Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 Printer Review (Podcast 536)

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 Printer Review (Podcast 536)

As I mentioned in a recent post, my old large format printer has given up the ghost, so I’ve just had a new Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 installed, and today I’m going to walk you through some of the key new features and provide my opinion of this new printer.

To be totally honest, with my old 24″ iPF6350 breaking after just six years, for a few seconds, I considered moving away from Canon for my large format printing, but then I realized that there was a new line of large format printers that has just been announced, so I decided to take a closer look, and was very excited by what I saw.

Initially, I was simply going to replace my 6350 with the PRO-2000, which is the successor 24″ wide roll media printer, but although this new range of PRO printers are narrower, they are more than twice the height, which means the PRO-2000 cannot be carried up to my 3rd floor studio. It simply will not fit around the top of the stairs, even stood on end.

There was an option to have it crane lifted up to the third floor and go in through the window, but this was going to cost $1,500, and then of course another $1,500 to have it taken down again if I move, or when it inevitably breaks again at some point the future.

I figured if I was going to spend another $3,000 I might as well put that money towards an imagePROGRAF PRO-4000, which is the 44″ wide big brother of the PRO-2000, and have that installed on my 2nd floor instead of up in my studio. And when I say big brother, I really do mean BIG, as you can see in this photo of me with the printer after having it installed (below).

Martin with the Canon PRO-4000 44" Printer

Martin with the Canon PRO-4000 44″ Printer

Before singing the contract, I went to the Canon S Tower here in Tokyo and made a number of large prints on three types of Breathing Color media, and I was very happy with the results. Note that I did my tests on the PRO-2000, before I heard the cost for the crane lift, but the 2000 and 4000 are pretty much identical except for the width of roll media that can be used. This also means that this review will be equally as useful if you are considering the PRO-2000 as it will for the PRO-4000.

Anyway, my PRO-4000 arrived on August 9, and took four people to carry it up to the 2nd floor, and put it onto its stand. I have since spent the last five days setting it up, creating my ICC profiles, and getting to know this beautiful new larger format printer from Canon.

What’s New?

Before we look at some prints, let’s talk a little about what’s new with the PRO-4000. Well, Canon have released a new set of inks for this lineup called LUCIA PRO ink, which actually reduces the number of colors from 12 to 11 pigment inks, but they added a new Chroma Optimizer.

Canon PRO-4000 6 of the 12 Inks

Canon PRO-4000 6 of the 12 Inks

From the Canon web site, I see that “LUCIA PRO ink formulation includes micro encapsulated colorants that enable smooth gradients, an expanded color gamut, and deeper color expression.” In many ways, I agree with this statement, but I’m actually not convinced that the color gamut is expanded. In fact, for some specific situations using matte media I’d the gamut has been contracted a little, but I’ll talk more about this later…

The Chroma Optimizer is used when printing on glossy and semi-glossy media, and acts as a clear coat, improving color and enriches the dark areas of gloss prints. The new inks and Chroma Optimizer are also said to improve scratch resistance and reduce graininess. We’ll take a look at some actual prints shortly.

I was also happy to find that the black line that was always left on the right underside of the prints is no longer a problem. That is something that bugged the hell out of my about my iPF6350 and I know that this was not fixed the 6450, so it’s nice that this is finally fixed.

Only One Print Head

Whereas my old printer had two print heads, costing around $300 each, the new PRO printer lineup use just one, 1.28” wide print head with 18,432 nozzles and anti-clogging technology. This new print head costs around $500, so there’s a $100 saving when that needs to be replaced, assuming that you’d change both heads on the old models of course. Having just the one head also enabled Canon to make the printer narrower in width, which is a nice space saver.

Canon PF-10 Print Head for the PRO-4000

Canon PF-10 Print Head for the PRO-4000

Having just the one print head also enabled Canon to speed up the printing considerably. An 18 x 24 inch print on my old printer used to take around 9 minutes, but with the new PRO-4000 the same size print takes approximate 3 minutes 40 seconds.

New Media Loading Mechanism

The media loading mechanism has also been totally changed. You now load the roll from the front of the printer by opening the Top Cover and the Output Guide as you can see in this photo (below). After dropping the media on its holder into place, you rotate the roll holder which guides the media up into the printer, until you hear a beep, to let you know that the printer can now feed the media.

PRO-4000 with Top Cover and Output Guide Open

PRO-4000 with Top Cover and Output Guide Open

Then, you close the two covers and press a button the LCD display to tell the printer to go ahead and feed the paper. Not only does this mean we don’t have to touch the paper as much, we also now have the benefit of the paper being upside down for most of the time before it’s printed on.

This is a benefit because it means that dust is less likely to settle on the print side of the media as you print, and dust that is already on the media, is more likely to fall off, before it’s printed on. If you print on dust, the dust generally falls off as the print dries, leaving a white spec, and for the quality conscious printer that means that the print has be created again from scratch.

Media Information Update

Another very nice touch that I’m pretty sure I could not do with my old iPF6350, is that you can update the Media Information in the printer drivers on other computers. Before, if I added a custom media type, like a roll of Breathing Color paper, to the printer, to get that same media in the drivers on a different computer, I had to use the Media Configuration Tool and add the media again.

Update Media Information

Update Media Information

Now, you can just go to the printer drivers and open up the Printer Utilities, and select Media Information from the pulldown, and click the button to update the media. This then goes to the printer and compares the media information on the printer, and if it’s different to the media that the printer drivers know about, it will update this information for you. It’s very smooth, and a very welcome feature.

Wifi and Gigabit Ethernet Connectivity

The PRO series of printers now also supports Wifi Connectivity and the wired network interface is now Gigabit Ethernet. We can also still connect to the printer with USB. You can now print PDF and JPEG documents directly from a memory stick as well.

I have now printed with Wifi, LAN and USB, and found Wifi to be a little on the slow side for a decent sized print, so I bought a 10 meter USB cable so that I can print from my dining table, which really speeded things up. Even though it’s only High Speed USB2, it’s much faster than Wifi.

I also actually bought a 20m Ethernet cable, so that I can plug the PRO-4000 directly into my router on the 3F in case I need to do a lot of work from the studio. With USB being so fast, I don’t know I’ll do this often, but I at least now have the option.

Three Sizes of Ink Tanks

Another great improvement in my opinion is the ability to now choose from three sizes of ink tanks, with 160ml, 330ml, and 700ml tanks available. My old iPF6350 took 130ml ink tanks, so even the smallest of the new tanks holds 30ml more ink. I could fill up the new PRO-4000 with 160ml tanks, but now having the option to install larger tanks, and mix and match the sizes, means we can select the tank size based on how quickly the inks run down.

The PRO-4000 comes with a set of ink cartridges holding 190ml. Before we installed the cartridges into the printer, I took this photograph for comparison (below). On the left is a 190ml cartridge, and on the right is a 700ml.

Canon PRO-4000 190ml starter ink and 700ml ink cartridge

Canon PRO-4000 190ml starter ink and 700ml ink cartridge

I have also bought some 330ml cartridges, and was going to include one in this photo too, but they are actually the same size as the 190ml cartridge you see here. The only difference is that they aren’t as heavily indented as this 190ml cartridge. You see how it is inset where it says Canon and the white label is? The 330ml cartridges don’t go in that far, that’s the only difference.

Mix and Match Inks

Over the last six years that I’ve been using my old large format printer, I’ve found that because I do a lot of black and white printing, the Matte Black and Photo Black, and the Gray inks tend to run down the quickest, so I have bought a 700ml tank for the Matte and Photo Blacks and the Photo Gray. So that I could show you the difference in size though, I ordered a 330ml Gray, for comparison with the starter inks, only to find they were the same size, as I just mentioned.

I also bought a 700ml tank for the Chroma Optimizer, because I’ve heard this runs down pretty quickly. At a little more than $300 a pop for the 700ml ink tanks though, I think I will be avoiding using 700ml tanks for all but the heavy usage blacks and grays, unless I start to take quite a few more regular print orders that is. The good thing though is that we now have this option, and being able to mix and match tank sizes is great!

Changing Inks on the Fly

Another great new feature is that the inks are now drawn down into a Sub-Ink Tank System, which allows all of the available ink in a tank to be used before having to replace it, to reduce wasted ink, and better still, empty tanks can now be replaced on the fly, without stopping the printer. I haven’t tried this yet, but that’s what the documentation says.

Multipositional Basket

PRO-4000 Slope Configured Basket

PRO-4000 Slope Configured Basket

The PRO-4000 has a new multi-positional basket that can be adjusted to various configurations. With my iPF6350, where the basket was basically just either stowed, or out, ready to catch a print as it is cut from the roll, I never once allowed a print to fall into the basket.

To avoid scuffing the face of the print, I would always wait until the print had come far enough out of the printer so that it would fall over the edge of the extended bar, leading the print away from the printer to prevent curling. Then, when the print was cut away from the roll, I’d be waiting to catch it.

You can still do a catch basket configuration on the PRO-4000, but also what Canon call flatbed stacking, and my favorite, which is the slope configuration, which you can see in this photo (right).

Although it’s kind of lost with the 18 x 24 inch print shown here, the slope allows the print to be guided away from the printer, and I always go to the printer by the time it’s going to be auto-cut, and catch the print, rather than letting it fall away.

The Red “L” Line

Before we move on from the physical differences, of course, there is the addition of the red line that Canon use on their “L” lens range, to mark that they are the top of the range. This is marketing, but it’s an important statement from Canon, that they have made these printers with their highest standards.

Accounting Manager Software

One thing that I disliked about my old printer is that the Accounting Manager software was only available on Windows, but that’s changed. Now it’s also available for Mac, so I can now track how much ink and paper is being consumed for each print. You simply enter the cost of your various types of media and inks, and the software calculates the cost of each print you make.

This is invaluable for pricing prints, but also, I print for other people sometimes, often with an hourly rate for my time, plus the cost of materials. Until now, I’ve had to start a Parallels session and open the Accounting Manager in Windows, but that’s clunky, so I’ve never liked having to do that, especially in front of the customer. Now I can just crank up the Accounting Manager and see costs instantly, right there on my Mac.

Canon’s Print Studio Pro Has No Border Settings (Corrected)

Another new piece of software from Canon that I tried it their Print Studio Pro, which at first glance looks OK, but I noticed straight away that there was no way to enter specific border dimensions. I like to print my images at a specific offset, slightly above center, and to accomplish this in Lightroom or Capture One, I can enter in the dimensions of the borders down to a tenth of a millimeter accuracy.

In Print Studio Pro, I can move the print around the page with my mouse, but that’s it. There’s no way to enter the border dimensions accurately. I may have missed this, but I searched for a while, and couldn’t find anything, so if it’s there, it’s well hidden.

[UPDATE: Having been prompted by a user comment below, I went back into Print Studio Pro and the border settings were there. I’m not sure what happened initially, but you can set the borders accurately. Sorry about that!]

Check Out Full Details on Canon Web Site

There are other new features, but you can see full details on the Canon Web site. These are just the new features and changes that I’m happy to see in the new PRO-4000, and these all apply to the PRO-2000 as well. The PRO-4000s and PRO-6000S are the new 8 color 44 and 66″ printers, which are not really suitable for fine art photography printing.

So How Good Are the Prints?

Fox on Breathing Color Pura Bagasse Textured Matte Media

Fox on Breathing Color Pura Bagasse Textured Matte Media

Let’s take a look now at a few prints that I’ve already done as tests. First note that although I have bought some 44 inch rolls from my friends at Breathing Color, all of my tests so far have been done using 24 inch roll media. I can’t wait to print something out that is huge, but not until I have an end purpose for the print.

Anyway, after I created a custom ICC profile for each of my media types, I set about doing some test prints. As matte media is usually less forgiving than gloss, I started with the matte stock that I have.

My favorite matte media is Breathing Color’s Pura Bagasse, which comes in both a Smooth and Textured version. I printed this photograph of a Northern Red Fox on the Pura Bagasse Textured, and was very happy with the depth of the color and clarity of the image (right). This is a photograph of the print of course, not the original image.

I printed this from Capture One Pro 9, so there is no point in comparing this to earlier prints, but there is a depth that was not really there on my earlier prints, especially around the eyes, where the clarity really comes into play.

Here’s a close-up of just the eye, so that you can hopefully at least partially appreciate what I’m seeing (below). Note that this was a 7D Mark II photograph printed at 18 x 24 inches, so the resolution was around 250 ppi, which is enough for a print of this size, but not as well defined as a higher resolution image.

Fox Eye Closeup - Pura Bagasse Textured

Fox Eye Closeup – Pura Bagasse Textured

I was happy with this first print, and I did a few others that looked great too, but the next print just didn’t really work under mostly the same conditions as I’d printed before. When I released my review of Breathing Color’s Pura Bagasse media in episode 484, I showed how wide a color gamut the media had, by printing a photo of a field of poppies, that was actually way out of gamut.

Now, given that there should have been no way to print the colors that were out of gamut anyway, this may seem a little bit harsh on the new printer, but having created an ICC profile in exactly the same way for each printer, the PRO-4000 simply doesn’t not handle this photograph as well as my old iPF6350 did.

Here’s a photograph (below) of the same image printed on the same paper, with the iPF6350 print on the left, and my PRO-4000 print on the right. As you can see, the edges of the blotches of out of focus yellow have a nasty almost septic feel to it. The bulk of the yellow is what is out of gamut, and the printer has not handled the transition between that and the in gamut colors well.

iPF6350 (left) and PRO-4000 (right) Comparison

iPF6350 (left) and PRO-4000 (right) Comparison

Like I say, the base photo is out of gamut, but this was the same for both printers, so this indicates to me that the PRO-4000 doesn’t do as well as the iPF6350 in this situation. In all other respects, I think it’s kickin’ but here, I was a little bit disappointed.

[UPDATE: I still don’t know the cause, but it turns out that this issue may be a bug and I’ve found a workaround which I describe in Episode 554.

UPDATE#2: We now have a stable and easy way to overcome these issues, by embedding the custom ICC profile in the custom media type. See details in Episode 573.]

I also did a lot of Pura Bagasse Smooth matte prints, and here is an example of one of these (below). I chose this shot because those transitions from very bright areas of the sky at sunrise, as they transition to the darker clouds, can often be a bit troublesome to print well, but these came out beautifully. Very natural transitions.

Eagle at Sunrise on Pura Bagasse Smooth

Eagle at Sunrise on Pura Bagasse Smooth

Also, note just how dark the eagle is. Matte paper can sometimes lack really deep blacks, but this is not a problem for the PRO-4000. As you can also see in the next photograph, the dark areas behind this young Himba girl in the left print are also beautifully dark (below). The print on the left here is again on Pura Bagasse Smooth, a matte media.

Himba Girl on Pura Bagasse Smooth (left) and Vibrance Metallic (right)

Himba Girl on Pura Bagasse Smooth (left) and Vibrance Metallic (right)

The photo to the right here though (above) was printed on Breathing Color’s Vibrance Metallic media, which is a metallic gloss paper, and that means it also has Canon’s new Chroma Optimizer applied during the printing process.

Like Traditional Darkroom Prints

This may not come across in a photo, but here’s a photo of the Himba Girl print at an angle (below) looking towards the light. I hope you’ll be able to appreciate that the gloss photos from the PRO-4000 are absolutely outstanding. They are totally smooth, looking very much like a traditional darkroom print. They just don’t look like inkjet prints. Do keep in mind though that this image was shot at ISO 5000 so there is a little bit of visible grain in the original, rather than the print.

Himba Girl Print Close-up

Himba Girl Print Close-up

I also printed this photo of some roses with a totally black background, and the depth of the black is just wackily beautiful (below). You can perhaps see a little bit of color in the print, but that’s just reflections from the room.

Printing Roses on Vibrance Metallic

Printing Roses on Vibrance Metallic

OK, so, that’s about all I have for you on the PRO-4000 at this point. Although it looks like I have to do a little more soft proofing and adjustment for out of gamut images than I have done in the past, I’m very happy with this new printer.

The 44″ width is going to allow me to fulfill more orders for large prints directly, which is great. Until now I’ve had to work with third party printing houses for prints larger than 24 x 36″ but now I can go up to 44 x 66″ or even wider for panorama shot, so this opens up new possibilities for me and my customers.


This review was created totally independently, without any help financially or otherwise from any third party. I paid for the printer myself, at the regular price, and Canon provided no help on the technical details, other than what I gleaned from the product documentation and first hand use of the product.

Support the Podcast

If you found this review useful, and will be buying your own PRO-4000 or maybe the PRO-2000, from my friends at B&H Photo, please use our affiliate link to click through to B&H, and you’ll be helping to support the podcast and blog.

Show Notes

The imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 on B&H:

Check out the media Martin uses at:

Music by Martin Bailey


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Podcast 259 : Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6350 Printer Review

Podcast 259 : Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6350 Printer Review

My new Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6350 large format printer was delivered on August 13, 2010. The first thing to note with this printer is it’s big! Not huge as far as really large format printers, like the 44″ or 60″ models, but still, with the ability to print 24″ or 610mm wide sheet or roll paper, it’s a hefty bit of hardware. It weighs 51KG without and 66KG with the stand.

Canon ImagePROGRAF iPF6350

Canon ImagePROGRAF iPF6350

I’m not sure how it is in other countries, but in Japan, some distributors provide the stand as an option, and some include it, with an increased price of course. Take my advice, and get the stand. Trying to work with this printer on a table or workbench could be a pain, unless you have something about the same size as the Canon stand, on wheels, and that you can leave the printer on all the time. If you don’t have that, just get the stand. On the stand the dimensions of the printer are 39.1″ high, 46.4″ wide and 34.3″ deep. You also need space around the printer for airflow and to operate it.

The company I bought from here in Japan offered free delivery to drop the printer off in my car park. They wanted an extra $100 just to bring it up to my third floor studio, or I could pay $500 to bring the printer up to the third floor, unpack it, set it all up on the stand, and then install the drivers to my computer and check connectivity. They would also take away all of the packaging materials.

With me being pretty technical, I didn’t like the idea of paying someone to install drivers and stuff, so I didn’t take this service, and I wasn’t too impressed with the $100 just to carry it up two flights of stairs, so I refused, and just went with free delivery. The more I thought about this decision though, the more concerned I became. I had kind of thought that my wife and I could carry it up the stairs, but then I read in the Canon Manual that it requires three people to lift the printer onto the stand. I started to get really worried, and called the distributors to see if I could add the setup fees, and they said that if I did, they’d need another two weeks for delivery, so I gave up on that idea.

You’ll Need Help Setting it Up

On the day of the delivery, when I got out to the truck, I was pretty shocked to see the size of the box that the printer was in. I wished I’d been able to take a photograph of it, because it really was huge. It wasn’t even really a box. The printer was laid on a polystyrene frame on top of a huge wooden palette, and some double thickness super strength card board over the top and sides. My plan was to plead for help if my fears came true, and they’d come true.

I asked the guys that delivered the printer to help me carry it up to the third floor, and one of them helped me to do so. It was the middle of August, so as we carried the printer, my hands started sweating and the plastic was slipping in my hands. We had to turn the printer sideways to get it up the stairs, and only just managed to get it around the corner and through the door into the studio. I was so relieved when we put it down on the floor, but already knew it was going to be difficult to lift it again later with my wife, after I’d put the stand together.

I gave the delivery men $10 each for their trouble, and figured it was still cheaper than the $100 that the distributor had asked for, but I was still wishing I’d paid the $500 for the full treatment. After I’d set the stand up, I asked my wife to help, and she initially couldn’t lift it. After trying a few different ways, she was finally able to lift the printer up and straighten her legs. It was a tense minute or so until we got it in position and I was able to bolt the printer to the stand. Ultimately I was able to get the printer set up, but the moral of this story is, unless you have a couple of strapping mates to help you, pay for the white glove treatment, and have the printer installed by professionals. It’s really not worth the hassle if you don’t have the help.

You can connect to the printer with a USB cable or a network cable. With the printer having a Gigabit network adapter installed, I figured I’d use network, as opposed to USB, so that I could print from multiple computers more easily.

Dual Print Heads

After connecting the power and network cables, I followed the instructions to fit the two print heads that come with the printer, but not fitted. It’s not a difficult job, but there are parts that you aren’t allowed to touch, which is always a bit nerve-wracking for the uninitiated.

Dual Print Heads

Dual Print Heads

12 Color Lucia EX Pigment Inks

Then you have to insert the 12 Lucia EX ink cartridges. The printer comes with only 90ml of ink in the cartridges, despite them being 130ml cartridges. A little bit stingy on Canon’s part I thought, but then it does cost over $900 to buy a full set of inks, so I can kind of understand too.

Ink Cartridges

Ink Cartridges

Having given each cartridge a bit of a shake, and dropped them all in, you check that everything is alright with the little red light in front of each ink cartridge cover. The labels in front of each cartridge slot are color coded, and have the code for each cartridge, so there’s little room for error here.

12 Color Lucia EX Ink

12 Color Lucia EX Ink

As the printer takes about 20 minutes to initiate and draw the new ink through the pipes etc. the manual suggests quite considerately that you use this 20 minutes to install the printer drivers and software, which I did. In my network router settings I made sure that the printer would always be assigned the same IP address, so that the printer driver port, which is basically an IP port, would not lose contact with the printer if the IP address was changed in the future, due to the timing of other devices coming on to the network.

Automatic Print Head Adjustment/Calibration

After I confirmed that I could connect to the printer from my PC, I loaded the half roll of paper that Canon includes, and proceeded to tell the printer what sort of paper it was. I’ll go into this in more detail later, but basically, you have to specify the type of paper and the length of the roll when you insert the paper. The printer then continues to print a series of patches, and then from time to time pulls the paper back inside the printer, and scans the results. Then, using these results it calibrates itself, to ensure that the dual printer heads are aligned. This is basically the same as when you print out the pages of lines on consumer printers, and then have to tell the printer which number is most in line. The iPF6350 does this automatically, which I thought was pretty cool.

Head Alignment Calibration

Head Alignment Calibration

This might also be a good time to mention that the iPF6350 has a total of 30,720 nozzles, with 2,560 per ink at a pitch of 1,200dpi. Using the optical scanning mechanism that I just mentioned, the printer automatically detects non-firing nozzles, and compensate for that using other nozzles. I have never had problems with nozzle blockage with my Canon Pro9500 printer, but I can imagine it would be a real pain when printing a 24×36″ print, if you had lines on the print caused by a block nozzle, so this functionality is very welcome.

The printer comes with drivers for Windows, both 32bit and 64bit, and Mac OS too. It also comes with a whole load of application software. There are plugins for Digital Photo Professional, but as that software is the son of satin, I won’t be using that plugin, so we’ll just touch on the drivers and software that I’m using today.

iPF6350 Media Configuration Tool

Media Configuration Tool

Media Configuration Tool

Before you use a new paper, you have to configure it, either on the small LCD panel on the printer, or via the iPF6350 Media Configuration Tool. When you install the tool with the drivers, you add a batch of preset Genuine Papers based on your location. You are asked to make a selection. I believe this is based on what Canon has available in the various locations around the globe. You can also specify some generic papers and also cloths, and fabric, as well as synthetic paper and film, among other things.

You have to select Add Genuine Paper from the Media Configuration Tool, and tell the printer what it is, and input the size of the paper on the printer LCD as you load it. Once you’ve added a paper it will be available on the LCD for the future, and you can also select it from the printer drivers now too.

Custom Papers

Custom Papers

This batch of presets also includes 10 “Special” settings, which is what you have to select when adding some third party papers, such as the Hahnemühle papers that I use. When you add a new paper, the Media Configuration Tool sends a subset of data to the printer, and you then have to load the paper, be it sheet paper or roll paper. After you load the paper, you select the paper with the name that you specified, and then the printer asks the length of the paper. It gets the width automatically when you load it. After loading the paper, the printer will again print some sample patches, but this time it’s detecting the best settings to correctly feed the paper through the printer.

Paper Feed Adjustement Sample Patches

Paper Feed Adjustment Sample Patches

It’s probably a good time to mention too that if you want to use the Accounting Manager that I’ll talk about later, you’ll need to add the same paper multiple times if you use more than one width of paper, and you probably should for various sized sheet paper too. This will probably also lead to better paper advancement through the printer.

The printer uses a vacuum to suck the paper against the Platen, which is the plate below the paper. When you add new paper you can adjust the feed and vacuum strength, as well as a few other paper specific settings, but so far I’ve been fine with Auto for these settings. I did notice some black marking on the underside of some of the sheet paper that I did some initial test prints too, but that cleared up after I wiped what looked like a bit of oil off the paper guide rollers.

No Native 16bit Printing in Windows

The one thing that I find annoying when working with this printer is that despite it being able to print in 16bit mode, only the Photoshop plugin has this ability on Windows. The Windows OS does not natively support 16bit printing yet, so this means the only way that Lightroom will be able to print in 16bit mode, is if Windows supports it. Canon could probably develop a plugin for Lightroom, but if it’s like the one they have in Photoshop, you’d probably have to export the image to a standalone print module, and lose many of the benefits of the Lightroom Print Module, which is one of my favorite modules. I’ve done all of my printing from Lightroom until now, because it’s easy to use, and you can save everything as a preset. If a Canon plugin just made me export to a separate module and do all the same stuff that you have to do in Photoshop, there wouldn’t be much point.

The Mac OS though does natively support 16bit printing, so Lightroom on the Mac does have 16bit printing for this printer. I would just really like to see Windows include 16bit printing support, as I don’t want to have to crank up my Mac just for printing, and I have too much investment in Windows software to switch.

Although I’ve not tested to see if there really is any improvement when printing in 16bit compared to 8bit, what this means is that I am at the moment pretty much stuck with printing from Photoshop CS5, with the Canon plugin. This means that I don’t get the benefit of the Lightroom’s automatic resizing and output sharpening, so before I send my print job to the printer, I have been resizing to the size that I want to print the image at. You can use the Canon resizing and scaling in the printer, but I haven’t really gotten used to it, to the point that I can get the right border sizes etc. It’s pretty fiddly, and makes me miss Lightroom a lot.

Nik Software Sharpener Pro 3.0

I’ve also been using Nik Software’s Sharpener Pro 3.0 to sharpen the images specifically for the output size. It’s easy enough to use, but it means that even if I didn’t have to do any soft-proofing on my images, I pretty much have to create and save a PSD file for everything that I print. That’s not a bad thing I suppose, but it’s just not necessary when working with Lightroom alone.

Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0

Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0

Printing with the Photoshop Plugin

Once I’ve done my sharpening, or applied a boilerplate, I’m ready to send the image to the printer, which you do by selecting File > Export > iPF6350 Print Plugin… This invokes the printer plugin, and you can start to layout the image for your print. You need to select the paper that you already added via the Media Configuration Tool, and the resolution of the image, and whether to use 8bit or 16bit printing, which is linked in the plugin to the quality of the Gradations to be printed. I’ve created my own printer/paper profiles, so I select them under the Output Profile, but you can use the profiles from the paper manufacturer or Canon if you are using Canon paper.

iPF6350 Photoshop Plugin Main Screen

iPF6350 Photoshop Plugin Main Screen

I’ve got a little bit of hat eating to do here, in that I have said in the past that I always use the Perceptual rendering mode when printing, but when soft-proofing images for this printer, I’ve found that Relative Colorimetric often gives better results, so I’ve been using that more often recently.

Once you’ve completed the settings on the Main screen of the plugin, you’ll want to go to the Page Setup screen, and get your image laid out how you want it. You can see below that I’ve not used the Enlarging in the printer driver as I mentioned earlier, but I probably will give that a try as I get more used to the plugin. You specify the paper size here, as well as whether you want to print the image in the middle of the paper, or specify your own size for the top and left margins, giving you more control over where the image sits on the paper. That’s what I’ve done here, as I wanted that fine art spacing, with a larger border below the image than above. You’ll select your paper source here too, either Roll Paper or Sheet, and you also have to tell the plugin the width of the roll of paper that you will print to.

iPF6350 Photoshop Plugin Page Setup Screen

iPF6350 Photoshop Plugin Page Setup Screen

That’s pretty much it though, and then you just let it rip, and watch your print come out of the printer. I should note here that this printer is fast. I haven’t timed it, but even when printing to 24″ wide roll paper, the print seems to come out in no time. As a guess I’d say it’s about 3 minutes for a sheet of Super A1, at high quality. For reference, I’d say it’s even faster than my Pro9500 from Canon can print a sheet of Super A3, which is a quarter of the size.

Incredible Color Gamut!

Incredible Color Gamut!

Before we move on, I did just want to mention that so far, I’ve been incredibly impressed with the color gamut of this printer. It is able to reproduce far more colors and subtle tonal values than my Canon Pro9500. Even when I’m soft-proofing before printing, there is often just no need to change the image, and on images with very bright reds and greens, that often take a little more work in soft-proofing, they take much less time to get right than with my old printer. The new Lucia EX pigment ink system, plus the additional 2 colors that this printer has over the 9500, really seem to have improved the quality and accuracy of image reproduction.

2" Core Roll Paper Holder

2″ Core Roll Paper Holder

A few weeks ago I showed you How to Create a Gallery Wrap, and for that, I was using the Hahnemühle Daguerre Canvas, on a 17″ roll. As I said earlier, when you load a new roll of paper, you tell the printer the length. The full rolls of Hahnemühle paper that I’ve been buying are 39′ long. One problem is though, that when you print, using a few feet of paper, and then remove the roll, the next time you load the roll, you’re not likely to know exactly how much paper has been used already, and so you can’t tell the printer how much paper is left. If you are near the end of the roll, this could result in you running out of paper before the end of your print.

Automatic Roll Paper Recognition

To overcome this, you can select an option to have the printer print a bar code on the end of the roll when you eject the paper. Because the printer has that scanner built in, when you reload the paper at a later date, it reads the bar code, and can automatically tell what paper it is, and how much paper is left on the roll. This of course does waste about 5cm of paper each time you reload the paper, but I think it’s worth it to easily keep track of the paper I’m using.

Bar Code to Track Paper Type and Remaining Length

Bar Code to Track Paper Type and Remaining Length

Yesterday, I printed my first 24×36″ print which will be a gift for the colleagues that I’m leaving behind in my day-job that I just resigned from to pursue photography full time, and I used different paper to that which I had loaded, so I needed to switch them out. The iPF6350 takes both 2″ and 3″ core roll paper. The Daguerre Canvas comes on a 2″ core, which is the native size that the Roll Holder takes, as we can see above.

3" Core Roll Holder Adapter

3″ Core Roll Holder Adapter

The Hahnemuhle Museum Etching paper though, is a much stiffer paper, and I assume to help to prevent it from curling, it comes on a 3″ core. To fit roll paper with a 3″ core, you have to fit an adapter to the right side of the roll holder, like this, and use a different left side Roll Holder Stopper. These come with the printer as standard of course.

I should also note that when handling the rolls of paper, or any large sheet paper too, I always use white cotton gloves, to prevent the oils from my skin touching the paper, and discoloring it, either now, or in the future.

One of my best selling prints, and the one that my colleagues liked the most on my old office wall, was the one from the misty morning in Hokkaido, in 2008, with the Red-Crowned Cranes in the river, and the couple dancing in the distance. Although the printed image didn’t fill the paper, it was so cool to watch one of my favorite images comes out of the printer on 24″ wide paper.

Distant Dance Emerging from the Printer

Distant Dance Emerging from the Printer

Here is the finished print in a frame that I picked up yesterday. I shot just the picture, but it’s difficult to see the size of the print without a reference point, so I stuck my fat head as well, to give you some scale. I applied my signature with a water based pigment ink, fade proof pen from Sakura Color Product Corporation in Japan. I created a simple boilerplate in Illustrator for the middle, and added a simple message on the left, to my buddies from the day-job, in Photoshop before printing.

The Print, with My Fat Head for Scale

The Print, with My Fat Head for Scale

There are a few other bits of software that come with the printer that I wanted to mention before we finished.

Accounting Manager

First, the printer comes with an Accounting module, built into the drivers. If you register the cost of your ink cartridges and the paper that you use, you can use the Account Manager to calculate the exact cost of the prints you make. This is not only a lot of fun, but it’s essential if you are going to print for other people. I already have a few people that are asking if they can come round to do some large prints, which I don’t mind doing, but when it comes to asking for money for the prints, it’s really useful to be able to show them exactly how much each one cost.

iPF6350 Accounting Manager

iPF6350 Accounting Manager

Of course, this cost doesn’t include my time, or wear and tear on the printer, or the time spent learning to use it, or the skill involved in soft-proofing and laying the print out, etc. etc. So this would not be the amount that I charge a total stranger for a print. Also, it goes without saying that if I’m printing a fine art print of my own work, or prints for a client from a portrait shoot for example, I will be charging much more than this. As you can see though, the print that I did for my colleagues cost ¥1,790, which is about $20 at the current exchange rate. Not cheap by any means, so you don’t want to be making too many mistakes with these large prints. Test prints on smaller paper stock is certainly the order of the day.

Remote UI

As I say, the printer comes with a lot of software, but let’s look at one last thing that I’m finding useful, before we finish. If you enter the IP address of the printer into a Web browser, the printer dishes up a nice Remote UI admin console to any computer on your network. I can even check the ink levels on my printer from my iPhone if I needed to. You don’t need to install the drivers or anything to check that things are OK with the printer, or modify settings, check logs etc.

Remote UI via Web Browser

Remote UI via Web Browser

Although the printer has a very low level sleep mode, basically turning it off, but keeping an eye out for jobs coming in over the network, I’m not leaving mine on all the time at the moment. It just gets too hot in my studio when I’m not around. I’ll be in there much more often now that this is my full time job of course, and I’m looking forward to cooler days coming soon with the Autumn, so I might start to leave it on, but for the moment, I’m turning it off when not in use. And when I do that, I’m covering it with a large piece of plastic sheet from the hardware store. This is just to keep dust out, as dust in a printer can cause problems if it drops on the face of the paper as you are printing. Basically you print on the dust, not the paper, and then if the does falls away later you end up with a white spot, which I like to avoid.

iPF6350 with Plastic Cover (Home Made)

iPF6350 with Plastic Cover (Home Made)

One other thing that I didn’t mention is that the printer also requires a Maintenance Cartridge, which is used to dump waste ink during cleaning cycles. These are about $70 to replace, but I don’t know yet how long they last. I’ll find out as I start to print more in the coming months, and if it seems excessive, I’ll let you know.


I haven’t really done any comparison tests, and at $20 a chuck, I’m not about to start doing multiple copies of the same print with different settings, just to see if there are any minute differences in quality, but my initial impression of this printer is that it delivers incredibly high quality prints.

I’ve output large prints on Hahnemuhle Daguerre Canvas and Museum Etching now, and for smaller prints, I’ve also used Hahneumhle Photo Rag and Fine Art Baryta, all of which are showing excellent results. The printer reproduces a huge color gamut, amazing tonal range, easily achieved vivid and highly saturated colors, as well as breathtaking black and white prints.

At $3,995 on B&H and another $900 just to replace a full set of ink cartridges, this certainly isn’t a printer for the hobbyist. There are over a thousand pages in the multiple User Manuals, and it takes a fair bit of reading and studying just to figure out how to set up the paper and start printing. But if you have a need for large prints, and are somewhat technical and enjoy getting your hands dirty, like I do, then you’ll love this printer.

Just make sure you have enough space to put it, and a few friends to help you get it set up, or buy the white glove delivery service when you buy the printer, and you won’t regret a thing.

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