Wednesday, November 6, 2013

REVIEW: Canon PRO-10 (vs PRO-1 & Epson R3000)

Canon PIXMA PRO-10 Wireless Professional Inkjet Photo Printer
Canon PIXMA PRO-10 Wireless Professional Inkjet Photo Printer

Recently I concluded my review of the PRO-1 with my long-term report where I said:

… make this printer have a smaller footprint, weigh less, add wireless networking and large capacity print tanks. With these issued addressed, I think this could be a compelling choice for people retiring their older Epson printers.

Well the PRO-10 answers all of those requests, except for the larger capacity ink tanks. In fact, this printer is so similar to the PRO-1 that I urge you to read my PRO-1 review for lots of info about features and software that are also featured on this printer.

Setup

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I did a wireless setup with the printer in a separate room from my computer. After installing the disc into my computer I never had to get up to go to the printer as everything “just worked” wirelessly. The R3000 did a great job with this, but the PRO-10 had much better information in the wizards and was overall more suited for normal people versus geeks.

AirPrint just works with no apps
No lame app was needed – native AirPrint just works with the PRO-10

My Epson R3000 requires an app to print from my iOS based devices, but the PRO-10 supported native AirPrint. As a result, I just had to choose the printer from my iOS device (on the same wireless network) and everything “just worked.”

Black & White Performance


Test Image #1

When printing this image as color, I expect the image to have a slightly brown tone to it. The PRO-1’s extra inks prove valuable here as it is able to print this more faithfully to the real color than the PRO-10 can (using identical Canon Luster paper and driver settings). The shadow detail was also much better on the PRO-1 than the PRO-10, so I was a little disappointed in the results from the PRO-10 on this image.

The differences could just be the quality of the ICC profile of the PRO-1 over the PRO-10, but I wouldn’t be happy with this result so I’d have to generate my own profile or choose a different paper with a better profile.

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Test Image #2

Surprisingly conducting the same exact test with this image (which doesn’t have a color cast) resulted in very similar results on the PRO-1 versus the PRO-10. I was happy with the PRO-10 result.

I’ll do more testing, but for the several other monochrome images I printed without a color cast (printed as color via the driver) I found the PRO-10 to do a good job. The PRO-1 is clearly the better black and white printer, but I wasn’t as concerned with the differences on the second test image as I was with the first.

Color Print Performance

Treehouse
Treehouse

The PRO-1 and PRO-10 both created what appeared to be nearly identical results to my eyes and preferable to results I get from my Epson printers. I loved the results from both and felt no need to tweak the image or reprint as this one was just nailed perfectly on the first try by the PRO-10.

Haruka
Haruka

For this image the PRO-10 was significantly more accurate than the PRO-1 I think because the PRO-10 had a superior color profile in the yellow tones. The PRO-1 version was a little too yellow, but it was identical to the PRO-10 otherwise. Both printers had a little too much black, but it’s something that only I’d notice as I’ve had to print this image hundreds of times for my printing series. I felt that my Epson and large format Canon (i.e., iPF6300 & iPF6450) printers do a better job with this particular image than the PRO series printers, but I suspect that’s due to superior ICC profiles.


New York

For this image I’m looking for tones in the red, and the PRO-10 did a fantastic job as did the PRO-1. The richness and slightly warmer tones actually made me prefer the prints from the Canon printers way more than comparable Epson printers – for this image. The blacks were excellent on this image as well!

4x6 prints straight from my Canon in-camera jpeg’s (with no edits) printed via Lightroom were excellent as well – with no hassle.

Compared to the PRO-1

Canon PIXMA PRO-1
Canon PIXMA PRO-1
(review)

The PRO-1’s ink cost is slightly more than the R3000, but contain more ink so the ink prices for the PRO-10 will be half of the PRO-1. This makes the out of pocket expense when replacing inks cheaper for the PRO-1, but the large capacity inks are always cheaper over time.The PRO-1’s two extra inks also give it a better tonal range.

The PRO-1 is also better suited for thicker paper (like those typically over 380 gsm), but I rarely print on paper that thick and heavy on this size printer (I use the iPF6450) so it’s a non-issue for me.

Software and driver-wise they are identical, so those looking to have multiple printers should find the PRO-10 to be a nice complement to the PRO-1. What’s more the PRO-10’s wireless and AirPrint support make it much more family friendly. Thanks to this feature I actually store my PRO-10 in the laundry room (the former home of my R3000) so that it’s out of the way, but easily accessible to my wife and kids. It’s smaller footprint (compared to the PRO-1) make that possible, and easy wireless setup means that the PRO-10 never has to be connected to a computer (if you have WPS compatible router like my Netgear R6300). AirPrint “just works” from my iOS devices as well which isn’t true of any other device I’ve tested to date.

My advice is that if you are going to be doing more frequent printing for your business then a PRO-1 makes sense, but for personal or family use the PRO-10 is the much better choice.

Compared to the Epson R3000

Epson R3000
Epson R3000
(review)

The R3000 is an outstanding printer that makes gorgeous prints. Its print head technology allows for drops that are half the size which seems to create an advantage over Canon when I carefully inspect prints. However, I have a trained eye and see things that most photographers wouldn’t see - and definitely customers will never see. The R3000 also prints faster than the PRO-10.

What you will see with the Epson is a more finicky printer driver (more on Windows than Mac) and print cartridges that cost twice as much ($31.99 on Nov 2013) as the PRO-10’s ($14.99 on Nov 2013). The R3000 also wastes a lot of ink when switching between photo black and matte black inks which isn’t an issue on the PRO-10 due to dedicated lines for both black inks. As a result, I’m expecting the long-term operating costs of the PRO-10 to be less than the R3000. For the casual printer, these difference could prove to be significant.

As much as I love my R3000, I’ve retired it as my everyday photo printer in favor of the PRO-10 so I can do more exhaustive long-term testing. Check back for my long-term report in 6 to 12 months from this article to see which one wins me over as the better daily printer.

Paper Compatibility

Canon has even made it easy to find information about compatible third party papers and included links to get paper profiles from third parties here. It’s not perfect since some of the third parties don’t direct link to where you need to be, but it’s a good start – especially for the novice printer user.

B&H Screaming Deal (Expires Nov 10, 2013)

You can get one of these printers for as little as $299 until November 10th using the instant and mail-in rebate offers:Canon PRO-10 Rebate Info

Using Bill Me Later you can also get no payments for 6 months, so this is a killer deal if you are in the market for a great photo printer.

Conclusion

The wireless and AirPrint support make this printer a real joy to use not only for me, but also for my family. It’s basically everything I love about the Epson R3000 without any of the hassle (thanks to a superior print driver on Windows and real AirPrint support). It also creates excellent prints that are good enough that almost as good as the PRO-1. As I result, I can say that I am satisfied with the print performance, but like any printer the best icc profiles will be needed to get the best possible results.

This is the perfect personal / family printer that can not only do a great job for your photos, but serve well for your every day jobs (i.e., printing out emails, pdf’s, boarding passes, etc…). It’s tiny inks means it won’t be cheap to operate, but that’s true of every printer in this class (as that’s business model of the industry).

The PRO-10 is a joy to use and features everything I love about the PRO-1 – and more. As a result I can easily say that it is highly recommended for your personal printing needs. For professional printing, I’d still favor the PRO-1, simply due to its larger ink set and support for thicker papers.

Where to order

Click here to order or learn more about the PRO-10 on the B&H web site. My friends at Adorama have it available here.

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