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Canon Pixma Pro-10: Professional-quality photo prints, right on your desk

William Porter | April 21, 2014
The Canon Pixma Pro-10 is a printer aimed at professionals and dedicated enthusiasts who value beautiful photographic prints and want to make them themselves. Sending your prints out to a pro lab will probably cost less and give you more options (like very large prints). But doing it yourself is much more satisfying. It can even produce better results, especially if you're using a printer like the Pro-10.

I made dozens of double prints of the same images, using both Pro Mode and the appropriate ICC profile with my experienced guess about the correct rendering intent for the image (perceptual or relative colorimetric). In one or two cases, I preferred the print made with my choice about rendering intent, but in those couple cases, the Pro Mode print was still excellent. And in the majority of the cases, the Pro Mode result was either indistinguishable from the result of my choice about rendering intent, or was noticeably better.

On the other hand, printing from Lightroom lets you select output sharpening, while Print Studio Pro doesn't. Looking closely (but without a magnifying glass) I was able to see a small difference in some prints. But using Print Studio Pro doesn't mean that I can't also use Lightroom. On images that really need maximum sharpness, I might want to use Lightroom's print options. The rest of the time, I think I'd be printing with Print Studio Pro.

I also tested the Pro-10's ability to print on printable optical discs. This required downloading another app, Canon's My Image Garden, and it's a bit harder to use than Print Studio Pro. It has some minor annoyances in the user interface that won't long bother somebody who uses the printer regularly. The printed disc was very satisfactory.

Print quality

In my tests, I printed a number of photos on the Pro-10, as well as from the Pro 9000 Mark II and a Canon Pixma Pro-100. I used Canon's papers, as well as third-party papers and the proper ICC profiles.

The output from the Pro-10 is outstanding. Printing from a carefully calibrated iMac, color fidelity, brilliance, and saturation are superb. At all sizes, even viewed under a magnifying glass, fine detail and tonal gradations look natural, without banding or pixelation.

Thanks in part to the presence of two black inks, a gray ink, and the chroma optimizer, the Pro-10's black and white prints are the best I've ever made, with deep, true blacks and subtle grays. As for color prints, the Pro-10 occasionally produces a print that seems a bit darker than the prints from the dye-based Pro-100 and Pro 9000 Mark II but I didn't notice that in most prints. It isn't necessarily a drawback.

Pigment and dye

In most respects, the Pro-10 I tested is almost identical to the much less expensive Pro-100. The Pro-10 uses ten inks and the Pro-100 only eight. The key difference is that the Pro-10 uses pigment inks, while the Pro-100 uses dye-based inks.

There's a technical difference in the way the two types of ink are laid down on paper, and because of that, pigment inks used to be subject to some odd problems that dye inks don't have, like bronzing (a sort of glare effect that occurs when a print on glossy paper is viewed from a bad angle) and metameric failure (colors shifting when a print is viewed under different lighting conditions). Because of their very different chemical composition, pigment inks are generally less vivid than dye inks; pigment inks in the past also were more prone to clogging print heads. The upside of pigment inks is that they last longer without fading than dye inks.


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