Wednesday, February 20, 2013

COMPARISON: Canon iPF6450 -vs- iPF6300 – Part I


My iPF6450 began its life at PhotoPlus Expo 2012

If you followed my printing series and/or read my Printing 101 eBook, then you probably know how found I am of my Canon iPF6300. It is a great printer and certainly part of a family of Lucia EX based printers that really got Canon into the same game as Epson. However, as great as it was, there was room for improvement as the gradients and tonal range were marginally better on the higher end Epson printers.

With the new iPF6400, iPF6450, iPF8400 and iPF9400 Canon worked hard to address the feedback from customers about how to make the the ultimate Canon printer for photographers. Some of the improvements include:

  • A new multi-sensor for better accuracy and faster performance
  • Gallery wrap feature built into the driver
  • Calibration Linking (link multiple printers together and calibrate together - see pdf for more info from one PC)
  • Improved driver with support for variations like the PRO-1 (woohoo, this is a great addition that won’t be back ported to the iPFx300 printers.
  • An optional integrated Spectrophotometer for the iPF6450 only – shown below

Canon imagePROGRAF 6450 with SU 21 spectrophotometer
My iPF6450 is shown here with the optional onboard SU-21 Spectrophotometer accessory ($1795)

Of course there’s the marketing improvements mentioned above, but there’s also living with the new printer. I’ll dive more into what it’s like to own the iPF6450 based on my experience owning the following professional quality printers:

Why are you comparing the 6300 to the 6450 and not the 6300?

Since I know this will be a FAQ, let me state up front a few important facts:

  1. The 6300 & 6350 are functionally identical, but the 6350 adds a hard drive.
  2. The 6400 & 6450 are functionally identical, but the 6450 adds a hard drive.
  3. The 6300, 6350 and 8300 are functionally identical and print exactly the same. The differences are only the paper size and the absence of the hard drive on the 6300.
  4. The 6400, 6450, 8300 and 9400 are functionally identical and print exactly the same. The differences are only the paper size and the absence of the hard drive on the 6400.

With these facts in mind I decided that since I covered the iPF6300 base model so well in my first review, that it made more sense to cover a model with a hard drive for the review of the new models. THE PRINT RESULTS ARE THE SAME, but the *50 models have the added convenience of a hard drive which allows you to reprint jobs very easily without using your computer.

The iPF6450 is unique in this line up in that it is also the only printer that supports an optional integrated spectrophotometer (SU-21 for $1795). I do not have a SU-21 and am not sure if I’ll get one to review, but that was also another consideration for me choosing this model.

Physical Differences

Canon iPF6300 - PCMag.com Readers Choice
Canon iPF6300 - PCMag.com Readers Choice
39.1 x 46.4 x 34.3" (99.3 x 117.9 x 87.1cm) with stand
Approx. 146 lb (66.2 kg) with stand

Canon iPF6450
Canon iPF6450
39.4 x 48.3 x 34.3" (100.08 x 122.68 x 87.1 cm) with stand
154 lb (69.85 kg) including stand

Size-wise these two printers are roughly identical in size with the 6450 being a little heavier and slightly larger. If you look carefully though you’ll notice one big difference and that has to do with the size of the ink reservoirs shown below:

Canon iPF6300/6350's Ink Reservoir
Canon iPF6300/6350's Ink Reservoir

Canon iPF6400/6450's Ink Reservoir
Canon iPF6400/6450's Ink Reservoir

Here’s views of them open:

iPF6300/6350 Ink Reservoir supports only 130 ml Ink Tanks
iPF6300/6350 Ink Reservoir supports only 130 ml Ink Tanks

iPF6450 Ink Reservoir supports both 130 & 300ml Ink Tanks
iPF6400/6450 Ink Reservoir supports both 130 & 300ml Ink Tanks

As you can see the older model only supports 130ml ink tanks, but the new model supports both 130ml (PFI-106) and 300ml (PFI-206) ink tanks which is great because you can upgrade without wasting ink and you can take advantage of the value savings of larger ink tanks. That comes out to about 61 cents per ml for the 130ml ink tanks versus 47 cents per ml in the new larger 300ml ink tanks (as of the time this article was written). That’s can be a pretty significant cost savings!

Cost Savings with the iPF6400/6450

Now you take that cost savings and you add the fact that the iPF6400/iPF6450 uses less ink (from what I’m observing – using identical settings) and the larger tanks and this can be significant over the year. Let’s just say you print five portraits similar to the one below at 13x19” each week (or any combo thereof) and you do that for a year.


This image printed at 13x19” was printed the exact same paper and settings on both printers
Accounting Manager reported 2.152ml with the 6300 vs 1.7155ml with the 6450

Accounting Manager reported 2.152ml of ink was consumed with the 6300 vs 1.7155ml with the 6450. That would mean that using the smaller 130ml tanks in the iPF6300 it would cost me ($0.61 * 2.152ml per print * 5 per week * 52 weeks) about $341.31. For the iPF6450 with the larger 300ml tanks it would cost me ($0.47 * 1.7155ml per print * 5 per week * 52 weeks) about $209.63. That’s a $131.67 savings for even the most casual user, whereas working professionals and printing business will see HUGE savings worthy of an upgrade.

Control Panels

For printing businesses looking to integrate some of the newer printers in with their older printers, you’ll be happy to notice that the new control panels are identical to their predecessors:

iPF6300 Control Panel
iPF6300 Control Panel

iPF6450 Control Panel
iPF6450 Control Panel

There’s nothing new to learn here and under the covers they seem functionally the same.

Setup and Overall Usage

I’ll cover this topic in more depth in future articles, but fundamentally both printers work the same way. Your workflow won’t be any different, but the new x4xx printers have some great new features that you are sure to enjoy.

The one I’m most excited about is the variations feature which users of the PRO-1 will enjoy. Be sure to see my PRO-1 review if you want to see right away what variations works like – it’s identical in these new printers. You can also click here to see a sample of what one of these sheets looks like (and you can print as large or as small as you want).

Image Quality

I’m finding that the Canon paper profiles that ship with it seem to be better than those in the iPF6300, but it could be the printer itself is just better. I haven’t done enough testing to determine which one it is. All I know is that I am getting better prints that are visible to the trained eye, but it’s not so drastic that I think clients would really notice. What’s more I don’t think it’s so drastically different that you couldn’t print jobs with old and new printers and not feel comfortable mixing the prints together in the same package. If you are a print master you’ll see the difference, but customers won’t. I consider this a very good thing!

A word for Epson users

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got what I think is a good understanding of the Epson platform as well. While I don’t own a 7900, I have used it and I often use my 4900 which is very similar. While Epson does have the edge on the vast number of great paper profiles out there, I find that I’m very satisfied with the Canon prints. On identical paper with identical quality paper profiles, I find the Canon results to be just as good. However, I do appreciate on the Canon platform that I don’t waste tons of ink on clogged heads, the driver is so much easier to use, and I have the Accounting Manager to track my costs.

Conclusion

Click here to learn more in the second part of this review.

Where to order

If you are in the Seattle area then my friends at JVH Tech are a great local business to purchase from and get great personal support. However, most of my readers aren’t local so you’ll probably find the white glove service from B&H a great choice. Click one of the links below to research or order your new printer today:

iPF6400, iPF6450, iPF8400 and iPF9400 at B&H

iPF6400, iPF6450, iPF8400 and iPF9400 at Amazon

If you look carefully on both sites you’ll see that there are very rebates available from time to time that really make these printers ridiculously cheap compared to their Epson counterparts.

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