Tag Archives: printer

Keeping Your Printer Up & Running

Tips For The Large Format Printer User

Allow me to paint you a picture; I had allocated a day in my diary to make some prints on my superb Canon iPF6300 (although this post will be of relevance to any large format printer user). I had a few print orders and also needed to make six A1 sized prints to enter into the Taylor Wessing Portrait Award.

A montage on the Canon iPF6300 large format printer. Replacing inks and nozzle check calibration print after installing new print heads. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

A montage on the Canon iPF6300 large format printer. Replacing inks and nozzle check calibration print after installing new print heads. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

On the day set aside for making the prints, I switched on the printer and started collating the images on my Mac, ready to print. Well, after having not made a print for a few months, the machine sprang into action, going through it’s warming up procedures, agitating inks, moving print heads and so on. Alas I was at the end of this robotic dance, I was greeted with the error code informing the print heads need to be replaced. Now this is a costly process, but even more annoying is the fact that I don’t keep spares. I have lots of paper and ink at all times, just not spare print heads and often as also needed, the maintenance cartridge. Panic and annoyance set in as there was a deadline looming and I had other projects on the go.

Off to Google to search for the cheapest place I can source print heads and as crucially, a place that can deliver them the next day. My search concluded with a company I hadn’t used before; they were great on price, had stock and crucially promised next day delivery. The company was the iPF Store.

I decided to make a call to double check the stock and delivery situation and was put through to an extremely helpful and knowledgeable chap called Andy. The two print heads and maintenance cartridge I needed were indeed in stock and would definitely be delivered the next day. A sigh of relief! I carried on chatting about the print head issue as it felt to me that they had seized up prematurely. Andy informed me that indeed it is a problem for the low volume print maker. These printers are designed to work at the print houses and studios were they are in use daily. In my case, the inactivity had been the issue and caused the print heads to have a shorter life span. Being outside of the Canon one year warranty on them, they had to be changed.

My chat with Andy resulted in a list of other tips, so what better than to share them?!

Andy From The iPF Store, Top Five Tips

1)    Always leave the printer turned on – It monitors the heads, does a very low level clean when needed to keep the nozzles wet to stop them drying out. Dry and blocked nozzles require additional power cleanses (uses more ink). In more extreme cases when the block cannot be cleaned, the heads fail completely so new ones are required.

2)    Achieve the highest possible graduations by working in 16bit RGB and print using the Adobe Photoshop Plugin.

3)    Have a colour calibrated workflow, calibrating your screen and make custom print profiles for papers that don’t have them for your printer. Keeps your printer in constant colour control.

4)    Use the Canon Media Config Tool to add your own custom medias to the standard Canon library, and ensure the best print quality.

5)    Allow a minimum of one hour for the ink to dry down before applying any finishing such as varnish or laminate.

I agree fully with the points raised, although I didn’t know of the first point, which is what landed me in this predicament!

An A1 size print of chef Gordon Ramsay, printed on the Canon iPF6300 on Canon photo satin paper. The image was shot using this Leica M (Type 240) and 50mm Noctilux ASPH. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

An A1 size print of chef Gordon Ramsay, printed on the Canon iPF6300 on Canon photo satin paper. The image was shot using this Leica M (Type 240) and 50mm Noctilux ASPH. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Well, my print heads and maintenance cartridge arrived before lunchtime the next day and I managed to make all my prints (which have found new homes in London, Paris and New York) and also made the six prints for the competition. Thanks Andy 🙂

The links:

iPF Store: http://www.ipfstore.co.uk

Their parent company; Pro Print Solutions: http://www.proprintsolutions.co.uk

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.