Canon has made some significant strides in its printing division, having recently released a series of professional inkjet printers that are optimized for fine art and high-end photographic production. The educators at the School of the International Center for Photography (ICP) are finding that these advancements are ideal for their demanding environments—they have just outfitted their digital media labs with the latest imagePROGRAF models. To see the Canon printers in use, we headed to the lab to see their setup and find out how the printers were working for the staff and students.
The first thing you might see when you walk into one of their labs is a PRO-2000 or PRO-4000 staring back at you. This is for a good reason, since these imposing models can work at sizes up to 24 and 44" wide, respectively, and can easily fill a room with their presence. Many students likely don’t need this for their day-to-day work, making the array of PRO-1000 printers a much more suitable and simple option. This 17-inch-wide workhorse model is the most capable desktop option, making it possible to outfit nearly every workstation with its own printer and still offer the same outstanding image quality as its larger siblings, something especially beneficial if someone wants to scale-up their images later. Also, it would be the one that many would be most likely to purchase if they decide they want to have a printer at home.
Compared to its predecessors, the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 has a few significant tweaks that make it a lot easier to use. One such feature was highlighted during our visit, by Russ Voss, an assistant in the Digital Media Lab at ICP, who said that he “love[s] the separate nozzles for photo and matte black inks.” It ends up saving a lot of time and ink, since no lengthy switching process is needed. I can also see why this makes a huge difference in a classroom setting where multiple students may end up using the same printers one after another and require constant switching. Another benefit of these PRO models is an automatic ink agitation setting, which Voss described as “incredible,” since even when the printer was left untouched for two weeks, he received a perfect check pattern on his first attempt. Canon boasts impressive anti-clogging technology in these models and, with this report, they seem to live up to the hype.
To get the views of the students, we ended up dropping by Ben Gest’s Fine Art Digital Printing II class, where many students were busy editing and printing their work. One of these students was Rahul Majumdar, who told us that he greatly appreciated that the PRO-1000 was simply ready to go when it is turned on. Also, he pointed out that “the print quality and color management are very true to what [he] set up on [his] screen—and this holds true on an image even if it is printed on different days.” This indicates to me that the printer is exceptionally consistent, something very important to pros who want to know exactly what a print is going to look like before they even send it to the printer. The wider gamut of the 11-color ink set ensures that colors more closely relate to the image on screen.
Masters student Daniel Valentin was quick to point out how easy the printer is to load, something to which I can relate, having seen more than a few sheets of paper mangled by an improper loading. Canon makes things easy for everyone with an Air Feeding System that uses a vacuum method to feed the sheets through. This means that nothing is directly gripping the paper, limiting physical contact and, naturally, avoiding damage to delicate and thick media. While advanced, this feature really helps make printing much easier for newcomers, and will make the entire process much less intimidating.
Beyond the many things that were pointed out by the students and faculty at ICP, the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 has many more functions that make it a great choice for nearly everyone. This includes the ability to produce borderless prints at up to 17" wide, an advanced grayscale print function that uses three separate monochrome inks (Photo Gray, Gray, and either the Photo or Matte Black) to produce exceptional detail and gradations, and decent speed with a measured time of just four minutes and 10 seconds to create a 17 x 22" print. A Chroma Optimizer cartridge helps improve color by ensuring an even ink droplet height across the entire print, reducing metamerism.
There really is just so much to talk about when it comes to these printers; there is a lot of technology packed into them. Fortunately, you don’t have to learn every little thing to produce stunning prints, so if you always wanted to bring your printing back into your home, or want to get started doing it yourself, it is well worth checking out Canon’s latest imagePROGRAF PRO line. From our visit to the ICP lab, it was clear that Canon is doing something right when it comes to their printers, because the prints I saw were clean and crisp, with vivid colors. Be sure to check them out during your printer search.
What are your printer opinions? Have a favorite paper to recommend? Let us know in the Comments section, below!