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After a discussion here about the current state of Ink Jet vs C-Type, I decided to try out some ink jet printers and got prints from Canon's full line of professional desktop photo printers. While the Pixma Pro-100 and Pixma Pro-10 both produced very color accurate prints, with the 10 being noticeably better quality to a trained eye. The Pixma Pro-1 however came out with very washed out blacks on the dark end and very red-shifted mid-tones. The Pro-100 and Pro-10 prints are both comparable to my color calibrated display as well as the professionally printed C-type that I have of the photo I used.

Any ideas what could have caused the severe discrepancy on the Pixma Pro-1 output? My initial thoughts are either something about the way it does color correction or perhaps just a glitch, but if anyone has experience with the Pro-1, I'd welcome feedback on what might have caused it (and more importantly, can it be fixed.)

Pro-1 photo on the bottom left. Pro-1 is the bottom left

Pro-1 photo on the bottom right (to account for slightly uneven lighting) Pro-1 is the bottom right

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

This calls for speculation. The Pixma Pro-1 is definitely capable of dazzling prints (I'm an Epson kind of guy, have been for many years, and I'm impressed enough to consider it), so it's likely down to the printer/paper profile being used (assuming that particular printer doesn't have a problem).

You should notice a distinct difference between the Pro-100 and the other two models It uses dye-based inks (where the other two used pigment-based inks), and while that's great for some things (landscapes, still life/product shots) it can be a little garish at times (with skin tones being over-saturated, for instance, giving people a kind of glow-in-the-dark look). The differences bewteen the -10 and -1 should be less easy to spot at a glance, with the -1 capable of smoother tonal transitions, and the -10 being somewhat darker in the deep shadows (because it lack the dark grey ink and needs to use black). That, however, depends on the print job being set up properly.

The two newer printers (the -100 and the -10) manage their paper profiles differently from the Pro-1 by default, the expectation being that the user may not be printing from an application that makes colour management tasks easy (or possible at all in any real sense) or may not be sophisticated enough to understand colour management. You need to enable "pro mode" to take back control from the printer. To get the same behaviour from the Pro-1, you need a firmware upgrade (although I'd expect that newer shipping models would come with the upgrade already installed). Profiles make a huge difference in printing; the wrong profile for the paper (or the right profile applied twice) will result in, to put it gently, a less-than-optimal print, with various inks applied either too heavily or too lightly.

In some ways, this is a whole lot easier with "stupid" printers having only a handful of "close enough", manufacturer-specific paper choices available. You know that you're going to have to override the printer with custom profiles (created with something like the SpyderPRINT or ColorMunki Photo) if you want anything better than meh, even on the printer-brand papers. Turning off colour management at the printer and using known-good paper profiles from the printing application (eg, Photoshop) is just something one does. The new Canons are designed to accept "straight" data and apply good profiles locally in their built-in RIP (like the high-end, self-calibrating wide-carriage Epsons) by default. The trick here is knowing what settings to use when.

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Yeah, I know this is borderline off topic, but I was hoping maybe someone with a Pixma Pro-1 might recognize it as a side effect of some particular feature from the description. I'm not really looking for speculation, just if there is something systematic with it that tends to do this that can be turned off. –  AJ Henderson Mar 8 '13 at 14:27
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It would appear that it must have been some problem with the way the printer evaluated the color. When using an ICC profile for the print and printing directly, I had no such problem and the image quality was where it was expected. Luckily I did decide to actually get the Pro-1 despite the issues I had here and it turned out to be a great decision. The printer has been producing amazing prints.

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I for one am glad to hear that (and glad this wasn't considered off-topic) as the Pro-1 is right at the top of my 'to buy' list as bad experience has put me off Epson forever. –  James Snell Aug 28 '13 at 19:19
    
@JamesSnell - do note that the first set of ink cartridges go FAST and I do recommend calibrating it, but after the first set of cartridges, ink life seems much better. It just has to fill the supply tubes (which are LONG) the first time, so about 40% of the ink or so goes to fill those. –  AJ Henderson Aug 28 '13 at 19:59
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