My initial test printing sessions with the Canon iPF5000 utilized the standard
8-bit operating system driver. And although the results were quite good, they
were not distinguished particularly from what I would expect from any other
high-end inkjet printer. With this basic foundation of experience, it was time
to find out what the Canon 16-bit Photoshop
plug-in print driver would produce. This print driver is available once an image
is open in Photoshop's work space by clicking on a File/Export selection
for the plug-in. This pops up a dialog very similar to the Print Preview window
that Adobe provides in Photoshop. It has a thumbnail preview image of the print
that is interactive with the settings made in the "preview" dialog,
confirming, for instance, whether the printer is set to print a landscape or
a portrait image orientation. The plug-in preview dialog also includes a "soft
proof" function to give the user a perceptual preview of how the selected
printer profile will make the image appear as a print. This soft proof feature
is of limited value, however, because the thumbnail image size is too small
to obtain an accurate visualization of how the print will appear. Otherwise,
the layout and option choices of the plug-in window dialog are logical and using
them is an essentially intuitive process.
Until recently, blue sky tones reproduced weakly in inkjet prints
in part because to create blue with a CMYK palette requires a mix
of inks. But with the 12 colors of ink used by the iPF5000 less
ink mixing is required to produce primary and secondary color depth
The first few prints made with the Canon iPF5000 16-bit Photoshop plug-in
driver produced print images with a definite maximum density advantage and more
saturated colors compared to the standard 8-bit driver. However, even though
subtle, the color matching with the on-screen image appeared to be less true
and accurate. This led me to think that to obtain optimum profile matching the
calibration and profile should be made from targets printed using the 16-bit
Photoshop plug-in driver. So I went about re-profiling all of the papers using
the 16-bit driver. With these new profiles installed I began an extended and
more exhaustive print test.
Evaluation & Recommendations
Of course the primary criteria of a printer's worth is print quality.
After my initial trials showed me that the 16-bit Photoshop plug-in is the way
to run the printer, given you profile for 16 bit, I found I was printing image
files out of pure enthusiasm because of the great results I was obtaining. Of
course, like any printer, results varied relative to the paper. And, of course,
the better grade fine art papers produced the best results, like Ink Press Paper's
Picture Rag (warm), PremierArt's Platinum, Crane's Silver Rag, and
Hahnemühle's Pearl. However, I was surprised that some modest cost
matte photo papers, like Moab's Kayenta, also benefited from the advantages
of 12-color 16-bit printing. The luster-finish fiber-based papers recently introduced,
like Crane's Silver Rag and Hahnemühle's Pearl, printed with
exceptionally deep blacks and intense colors. There is a minor price exacted,
however, for these exceptionally brilliant prints. This price was a difference
in surface sheen between lightly and heavily inked image areas, a performance
artifact that is more evident in prints of images with strongly contrasting
areas of sharply defined light and shadow, and barely evident in prints of subjects
reproduced with more evenly distributed tones.
The Canon iPF5000 with its 12 ink colors, including four blacks,
supports direct black and white printing with image tone color control
using the monochrome option in the print driver.
Part of my enthusiastic printing splurge was encouraged by speed of printing.
The iPF5000 takes only a few minutes to output even a 16x20" image on
17x22" paper, and it spits out 13x19" prints almost as fast as I
would expect to print letter-sized images with most other printers I have used.
After using up just about every decent remnant of paper supply I had, at least
$300-$400 worth I'm sure, I checked the ink levels in the printer and
found all of the colors were still 1/4-1/3 full in the original cartridges,
which as installed only held 2¼3 of a full standard ink load. It seems
the Canon iPF5000 inks are quite concentrated and the printer applies them efficiently.
That actually makes the initial price of the printer a greater value, as it
supports making a lot of fine prints before a replacement of the ink supply
will be needed.
The one thing that is not economical about this printer--the amount of
space that it requires. Although in reality it is a desktop printer it uses
up most of the space of a typical desktop, with just enough room at one end
to place a stack of finished prints. And it weighs close to 100 lbs. Once up
and running the only thing I could complain about is the fact the printer is
partly controlled by a set of buttons and LCD display on the printer, and partly
through the software driver on the computer that's running it. For many
I am sure this is not even worth grumbling about, but sadly I am one of those
people who never got the hang of programming a VCR, so it is a sore point that's
really my fault, not the printer's. But I would like it better if it were
entirely controlled through its computer software drivers.
Having the support to make entirely satisfactory black and white
prints with a color inkjet printer has been a common frustration
with many inkjet printers. I found the Monochrome (photo) black
and white capability provided by the Canon iPF5000 standard 8-bit
operating system driver both easy to use and an effective way to
make black and white prints with predictable control of the image
I like to make prints because it is the confirmation and culmination of the
effort I have invested in computer time correcting, adjusting, retouching, and
refining the images I shoot or scan. And although my preferred print size is
13x19", I plan to keep this bigger printer because it makes prints that
are totally satisfying, whether color or black and white. I can also get the
results I want from a wide choice of paper styles. And although the initial
cost of a wide format printer is greater ($1995 list, but less for "street"
price and rebates), it is not so much so when you consider it is delivered with
an ink supply that will output a very generous number of big prints, something
that cannot be said for 13" wide printers with their rather small ink
The determining bottom line is whether a printer provides a more effective and
satisfying reproduction of images. The Canon iPF5000 produces prints of consistently
superior quality. Canon has definitely extended the photo printing potential
and possibilities with their technology. I find these advantages irresistible,
and fortunately, reasonably affordable.
For more information, contact Canon U.S.A., Inc., One Canon Plaza, Lake Success,
NY 11042; (800) 652-2666, (516) 328-5000; www.canonusa.com.
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