We seldom review printers that have already been on the market for well over three years, primarily because—well, most printers don’tstay on the market that long. By then, most have long since been discontinued, renamed, or replaced. Four years is an eternity in the evolution of printer technology. Here in 2015, we can look back on 2011 and see a very different landscape. For example, HP PageWide technology was still a gleam in an engineer’s eye; cheap wide-format printers were nowhere to be found; and the idea of a “high-volume” business inkjet was a borderline oxymoron.
Even so, now and then, we run across the rare machine that does what it does so well that it seems impervious to advances in convenience, connectivity features, and printhead technology. One of these is the subject of our review today: Canon’s $1,000-MSRP Pixma Pro-1 Professional Photo Inkjet Printer.
A little while back, we reviewed the company’s $500-MSRP Pixma Pro-100, a fine printer for photo pros. This one, though, is a notch or three up the food chain, both in print quality and features. What makes this printer doubly impressive is that it has held up well enough over time to maintain its premium price. When we wrote this in late April 2015, we were unable to find it anywhere online for less than $999.99, a whopping penny less than its list price. That’s especially surprising in a business that uses the discount-off-MSRP as the favorite implement in its marketing toolbox. In fact, as we wrote this in late-April 2015, some outlets sold the Pro-1 for $100 to 200 overlist price—a phenomenon that suggests excellent quality and value (or a unique product, which is not the case here), or a dedicated following.
Why has the Pixma Pro-1 been such a hit? Put simply, its superb print quality has made it a favorite among photographers (professional ones, and would-be professionals), artists, and dedicated hobbyists alike. It’s capable of printing impeccably detailed, vibrant, and accurately colored images and artwork. And it can handle any reasonable paper size, with stock ranging from 4×6-inch snapshots up to 13×19-inch “supertabloid” (otherwise known as A3+) photos, flyers, and posters.
In other words, it serves its target market exceptionally well for the price. That said, were this a standard business-centric or consumer-grade machine, aside from its ability to churn out superb oversize photos and artwork, nearly everything about it would be wrong.
It’s not price-competitive, it’s heavy, and it’s huge. It uses 12—that’s not a typo, 12—relatively costly ink tanks. And, to get the best results, you’ll want to feed it pricey, premium-grade photo and display-art paper—especially when you get into the larger tabloid (11×17-inch) and supertabloid sizes.
Yes, the Pixma Pro-1 can use standard copy paper, and yes, itcan turn out excellent-looking business documents, but that’s like feeding your Lamborghini Aventador a steady diet of ethanol and making it your train-station car. It completely misses the point of this type of printer. You buy it because you want it specifically to do what it does best.
Still, as mentioned, it’s not your only choice for this kind of printing. Canon’s Pixma Pro line of professional photo printers, which includes the Pixma Pro-1, the $699.99-MSRP and the $499.99 MSRP Pro-100, is an A-list family in this market, but it’s not the only one. Epson’s popular Stylus and more-recent SureColor professional photo printers are comparably priced and, as discussed in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, provide in some cases much more versatile paper handling. Many of Epson’s and HP’s professional photo printers, for instance, have the ability to print on rolls of high-quality photo paper. In the case of Epson’s SureColor P600 Wide Format Inkjet Printer we reviewed a few weeks back, you can print borderless banners nearly 11 feet long. (Whether you have a use for that is another matter!) There are things the Pixma Pro-1, as versatile as it is, cannot do.
Usually, we evaluate printers from the point of view of speed, cost of use, and productivity/convenience features, with print quality being just one of many important factors. While price and cost of use are not irrelevant, they don’t matter as much here as do print-quality and paper-handling prowess. Compared to some other professional photo printers, this one lacks some important paper-handling features, but as you’ll see in our discussion on the last page of this review, the Pixma Pro-1 has some unique options of its own.
Obviously, the Pixma Pro-1 isn’t for everybody. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a printer sold to consumers whose appeal might be more niche-ified than this one. Whether it’s right for you depends flat-out on the nature of your photography or artwork: How serious are you about it, and how big do you need it? And, just as important, can you afford to feed the Pixma Pro-1 what it needs?
If it’s a fit, however, you can rest assured that few, if any, wide-format professional photo printers turn out better-looking prints than this one does. Be prepared to be dazzled.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper