Canon Pixma Pro-100 £469
3rd Jan 2013 | 14:22
Affordable A3+ photo printing
The Canon Pixma Pro-100 sits under the Canon Pixma Pro-10 and Canon Pixma Pro-1 in the company's A3+ (13 x 19 inches) photo printer hierarchy, promising exceptional image quality at a more accessible price.
One of the biggest differences between the Canon Pixma Pro-1 and the Canon Pixma Pro-100 is that the new model uses eight inks rather than twelve.
With half the number of nozzles (6,144 rather than 12,288) the Canon Pixma Pro-100's print head may seem less impressive than the Pro-1's, but it has a smaller minimum droplet size of 3pl (rather than 4pl) which should mean it is capable of reproducing finer detail.
Print resolution equals that of the Canon Pixma Pro-1 at 4800 x 2400 dpi, but unlike its pricier sibling you do get the addition of Wi-Fi connectivity. Consequently, printing is now possible via USB 2.0 or Ethernet connections, or wirelessly from iOS and Android devices, using Canon's mobile printing app.
Whereas the Canon Pixma Pro-1 is equipped with Canon's Lucia pigment inks, the Canon Pixma Pro-100 uses theoretically inferior dye-based cartridges. These tend to be more prone to fading than a pigment system. However, stick with genuine ChromaLife100+ ink and Canon papers and prints should still last decades when framed, or over 100 years in an album.
Dye-based inks do have their advantages though, usually providing a higher gloss finish than pigment inks. Therefore, unlike the Canon Pixma Pro-1, the Canon Pixma Pro-100 can do without a gloss-boosting 'Chroma Optimizer' cartridge.
Build and handling
Canon's latest high-end A3+ (13 x 19 inches) printer may be expensive - priced at £469/US499 (around AU$729) - but when you come to handle a Canon Pixma Pro-100, at least it feels like a quality product. Fit and finish are first class, with reassuringly solid paper input and output trays and large, robust controls.
This does all add up to one hefty piece of kit, though. Out of the box dimensions of 689 x 385 x 215mm (27.13 x 15.16 x 8.46 inches) are pretty large, but extend the paper trays and the sprawling contraption that emerges demands some serious desktop real estate.
But that's assuming you've managed to lift the beast on to your desk in the first place, given that this beefy build quality makes the Canon Pro-100 weigh in at just shy of 19.7kg (43.43lbs). Still, it could be worse, as the Canon Pixma Pro-1's 27.7kg (61.07lbs) is even more likely to result in a trip to the osteopath.
A3+ printers have an insatiable appetite for ink, hence why Canon saw fit to equip its top-end Canon Pixma Pro-1 with high-capacity 36ml (1.22 fl oz) ink tanks. The Canon Pixma Pro-100 doesn't fare so well, having to make do with 13ml (0.44 fl oz) cartridges, similar to those in the old Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II that it replaces.
Predictably, the cost per ml increases in line with this reduced capacity. At list price, the Canon Pixma Pro-100 ink works out at £0.98/US$1.30 per ml, while the big Canon Pixma Pro-1 tanks come in 15% cheaper, at £0.83/US$0.99 per ml. It makes even the relatively pricey £0.93 per ml for Epson's R3000 ink a better deal.
It's not all bad news though. The Canon Pixma Pro-100 'only' requires a mere eight cartridges (compared to the Canon Pixma Pro-1's dozen) so a complete set will set you back £102/US$136, rather than the daunting £360/US$432 to fully refill a Canon Pixma Pro-1 at Canon's full retail price.
Shop around and many retailers also offer an eight cartridge multipack for even less.
Canon claims the Pixma Pro-100 can churn out an A3+ bordered photo in around 90 seconds. This may be true with a basic image at standard quality, but our test prints took considerably longer.
Borderless A3 (13 x 19 inch) prints on Canon's glossy Photo Paper Plus averaged around six minutes per print at maximum quality. The same settings with A4 (11.7 x 8.3 inch) media brought times down to 3m 14s, while disabling the borderless feature sped things up to 1m 25s.
One area where the Canon Pixma Pro-100's predecessor - the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II - really struggled was its painfully slow greyscale printing speed. Now that the Canon Pixma Pro-100 is equipped with dedicated grey and light grey cartridges, this problem has been eliminated, and an A4 borderless black and white photo emerges in the same time as a colour version.
We set about testing the Canon Pixma Pro-100 with our standardised test chart. Here the graduated tone bars are free from any banding, while the rainbow stripes also exhibit similarly smooth colour blending and very little sign of compression between hues.
The greyscale wedge challenges a printer's ability to clearly differentiate each step on the scale. This was still no trouble for the Canon Pixma Pro-100, since it retains a marked, if subtle, distinction between even the two darkest sections that many printers merge.
Despite the Canon Pixma Pro-100's relatively large 4pl minimum droplet size, the test chart's resolution lines are impressively well defined. The concentric circles show no pixelation and reveal only a hint of stepping when magnified. The same is true of the diagonal lines, being clearly divided right down to the narrowest single-pixel division.
Back in the real world, this performance translates into some stunning quality photo prints. The addition of grey and light grey cartridges mean black and white images are free from colour casts and retain excellent shadow saturation, which is something which couldn't be said of the old Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II.
Printing on matt media is slightly less impressive, possibly due to the dye-based ink. Shadow depth isn't as defined as on gloss paper, giving a subtle but noticeable washed-out appearance to monochrome and colour prints.
Keep the Canon Pixma Pro-100 fuelled with glossy or lustre media and colour photo prints display superb clarity, contrast and colour depth.
Skin tones are also accurately rendered, and overall the Canon Pixma Pro-100 manages to turn out vibrant images with plenty of 'pop', without looking over-saturated.
The new Canon Pixma Pro-100 succeeds in retaining the excellent colour printing ability of the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II it replaces. It also adds great black and white performance, which combines with relatively spritely printing speed to make it an outstanding all-rounder.
The accurate yet punchy print quality in colour and black and white images, coupled with the excellent build and decent printing speed, are great assets to the printer.
Prints on matt paper don't stand up to the same scrutiny as those on glossy photo paper, plus the slightly higher cost of ink compared to the Canon Pixma Pro-1 is also disappointing.
Although Canon's Pixma Pro-1 still offers the ultimate in A3+ (13 x 19 inches) print quality, we've been impressed at how close the Canon Pixma Pro-100 comes to matching the performance of its considerably pricier sibling.
Despite being around 30% lighter than the Canon Pixma Pro-1, build quality is superb. And though the Canon Pixma Pro-100 is no featherweight, we'd sooner trade portability for robustness.
But the Canon Pixma Pro-100's real trump card is its price, costing around a third less than the Canon Pixma Pro-1. Considering the print quality of the two is so close, it's difficult to justify spending the extra unless you need slightly faster print times or often use matt paper.