The power of print: Clive Booth on why you should make prints, and the best photo printers for pro photographers

Acclaimed print specialist Clive Booth reveals his choice of Canon PIXMA PRO and Canon imagePROGRAF printers for photographers who want to produce their own gallery-quality prints.
A professional home photography studio containing a laptop, a large screen showing a photograph of a woman in a blue veil, a Canon camera and several Canon printers.

Canon Ambassador and portrait, fashion and beauty photographer Clive Booth, whose home studio is pictured here, believes that creating prints is the best way to share your photographs. "You can guarantee they'll be seen how you want them to be seen, rather than sharing digital files that are bound to look different on various monitors and other devices," he says.

Canon Ambassador Clive Booth had a long and illustrious career in graphic design before becoming a professional photographer, and has subsequently built a portfolio that stretches from high fashion and portraiture to moody monochrome landscapes. On both counts, he's absolutely passionate about printing his work, for which he uses Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300, PRO-1000 and PRO-2100 printers in his own home. Indeed, he's recently constructed a live-streaming studio for running online print workshops, to share his enthusiasm and pass on his knowledge.

We spoke to Clive about why Canon's current range of professional photo printers are so essential to his work, what the different models have to offer, and which are the best photo printers for photographers. We also asked Canon Europe print specialist Suhaib Hussain and Canon Europe's Product Manager DS LFP Management & Sales, Andriani Lada, to share their technical insights.

Hear more about Clive Booth's live-streaming studio in this episode of Canon's Shutter Stories podcast:

The first question Clive raises is why any professional photographer should buy and run their own photo printer. "First and foremost, it's about control," says Clive. "For very little investment, you can create a colour-managed workflow at home or in your studio. You can then monetise your work, selling prints with complete confidence."

So, what should a professional photographer look for in a photo printer? "Top of the list would be colour fidelity and integrity to the original image," says Suhaib. "Photographers put a huge effort into capturing images and painstakingly processing them, and they want that to be represented in print. Cost is another a major concern, so our aim is to make the printing process simple, quick and cost-effective. Photographers need to feel confident that they can get the results they want without adding complications to their workflow or wasting ink and paper."

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The hardware and software in Canon's latest PIXMA PRO and imagePROGRAF photo printers make it quick and easy to get the best possible results. Let's take a closer look at Clive's choices for best photo printers for home and professional use.

A Canon PIXMA PRO-200 prints out a photograph of a forest. On the wall above it are four colourful prints of various sizes in black frames.

"The eight-ink system on the Canon PIXMA PRO-200 is unbeatable for delivering vibrant colour photo prints on glossy paper with real pop," says Canon Europe print expert Suhaib Hussain. "Archival longevity of the ChromaLife 100+ ink set is also very good for dye-based inks, at over 100 years."

A photograph of a female dancer wrapped in transparent blue material open in Canon Professional Print & Layout software.

Canon Professional Print & Layout (PPL) software enables you to fine-tune the printing process and has soft-proofing and hard-proofing options, so you can print with confidence and get the results you want first time around. PPL also gives you the option of generating pattern prints when hardproofing, so you can compare subtle variations and choose the look you like best for the final print.

1. Best entry-level professional photo printer: Canon PIXMA PRO-200

Unlike the other printers here, the Canon PIXMA PRO-200 uses dye-based rather than pigment-based inks. Colour accuracy and print longevity are excellent thanks to the 8-ink ChromaLife 100+ ink system. "As an A3+ printer, it can output 13x17-inch prints, as well as longer prints up to just under a metre in length, but it's nice and compact so it's easy to fit in any home or studio," says Suhaib. "As a dye-based printer, it's very fast and can output A3+ borderless photo prints in under three minutes, which are touch-dry as they leave the printer."

The Canon PIXMA PRO-200.

Canon PIXMA PRO-200

Focused on vibrant colour photo printing, versatility and usability, PIXMA PRO-200 uses eight dye-based inks and is the ideal choice for photo enthusiasts and aspiring photographers.

Although inexpensive for an A3+/13-inch printer, the PIXMA PRO-200 shares many features with the more upmarket Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300. "The new paper transport system has auto skew correction and retracting paper guides," explains Suhaib. "This avoids wastage of ink or paper due to paper misalignment. The greater accuracy also enables borderless edge-to-edge printing for matte and fine art media, instead of just on glossy paper."

To build confidence and streamline the workflow, pro-level software is consistent across the range. "The whole range of printers is very robust and has the same simple interface," explains Clive. "Canon Professional Print & Layout (PPL) software is like the glue that sticks everything together, which I absolutely love. When you buy a Canon photo printer, you're supported by software that works with your workflow and really simplifies the process."

A Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 photo printer on a desk in a predominately black and white photography studio. Next to it are a laptop and some colourful photo prints.

Like the Canon PIXMA PRO-200, the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 is relatively compact and lightweight, so it's easy to find a place for the printer in a busy studio.

A Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 prints out a striking black-and-white image of a boat.

"The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 is nice and compact and, if you don't need to go bigger than A3+ (13x17 inch), it can deliver fine art prints that are virtually indistinguishable from those created on the bigger imagePROGRAF printers, even though it uses 10 inks rather than 12," says Clive Booth. "I don't know how Canon has managed to do that!"

2. Best A3+/13-inch photo printer: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300

"When you're making prints to sell, you've got to know that they're going to last," says Clive. "The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 uses 10 pigment-based LUCIA PRO inks that can create prints with an archival life of over 200 years. I can't think of any form of digital storage where you can guarantee it'll still be around that far into the future.

"The ink in the PRO-300 has been reformulated to give even deeper, richer blacks," he adds. "It's stunning for monochrome photo prints. I made some landscape prints and was just amazed at the subtlety of the detail in the shadows and highlights, and the overall sharpness. It was like looking through a window to the moment I took the picture. That's how good the print was."

The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300

A desktop imagePROGRAF professional printer delivering A3+ gallery quality prints from 10 pigment-based inks with an easy workflow for confident printing.

Suhaib points out that the pigment-based LUCIA PRO ink set is formulated for creating gallery-quality photo prints. "Compared with dye-based inks, this is what we recommend if you're selling prints, creating prints to hang in galleries or for exhibitions, and for archival purposes. With the addition of matte black as well as photo black and grey inks, monochrome photo printing is absolutely fantastic on all kinds of photo paper and fine art media. And the Chroma Optimizer used in all imagePROGRAF printers really helps to minimise bronzing."

A Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 on a glass table prints out an A3 image of a boat. Next to it are a Canon camera and several high-quality prints in a range of sizes.

Earning its red stripe, the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 tabletop printer uses 12 pigment-based LUCIA PRO inks, just like the larger roll-feed printers in this line-up. Like all current imagePROGRAF PRO printers, the PROGRAF PRO-1000 also includes a Chroma Optimizer, which greatly reduces bronzing and gloss differential when printing on glossy photo papers.

A high-quality colour print of a Royal National Lifeboat Institution rescue boat at sea.

Automatic scanning of the print head on the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 detects if a nozzle becomes blocked and, if so, activates backup nozzles to avoid any irregularities spoiling the print. "It's another feature that enhances reliability and avoids wasted ink and paper," says Suhaib.

3. Best overall photo printer: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000

Although Clive owns Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300, PRO-1000 and PRO-2100 printers, the PRO-1000 is his go-to workhorse. "For anything up to and including A2 or 17x22-inch printing, I've been using the PRO-1000 ever since its launch. For any pro photographer who's thinking of getting into printing, it's an ideal solution. The 12-ink LUCIA PRO system gives incredible range but this is still a compact printer compared with one of the bigger, roll-fed imagePROGRAF models. Even so, it can take sheets of paper up to 1.2m in length. It doesn't have a roll-feed adapter but, where possible, I prefer using flat sheets of cut paper anyway."

The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000.

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000

Print with confidence and in stunning detail with the A2 format imagePROGRAF PRO-1000. It has an advanced 12-ink system for a wider colour gamut and a seamless print workflow from input to output.

Reliability is a key requirement for any professional kit, and Clive confirms that none of his Canon printers has ever let him down. "These are immensely complex machines that work to the tightest tolerances, and I've been amazed at how Canon manages to build such reliability into them," he says.

"The PRO-1000 has a vacuum-based paper transport system that keeps the media absolutely flat as it passes through the printer," adds Suhaib. "For ink reliability, every current imagePROGRAF printer features an automatic nozzle recovery mechanism. The molecules of pigment-based inks are larger than those of dye-based inks, so nozzles are more at risk of clogging. However, the thermal inkjet design of Canon's FINE technology in the print heads enables an extremely high density of nozzles."

A roll-fed Canon PROGRAF printer prints an image of a woman wearing a fiery red veil.

The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100 uses the same 12-ink LUCIA PRO pigment-based ink set as the imagePROGRAF PRO-4100 and imagePROGRAF PRO-6100, including a Chroma Optimizer cartridge. "They're all consistent in their interface and the software they use," says Canon Europe's Andriani Lada. "The only real difference is that the roll feeders of the PRO-2100, PRO-4100 and PRO-6100 can accept up to 24-inch, 44-inch and 60-inch paper widths respectively."

A box of Hahnemühle FineArt Inkjet Paper photographed at an angle.

When it comes to printing and exhibiting his work, Clive is a big fan of fine art media from specialist paper manufacturer Hahnemühle. "The look and feel are just spectacular," he says.

4. Best roll-fed photo printer: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100

"When you get everything right from input to output, the digital darkroom can be one of the most rewarding aspects of photography," says Clive. "The Canon EOS R5 has amazing RF lenses, a big megapixel count, a wide colour gamut and great low-light capabilities, and can generate huge TIFF files that I can print really big. Coming out of a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100, the printed pictures look incredible."

The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100.

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100

This 24-inch roll-fed printer uses Canon's LUCIA PRO pigment inks to produce exceptional colour vibrancy and deep blacks, for striking photographic and fine art printing.

Canon Europe Product Manager Andriani Lada believes photographers are increasingly expanding their skills to include digital editing and high-level printing. "More and more photographers are installing large format printers such as the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100, the imagePROGRAF PRO-4100 and the imagePROGRAF PRO-6100 in their studios and offices. Historically, we mostly sold these printers into photo labs but, as photographers have included digital editing and printing into their workflows, there's been increased demand for large format printers."

"It can be really useful to print large format photo prints when and where you want them, rather than having to send images to a lab," adds Clive. "The auto paper cutter is a useful time-saver and, as with the smaller desktop printers, Canon's PPL software is brilliant for printing pictures at custom sizes, as well as for making adjustments to how the print will look. Soft proofing for both colour and monochrome printing can be a big time and money saver when creating large format prints, while hard proofing options enable you to output small, subtly-differefnt versions of an image to choose which you like best."

Like the smaller printers, the imagePROGRAF PRO-2100 includes direct support for Canson, Hahnemühle and other paper brands, so you can make the most of fine art media, with quick and easy application of ICC printer profiles. "We work closely with paper companies to make sure that ICC profiles are available," Andriani adds, "and, thanks to the precision of our paper transport systems and auto cutter, borderless edge-to-edge printing is available throughout the whole range, right up to the imagePROGRAF PRO-6100 60-inch Large Format Printer."

Canon imagePROGRAF printers from the PRO-1000 up also come with Accounting Manager software. "It compiles printer job logs and calculates the printing costs for each print job or for a certain period of time, enabling efficient cost management," explains Andriani. "The interface shows the current levels of ink, and the printers also feature hot-swappable ink tanks so if you run out of ink while you're creating a print, you can replace the cartridge on the fly, rather than having to start again."

Autor: Matthew Richards

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