Canon Pixma Pro100 Printer: In-depth review for photographers

I've been testing the Canon Pixma Pro 100 printer over the last week and after putting it through its paces with LOTS of prints, I'm anxious to give you my review of this very powerful printer at an attractive price point.

In short, although the cost of ink for the Canon Pixma Pro 100 is especially high, the printer itself is absolutely fantastic.  It prints rich color borderless prints up to 13×19″ (A3+), and some of the best black and white prints I've seen.  It comes with a very useful and well-designed plugin for Lightroom that makes printing easy, and the wireless feature makes it easy to use.  For an inexpensive pro-quality photo printer, it's an excellent choice.

Black and white print sample from the Canon Pixma Pro 100 printer
Now THAT, is a gorgeous black and white print!

Max Print Size

The Pixma Pro 100 can print photos up to A3+, which is 13″x19″.  The maximum print quality that this printer can handle is 4800px x 2400px, which equals out to about 250dpi on a 13″x19″ A3+ print.  I love that this printer can print borderless so there is no white border around the edges of the print.

For me, the print size of the printer is a standout quality.  Many other printers in this price category can't print this large, and for the style of prints that I do, anything under 11×16″ is just too small to be very usable.  A 13 x 19″ print is a decent, respectable size, and it's nice to be able to do prints that large right from my home office.

Print Quality

First of all, black and whites have never looked as good as they do on a Pixma Pro 100.  Deep black blacks, gorgeous gradients, and dead-neutral grays without any tweaking.  They are absolutely fantastic!

I always edit my photos on a color managed iMac 5k.  I do my color management with a Spyder colorimeter, which gets the screen quite close to the prints by itself.  But the printer also comes with built-in ICC profiles which you'll see available in Photoshop and Lightroom as soon as you install the printer.  The profiles are specific to each type of paper.  Since I almost always print on Canon luster paper, it's nice to have it right there.

The Pro 100 uses dye-based inks.  In contrast to pigment based inks in most printers, dye based inks claim slightly improved color saturation, but at the expense of durability and color fastness of the ink over a long period of time.  However, Canon is boasting 100 years of life in these inks.  How in the world do they test that since the printer is only a few years old?  Well, they don't.  It's a guess that the marketing department embellished and the legal department tolerated, but the same is true with the any claim from any company on how long the print will last.  Suffice it to say, however, that you'll be dead long before it's a problem.

Installation

Whatever you do–do NOT put that blasted CD into your computer that comes with the printer!  Please! Don't! Run for the hills!  If you do, you'll have an insane number of useless programs installed all over your computer.  It's absurd how much bloatware they have for this computer.

The best way to install this printer is to simply plug the computer into the printer with the supplied (extra short…) USB to printer cable.  Your computer will automatically see the printer and install the driver.  At least, it worked on my Mac.

Next, you need to install Canon's EXCELLENT Print Studio Pro Plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop.  I was hesitant about installing anything additional, but it's fantastic.  You will not get your printer to deliver nearly as good of results if you don't use the plugin.

pixmaBuild Quality

The overall quality of the printer is beautiful.  It's something I don't mind having in my office, which is seen my millions of people in my Youtube photography tutorials.

I like that when you install an ink cartridge, a red LED light pops on and illuminates the ink, showing that the cartridge is installed correctly.  Just seeing that little light pop on is like photography ecstasy.  Seriously, I dream about it.

The printer itself weighs 19.7kg (43 pounds).  It's not small, nor dainty.  This thing wants to print and it means business!  It's 27″ long (68mm), so expect to dedicate most of a desk to this puppy.

Paper Recommendations

For everyday printing of professional quality images, I'd recommend Canon's LU-101 paper.  If you haven't done professional printing before, be sure to check that the paper is turned the right way.  Look closely and make sure the slightly textured side faces toward the front of the printer.  If you accidentally print on the wrong side (I may or may not have made this mistake….), you'll have a blurry mess of a print and the ink will not dry.

The Pixma Pro 100 does not print on canvas, but it can handle canvas paper up to 20 mil.

I have not yet printed on matte paper with this printer, but several reviewers gave the printer lackluster (get the pun?  lacks luster?) reviews when printing on Canon matte photo paper.  If you plan to print on matte, I'd recommend the Hahnemule matte paper if you're made of money, or else the Epson matte paper.

Cost of Ink

The Canon inks in this printer aren't just expensive–they are insanely expensive.  There are 8 ink cartridges, and each one costs $17 to replace from the Canon online store.  Ouch.  That's $136 plus tax and shipping!  The printer does come with a full set of ink to get you started, though.

I have not yet finished my cartridges of inks, but judging by the amount of printing I've done so far and by looking at the printer utility's report of how much ink I have left, I'd estimate that it can print about thirty-five 13×19″ (A3+) prints before I have to replace the first cartridge.   That's about $4.80 per 13 x 19″ (A3+) print if you include the Canon ink and Canon paper.  Printing the same size photo at Nations Photo Lab, for example, would cost twice that much just for the print and you'd have to add more money for shipping.  HOWEVER, you can cut that to about 1/10th the price if you find a good third-party ink that prints with decent quality.

The problem with inks in expensive photo printers is that you usually have to stick to the manufacturer's inks because they are specially formulated to make your prints look perfect.  However, a company called Precision Colors has been making inks for the Pixma Pro 100 and I've heard nothing but great reviews about the quality of the inks and how cheap they are.  For this printer, you'll want to get one of these packages.

This is a REALLY delicate exposure with bright highlights and shadows that are barely hanging on. The Pixma did an EXCELLENT job of printing the full dynamic range. Impressive!
This is a REALLY delicate exposure with bright highlights and shadows that are barely hanging on. The Pixma did an EXCELLENT job of printing the full dynamic range. Impressive!

Wireless

I love being able to Airprint from my iPhone or iPad to the printer.  It's not something I'd do everyday, but sometimes that would be handy.  However, the Airprint is limited to a maximum size of 5″x7″.

Another limitation of the wifi on this printer is that it is not capable of getting updates to the printer via wifi.  It must be connected via the extremely short USB cable that came with it to a computer in order for the printer to update.

Conclusion

Overall, this is an excellent relatively low-cost printer that produces pro-quality images.  The black and whites are fantastic, and the color is very good.  The real question is if you want to get the Pixma Pro 100 and save some cost initially, or if you want to spend more upfront to get the newer version which has a slightly lower cost of ink cartridges.

If you'd like to buy this printer on Amazon, please click this link to see the listing for this printer on Amazon.

 

19 thoughts on “Canon Pixma Pro100 Printer: In-depth review for photographers”

  1. Jim, wonderful post on printing, its absolutely needed topic !! I followed you from Nikon to Fuji and now this particular printer, just received it from B&H, will need to follow your instructions on setting up. I have a number of systems, such as MacBook Pro, iMac 5K, MacBook Air for travel, iPad’s etc…have LR CC installed for main catalog and archiving. Held off on upgrading per your advice. Please keep up with the great work you and your team has done with all the ImprovePhotography Network content and podcasts. Just outstanding comparing to all those other websites which I found a waste of time mostly. IPN is both entertaining and choke full of useful ideas and gear talk. A quick question, do you use different papers for B&W vs. Color ?
    BTW, just loved the new Tripod podcast :))

  2. Jim,

    I buy my ink at Amazon; right now $104 for the eight pack. Expensive but nice to print your own prints at times.

    Steve

    1. can you give an estimate of how many photos say size 4×6 photos it would print? i have looked all over the internet and can’t find an answer.

  3. Great to see an article about home printing (vs. sending to a lab). Would love to hear more about this topic on the podcasts (hint). I’d also recommend the Epson wide format printers. Paired with a good continuous ink system you can obtain some excellent prints for a very reasonable price.

    Btw. Great website and podcasts. Keep up the good work, we all appreciate it!!!

  4. Avrohom Yosef gross

    You can print canvas I do it all the time than I make my own gallery wrappes with the breathing color easywrappe system.

  5. Thanks Jim, a wonderful review. As it is I also recently purchased the same printer (great minds think alike) after extensively exploring the web for a printer with value and quality. Your review, especially with the tips on using the plugin has been very timely and will help me take my printing further.
    Something to think about – I recently attended a workshop where the participants were able to subject their photos to a very wide range of matt, gloss, metallic, rag and other papers using the same computers, screens and printers – the differing results are huge even when using the correct profiles. Different types of photograph benefit with different papers – and the different vision of the photographers. It was very thought provoking and worthwhile.
    Keep up the great work – really appreciate what you and the team are doing

    David

  6. Great post. I have been using this printer for 3 years for all my professional prints. I did not know about he plugin, but i will be downloading it today. I recycle ink cartridges with Staples every month for a $20 credit on ink and it helps bring the ink cost down.

  7. Hi I am new to your website but have already found it to be very helpful. I am wondering if you have any thoughts on using this printer with other software than Adobe creative crowd. I am not a fan of their subscription approach and would like to use something different for example photomechanic or even apple photos for cataloguing and printing

  8. This printer uses pigment based inks, not dye based. Most cheap office-type printers use dye based. Dye colors are always more fugitive (prone to fading) than pigment. This knowledge brought to you by a fine art major who knows the difference! Or, to verify, look at the listing on the Canon site.

    I have it too, and it is a fantastic printer!

  9. Hi Jim. Great review. Which color rendering intent do you use when setting up for a print? Perceptual or Relative Colormetric?

    Thank you.

  10. They do test longevity for the prints. They (and Epson and HP) do this by “baking” prints under full spectrum light non stop and use that information to plug into formulas that take into account the amount of UV hitting a properly displayed print. That’s why they can also give you different lifespans for the print by itself vs the print under glass.

    Generally archival prints need to have a lifespan of 100 years of more under glass. They obviously won’t last as long if the print is sitting unprotected next to a window in bright light as they will under glass as the will behind glass in dimmer indirect light, or even better, no sunlight and just museum quality spotlights on the framed prints.

  11. Matthew Whtie

    You are 180 degrees opposite from other reviewers for this printers b and H, was it just settings and paper quality that allowed you to get such great results? THANKS for the review and now its a choice between a3 and a2.. and the money of course…
    BRAVO
    Matthew

  12. Sérgio Bonifácio

    What you mean by ” The real question is if you want to get the Pixma Pro 100 and save some cost initially, or if you want to spend more upfront to get the newer version which has a slightly lower cost of ink cartridges.”

    Will they have a new model with diferent cartdriges or even a continuous ink system? I live in Brazil where, like Asia and Western europe, Epson, Canon, HP and Brothers begin to offer models with original CIS. Epson already has photo printers with 6 colors and A3+ paper size. Do you think Canon will soon have something more professional with CIS?

  13. Generally archival prints need to have a lifespan of 100 years of more under glass. They obviously won’t last as long if the print is sitting unprotected next to a window in bright light as they will under glass as the will behind glass in dimmer indirect light, or even better, no sunlight and just museum quality spotlights on the framed prints.

  14. I use the Canon Pixma Pro 100 to print 13×19 Canvas. You must have a Print head for Canvas for it to print on Canvas otherwise you will damage the printer.

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