The digital era has habituated us to rapid product cycles and brisk technological change. Inkjet chemistry and print head designs, however, tend to change slowly. So when they do evolve, it’s kind of a big deal.
The PRO-1000 marks the debut of a new LUCIA PRO ink set. It delivers 2400 x 1200 dpi resolution prints with ink droplets as small as 4 picoliters. It supports cut sheet sizes up to 17 x 22 inches and can print on media up to 0.7mm thick using the manual feed slot. You’re able to print on 0.3mm thick media using the automatic paper tray.
There are 12 individual ink cartridges: 11 color inks and one cartridge for a Chroma Optimizer which is applied to a print between the bumps of the ink droplets to improve the glossiness of the print. The Chroma Optimizer also expands the color gamut and enhances the densities of black since it controls the amount of light reflected off the print’s surface.
In addition to the new inks, the print head is larger and has more nozzles than prior models and sports on-board sensors to reduce the chance of clogging. There’s also a new air feeding system that vacuum-grips paper as it’s fed into the printer to ensure it stays completely steady and to keep a consistent distance between print head and media.
The PRO-1000 offers Wi-Fi and supports Apple’s AirPrint for wireless printing.
Canon went back to the drawing board for the industrial design of the printer, paying particular attention to strengthening the internal components against vibration, which could result in image degradation. From the paper tray to ink compartment doors, everything about the PRO-1000 feels robust and durable. Patiño particularly liked the rear-loading paper tray for thicker media, saying he prefers it to the front-loading approach of the Epson SureColor P800.
The downside to this added stability and durability is the weight. At 70.5 pounds, this printer is incredibly heavy. By comparison, the P800 is a lean 43 pounds.
The PRO-1000 has a 3-inch color display, but it’s not touch-controlled, like the P800. Instead, you’ll navigate through the menu using a four-way controller to the right of the display. The display is fixed to the body of the printer and can’t be popped out.
IMAGE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE
To test the printer, Patiño fed it files from his 50-megapixel Canon 5DS and some 5D Mark II files he had output on Canon’s 17-inch Photo Paper Pro Luster using the company’s media profiles. We also printed images taken with Phase One’s 100-megapixel IQ3 back. In each case, the performance was excellent—“stunning,” in Patiño’s words. The printer faithfully reproduced every color and detail thrown at it. Monochrome prints were “flawless” with deep blacks and sharp contrast, Patiño says.
We pulled out several identical prints from our test of Epson’s P800 and laid them side by side with the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000’s output. We struggled to find any significant difference between the two sets of prints. Granted, we were only comparing 5D Mark II files at this point as neither the 5DS nor the Phase One 100MP were available to us during the P800 review. Still, we could discern only very subtle differences between the two sets of prints—at best. The P800 had a slightly deeper red cast on portions of a guitar held aloft by Peter Frampton. Gray tones seemed slightly more muted out of the P800.
As for speed, it took roughly five minutes to produce a color print—speedier than we experienced with the P800. Loading printer profiles and printing through Photoshop CC was totally straightforward, Patiño says, though the initial calibration of the printer took more paper and more attempts than advertised.
One consequence of having only two companies catering to a given market is that it’s easy for them to bring their prices into alignment. And so it goes: Both the P800 and PRO-1000 retail for the same amount. Canon and Epson also charge the same price ($60) for their printers’ 80ml ink cartridges (Canon charges $55 for the Chroma Optimizer). Canon, however, bundles a full set of 80ml ink cartridges whereas Epson starts you off with 64ml cartridges. The up-front cost isn’t an easy differentiator here.
The cost of ownership is also tough to calculate. Canon’s PRO-1000 uses three more ink cartridges than the P800, which means three more to buy. But the PRO-1000 has dedicated nozzles for photo black and matte black with no ink switching. On Epson’s P800, you’ll consume both time and a few milliliters of ink each time you switch between the photo and matte black. They’re small amounts (4.6ml and three-and-a-half minutes, for instance, to switch from matte to photo black), but over time it adds up. Another factor to consider is how well Canon’s anti-clogging technology keeps lifetime maintenance costs down. Judging by its heft, this printer is built to last.
One area where the two models do differ is in support for different media sizes—unlike the PRO-1000, the P800 can accept roll media with an optional roll feeder accessory and can also print panoramas. Epson’s print driver supports some popular print sizes, like 16 x 24-inch, that the PRO-1000 can’t handle. Canon, however, has a more sophisticated media management tool for tracking ink and print costs.
With respect to print quality, the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 unquestionably delivers the goods.
PROS: Superb image quality; excellent detail for even ultra-high resolution image files; dedicated photo and matte black inks with no switching; easy to use.
CONS: Heavy; no roll paper or panoramic support; media thickness limited vs. competitors.
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