Category Archives: Printer

Canon iPF6300

Large Format Printer Review

A while ago Canon contacted me asking if I’d be interested in evaluating a new printer they were about to launch. At this early stage things were pretty hush hush, but I showed my interest and as time went on, it turned out to be a new 24” roll printer, part of the large format printer range, the iPF6300. The main reason they had approached me turned out to be that this is the first large format printer they are pitching towards photographers as opposed to graphics studios or labs.

The Canon iPF 6300 Large Format Printer shown with a 24" roll of paper. Photo: Canon

With it’s 12 Lucia EX inks which are reported to last 120 years, the 24” width (meaning prints can be as long as the roll of paper will allow at 24” width) and infinite paper media handling abilities, it seems very apparent that this was indeed aimed at us and my appetite grew as I awaited its delivery.

As most photographers who look into printing in-house, I’d owned several A3 printers and was happy with my current printer, an A3+ capable Canon 9500 MkII. This “little” printer performed admirably, gaining complements from several quarters. However my appetite was for bigger prints and the timing of the iPF6300 was spot on perfect.

On setting up, a special calibration roll of paper needs to be installed in the printer. A special pattern is printed on this reference paper and the built in calibration device reads this pattern of shapes of colour to adjust and set itself up for all of the Canon papers for one’s geographical region. This means that as long as the correct ICC profile is chosen, the print will be perfect.

Although Canon’s gloss paper is very good and the Glacier paper (which is a heavyweight lustre paper) is now a favourite, my main interest was to try some third party papers, and specifically the Hahnemuhle range. Canon bundle a media configuration software for just this purpose when using papers outside of the Canon family. Once the roll of paper is installed (very straight forward – do use gloves though to keep your paper clean), the paper’s surface finish and weight are input into the software and an option to do an automated setup is offered; highly recommend you use this option. The printer then prints a test pattern, reading the pattern as it prints. This helps the printer set up the advance rate, vacuum strength and printer head height, optimising it for this paper. All this info is saved and sent to the printer for future use and is only done once for a new paper type. As long as this setup is done and a correct ICC profile is used, prints are printed to perfection.

One downfall of testing a printer which has not yet been announced is that ICC profiles are not easy to get hold of. Hahnemuhle kindly supplied their profiles before going live with them, but the papers I was testing from Innova and Olmec didn’t have profiles. X-Rite however came to the rescue lending me a ColorMunki calibration tool. I used the device and software to calibrate my screen and set about making my very first paper ICC profile which proved to be extremely easy. In no time I had profiled all the papers and dove into to the task of testing the printer with colour and black and white images, on 12 rolls of Canon, Hahnemuhle, Innova and Olmec papers I had to hand.

After printing my first A1+ sized print, once the awe of it’s size had subsided, I realised just how good this printer was. In my rush I’d just wanted to do a rough test print just to see. However this test print was stunning! The printer was showing it’s abilities straight from go, the media configurator and superb Canon Photoshop printer plugin working swiftly and efficiently. To finish, the ColorMunki had set up perfect ICC profiles.

A1+ sized print, printed on Canon's Glossy Photo Quality Paper from the Canon iPF 6300, in a park. London. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I threw image after image at the printer. Bright, highly saturated colour images, gentle, pastel coloured subtle images, contrasty and punchy black and whites and gentle and soft mono shots. Time and time again, the prints left me speechless. It didn’t matter what kind of photograph I was printing, or if the paper was matt or gloss, it performed brilliantly, time and time again. The only problems I had were one darkish and muddy print which turned out to be my fault as I hadn’t chosen the correct ICC profile in the printing plugin and an occasion where the heavyweight Innova FibaGloss 300 paper had scuff marks on one part of the print. I suspect that this is because of the curvature of the heavyweight paper and it’s gloss finish and that setting a stronger vacuum setting would hold the paper flatter. I also had issues with the Olmec Photo Satin 260 which if viewed from an angle produced a solarised look. Lastly the printer driver constantly crashed Aperture 3, but this I’m sure will be fixed by Canon in time as their other printers work perfectly with Aperture.

In the printer’s plugin (as in the print driver), there is an option to set the print quality to standard, high or highest. My initial reaction at seeing the option was to use highest for all my work but decided to explore further. Having made prints from the same image on all settings, initially I couldn’t see any difference; they all looked good. On further and close scrutiny, I began to see some very subtle differences. The image was from a model shoot on a 50 megapixel Hasselblad H3DII. On inspecting the pupil, the highest setting had rendered some of the subtle changes in tone and fine detail better; but only marginally when compared to the standard setting and the high setting produced an almost similar result. This is great news as it means that printing on lower setting produces much quicker prints and also saves on ink. On the subject of saving, apart from the initial outlay, running costs are cheaper when compared to smaller printers.

Upon ejecting the paper, the printer can be set to print an identifier barcode which contains information of the paper type and also length of roll remaining, which I found extremely useful and an idea that is to be commended; with good quality papers demanding a premium, the last thing I would want is to mix up papers which would lead to wastage.

I also must comment on the printer’s quietness in use. My office is generally pretty compact.  Considering the size of prints it’s capable of, the unit’s relatively compact and quite when printing. The fact that it’s also such a speedy machine means that the printing’s done quickly and total silence returns with haste; a must in a creative environment.

As the days went on, I began to start to admire some of the papers more than the others. I need to add though that all the papers, once setup, worked admirably well. My favourites ended up being the Canon Glacier and the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308 and quite possibly my absolute favourite, the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta. Every highlight detail, every shadow subtlety was printed with absolute precision.

Having been a photographer for over 20 years, I’m from the school of hand printing, for which I have a couple of Kodak Press Awards. Having spent over a month or so with the Canon iPF6300, it’s the first time that I can confidently say that I can match anything I could do in the darkroom. For me, a higher accolade for a printer would be hard to come by.

To Be Unique

Unique. Not run of the mill. That’s what’s we strive for in our work. The constant battle to produce original and creative work. In this digital age though, it’s often too easy to have this work copied and for it’s value to be lost.

Although an award winning hand printer (I have two awards from Kodak), I have completely embraced digital printing with Canon’s excellent iPF6300 large format printer. When combined with paper from Hahnemuhle and Ilford, the results are simply stunning. The downside is that due to the nature of it, it is hard to distinguish original and authorised prints from anyone unscrupulous enough to have stolen the image and run off their own prints.

As well as signing the work, I decided to look into embossing and following a chat with a good friend, decided have my own one made by the folks at City Co Seals. I now emboss my collector’s prints and also use a custom made stamp to authorise and help the collector prove that they have an original.

Give them a call and ask to speak to Grant; they are extremely helpful and very efficient. Do pass on my hellos if you call!

Canon’s European Launch of the iPF6300

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been asked by Canon to evaluate their new large format printer aimed at photographers; the iPF6300 which had its European launch yesterday in Lisbon. I’ve been testing it for a few weeks now with various papers and still have a long road ahead my tests on lots of papers from Ilford, Hahnemuhle, Olmec and so on. I’ll share these when I’m finished with my tests.

I’m sharing my presentation text below as it’s a great way to let you know my thoughts on this printer:

Canon Launch New Large Format Printers, Lisbon, Portugal

“Being from the school of hand printing to exhibition standard, for many years since the switch over to digital I’ve been making compromises when it came to prints made from my digital images. Having used desktop printers from Canon and Epson and also having had a variety of labs print my work, I’d never been fully happy with the quality of the prints.

I was then introduced to the Canon iPF6300.

Edmond Terakopian giving his presentation. Canon launch of iPF 6300 (and other models) large format printer, Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, Portugal. March 11, 2010. Photo: Graham Smith

As soon as I printed the very first image from the iPF6300, I knew it was something special. With it’s 12 inks I was expecting something amazing, but the quality achieved was just stunning and left me speechless – and this, was only after a test print!

The printer is of such a high standard that to the naked eye printing on the standard setting and the highest setting produce no difference to the quality of the print; what it does do is produce such a speedy output, utilising so little ink, that it has to be seen to be believed. However when ultra critical detail and subtleties have to be resolved, the higher print settings produce this at very close inspection. I was looking at the pupil and eye lashes from a studio model shoot and at the highest setting, every single eye lash is visible; every single line in the pupil, every colour change is rendered perfectly, no matter how subtle.

Pictures by Edmond Terakopian are exhibited at the event. Canon launch of iPF 6300 (and other models) large format printer, Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, Portugal. March 11, 2010. Photo: Graham Smith

Having tried a particularly testing landscape shot taken in the Lake District brought another smile. Every cloud, from the darkest to the lightest was rendered beautifully; every highlight and shadow detail, no matter how subtle was printed without any loss to this detail. It’s performance like this that elevates prints into becoming something special; something collectible. As a result, this printer is something special.

I then moved away from the Canon papers and started printing on the very popular Hahnemuhle Photo Rag which is a coated matt paper. Matt papers are very unforgiving to images with lots of dark shadow detail, so the first image I printed had exactly that – lots of dark shadows. I was astonished at how much of the subtle black detail was printed from a photo of a cafe scene. Throwing more and more images to this excellent but unforgiving paper kept producing great print after great print.

Images by Edmond Terakopian exhibited at the Canon launch of iPF 6300 (and other models) large format printer, Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, Portugal. March 11, 2010. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I was also very pleased with the print driver and the Photoshop plugin. After around an hour I had come to grips with all that was possible using them. After getting the photograph and processing it correctly, it’s extremely critical to get the settings right in the driver and the way it has been designed makes life easy which is such a bonus. The ability to free print and send print jobs to a separate application to maximise paper usage is a fantastic feature, especially in this day and age of recession and awareness of conservation issues.

I also found the barcoding option on paper rolls extremely useful and an idea that is to be commended; with good quality paper demanding a premium, the last thing I would want is to mix up papers which would lead to wastage.

I also must comment on the printer’s quietness in use. My office is generally pretty quite and quite compact. Considering the size of prints capable, the unit’s relatively compact and amazingly quite when printing. The fact that it’s also such a speedy machine means that the printing’s done quickly and total silence returns very quickly; a must in a creative environment.

Having spent a couple of weeks with the iPF 6300, printing on various papers, both Canon and third party, I would have no hesitation in using it for my future exhibitions and collector’s prints”.

You can check out the iPF6300 HERE.