Friday, October 14, 2011

REVIEW: Canon iP2702–Affordable No Frills Printing (with custom paper profile tutorial)

Canon iP2702 - Image Courtesy of B&H
Image Courtesy of B&H

Canon describes this printer as:

[An] entry-level single function printer, the PIXMA iP2702 offers a wide array of advanced features. Utilizing Auto Photo Fix II and Easy-WebPrint EX (Windows only), this new single function printer produces both photos and documents of tremendous quality. Additionally, a 4"x 6" borderless photo can be produced in approximately 55 seconds7, helping to ease the process of creating a keepsake photo album from a special event. In addition, the new matte black and polished finish further adds to the overall aesthetics of this printer making it a welcome addition to any home setting.

I think that’s a good sell, but the truth is that this is plain vanilla printer with no frills and a small footprint. It won’t satisfy the needs of the picky photographer, but it might be great for kids and grandparents. It’s not quiet and its not fast, but it gets the job done. Read my image quality section below to determine if this product meets your quality bar.

Image Quality

Canon iP2702 prints without (top left) and with custom paper profiles (bottom)
Canon iP2702 prints without (top left) and with custom paper profiles (bottom)

To test the image quality of this printer I first started by printing using the Easy-PhotoPrint EX software that is included with the printer (updated versions are available on Canon’s website). Accepting all of the defaults I got the image shown in the upper left hand corner which looks okay in all but the skin. The skin feels very yellow and oversaturated so I didn’t like this result very much. I tried a variety of different options on the printer and got similar results, so this is really the out of box experience for this printer. Images are a bit oversaturated with a strong push to the warm side which is really bad for indoor photos under tungsten light.

To understand the true ability of this printer and ink set I decided to create my own paper profiles using both ColorMunki Photo (because of its affordable price) as well as an i1Pro using i1Publish (available as the i1Publish Pro UV Cut Color Management System). The i1Publish System created the best possible result out of this ink set shown in the bottom right corner, but the limitations of the ink set in this form factor are obvious – you get what you pay for.

Scan of ColorChecker (left) next to a iP2702 print (right)
i1Publish Pro UV Cut Color Management System
creates the best paper profile for this printer

Above is an image on the right that is created by i1Publish that is designed to match against the ColorChecker Passport (review) on the left (from the same scan on a Epson V750. While its not a perfect match, the profile created by the i1Publish is pretty good. The lines indicate colors that can’t be fully represented by the color gamut of the ink set of the printer.

The ColorMunki Photo profile was definitely a big improvement and close enough to the i1Publish profile that many would find it to be “good enough” for a printer at this price point, but naturally the i1Publish gives the best and most accurate results.

One thing you’ll notice in all of the images above is that they feel a little washed out and muddy – that’s my biggest complaint of this printer. The ink set just lacks the rich blacks that you’d get from a higher end printer. Below you can see what a printer like the iPF6300 can do with using its built-in paper profile:

Scan of a Canon iPF6300 Print
Scan of a Canon iPF6300 Print

I only include this image to show what is possible, but its important to keep in mind that the ip2702 cost less than one of the ink cartridges on the iPF6300!

My conclusion on image quality is simple – I find the printing from what’s included with the printer to be less than desirable. Using your own profile (or mine) you can probably get much better results when printing from Lightroom or Photoshop CS4 or earlier (I do not recommend CS5 for printing).

Using a Custom Profile with the iP2702 Driver

To use your own profile with this printer, you must do the following:


Step 1 – Create a new Setting for use in the future


Step 2 – Change Color/Intensity to Manual and Click Set…

Don't forget to click the Matching Tab
Step 3 – Click the Matching Tab and Choose None


Step 4a – In Lightroom choose OTHER for the profile
and select your custom profile or one of the ones provided by Canon
(at the top of the list above)

image
Step 5a - Lightroom’s Print module
should look something like this


Step 4b – Photoshop should look something like this

For Lightroom and Photoshop, don’t forget that the first three steps are critical from the page setup buttons. You want to use the color management of Adobe’s products, not the driver so steps 1 through 3 are turning off color management so that the software can use your profile.

Conclusion

This is a very simple and basic printer. It has only two ink cartridges – one black and one color and the cost of those is about the same price as the printer. It does three sheet sizes, no rolls, no networking and doesn’t include the required USB cable to connect it to the printer (my biggest gripe). However, this makes a decent printer for kids or grandparents who don’t want complexity –they just want something that works and is easy to maintain. You lose some print quality when using this over more expensive alternatives, but if the target user is handy with Lightroom or Photoshop then they’ll get the most out of it by using a custom paper profile.

While this printer is advertised as providing color lab quality results, I honestly think that the prints you’ll get from Shutterfly, Costco, Smugmug, MPix, etc… are going to be much better than the results from this printer. It’s also a tad slow and noisy (even in quiet mode), but it gets the job done in a reasonably small footprint.

This isn’t a pro photographers printer, but it’s not intended to be. This is a entry consumer product that does a marginal job out of the box, but it can be improved with a good paper profile. At a price point that is under $50, it’s pretty hard to fault it. If you have a little more cash and desk space then I’d suggest stepping up to the iP4920 or perhaps the iP3600.

Ordering Information

You can buy one of these printers from Amazon or B&H, but make sure you also get a printer cable if you don’t have one already. You may also want to get some additional Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II from Amazon or B&H in 4x6, 5x7 or 8.5x11 sheets.

Disclosure

Canon USA provided me with a printer and paper to review for this article. I may also get a commission if you purchase using links in this article, so please support this blog by using my links – thanks!

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