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InfoCenter » Articles » Canon Prograf iPF5000

The iPF5000 has been replaced by the iPF5100 that printer will most likely be replaced soon.

Red River carries quality inkjet papers for all Canon Prograf printers. Our products come in a wide variety of sizes and cost about 40% less than the big retail names.

Check out our top recommended papers for the Canon Prograf series here.

Order a sample kit for your printer here

Introduction

Having received the new Canon Prograf iPF5000 on Monday May 15, we began setup and printing immediately. This article is an initial impression of the setup, software, print quality, media compatibility, and speed of the printer.

The iPF5000 is Canon's answer to the Epson 4800. It is obviously built with the professional photographer / print maker in mind - people who naturally want long lasting photo and art prints. Like the Epson, the iPF5000 has a pigment based inkset - dubbed the Lucia system by Canon. The Lucia system, is a twelve, yes twelve, ink setup designed to offer a wide color gamut and black and white photo reproduction. You can print on media up to 17" wide including sheets and rolls.

A big plus is that both matte and photo black inks are on-board at the same time. This means no down time or wasted ink when you switch media types.

Unpacking / Dimensions

The Prograf comes crated in a rather large box on a pallette. If you order one, make sure you have a dock or request a delivery truck with a liftgate! Unpacking the printer is fairly easy, but you will want two people for sure. Our model did not come with the roll feed system, which is sadly an option! Setup required removing some tape, unpacking a large stack of literature, and opening twelve inks and two print heads. Final assembly took about 30 minutes including charging the ink lines in the printer.

The Prograf iPF5000 weighs about 90lbs. and is 38.75" wide, 11.5" tall, and 28" deep. If you plan on using roll, leave at least two foot of space behind the printer.

Click for more setup images here

 

Update

Firmware and driver updates have cleaned up much of the visible dot pattern noticed on the initial prints. Red River continues to support the iPF5000 (and iPF5100) with top quality media and custom ICC profiles.

Make sure to visit the iPf5000 wiki site, which is full of great resources here

 

ImagePROGRAF

Navigation Menu

12 Lucia Ink Tanks
12 Inks!

iPF5000 Print Heads
Two print heads: 30,000 nozzles

Canon iPF5000

A monster: 93lbs.
38.75" wide, 11.5" tall, and 28" deep


Computer setup and drivers tour

We installed the Canon GARO driver software on a PC running XP Pro and on a Mac running OS X 10.4.3. To our shock and delight, the Mac install went smoothly with only one restart necessary for the computer to "see" the drivers for final install. PC setup was straight- forward. A total of about 10 minutes was required to get things completed on both computer platforms.

Another pleasant suprise on the Mac is that the main properties menu is like the PC - all of the main controls are on one screen instead of three different portions of the properties menu. You can do most of the work in one place in OS X before sending your print! More on the Mac properties menus in the continuing installments of this article.

The printer properties menu is easy to understand and offers ample control and options. A detailed look at the driver controls with screen shots is here.

 

Driver tour here

Printing Quality & Experience

Prints were made primarily using a PC laptop (1.5GHz Celeron with 500MB RAM) running Windows XP Pro.

Color

In one word color quality on the Prograf 5000 is outstanding on Red River inkjet papers. The 12 color system does its job by reproducing bright and deeply saturated color on our glossy, luster, matte, and cotton watercolor media. Blacks were black while hard to reproduce colors like deep blues and grass greens looked true to life.

Image PROGRAF

Contrast was a big hit among the photographer/customers who came into our store over the week. Comments were that prints were less contrasty than typical digital/inkjet photos making skin tones and shadows more realistic.

The easiest way to achieve these results was by using ICC profiles. We used the closest available Canon profile installed with the printer on various Red River Paper with good results. Color clarity, saturation, dMin, and dMax should only improve when we create custom profiles for Red River media.

Sample files used for print testing


Good color range, skin tone.

Chosen for tonal range and highlights


Canon best photo quality

Detail

When viewed at the proper distance relative to the size of the print, the iPF5000 produces high quality photo reproductions. 9 out of 10 people could probably not tell they were looking at an inkjet print.

When viewed up close, prints off our Prograf 5000 showed a visible dot structure. We were suprised that they did not have a continous tone appearance. The dot pattern was present even at the top 2400x2400 quality setting (see left) and was more pronounced when we used resin coated photo glossy and luster papers. Dots were visible to a lesser extent on matte and art media. Under a loupe, the dot structure is revealed further, with dots overlapping far less often than on a competitive printer like the Epson 4800.

At left shows the comparison between the Canon and an Epson 4800. Both prints were scanned in a 1200dpi. The files were not manipulated before being cropped and sized for this web page.

NOTE! - For the average user of the 5000, this should not be a deal breaker. Prints we showed to various photographers all garnered praise. In fact, the full 8x10 Canon print of the photo at left was usually chosen over the same print from a 4800 based on more realistic contrast and shadow detail.

 


Epson 4800 at 2880dpi


SPEED!

The speed of the Prograf iPF5000 is truly amazing. Times are for prints on Red River UltraPro Satin. The chart below speaks for itself:

Image Size Best Quality Middle Quality Lowest Quality
8x10 Photo 3 min (26.6 sq.in / min) 1 min 30 sec 1 min 12 sec
13x19 Photo 5 min 25 sec (45.7 sq.in / min) 2 min 43 sec N/A
16x20 Photo 6 min (53 sq.in / min) 3 min 45 sec N/A

As you can see, speed per square inch increased along with the size of the photo. We are not sure why but it may be a result of file changes as we upsized the image. Despite the increase in speed, print quality did not fall.


Feed Mechanism

The Prograf iPF5000 offers three paper feed paths: Front cassette, rear single sheet, and roll. Our printer did not come with the optional roll adapter. Front feed was consistent. The single sheet rear feed was less so. About 2 out of 5 feed attempts failed when using matte or cotton papers. The usual error was a paper alignment issue. A trick for the rear feed is to push the paper in until you feel resistance, then pull it back about 1/4" inch.

Stay Close to Your Prograf

The printing experience on the iPF5000 is rewarding despite some bumps caused by the nearly constant interaction required at the printer console. When printing from the rear tray, the printer required us to confirm the type and size of paper in the lower paper cassette - which was not in use. This got old fast. Unless there is some maintenance issue, we feel the on-printer controls should hardly be necessary. Printing from the front cassette does not require the same continuous attention.

The print cycle began with only 10-20 seconds of warm up. It was hard to tell why, but the printer would often give a warning "Paper Type Wrong" while printing. We assume the print head "reads" the media surface and tries to confirm the paper is similar to the media selection in the driver. While the print quality appeared just fine, the warning was disconcerting.

The word that kept coming to mind while we printed was "Nanny" . If the printer was not demanding an answer from us, it was telling us we did something wrong!

 


Front Cassette


Rear Single Sheet Feed

Push the paper in until you feel resistance, then pull it back about 1/4"


Media compatibility

Prints were made on 14 different Red River inkjet papers. We checked for color accuracy, photo quality, and how well the paper received the Lucia inks. Some highlights and notes are below:

Paper Notes
UltraPro Gloss Excellent black ink compatibility with little "3D" buildup in dark areas. Some areas of gloss differential (click for explanation) still occur, but only in the top highlights.
UltraPro Satin Again a winner with pigment inks, Red River UltraPro Satin performed very well with the Lucia system. Detail and color were similar to UltraPro Gloss, but dark buildup and gloss differential were all but eliminated.
50lb. Premium Matte 2-Sided Deep blacks and rich color thoughout. Matte papers like Premium help hide the visible dot structure better than glossy or satin papers.
Polar Matte The best dMax (blacks) of the Red River matte papers.
Dourian Art Stunning color and super rich blacks. Prints on Dourian were among our favorites. Dourian is a 100% cotton art paper custom made exclusively for Red River Paper in Germany. The Lucia inks held tight to the paper after a day of drying.
River Linen Like most pigment inks, Lucia performed well on River Linen. Dark areas still suffer a bit from lack of dMax, mostly because the inks do not flow freely into the low points of the linen surface.
GreenPix Our exclusive 100% recycled content photo inkjet paper performed very well. Its bright, slightly neutral white helped accentuate skin tones.
Aurora White & Natural Ink laydown is consistent, and color saturation is good. dMax could be improved by using a custom profile. The Lucia inks held tightly to the surface of Aurora after a day of drying. The prints could be scuffed by a fingernail, but the results were similar to any such abuse of a traditional photograph.

Bronzing

As mentioned in the media notes above, bronzing is not really an issue with this printer. Dark areas appear relatively flat compared to other parts of an image. Bronzing on satin/luster papers is almost completely nonexistent. Matte and art papers did not exhibit a "3D" look in dark areas or shiny patches like we have seen with other pigment inks.

Metamerism

Prints viewed under different lighting conditions did not exhibit distracting metamerism. Viewing prints in balanced flourescent, regular flourescent, tungsten, and daylight caused changes one would expect from changing light sources. No big swings in tonality were noticed. Only the standard flourescent lights pushed prints toward the green/yellow with less than pleasing results.

Other Notes

Like the Epson 4800, borderless prints are only available with roll media on this Canon. The smallest sheet size available is 8x10.


Black & White

Part of the 12 color package on the Prograf iPF5000 are four black ink tanks. Black, Matte Black, Gray, and Photo Gray. These are combined to produce black & white photos that are neutral, cool, warm, and everything in-between. Like the Epson UltraChrome K3 system, the Lucia system offers users a variety of monochrome driver controls so that shadow, highlight, and exact tonality of a print can be customized.

Advantage Alarm! - Because matte and photo black inks are on-board, you can seemlessly switch from glossy/luster, to matte/art papers without down time or wasted ink. Epson printers like the 4800 do not have such an advantage.

Our initial B&W test prints were done without any customization. We chose from the stock color balances only and turned color management off at the Photoshop level. Afterwards, changes were made to compensate for some issues (see below).

The Neutral setting yielded neutral tone photos even under differing light sources. Saturation and dMax were lacking at the outset, but some customization in the driver menu fixed that nicely.

The Cool and Warm tone setting were a little weak compared to UltraChrome K3 prints at similar settings. Using the color picker tool in the driver, we added more tone and lowered brightness to achieve good results.

Like the Epson B&W setup, prediciting exactly what a print will look like is not possible. The driver preview is only a reference photo. However, with a little practice and knowledge of your own files, B&W printing should become easy.

Warm
Cool
Neutral

Driver menu for monochrome selection and adjustment

Lucia Monochrome Photo


Conclusion

We are still in first impression mode with the Canon iPF5000. It is a very nice printer and offers many unique features. It seems like the Epson 4800 has a flatter learning curve though. Canon's extra layer of user interaction at the printer is a bit of a hassle that can slow you down. The printer drivers are easy to understand and offer a great deal of customization ability. Black & White prints are pleasing and also can be highly customized. Color saturation is very good and contrast is realistic and not overly "digital looking". Photographic quality is lacking a little if you are up close. We did not see what could be called continuous tone in our prints. However, virtually impossible to tell that Prograf prints are not from a traditonal photo lab when viewed at normal distance.

We think that the Canon ImagePROGRAF iPF5000 is a good professional level inkjet printer. If you are in the market for such a machine, make sure to give it a look.

Summary
Pros Cons
  • Great color saturation
  • Fast printing
  • Compatible with a wide variety of Red River inkjet papers
  • Easy to understand drivers/print properties
  • Matte and Photo black inks always installed
  • Long lasting pigment inks
  • Roll adapter optional
  • Too much interaction required with on-printer controls
  • Photo quality not continuous tone
  • Rear feed inconsistent
  • Some media locked out from front cassette feed
  • Cost of use - 12 inks at $75 each (full retail price) = $900!

 

More head to head comparisons with the Epson 4800 coming soon!

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Great Red River Papers for the iPF5000 here

 


Addendum - Items added after initial review

Included Ink Tanks

The printer shipped with "starter" tanks that are not the full 130ml. After charging and the equivalent of 75 8x10 prints, we have 60% left in each of the 12 tanks

What are the backend software features?

The backend of the Canon driver is robust. See the screenshots:

Main "status monitor" showing ink levels and media selections

Information selection screen. Some highlights:

  • Status Display - generates a .txt document with information on just about every variable on the printer. Click here to download an example .txt file (opens in a new window)
  • Print Log Display - generates a .txt document with the last 10 print jobs and critical data about each job (see screen shot below)
  • Print Media Detailed Settings - Prints a listing of all media types available

Maintenance Menu - Standard controls to cleanup and maintain your printer.

Example of the print log and ink usage stats

How Much Does the Ink Cost Per Print?

From here we can calculate average ink cost for prints at Best Quality.

At full retail price ($75 per 130ml tank), Canon Lucia ink costs $0.57 per mL. We found the ink/sq.in cost for 8x10, 13x19, and 16x20 prints. The costs were then averaged. Keep in mind that the numbers are based on usage stats from the printer itself, and we are trusting those numbers as accurate.

We found that the Canon iPF5000 costs 0.43¢ per square inch for ink for Best Quality printing.

Size Square Inches Estimated Cost for Ink Total Print Cost with UltraPro Satin
8x10 80 34.4¢ $0.66
13x19 247 $1.06 $2.08
16x20 320 $1.37 $3.03

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