Saturday, June 5, 2010

Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mark II: some thoughts in review

After a few dozen prints made, I can without question say that my Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II creates beautiful prints. If you're considering getting one, I'd say go for it. It produces excellent results.

One caveat:

If you're going to print on fine art paper, steer well clear of Canon brand fine art paper. (There may be an exception, which I'll get to later in the post.) When printing on Canon's fine art paper they impose a 35mm border on each end of the paper lengthwise, so your 13x19 paper gets you no wider than a 16.25", and your 8.5" x 11" becomes 8" x 8.25" (the short side of the paper has a 1/4" border - and two times 1/4" equals 1/2", reducing the short side of the paper to 8"). If you don't mind this limitation, then the particular kind of Canon fine art paper I have used produces beautiful prints. Canon does not impose a 35mm border on you if you use their other paper types.

Here's how the 35mm border is imposed. Canon creates their paper icc profiles with each paper type in mind. So, when you go to print, you choose the icc profile that matches the paper, and you select the paper type being used. These two pieces of information tell the printer how to correctly lay down the ink to produce the image as you have it on screen (if your monitor is calibrated correctly). So, to get a correctly printed image, the icc profile and paper type need to be accurately selected. When selecting the fine art paper types, you are required to choose a paper size that has a 35mm border defined.

You could, however, lie to the printer, and say you are using a different type of paper than you really are. Which means you could tell the printer you are using a paper that does not have the 35mm border limitation. The problem with this is the prints come out inaccurately (there may be an exception, which I'll address in a moment). So, if you are using the Canon fine art paper, but you were to tell the printer, for example, that you are using glossy photo as your paper type, then the print would come out with somewhat different colors than you see on your calibrated monitor. And on the Canon fine art paper I used, when I tell the printer I am using some other type of paper, some of the colors in the print may even bleed into others.

A Probable Exception:

At least one type of fine art paper that is Canon branded (Fine Art Photo Rag 188gsm), is created by Hahnemuhle. On Hahnemuhle's site, the instructions for using what appears to be the same paper (Photo Rag 188gsm) suggests selecting matte photo as the paper type being used (which does not impose the 35mm border), while also using the icc profile that Hahnemuhle created. I discovered this fact by listening to Martin Bailey's excellent podcast on the subject. He is using a Canon Pixma Pro 9500, but I expect that his happy results would be the same when using the 9000. No more silly 35mm border.

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