Pixma Pro-10S printer

I decided last year to get a photographic printer. I still expect to use the likes of Pixel Perfect and Vision ImageLab for bigger jobs, but having a printer at home allows me to work on photo books, experiment with binding and formats, hang the my latest favourites on the wall, and do smaller runs. After six months, I’ve made good use of the printer, and am yet to replace any of the 10 tanks; this has as much to do with the reasonable economy of the machine as my print rate.

My ‘must have’ desiderata were straightforward: the printer must have a wide gamut and offer profiles for most papers. It should also be able to print plain paper, and handle A3 size. The ‘highly desirable’ list was included having a roll feed (I’ve been working with concertinas), being able to handle common paper thickness, minimising low total cost of ownership, and easy to refill inks. I also considered the footprint, ethernet / wi-fi connectivity, ink wastage, ease of maintenance, duplexing and the ability to print transparencies. Unlike most other tech products, the prosumer printer market hasn’t changed much over the past few years, and the models haven’t changed much in that time.

Pixma Pro-10s I decided on the Canon Pixma PRO-10S. I felt the main competition to be the Pixma Pro-1 and Epson models like the Stylus Photo R3000. While the Pro-10S cannot handle rolls, there were two reasons why I favoured it over Epson: the need to swap matte and gloss black cartridges depending on print job (and associated waste of ink), and the price. While the R3000 produces excellent quality prints, it does not represent great value (see DPreview). Other reviews I consulted include PhotoReview’s comparison of PRO-10 and P600, DPReview on the Pixma PRO-10, Northlight’s review of the Pro-10S as well as Luminous Landscape and wirecutter on the P600.

My impression of the Pro-10S has been largely positive. In terms of output, I am very impressed. I take colour management pretty seriously, and regularly update my screen profiles with an Eye-One; I’ve found the output completely predictable, based on the ICC profiles supplied by the paper suppliers (although more on that below). Even in those cases when I let the printer handle out-of-gamut colours, the results are natural and strong.

A number of my earlier prints stopped after printing the first 5-10%, and then fed through. This is an issue with the ethernet connection, and what I take to be poor spooling. The issue is resolved by using a USB cable rather than ethernet / wi-fi, or by ensuring that no other internet traffic interfers with the print job.

The margins for art paper on the Pro-10 and Pro-1 are quite limited. For instance, 8×10″ cannot be printed on A4 paper (unless it’s glossy, in which case borderless printing is available). I rarely use glossy paper, so this is a little frustrating. Two 8×10″ prints can be fitted on A3+ paper, but the top and bottom are margins are very limited (just 16mm / 0.6″ separation between the two). The problem is a 30mm border on each of the short edges for most paper types (except specific glossy types), even on A4. The Canon website claims “Large A3+ printing to the edges – Produce borderless prints up to A3+ in stunning colour or black and white on gloss or matte from the PIXMA PRO-10S”; I think this is misleading.

A3+ coloured templateThe image to the right shows how some common sizes fit onto A3+ paper with ‘art margins’, i.e. for most fine art paper types:

  • Black – A3+ paper edge
  • Red – A3+ with art margins (30mm short edges, 3mm long edges)
  • Blue – 8×10″ (two) – note practically no separation between the two
  • Purple – 6×6″ (four)
  • Orange – 4×5″ (six) – currently my favourite size for photo books

In terms of deciding on paper types, I can’t recommend enough the sample packs provided by ImageScience – they offer a great way to try out a range of different papers from the major manufacturers. The packs provided by Giclee also look good, though rather more pricey. I felt that setting up the profiles for the printer was more laborious than it needed to be, with the the paper manufacturers (I have been using Ilford and Canson papers) doing barely enough to match paper description and profile to printer settings. Once you’ve done it of course (and write down what you did), it becomes easy enough.

There’s a fair bit of work setting up templates to match paper types, and matching ICC profiles to printer settings. This would naturally be the case with any printer. I’m very happy with the Pro-10S, and am looking forward to loads more printing…

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Posted on January 14, 2017

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