preview of the changes you make on the actual image you are printing, though.

Although a range of controls are offered to tweak print output, you have no way to preview the changes you make on your actual image. A choice of generic images ('Standard' is shown above) is offered instead.

Canon also provides its own printing plug-in, Easy-PhotoPrint Pro, allowing you to bypass the menus and options shown above. You can use the software to print color-managed output, select from a set of multi-image page layouts and even load images to print consecutively. There is also an Ambient Light Correction feature (Windows version only) which tunes output to various lighting scenarios. One huge limitation of the plug-in, however, is that it auto-scales your image based on the page size you have selected. This behavior cannot be turned off, which means that when using Easy-PhotoPrint Pro there is no way to print your image at the document size and resolution you have set for the file in your image editing software.

Note that regardless of which application you use to print, the Pro-1, like the Pro9500 Mark II, imposes wider margins for heavier matte papers. When a 'Fine Art Paper' media type is selected, a paper size with top and bottom margins of 35mm must be selected. This noticeably reduces the printable area compared with the printer's normal margins of 3mm at the top and 5mm at the bottom.

Black and white printing

The process of printing a single channel grayscale file is the same as printing a color one. Canon uses a total of five black/gray inks when printing grayscale files on glossy papers. Unlike many Epson models, Canon does not have a separate black and white mode on the Pro-1. Yet the output is very pleasing, with prints appearing much more neutral in tone than we've seen in previous Canon models.

It's worth noting that in addition to using a matte black (matte and glossy media), photo black (glossy media only), gray, dark gray and light gray inks, the Pro-1 does include what Canon describes to us as, 'minimal use of color inks' in order to generate a neutral b/w print. While the use of color inks can make black and white prints more susceptible to metameric shifts under different lighting conditions, we find that these shifts, while noticeable, are reasonably well controlled.

This is a print from a grayscale image file on glossy media. Image courtesy of Larry Danque at film2file.com. As you can see in this magnified view, the Pro-1 lays down color inks in addition to its black and gray inks.

Print speed and longevity

With the Pro-1 Canon claims a top print speed of 2 minutes 10 seconds to produce an 8 x 10 inch print, we were not able to duplicate results at that speed in our studio. For our tests we printed an 8 x 10 inch color image centered on an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet. We began timing at the moment the paper was engaged by the rear slot's feed mechanism and ended when the sheet was ejected by the printer.

Print Quality
Time to complete an 8 x 10 inch print
High (maximum) 3 minutes, 30 seconds
Standard 2 minutes, 31 seconds

Each of these times are faster than Canon's stated timings of for the Pixma Pro9500 Mark II, which it lists as 4 minutes, 5 seconds.

Print longevity is a function of the stability of both the inks and print media under specific display conditions. Canon, based on data attributed to Wilhelm Imaging Research, makes a light fastness claim of 70 years for prints displayed under glass using the Pro-1's LUCIA inkset on the company's semigloss photo paper.

Ink cost and usage

At current US retail single-pack prices, Canon's LUCIA inks for the Pro-1 cost US$1 per ml. The chroma optimizer is priced lower at US$.83 per ml. Cost per print is difficult to determine except on printers that actually report ink usage. Image content, selected media type, print quality settings and of course print size are all variables that affect the results. It's also important to remember that the individual ink cartridges will empty at different rates. Under normal circumstances you'd never be replacing all 12 inks simultaneously.

With the Pro-1, Canon claims per cartridge page yields that vary between 90 and 505 pages for an 11 x 14 inch color image printed on glossy media. (Click here to download Canon's PDF document.) Photo black and dark gray inks are among the first to run out. The lowest yield, as expected, is for the chroma optimizer which acts as a clear coat over the print. Red ink is used sparingly as a 'secondary' color to expand the gamut and thus offers the highest page yield.

For our own ink usage tests we began by installing a second full set of new ink cartridges. The ink lines had already been primed by our first set of cartridges during printer installation. We then printed multiple copies of three real world color images (shown below) all sized to 8 x 10 inches at 300 ppi with the driver set to Standard quality and the default Auto option selected for chroma optimizer coverage.

Rotating among the three separate images shown above, we were able to make a total of 213 prints sized at 8 x 10 inches each. In the accompanying screenshot you can see the ink levels after the last print. The dark gray ink is flagged for replacement by a 'x'.

We were able to make 213 prints in total - 101 on matte paper, 112 on glossy paper - before the driver warned us that the Dark Gray cartridge was potentially too low to make an additional print. Note that both the chroma optimizer and photo black ink would have run out sooner had we made all of our prints on glossy media.

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