With smartphone photography, an ordinary consumer photo printer will do a decent job printing out selfies or photos from Facebook, in 4 x 6. But if you’re using a more advanced camera, like a DSLR with a bag full of lenses, the typical home photo printer won’t do you justice if you want to take advantage of all that high resolution.
The Canon Pixma Pro-100 ($499) is a serious photo printer for those serious about their photography. It probably won’t give you the same quality as one of the prosumer photo printers in the $1,000 price range, but someone would have to look very closely to see any difference. And, the price will appeal to pro photographers on a budget or home users looking to add some oomph to their printed images.
Keep in mind that the Pro-100 is a specialized printer designed to turn out great looking photos from high-resolution files. It’s not for churning out pages and pages of homework.
Features and design
The printer has very few noticeable controls on its attractive (well, we think so) silver and dark gray case. There are three buttons: Power, Cancel/Resume, and Wi-Fi, the latter of which is used to set up a Wi-Fi connection with a router that supports one-button setup (also known as WPS). Below this is a USB port that’s only used for direct printing from a PictBridge-enabled camera.
The front panel folds down, doubling as the output tray and the straight-through path for printing on a CD/DVD. Another panel on top opens to expose the printhead and ink cartridges. The Pro-100 uses an eight-color ink system: black, gray, light gray, magenta, photo magenta, cyan, photo cyan, and yellow.
A second panel on the top opens to expose the main paper input tray. This tray can accommodate up to 120 sheets of plain paper or 20 sheets of thicker stock, such as photo paper. A single-sheet input at the rear accommodates very heavy stock, such as most fine art papers. The maximum media size that the Pro-100 can handle is 13 x 19 inches and the printer does not have the capability of using roll paper.
What’s in the box
The Pixma Pro-100 is a large printer, measuring 27.2 x 15.2 x 8.5 inches and weighing in at a bit over 43 pounds, so it comes in a large heavy box.
Along with the printer are a power cord, setup guide, software installation discs (one for Windows, a second for Mac), printhead, and one set of ink cartridges. A USB cord is included (a rarity) if you want to connect the printer via USB rather than Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
All Canon Pixma Pro printers come with the same software utilities. These include My Image Garden; Print Studio Pro; plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom; and Canon Digital Photo Professional. Since the Pixma Pro-100 is capable of printing onto printable blank CDs and DVDs, a special tray as well as CD printing software is also included.
Canon includes a one-year limited warranty. Click here for more details.
Setup and performance
Setup is simple, but time consuming. The software takes about 15 to 20 minutes if you’re installing all the utilities. Installing the printhead and cartridges is quicker, but after that’s done, the printer needs to prime for several minutes, followed by a head alignment.
If you’re looking for an affordable entry-level professional photo printer, the Pro-100 fits the bill.
Normally with most printers, we perform both speed tests and image quality tests. But we don’t bother with the speed tests when testing pro graphics printers because something like the Pro-100 isn’t meant to be an everyday printer. It’s a dedicated photo printer so speed is really irrelevant. It’s going to be slower than a regular inkjet printer, because what really matters is image quality.
And in this area, the Pro-100 proved outstanding. We printed our test files on Canon’s Photo Paper Plus Semi Gloss. We used mostly default settings, and our test prints were almost indistinguishable from the reference prints we compare against, except for two slightly darker panels on the image of the X-Rite Color Checker. These differences aren’t noticeable unless you do a side-by-side comparison with the reference print.
Just out of curiosity, we also made several monochrome prints. These were also excellent. The three monochrome ink colors (black, gray, and light gray) do a great job.
Canon’s website has a page where it rates the capacity of the cartridges, but these figures are pretty much meaningless as they were calculated using a method other than that developed by the ISO (International Standards Organization), which almost all printer vendors use. Also, every print uses an unpredictable amount of ink. The page yields given vary from a low of 37 to a high of 111, so don’t plan on printing large amounts without fairly frequent cartridge changes. That’s true for all prosumer and professional photo printers, however, not just Canon’s. The individual cartridges cost about $17 each.
In general, stepping up from a home/consumer photo printer to one that is capable of doing justice to true photography is a large and expensive leap. The paradox is, while the Pro-100 is considerably more expensive than a consumer model, it’s actually affordable for a wide-format prosumer printer capable of turning out professional quality output.
The Pro-100 may be Canon’s least expensive prosumer wide-format photo printer, but you certainly can’t tell that from the excellent quality of the prints it produces. If you’re looking for an affordable entry-level pro-level photo printer, the Pro-100 fits the bill. Doy you have a flexible budget? Check out the Pixma Pro-10 and Pixma Pro-1.
- Print size up to 13×19
- Excellent output quality
- Black inks generate excellent monochrome prints
- Large and heavy
- Slower print times