The Canon imagePrograf PRO-1000 ($1,299.99) is the first new near-dedicated photo printer we’ve seen from Canon in quite a while, and it was well worth the wait. With support for pages up to 17 by 22 inches, it has graduated from the company’s Pixma Pro printer product family—which brought us three excellent prosumer models: the Pixma PRO-1 , the Pixma PRO-10 ($1,049.95 at Amazon) , and the Pixma PRO-100 ($518.94 at Amazon) —to its imagePrograf professional plotter line. Machines like these are designed to print exceptionally well, and the PRO-1000 certainly does. It prints well enough, in fact, to earn it an Editors’ Choice award for C-size (17-inch paper width) professional photo printers.
Design and Features Firmly in the not-for-everybody camp, the PRO-1000 ($1,279.00 at Amazon) is, quite simply, a beast. With its sizeable input and output trays extended, it measures 11.2 by 17 by 28.5 inches (HWD) and weighs a substantial 70.5 pounds. Big and bulky isn’t unusual for Canon’s near-dedicated photo printers, though. The smaller Pixma PRO-1, for example, weighs 61 pounds, and Epson’s 17-by-22-inch competitor, the Editors’ Choice Epson Stylus Pro 3880 ($2,999.00 at Amazon) , weighs only 43 pounds.
One feature often found in large, near-dedicated photo printers that the PRO-1000 lacks, as does the Epson 3880, is support for printing from paper rolls. The 3880 is, however, being phased out and replaced by the SureColor P800 (which we’ll be reviewing soon), another 17-by-22-inch model that offers an optional paper roll adapter for printing 13- and 17-inch-wide banners up to 10 feet long. In fact, all of Epson’s relatively new SureColor line of inkjet printers, such as the Epson SureColor P600 ($2,511.42 at Amazon) (another 13- by 19-inch model), have the advantage of support for paper-roll adapters.
Connectivity options include Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and USB. You’ll find neither Wi-Fi Direct nor Near Field Communication (NFC) for routerless peer-to-peer connections with mobile devices, but then again, printing smartphone photos on this printer would probably be overkill. On the other hand, the PRO-1000 supports Wireless PictBridge, which should allow you to print from any compatible digital camera.
To achieve its superb output, the PRO-1000 deploys 12 separate inks—or, more precisely, 11 inks (cyan, photo cyan, magenta, photo magenta, yellow, matte black, photo black, gray, photo gray, red, and blue) and a Chroma Optimizer, which is akin to a clearcoat applied over the ink to seal in quality and make the colors and details pop. While those 12 Lucia Pro inks provide a wide color range for this printer, print quality here is just as dependent on Canon’s FINE (Full-Photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering) technology, which enables printing with microscopic droplets and high resolutions up to 4,800 by 2,400dpi (dots per inch). Like the Pixma PRO-1, the PRO-1000 comes with the print head in a separate container, and you install it during the setup process. The point? If your print head wears out or starts to degrade down the road, you can replace it rather than the entire rig.
Since all the PRO-1000 does is print, and it doesn’t have a USB thumb drive or other type of memory-device port, it doesn’t require much of a control panel. You do get a 3-inch color display, a navigation wheel, and a few buttons. Among other things, the LCD, while not a touch screen, does an excellent job of displaying the status of those 12 ink tanks.
Performance and Print Quality Canon says this printer is fast, but the question is, fast compared to what? Measured against nearly every other type of printer, even consumer-grade photo printers, the PRO-1000 is slow. Granted, this is not a document printer, but to gauge overall print quality I printed our test business documents on it anyway; I didn’t bother timing the results, though. After realizing that each lightly formatted Microsoft Word text page was going to take about a minute, I gave up on that and concentrated on print quality.
The PC Labs’ printer testbed is an Intel Core i5 machine running Windows 10. I connected to the printer via Ethernet. Yes, the PRO-1000 is slow, but it churned out what appeared to me to be typesetter-quality text, particularly notable since the media used was everyday multipurpose paper—nothing special. Fonts down to 4 points were well shaped and highly legible. It did well when printing graphics, too, with no real noticeable banding. Dark fills and blacks remained constant, with few to no flaws.
Photography is front and center with the PRO-1000, and as expected, it excels at printing photos. As long as you start with quality image files, your photos should look nothing short of spectacular. The inclusion of the aforementioned photo-centric black and gray cartridges among this printer’s inks greatly enhances black-and-white and grayscale images. (The ability to print gorgeous monochrome images is a key strength for the smaller-format Canon PRO-1 and other Pixma PRO models, for the same reason.)
You’ll want to use premium photo paper for the best results. I used the Luster and Semi-Gloss papers Canon sent us for our photograph tests. The PRO-1000 provides hundreds of ICC paper profiles for media from not only Canon, but also most other major paper mills, including Georgia Pacific, Hahnemuhle, Hammermill, Ilford, and Legion. If you can’t find the correct ICC profile, the bundled Canon Color Management Tool Pro lets you create your own, for just about any paper. Depending on the paper profile, the driver offers Standard, High, and Highest quality settings. While Standard was faster, the best-looking prints came from using the Highest setting.
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The PRO-1000 is relatively fast as a near-dedicated photo printer. When using the High quality setting, it took 1 minute, 35 seconds, to print a borderless 4-by-6-inch color photo. For comparison’s sake, Canon’s own consumer-grade photo printer, the Pixma MG7720, prints the same size photos in 1:04. The PRO-1000’s other times for borderless prints were 3:48 for 8-by-10s, 3:53 for letter-size prints, 7:46 for 13-by-19 black-and-white photos, and 9:26 for 13-by-19-inch color prints. Lastly, 17-by-22-inch photos took 11:26.Running CostsNothing about this printer—the purchase price, the ink, or the paper—is cheap. Buying it and running it requires a significant commitment, especially the more you use it. If you’re a professional photographer or a serious enthusiast, though, the imagePrograf or similar professional-grade printer will be a terrific boon to your business or hobby.
Unlike consumer-grade printers, near-dedicated photo printers measure ink by the milliliter not by the page. Each of the 11 ink cartridges costs $59.99 for 80ml; that comes out to about 75 cents per milliliter. The Chroma Optimizer, also 80ml, sells for $54.99, or 69 cents per millileter. By comparison, the smaller and slightly cheaper Pixma PRO-1 uses 36ml tanks that sell for $35.99, or $1 per milliliter. Typically, as you move up the product line—a larger carriage, more ink cartridges, higher price—the price per milliliter goes down.
Conclusion The Canon imagePrograf PRO-1000 produces magnificent prints and grayscale images up to 17 by 22 inches, and earns our Editors’ Choice as a C-size professional-class photo printer. If you need roll printing, one of Epson’s SureColor products is preferable, and we will soon see how the PRO-1000 fares against the Epson P800. One thing is certain, though: As long as you start with high-quality, high-resolution image files (and use premium paper), the PRO-1000 will return stunning results.