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The Canon PRO-100 Printer

Posted on Friday, January 28th, 2022

Dave!After my 11-year-old Epson printer died at work, I needed to buy a new one. A printer by HP was out of the question. I will never buy anything from those assholes ever again. Which means it basically comes down to either Epson or Canon. My old Epson was a huge pile of shit. It would clog all the time. It ran through ink in crazy amounts. Sometimes it would just dump ink on the print, ruining it. Prints would fail for random reasons. Printing would abort for random reasons. It was an exercise in utter futility to print anything, and the cost-per-print was sky-high because of all the problems and failures. I hated it. I hated it. I hated it.

But this did not automatically mean I was going to buy from Canon.

I had a Canon printer at home and it was a pile of shit too.

So I started comparing the Canon PRO-1000 and the Epson SC-P900 to see which large-format printer would be the best fit... and how well they were reviewed.

Both got high marks in some areas and low marks in others. Epson was still suffering from constant clogging... but some people had clogging on Canon too. I went back-and-forth between them for hours.

Ultimately what pushed me in favor of the canon were three things...

  • Canon has 80ml tanks whereas Epson only had 50ml. Which is to say that ink is more expensive with Epson (84¢/ml) than Canon (75¢/ml). Both are still fucking insanely pricey, however.
  • Both printers have Matte Black, Photo Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Photo Cyan, Photo Magenta, Gray, and Photo Gray inks. Canon adds red and blue. Epson adds violet. Canon's approach is smarter. By having true red and true blue, they open up a world of color fidelity... especially when it comes to reds, oranges, and browns, which are notoriously difficult to reproduce in CMYK. Getting deep reds, purples, and blues with Canon will be a piece of cake, and those are some very important color spaces to fill. Which is why I have no clue why Epson went with violet. That helps purples and deep blues, but does absolutely nothing for reds, oranges, or browns.
  • Out of all the reviews I read, Epson had more problems noted with clogs and paper feed. This was often chalked up to the Epson SC-P900 being small, lightweight, and cheaply constructed. Canon, on the other hand, is built like a frickin' tank.

Canon Pro-1000 Printer.

Canon does have two major cons... you can use roll-stock paper (which I rarely do anyway) and it's a 7-year-old model (Epson is a 3-year-old model). Those were not quite the deal-breakers that the above three points were with Epson.

UNPACKING
Like I said... this thing is a frickin' tank (SEVENTY POUNDS, PEOPLE!). It is massively sized and very heavy thanks to it having many metal components. It barely fit on my Anthro Cart side-table. Which is to say that getting it out of the box is a bit of a challenge. I managed, but it was harder than it should have been thanks to my back getting thrown out two days ago. The box was beat to hell but the printer itself was undamaged.

SETUP
Removing all the packing tapes and installing the 12 cartridges wasn't a big deal... though it was time consuming. The screen on the printer guides you through the process of aligning the heads, filling the lines, and all that stuff. No problem there. But then you get to the printer drivers. The included CD only has Windows drivers... no Mac drivers. You have to download them from the web. And here's where everything went to shit. My Safari browser corrected CANON.COM to CANNON.COM (with two N's). This sent me to a third-party site with a phone number where a tech support asshole wanted me to install remote-access software so they could have full control of my computer. Naturally I told them to go fuck themselves, and was able to figure out that my browser was autocorrecting CANON to CANNON. Once I got there, I still couldn't get my installers working and called authentic Canon support for help. 42 minutes later a guy emailed me a URL to get the Mac CUPS drivers in just a couple minutes and I was on my way.

OPERATION
Canon instructions are shit. Their drivers are shit. Everything about operating the printer is shit. Nothing "just works." You have to Google everything in order to understand what the hell you're supposed to be doing. Take the paper, for example. I bought authentic Canon 17×22 semi-gloss paper. But 17×22 is not listed in the driver. I looked on the paper packaging and included spec sheet to see what I am supposed to select to use it and was offered nothing. And so I had to go through each and every weird-ass paper configuration until I found that "C" was the paper size I was looking for. C. Why the fuck Canon can't put that on the fucking paper box... or include the actual paper dimensions in the driver is a total damn mystery. This is not rocket science here. Once I figured out what paper setting I needed, the printer operates like any other printer for the Mac.

PRINTS
Overall, the prints you can get out of this thing are stunning. Reds in my projects have never printed well. I would always get this weird-ish faux-red that doesn't look like true red at all. But not with the Pro-1000. Canon prints serious reds. Blues are likewise very pretty. I expected this to happen since Canon has independent red and blue inks to work with. Where things fall apart is in greens. Since there is no green ink, the printer has to mix cyan (or blue) and yellow to get it. And that will never result in a vibrant green. When I investigated this, the conjecture seems to be something like "Well, green in nature isn't a very vivid green, so you shouldn't need to print it." Which is so categorically absurd as to be laughable. I have photos with ridiculously saturated natural greens (Ireland is filled with them). And this says nothing about photos I have with greens that are outside of nature. Like things that are painted bright-green. Or plastics which have deep green hues in them. How am I supposed to print those? Green exists, and it's a mystery as to why Canon nor Epson did something so you can print with it.

EXPENSES
Since I've had the printer for only one day, I have no idea if I will end up dealing with the clogs and other disasters that makes Epson printers so horrifically expensive to own. I sure hope not. Because wasting a print due to printer failure is one of those things that sends my blood pressure to the absolute limit. When setting up a new printer, you blow through half-a-tank of each color before you can print a single thing. Canon also blows through 2/3 of the capacity of the "maintenance cartridge" which collects the ink from head cleaning and borderless printing and stuff. This wouldn't be bad... they only retail for $14 or so... except they are out of stock most everywhere I looked (even at Canon.com). Since you cannot print without this item, not having replacements is essentially turning your $1400 printer into a massive doorstop, and that's is absolutely nuts. Another item which drives up cost is the "chroma optimizer" cartridge. This is a clear coating which evens out your print so that areas of high ink concentration don't look different from those with low ink concentration. It also makes colors look richer, more defined, and adds greater contrast (black in particular) because reflected light is taken down a bit. You seriously want it on your prints because it makes them look so much better. But since it covers the entire image (unlike the inks), you have to buy a lot of it. I'm already running low and I just got the printer today! Fortunately, it's $5 cheaper than ink... $55 instead of $60... so I guess that's a plus.

CONCLUSION
This is not a great printer. But it's a good one that can make some very pretty photo prints. And I'm guessing I will be much happier with it than I ever was with the dumpster fire that was the Epson I previously had. If Canon is interested in having a great printer, here's where they need to go with the next model...

  • Larger ink tanks. 80ml is better (and cheaper) than Epson's 50ml tanks, but you're still paying for more plastic than ink, and that's shitty. One day somebody is going to come along with refillable tanks on a high-quality photo printer (they already have this for standard printers) and 100% eat Epson's and Canon's lunch. And I will laugh my fucking ass off as Epson/Canon sales plummet). And why not make the "color optimizer" cartridge be double-the-size of the ink tanks since you use so much of it? Operating costs for this machine are crazy-expensive. Do better.
  • Add green ink. Seriously. You've already got 12 tanks, what's one more? Especially when it means that you'll FINALLY be able to cover a decent color gamut. Thanks for red and blue ink. That's awesome. But the puzzle isn't complete and won't be until I can print vivid greens.
  • Include Macintosh drivers with your printers.
  • For the love of God... make a printer driver that allows people to select paper sizes without having to resort to trial-and-error. Especially since you don't label your papers with the size-name that your driver calls them. It is categorically stupid that I have to fucking mention this to you.
  • Show a photo of what your OFFICIAL website looks like on your instruction papers so people won't be fooled into contacting a fraudulent site. I ended up at a shitty scammer site even though I know how "Canon" is supposed to be spelled. It's not your fault that asshole scammers are preying on people... but it is 100% your fault that you're not doing more to warn people about it (especially when you have a non-standard company name that can get auto-corrected).
  • Put a little bit of effort into keeping genuine Canon replacement parts in stock. You warn people not to use third-party parts because they may damage the printer, but what the fuck else are they supposed to do if you can't even get parts direct from Canon? Don't blame your customers for buying third-party if you're not going to bother having the authentic stuff available.
  • Why is auto color-calibration not a thing? It would be a minimal cost to add a spectrometer to your high-end printers so that they could self-calibrate the color, so why don't you? This is no-brainer stuff here.

And that's that. If you are looking for one of the best professional photo printers on the market that can handle 17×22 paper, then this is probably already on your short-list. If I run into any new information as time goes by, this is where I'll put it.

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