FIRST LOOK: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000
Canon is taking a tilt at Epson’s dominance of the A2 desktop printer market with the introduction of the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000, which looks set to rival the SureColor P800 in both technological sophistication and price. Adding an A2 model to the existing PIXMA PRO range is a major step for Canon, which until now has separated its consumer-level printers from the professional models, both on its website and through its distribution network.
Angled view of the new imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer. (Source: Canon.)
Traditionally, Canon’s imagePROGRAF printers have been designed for high-volume usage in business environments. Even the iPF5100 A2 model, which has been on the market since early 2011, is so large, heavy and expensive (>AU$3500) that Canon itself describes it as suitable for professional photographers.
The new PRO-1000 is likely to replace this model and, in doing so will make professional-quality A2 printing accessible to serious photo enthusiasts at a price they can afford. With its release, Canon will also release its market-leading Photo Paper Pro Platinum in A2-sized cut sheets extending the existing A3+ size limit.
Who’s it For?
Naturally, professional photographers will be an important target market for the PRO-1000, as will serious photo enthusiasts who want to make larger than A3+prints. It will also be well suited to camera shop operators, enabling them to produce large prints for customers, on the spot ““ or at very short notice. Photography schools would also find this printer worthwhile and operators of some tourist facilities could gain extra revenue through selling poster-sized prints of customers enjoying their facilities.
Compared with earlier imagePROGRAF models, the PRO-1000 will almost certainly be easier to set up and operate and it’s likely to deliver visibly better prints.
Design and Styling
Stylistically, the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 departs radically from previous Canon A2 printers and instead becomes a logical extension to the current PIXMA PRO line-up. Built with the same styling as the A3+ models, it looks like a ‘big brother’ to the PIXMA PRO-1 and has a similar user interface. Canon has added its characteristic ‘red line’ branding to the front panel to show it’s a premium product, in the same class as the L-series lenses, which also carry red lines.
The imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 shown in a studio environment. (Source: Canon.)
The front of the PRO-1000 carries a 3-inch, 320 x 240 TFT LCD data panel, which shows ink status and selected paper type and size. It also has settings for maintenance and job management. An arrow pad enables users to toggle through different settings, aided by home and back keys. Power and reset buttons are also provided.
When not in use, the printer packs up to be surprisingly compact, with a footprint measuring 723 x 433 mm and an overall height of 285 mm.
1. The ink set: This is arguably the most important feature of any printer. The PRO-1000 uses a newly developed set of Lucia Pro inks, which come in 12 ink tanks, each containing 80 ml. The printer is supplied with full-sized ink tanks, rather than the reduced-volume, ‘starter’ tanks provided with some printers.
The inks have been designed to provide an expanded colour gamut, which Canon says is 110% of the PIXMA PRO-1 gamut on Lustre paper and up to 119% on Matte papers. There are four ‘black’ ink tanks: photo black, matt black, grey and photo grey; plus individual tanks for yellow, magenta, cyan, photo magenta, photo cyan, red and blue. A special Chroma Optimiser resin is included to fill in the gaps between the ink droplets and provide a uniform glossiness. It also regulates surface reflections to keep colours natural in prints and prevents bronzing.
Silicon oil has been added to the inks to improve abrasion resistance and reduce the chance of scratching on printed surfaces (a common problem with pigment ink prints). This makes it easier to print out in large volumes and carry and exhibit large photo prints.
Canon has estimated the lightfastness of the Lucia Pro inks at around 200 years for prints stored in albums and around 60 years ‘gas-fastness’ for prints on open display. Wilhelm Imaging Research (http://www.wilhelm-research.com/) is currently testing the inks with different media and will publish the results when the tests are concluded.
2. The print head: The PRO-1000’s print head has also been refined to ensure greater efficiency and precision, enabling it to output an A2 photo print in approximately just six minutes. The new 1.28-inch print head is approximately 1.5x larger than the print head of the PIXMA PRO-1 and covers 50% more with each pass across the paper.
It carries 18,432 nozzles and includes a built-in non-firing nozzle detection system that can pick up nozzles that might be blocked and switch in alternative nozzles to prevent banding. The print head also supports both automatic and manual head gap adjustments and includes colour calibration notification functions.
Each ink tank has its own line so no ink is wasted when switching between Photo and Matte Black inks. Nor is ink is wasted through excess purging of lines. The printer’s maintenance tank, which collects droplets that escape during printing, is user-replaceable.
A new L-COA PRO Image Processing System in the printer ensures the correct balance and mixture of inks, with precise ink droplet placement, reducing processing time to further enhance printing efficiencies. Ink is laid down in four picolitre droplets for maximum detail in prints.
3. Paper handling: Refinements here include a new paper feeding and roller system and a vacuum air feeding system to minimise paper movement during the printing process. A paper feed detection and correction system reduces the incidence of paper mis-feeds.
Two feed paths are available, the main rear tray for papers with normal thickness and a manual feed slot, which accepts ‘fine art’ papers and specialty media (such as canvas) between 0.1 and 0.17 mm thick (up to 400 gsm). The maximum printable length is 594 mm.
The printer driver contains ICC profiles for Canon media, covering Photo Paper Pro Platinum (PT-101), Photo Paper Plus Glossy II (PP-201), Photo Paper Pro Luster (LU-101), Photo Paper Plus Semi-gloss (SG-201), Matte Photo Paper (MP-101), Photo Stickers (PS-101), Lightweight Photo Paper, Heavyweight Fine Art Paper, Japanese Paper Washi, Canvas, and 80 gsm office paper. ICC profiles for 16 types of Canon-approved third-party papers are also included.
4. Software: The software bundle contains an updated version of Canon’s Print Studio Pro plugin, which interfaces with most popular editing software suites, including Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. It is accessed via the File > Automate sub-menu and enables the image to be displayed in the editor to be shown in Print Studio Pro.
Once in Print Studio Pro, the user can adjust formats and layouts, select colour management settings, access the colour matching controls that relate to the editing software, set borderless or bordered printing and control the width of margins for the latter. It also includes a one-click enhancement function plus controls for adjusting sharpness and contrast, fine-tuning colour levels and darkening white areas to let the printers print apply Chroma Optimiser uniformly across the image. Pattern printing is also available enabling users to prints variations of different settings in a nine-row, five-column grid of thumbnails.
Device Management software enables studio users to manage multiple printers through a single console. The software bundle also includes a Quick Utility Tool Box and a Media Configuration Tool. Account Manager software, which calculates the cost per print, will be added in January 2016.
5. Connectivity: Built-in Ethernet connectivity enables the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 to print wirelessly from a range of devices including laptops, PCs, tablets, smartphones and cameras. Using the TCP/IP protocol, the new printer is compliant with the IEEE802.3u (100BASE-TX) / IEEE802.3(10BASE-T) standards and supports auto-negotiation for determining common transmission parameters between connected devices.
Wi-Fi is also supported via the IEEE802.11b/g/n protocols. Direct printing is available from cameras via PictBridge and from popular online storage services, such as Dropbox and Google Drive. The PRO-1000 is also compatible with Apple AirPrint and Canon’s PIXMA/MAXIFY Printing Solutions.
The imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 will be available from December 2015 and we hope to have a review unit shortly after its release. Although Canon doesn’t disclose RRPs for any of its new products, sources in the company tell us the asking price for the printer is likely to be below AU$2000, with the ink cartridges selling for around AU$74. If that’s the case, Epson has a serious competitor to contend with in the A2 arena.
Printer type: On-demand inkjet
Print head configuration: 12 colours integrated type (4 colours x 3 chips)
Nozzle pitch: 600 dpi x 2
Nozzles per chip: 1,536 nozzles x 12 colours
Minimum droplet size: 4 pl per colour
Resolution: 2400 x 1200 dpi
Paper sizes: A5, A4, A3, A3+, A2, B5, B4, B3, 4×6″, 5×7″, 8×10″, 10×12″, 14×17″, 7×22″, Letter, Legal, Ledger
Max. paper thickness: Rear tray – 300 gsm, 0.3 mm; manual feed slot – 400 gsm, 0.7 mm
Maximum printable paper length: Rear tray – 127 mm; manual feed slot – 245 mm; roll paper – 594 mm
Print speed: PT101 Photo Paper – approx 6 min.; LU-101 Photo Paper – approx 4 min 10 sec.(colour/B&W print mode)
Ink system: Tubing system with level detected by dot count and electrode (empty); each ink tank is equipped with EEPROM which stores its ink level
Ink cartridges: MBK, PBK, C, M, Y, PC, PM, GY, PGY, R, B, CO supplied in 80 ml tanks
Interfaces: Hi-Speed USB (12 Mbit/sec, 480 Mbit/sec, Series B (4 pins) connector), Ethernet IEEE 802.3 10base-T / IEEE 802.3 10base-TX / Auto negotiation, TCP-IP, IEEE802.11b/g/n
Power consumption: Approx. 37W; approx. 2.5W in standby; approx. 0.4W with power off
Acoustic noise: Approx. 41.0 dB(A)
Environmental certifications: International Energy Star Program (WW), RoHD directive, EPEAT
Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 723 x 433 x 285 mm
Weight: Approx. 32 kg (including print head and inks)