I am not an engineer nor a pixel peeper, so this “field test” is not scientific but rather based on practical, real-world use. I am not interested in specs, but rather in making prints that best represent my RAW files and resonate with viewers. I’m interested in what my eyes see, not what numbers or graphs show me.
I’ve owned Canon large format printers for over a decade, starting with Canon’s first foray into the market, the 17” iPF5000 introduced in 2006. I took a chance and put my money on the new player in a field that had been dominated by Epson.
The ipf5000 had first generation issues, but Canon support bent over backward to make sure I was happy with the printer—I was impressed, to say the least. Their service and support remain the best in the business as far as I’m concerned. And their printers match and in some areas exceed the competition.
Since then I’ve owned the 24” iPF6100, the 44” iPF8100, the 17” Pro-1, and my current workhorse the 44” iPF 8400. I’ve made thousands of prints for myself and others on these printers, and I’ve been thoroughly impressed with Canon’s dedication to the printer market and their push to make each generation better than the last. I’ve seen this in overall print quality and printer design and construction.
I’ve been field-testing the Canon imagePROGRAF Pro-1000 for several weeks and have made hundreds of prints, from small 4×5 notes cards all the way up to A2 prints (17” x 22”). I’ve also used it in several of my printing workshops with great results. In every way, I’m impressed with the quality of the prints and with the way the printer operates.
Yes, great looking prints are what we want most of all, and the Pro-1000 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to print quality. But a well-designed printer that also makes great prints is a combination that makes printing so much more enjoyable. But before I get to that, let’s go over some of the basics.
The Pro-1000 is a 17” wide printer that accepts many different types of media using two separate paper feeds depending on paper thickness. It’s quite hefty for a 17” printer, weighing 71lbs. and having a footprint of about 30” x 15”. You’ll want to have a sturdy table to hold the printer with extra room front and back for the rear feed tray and front tray where new prints exit the printer.
Like all Canon pro printers, it has replaceable print heads, which means service is a much easier proposition should a print head fail. I’ve replaced the print heads on my Canon printers in the past, and while it’s not inexpensive it was easy and eliminated the downtime of having to send a printer out for service.
It comes with 12 starter ink cartridges and a sealed print head which must all be installed on setup. It has multiple connection options, but I use the Ethernet port since I like the flexibility of connecting to the printer from multiple computers.
I don’t recommend wifi for any serious printing since that’s always subject to interference and less than robust. A hard-wire, either USB or ethernet is the most stable connection.
The Pro-1000 uses eleven Lucia Pro pigment inks that give it a very broad color gamut. Gamut defines how many colors a device can potentially produce, and the bigger that is, the more realistic your prints will look. It’s important to note that all papers also have a maximum gamut that they can produce (which is smaller than the printer’s gamut,) so the better the paper, the more you’ll get out of the Pro-1000’s capabilities.
The twelfth cartridge in the Pro-1000 is a Chroma Optimizer, a clear coat finish that is applied to non-matte papers (gloss, satin, luster, etc.). Essentially it prevents areas of heavy ink coverage from appearing muddy or dull due to the way light bounces off those areas unevenly. Applying this clear coat of Chroma Optimizer to the entire print makes sure it has the same consistent finish throughout, and it works very well.
One great feature of Canon printers in general, and of the Pro-1000 as well, is the ability to switch between matte black and photo black inks without any delay. This not only saves time but makes it much more inviting to try different types of papers when trying to decide between matte and luster for example.
This is one of those features that seems insignificant at first but really helps with workflow and productivity, especially when you’re doing lots of printing.
Print Quality and Resolution
The print quality of the Pro-1000 is simply outstanding. Details are sharp, gradations are smooth, and colors are full and vibrant. I didn’t expect anything less to be honest, as this is the case with my older ipf8400.
Performance in two key areas did surprise me, however. One was shadow depth and separation, which so far is the best I’ve seen from any printer, including my Epson P800, which I like very much. Even in the deepest shadows, there is a really nice smoothness towards black that preserves the subtlest tonal variation. And even more impressive, you can see this on matte or fibre type papers, though more so with the latter.
A high d-max paper like Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique or Baryta Prestige really shows what this printer is capable of when it comes to shadow depth. Blacks are solid, yet hints of tonal separation are visible and smooth in the darkest areas of a print.
The second key area is better color rendition of oranges and reds, which have been a known weakness of Canon printers in the past. One look at the test print and I immediately noticed the improved clarity and vibrancy of the strawberries.
In the real world, this translates to richer images of fall foliage, flowers, sunrise and sunset skies, really any image where reds play an important role. On a wide-gamut paper like Prestige, the colors are amazingly full and rich.
Black and white prints also exhibited smooth shadow tonalities, dense blacks, and great highlight gradations, so important for clouds, moving water, and reflections.
Photos of prints can never replicate the actual prints in hand, but I’ve tried to maintain the same consistent settings of the images below in order to eliminate any adjustment biases.
I recently tweeted that the Pro-1000 had finally given me what I’ve always wanted from a printer, a sheet feeder that actually works. Yes, I was exaggerating a bit, but paper jams are no fun. While I generally make one print at a time, there are instances when the sheet feeder comes in handy. For example, I make lots of fine art notecards, and if I have to print ten or twenty of one card, a functional sheet feeder is very helpful.
I haven’t had the same positive results with my other printers, namely the P800. It prints beautifully, but I have to feed each card individually, otherwise there is the inevitable paper jam. Not so with the Pro-1000. Over one hundred notecards so far, and not a single jam.
Even if you don’t print notecards, being able to load the printer with a dozen sheets of paper and print them all without feeding issues is a productivity and time saver.
Thicker papers, like most fine art matte papers, must be fed from the rear manual feed tray, which only accepts one sheet at a time. Once again, the feed mechanism is much easier than my other printers, speeding up my workflow.
One downside is that you have to confirm the paper settings on the Pro-1000’s LCD panel whenever you make a print. In order to avoid extra trips to the printer, I send a print job from Lightroom first, then walk over, load the paper, and confirm the settings on the LCD panel. In other words, I load the paper after I’ve sent the print job.
The Pro-1000 will let you use paper sizes ranging from a minimum of 3” x 5” to a maximum of 17” x 25.5”. You can use the default paper sizes or create custom paper sizes in the printer driver as long as they don’t exceed these limits. Unfortunately, that means you can not print panoramas wider than 25.5”. (I suspect the limitation has to do with the Pro-1000 not having a roll feed option, which would prevent alignment issues with long single sheets.)
You can also make borderless prints by selecting the “borderless” option when selecting the paper size. This might be useful when you want to maximize the size of your print, or for certain presentations when you want a contemporary borderless look.
While you can use papers from any manufacturer on the Pro-1000, I made all of my test prints with Canson Infinity fine art papers, since they are my favorite. They all printed beautifully on the Pro-1000 using Canson Infinity’s generic profiles available from their website.
Canon recommends cleaning all art papers (matte papers) with a brush to eliminate dust or other particles that are attracted to the surface of matte paper. I agree, and use a horse hair brush to lightly clean every sheet I print on. Feeding the papers was hassle free, regardless of whether it was the sheet or manual feeder, or whether using matte, fibre, or RC papers. I particularly like the ease of feeding fine art matte papers, which can be somewhat frustrating on other printers, like the Epson P series.
Some Useful Custom Settings
The “Paper Detailed Settings” has some useful settings that can come in handy when making prints.
Print Head Height – Sometimes the slightest curl on the edge of a sheet of paper can cause a slight head strike along the edge. Raising the head height, or gap can eliminate this issue. (Canson Infinity Platine Fibre Rag is susceptible to this. The fix is to adjust the head height via this setting.)
Unidirectional Printing – I always recommend selecting this as it prevents any uneven line shifts during printing. The slight loss in speed is worth it when you need the best looking prints.
Clear Coating Area – the clear coat (Chroma Optimizer) can be set to “auto” which applies it where needed, or “overall” which applies it to the entire print. Auto is the default as it may save usage of the clear coat and avoid having to change that cartridge more often.
Cancel Margin Regulation – lets you bypass the safety margins and print borderless on any paper type and size.
A printer like the Pro-1000 is an amazingly complex piece of engineering, with lots of moving parts operating with tight precision. We’ve all also had software issues and been guilty of “user-error.” Access to a helpful human is rather nice these days. In fact, I was confused about one of the front panel settings and called Canon support. I was pleasantly pleased when the support rep asked what I needed help with right away – no request for a serial number, address and tel#, or email address!
For me, it’s important to feel confident about the support I will receive for the gear I buy. I need my printers to be operational with little downtime given all the printing workshops I teach and all the prints I make on a regular basis. In all of these cases, having solid support is critical, and that’s one of the things I really like about Canon from my own personal experiences and those of others I know who rely on Canon.
There are some great choices when it comes to photo printers these days. That’s a good thing for all of us, as competition breeds excellence. I often tell students who ask me which brand I recommend that the quality of your photographs, both technically and aesthetically, will make a greater difference than the printer you use.
Is the Pro-1000 perfect? Of course not, no printer is. Having said that, the Pro-1000 is an amazing printer that makes beautiful prints and encourages you to use it regularly through ease of use and thoughtful engineering. That to me is a winning combination, and I have no hesitation recommending the Pro-1000 as a first printer, or an upgrade – it’s that good.
Originally published on the Beyond the Lens Blog.