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Replacing the PIXMA Pro, which we reviewed in September , like its predecessor the Mark II is targeted at high-end photo enthusiasts and professional photographers and is a good choice for those who shoot raw files.
Surprisingly, the new model is almost identical to the original Pro, with the black and dark grey case plus the same x mm footprint and control layout. Two status lamps, covering power and alarm, sit left of the top two buttons. Source: Canon. Power and USB 2. The paper in and out trays increase its depth to about 80 cm when fully extended.
The top-loading feeder has flip-up support for large sheets of paper and an adjustable guide that ensures the paper loads correctly for printing. Heavyweight paper up to 1. The printer carries the paper back through a rear slot and requires at least 40 cm behind the printer for it to pass through.
Another feature carried over is the Lucia pigment-based inks, which were introduced with the previous model and claim lightfastness ratings in excess of years for colour and years for black and white prints. The inks come in individual 14 ml cartridges in the following colours: photo black, matte black, grey, cyan, magenta, yellow, photo cyan, photo magenta, red and green. This ensures a wide colour gamut for top-quality colour prints, as well as three levels of black for true black-and-white photographs.
The driver interface is almost identical to the previous model and straightforward to use. You can save particular combinations of settings for repeated use, adjust colours before printing and apply a variety of special effects. You can also set the driver to provide a print preview before printing.
The Natural M setting supports brightness and contrast adjustments and includes face brightener, face sharpener, face smoothing and red-eye correction functions that operate selectively. Colour balance adjustment is made easy by a ring-around display — although your monitor must be properly calibrated if you wish to avoid making test prints to check settings.
Users can also create their own profiles for use with the new printer. While the basics of the Easy-PhotoPrint applications remain essentially unchanged, Easy-PhotoPrint EX adds templates for creating albums, calendars and stickers to its regular printing controls. The ink status monitor. The screen grabs below provide examples of the user interface. The Pattern Print setting lets you print a colour ring-around for checking colour balance.
We can find few reasons for anybody who likes to print directly through their image editor and have it handle colour management to use the bundled applications because they continue to have many restrictions that will frustrate experienced — and demanding — photographers. Users can set various levels from daylight at K to a warm white fluorescent lamp at K. Options provided for Ambient Light Correction. Unfortunately, this feature has significant limitations.
It will also only suit prints that will be viewed in a single, very specific type of lighting. If you plan to print your photos for display in albums or on the walls of your home, making prints that look good in, say, halogen lighting, will mean you could end up with pretty ordinary-looking images in daylight or under domestic fluoros. Few serious photographers consider printing images directly from a camera without first checking them in an image editor.
However, the Pro Mark II comes with PictBridge direct printing support and includes a facility that enables selected image metadata to be printed on index sheets. This could prove handy for photographers working on location, although they would need to be able to transport the printer and have access to mains power to capitalise on it. One handy direct-printing feature is the ability to print brief image metadata on index sheets by selecting the Print Advanced Info checkbox in the Printer Settings menu.
A special tray is provided for this purpose. Set-up and Operation Little has changed in the system for setting up the new model. You begin by installing the print head and ink cartridges and loading some plain paper in the auto sheet feed tray. The driver software is installed next from the supplied CDs, which should include Windows and Mac disks.
You will be instructed to print two sheets of nozzle and head alignment tests before you can proceed. This takes about 10 minutes. Once the printer is set up and connected to your computer, subsequent operation is mostly straightforward.
The printer keeps you posted on output progress and provides pop-up reminders of ink status when tanks are running low. Swapping cartridges is quick and easy. Raising the top cover moves the print head into position so you can access the cartridges. The depleted cartridge is indicated by a flashing light. You simply unpack the new cartridge from its box and plastic bag, unclip the orange protective cap, remove the depleted cartridge and slot the new one into place. The whole process takes about a minute, after which you close the top cover again, restoring the print head to its operating position.
The power lamp on the control panel flashes will this takes place. For users who opt to print through the bundled software, using different papers and attempting any form of test printing can be a frustrating exercise.
The default driver setting is for Photo Paper Plus Semi-gloss paper, which delivered good results for the images we printed through this software. Unfortunately, when you wish to print on other papers you must change the setting each time you make a new print. Neither of the Easy-Photo Print applications will let you set up the driver to print on fine art paper without imposing a margin of at least 35mm along the narrow edges and 3.
On the whole, we found it preferable to print through an image editor and allow it to control colour management. You can also set your own margin widths and print test strips in a normal fashion. These profiles produced excellent results with all the papers we tried.
In addition, although Canon states that heavier papers must be loaded through the front sheet feeder, we found it as fiddly to use as the earlier model. As on the previous model, no facilities are provided for using roll papers.
Power consumption is relatively low — and even more conservative than the model. In standby mode, the Pro Mark II draws only 1. When printing it uses 14 Watts, which is 6 Watts less than its predecessor. Acoustic noise is the same as the original, at 36 dB A in best quality mode.
The photo magenta, photo cyan and green ink cartridges were showing low levels when we started our tests, but, interestingly, the first cartridge to be depleted was the grey cartridge, which was initially shown to be half full. It ran out after we had made 14 A3 and 10 A4 prints, with the quality set on High and we had to obtain an additional cartridge before our back-up supply of replacement inks ran out.
This printer really chews through the grey ink! By this time, the ink levels on the photo black, yellow, cyan, red and green were roughly half way down the bar graph.
Paper costs vary widely. Print Quality Canon claims the Mark II model provides significantly faster production times, offering a 1. The printer we reviewed confirmed this assessment, as shown in the table below, which compares the average output speeds we obtained for both models in our tests.
Spooling times for the new model ranged from almost a minute for A3 prints to around 30 seconds for A4. In line with normal practice, we tried the review unit out on a variety of Canon and non-Canon papers. Not surprisingly, we found print quality was much more dependent on matching the image to the appropriate paper than a factor determined by the printer itself. Even selecting the Fine Art Photo Rag profile elicited an error message about incorrect size selection so we ended up having to use the Matte Paper profile, which produced a nice result.
Although pigment ink printers are renowned for producing better prints on matte papers than glossy media, we found most images printed very nicely on the gsm Semi Gloss Photo Paper and gsm Photo Paper Pro Platinum papers supplied. Unlike the previous model, we observed little or no gloss differential variations in surface reflectivity , under directional lighting and no sign of bronzing on prints made on the glossy and semi-gloss papers.
We also obtained some nice-looking prints with good colours and excellent detail in the images we printed on Longbottom Digital gsm Double-sided Matte paper which is great for printing calendars and photo book pages.
For images with a broad dynamic range, printing on matte fine art papers like Fine Art Premium Matte and Photo Rag frequently produced flat-looking prints.
However, these papers produced beautiful tonal nuances with images with subtle tones, particularly in monochrome prints. No colour casts were observed in any of the monochrome prints we made and we found no evidence of metamerism colour changes under different lighting conditions.
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