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OzRay
04-14-2007, 11:58 PM
I still don't think this should be on a computer related section, but that's all there is.

http://www.canon.com.au/images/big_products/j-07_pers_std%20copy.jpg

Canon IPF5000

Inkjet printer technology just keeps on improving and, as with digital cameras, the price appears to be coming down as well. The Canon IPF5000 (or more formally, Image Prograf 5000) is a new generation wide format printer from the Canon stable. Not so long ago, the Image Prograf name was assigned to very large format and commensurately, very expensive printers.

The IPF5000 is not an inexpensive printer, but it is well within the realm of ownership compared to any previous Image Prograf. The IPF5000 competes with the likes of the Epson 4800 and also in some respects with the Epson 3800.

Specifications

I won’t go into specifications, as you can find out all you need to know from the Canon website, but I will provide a quick summary to save you some searching. The IPF5000:

• is a 17” (A2+), wide format printer,
• uses 12 separate pigment ink cartridges, each holding 130mm of ink
• can print on matte as well as gloss paper without having to change the black inks
• is capable of printing on paper from 0.08mm to 1.5mm in thickness, either through its cassette, tray or roll holder
• is capable of printing very long panoramic prints
• is still a very fast printer
• is a big, heavy bugger

You can find out more from the summary posted at:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/printers/IPF5000-report.shtml

I would like to make one comment where it states that the prints aren’t waterproof. This was one of the things I tested and it doesn’t matter how much water you rub onto the print with your finger, it doesn’t smudge. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I did the test using Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl. I don’t know what papers the others have used.

Options

The only real option that is on offer for this printer is the roll holder. Canon Australia was having a deal at the time I bought mine, which included the roll holder. Though there is a 2-3 week waiting time for it to arrive.

I don’t know if a printer stand is available, like you can get with some of the other wide format printers, but it would be a nice option, were such available.

Setup

Contrary to some user experiences, I had no real setup problems. There were a couple of minor ‘what do I do here?’ situations, but they were resolved fairly quickly and without much ado - I haven’t touched the user manual at all for the setup. One thing that was much appreciated was the fact that my supplier pre-installed the inks and print heads and ensured that all was well - that’s pretty good service in my book (not to mention the fact that the printer was delivered and a range of sample papers thrown in as well). There has been criticism about Canon documentation in some circles, and perhaps it's not the greatest, but I could get the printer working (via USB) within minutes of installation, so things can't really be all that bad.

The printer comes with five CDs:

• User Manual
• User Software
• Poster Artist 1 and 2
• Digital Photo Print Pro

I’ve only loaded the software disk (naturally), user manual (three weeks after getting the printer) and the Poster Artist disk (out of curiosity). The Digital Photo Print Pro wasn’t needed, as I print everything through Qimage (more on that later).

Installation of the driver software, GARO interface etc was easy and everything worked first time. The GARO interface is really nothing more than a status monitor that tells you how things are going with the printer. It pops up when you send a file to the printer and tells you the status of the inks, what paper is loaded and few other bits of information; very much like the status monitor that comes with the Canon i9950. Three weeks after getting the printer I did an upgrade to the status monitor and driver to the latest version and this went without problems (where's Murphy?).

The only setup problem that I had was trying to get the Ethernet link working; the USB just worked out of the box. But because I wanted to use the Ethernet for the IPF5000, as I wanted to use my long USB cable for the i9950, getting the former to work was important. In the end, it was as simple as setting an IP address, subnet mask and gateway for the printer through the printer menu and my router picked it up immediately. This wasn’t a problem with the IPF5000; it was simply a case of ‘my bad’ for not having my network hat on straight (the i9950 works in exactly the same way and I should have known).

I also did a print head alignment routine, but this may have been superfluous, as I suspect that my supplier had done that before delivery. Other than that, the printer was ready to go.

In Use

This is where perhaps things get interesting and where there is a ‘learning curve’ coming from the i9950. The i9950 has only one option when it comes to printing, you feed the paper from the top and it comes out the front. The IPF5000 ostensibly has three options; paper can be fed from the lower ‘cassette’ which holds up to 250 sheets of paper (depending on type), the ‘tray’ which is the top feeder, like in the i9950, and the roll holder. As an aside, I can’t see how some people have been confused by the terminology used by Canon for the various options, as they are quite clearly labeled on the printer and even the printer software interface shows the differences graphically.

Where the learning curve bit comes in, is mainly to do with the fact that changing from the cassette/roll holder to the tray, requires you to make a physical change (feeder selection) on the printer menu (that is, on the printer itself) rather than just the software interface. This isn’t difficult at all; you just press a button and a green light shows whether you’re printing from the cassette/roll holder or tray. You just have to remember to do this.

But why this doesn’t work from the software interface is a bit of a mystery, especially as the settings are there. Maybe I’m doing something wrong and perhaps that’s where the Digital Photo Print Pro comes into its own. I’ll have to read more into this, but my interpretation is that this software is designed to work with PS, which I don’t use. Either way, it doesn’t matter, as I’ll be mostly using the cassette or roll holder and no adjustments will be required.

OK, so now that we’re rocking and rolling, what’s the difference between the i9950 and the IPF5000? Firstly, the IPF5000 is a bit noisier than the i9950, mainly due to a cooling fan that points in my direction when it activates (which is not all the time) and possibly also something to do with the vacuum system that holds the paper flat when being printed. Secondly, it’s slower in printing an A3 than the i9950, but I do have the printer set at max quality and this may possibly not be necessary (more testing required). Colour output between the two is pretty close; both produce outstanding colour and tonality. However, the more that I've tested, the more I can see subtle and not so subtle differences; there is clearly greater tonality with the IPF5000, but there also appears to be more 'richness' in the colours than what you get from the i9950. B&W prints are altogether different, but that's not really a fair comparison.

Maybe the Ilford Smooth Pearl is contributing something to this impression. Additionally, the prints on Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl paper do have a much ‘nicer’ feel to them than the Ilford Galerie Classic Pearl paper; where before I was reluctant to feel the paper too much, I almost can’t resist doing just that with the Smooth Pearl (not that this has much to do with displaying prints). What is also great is that Ilford has done a very good job with providing profiles for its paper. The colours are spot on when using their profiles in Qimage, so I see no reason to do any special profiling with Ilford paper. But I now have the opportunity of using other papers and the great thing is that my supplier not only provides a wide range of papers, but each type has been profiled against every printer they sell. So I have much incentive to try out different paper stocks.

Now about Qimage. I thought that I’d be having possible issues with using Qimage with the IPF5000, but mainly the transition has been seamless. There were a few hiccups in getting images to print fully on 17"x24" paper I'd cut from the roll, but that was a matter of doing the right selection of settings. Qimage has improved vastly, but sometimes it still seems to have a bit of Murphy lurking inside. Other than that, Qimage works a treat with the IPF5000 and there has been no requirement to learn anything significantly new. I’ve also had none of the printing problems that some have reportedly experienced with their printer in the US (using PS as I understand); such as the last few centimetres or so printing poorly. Have I just been lucky, or is it Qimage?

One thing that worried me somewhat was the GARO status monitor suddenly showing that the maintenance cartridge had fallen from 80% to 60%. Initially I thought that this figure was showing the status of the inks (heck, I hadn't printed that much), but it actually shows the holding capacity of what is a collection tank (something akin to what you find on laser printers) used to collect ink from periodic print head self-tests. The maintenance cartridge appears to be a fairly substantial beast, so I'm curious as to how much ink it actually collects. I've left the printer on continuously since I got it (as per recommendation), as it's supposed to be very frugal on ink usage in test cycles, but time will tell.

I did a quick calculation on potential ink costs and while the 130mm cartridges for the IPF5000 are expensive (and there are 12 carts), they are in reality less expensive per ml than those for the i9950 (using Canon inks). Depending on availability, up to two times less expensive. The IPF5000 is supposed to be very frugal in its ink usage as well, so the differences may be greater, or not. Throwing up comparisons with non-OEM inks or continuous inking systems is a moot point, I won't use anything but Canon inks (you may choose to do so, but do it at your peril). Paper costs are much on a par; buying rolls or sheets (of the same brand) ends up costing about the same per square metre. But where you can save in printing on roll paper, is that you have greater flexibility with paper usage. With sheet, you either lose some paper or have to constantly change paper sizes. I don't really consider this a big cost difference factor, if at all; it's more a matter of flexibility.

Overall

As a first summary of this printer, I have to say that I’m very pleased. The print quality is outstanding and the ability to print up 17” wide, once again opens up new realms. As I’ve only done a dozen or so prints, including some standard test prints in B&W and colour, it’s still early days with this printer. However, as there have been no issues of note, I can say that I have no regrets in making this choice.

Update I

I've now had the printer for around three weeks, but only printed around twenty or so prints (a mixed bag of A3 and A2+), both colour and B&W (I'm still waiting for the roll holder). All the ink levels, except for the gray, are pretty much at the level they were when I received the printer (about 3/4); the gray has dropped to 1/2. I think I read somewhere that the gray is used a fair bit even when printing colour, so that may explain the drop. So what are the prints like? Without meaning to show any bias arising from having bought such a relatively expensive printer, I have to say the results are superb. It's a shame that one can't display the actual quality on-screen. No doubt the competitors printers do an excellent job also and it shows how far things have advanced in the photo printer world.

The Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl (290 gsm)paper that I'm using, with the Ilford supplied profiles, is fantastic, so much so, that I'm sorely tempted not to try anything else. However, I will be getting some Innova Smooth Cotton (315 gsm) paper, as I've always wanted to try the cotton stock. I'm not a fan of gloss paper, so it's unlikely that I'll produce any prints on this media. The colours coming from this printer are rich and deep, with amazing tonal gradation/transition. I did one large test print from one of the Colorvision PrintFix test images and there's not one colour that appears out of place. I strongly suspect that the type of paper has a lot to do with the overall quality and nature/range of colours that a printer will produce. Much like different films and papers did in the wet darkroom days. Ilford has been into film and paper production since the year dot and I think that this experience has translated very well into the digital age.

B&W prints are also wonderful; coming from the i9950, this is no wonder, as the IPF5000 has the extra grays to provide much better tones. However, B&W is quite subjective, so what one person sees as great, another may not like. What you do get is rich blacks and clean tonal gradation all the way to white. There are no colour casts anywhere in the B&W prints, something which you could get with the i9950 (often a slight magenta cast). So for anyone who likes B&W printing, this is certainly one fine printer. This is where I look forward to trying out some Smooth Cotton, as it is reportedly very good for B&W printing.

The printer also reproduces fine detail exceptionally well, so for high MP image/large prints, it's going to be very impressive.

Update II

The roll holder finally arrived and now I'm able to do prints the way I want. Installation of the roll holder was a breeze; simply remove the tray feeder, which just lifts out, and insert the roll holder into position via the guides at the back. The final part was to secure the roll holder via the two supplied screws; job done. Inserting the roll paper and roll paper holder was also a breeze, as all I had to do was attach the 75mm core supports into the outer roll holder wheels and then drop the assembly into position. No need to even read the manual. The roll holder comes with various adapters for different roll core types and for borderless printing, and has a neat design should you wish to print thick card via the tray.

That was the easy part, which took all of about 15 mins. The next part was less satisfactory and did cause me to delve into the menu, which wasn't all that helpful, even though the steps were laid out. This part was getting the paper to feed and be recognised by the printer. Initially the paper fed into the slot, but the printer kept showing a paper jam and I had to remove the paper. This went on for several attempts and then I put the printer off line, fed in the paper and then put the printer back on line and suddenly different whirring noises and movement happened. Now the paper had fed in correctly and there were no more errors. So I thought I'd gotten things right and attempted a print. Qimage, under the printer properties, didn't recognise the roll holder, but gave a new option that hadn't been there before, so I thought maybe this was the option and so tried to do a print. Instead of printing from the roll, the print came out of the cassette (bulk paper holder) and on looking at the GARO monitor, the roll paper wasn't being recognised.

So back to the manual where I found that I had to go into the IPF5000 menu and select the roll paper type, settings etc. OK, all good? Nope! The roll paper still wasn't recognised by the GARO status monitor. What else could there be? For some reason I decided to look into the printer properties (under Start/Settings/Printer and Faxes/Device Settings) and found that there was a check box under Device Settings to enable the roll holder. Viola! Now the roll holder was recognised by the GARO status monitor. Great, now to do a print. So I opened Qimage and went into the printer properties to set the paper type etc. Using Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl, Ilford recommends using the Photo Paper Plus settings along with its provided paper profiles for the IPF5000. But every time I selected this paper, I couldn't select the roll holder option, so I elected to use Glossy Photo Paper setting, which Ilford recommended for the Ilford Galerie Classic Pearl paper with the i9950 and this took. I'll have to investigate why this is happening, but now I'm able to print, though the GARO status monitor keeps telling me that an incorrect paper setting has been selected. The printer has Photo Paper Plus as the setting, but the Canon printer properties has Glossy Photo Paper, which causes the confusion and I haven't as yet changed the printer selection to see what would happen.

In any case, I'm now able to print from the roll and the several prints (colour and B&W) that I've done look pretty good. So I'm not sure if these settings actually have a great bearing on the output, but I will have to investigate in order to make sure the outputs are optimal. I may have to e-mail Ilford to see if they can answer why this is happening. I haven't received my Cotton paper stock yet, so I can't make any comment on how this will work with the supplied profiles. So at the moment all is good, bar a few odd mis-matches.

Update III

I contacted Ilford about the issue of the printer not recognising the recommended paper setting for the Gallerie Smooth Pearl roll paper and whether they had any other options. Their response was that Canon has deliberately made it such that certain roll papers won't be recognised (Epson does the same), in order to push users to their paper stocks. Apparently Ilford receives these complaints fairly regularly and the only option with roll paper is to try other paper settings or get specific profiles made for the printer/paper. Because of the many combinations available, it's just too difficult to try and offer options for all combinations. Oddly enough, the recommended profiles work if you use sheet paper, which I have. The damning thing is that no one wants to use Canon roll paper in the professional scene (that I know of) and one has to laugh when you go to the Canon site and search for available roll paper and this is the only choice that you get:

- Premium Photo Paper Matt.
- 431mm x 30m
- 185gsm

I don't want to print large format prints on 185gsm paper, or small prints for that matter; Ilford Smooth Pearl is 290gsm and Innova Cotton is 315gsm, like photo paper should be. I guess they're all out for a buck, but supporting professionals and allowing papers to meet professional's needs and desires would go a long way to setting good professional rapport.

Update IV

I leave the IPF5000 turned on all the time and it goes into sleep mode except for the daily humming and buzzing that it does between 4:00-5:00 pm each day, and which last only a matter of around 10-15 sec. I've no idea what's going on, but it seems like a sleeping dog scratching itself. I've now had the IPF5000 for approx 45 days and it did, what I think is the first nozzle check and clean; this took around five or so minutes to complete. I checked the GARO status monitor afterwards and all the ink levels are as before, but the maintenance cartridge free space has now gone back up to 80% (that's good). Despite some of the complaints and concerns about the IPF5000 expressed in the Wiki (http://canonipf5000.wikispaces.com/?token=710e0afdf3d719d70a4a48a825c794aa), I haven't encountered any of the problems that some have mentioned.

Personally, I think that people sometimes get overly excited about some issues, act impatiently and forget the big picture (no pun intended). Some refuse to consider the printer because Canon apparently does not warrant the print heads for a full 12 months; however, I'm sure that should something go wrong in that time, provided that you used Canon inks, you would not be left to your own devises and required to buy new heads. Reading forums, it amazes me at times how some want to scrimp on essential items to save a dollar and risk damaging precision equipment. There are already questions being asked in the photo forums on where one can get third party inks/CIS systems for the likes of the Epson 3800.

While the individual ink cartridges for the IPF5000 aren't cheap, print costs are actually considerably cheaper than with my i9950 (the cost of paper being equal). Clearly some of these people have never had to contend with film purchase, development and wet printing costs. By the same token, an IPF5000, at what it now costs, was something to only dream about perhaps as little as 10 years ago, much like DSLRs.

Cheers

Ray

Bojan Volcansek
04-15-2007, 07:46 AM
Thank you very much for the review!
Now just one small reqeust for the future.
Can you please, after 3-6 months of regular usage update this wonderful review with report of LONG TERM usage!

thank you very much in advance,
and I wish you great success and joy with your new printer.

Yours Bojan

ps. if we have enough reviews of priners then we can create another forum with printer/printer paper/printer inks/printer accessories (trimmers, mats, frames) reviews. For now let's keep it inside Computer reviews

OzRay
04-16-2007, 02:07 AM
I'll do that. It wouldn't be complete without information on how things go in the long-term.

Cheers

Ray

Bojan Volcansek
04-16-2007, 08:23 AM
I'll do that. It wouldn't be complete without information on how things go in the long-term.

EXACTLY, that's what I was thinking.

Thank you very much in advance!

Yours Bojan

OzRay
04-23-2007, 04:46 PM
Just did a quick update.

Cheers

Ray

Bojan Volcansek
04-23-2007, 07:26 PM
Great Ray, thanks for the update.

The next update will be I suppose when you start changing carts, or you try some fancy paper!

yours Bojan

OzRay
05-04-2007, 03:20 AM
Second Update.

Cheers

Ray

Bojan Volcansek
05-04-2007, 09:18 AM
Thanks for the update, I hope you'll quickly resolve all the issues!

How are you managing to get the profiles for the printer - for Ilford I suppose you are using their profiles from their web site?

Yours Bojan

OzRay
05-07-2007, 02:33 AM
Third Update.

Cheers

Ray

OzRay
05-09-2007, 01:25 AM
Update No 4

Cheers

Ray

Bojan Volcansek
05-10-2007, 08:48 AM
Great, I'm glad that you are quite happy with your purchase - great news!

yours Bojan

deep
06-19-2007, 04:43 AM
Thanks for putting up all this information, Ray. I am losing sleep trying to decide if this is the printer for me. I spent time with the local Canon rep yesterday. We took one of my files, put it straight throught the printer with no modification. The printer recognised the (Canon) paper, auto selected the profile needed, and produced the most stunning print of that file I have seen to date. It actually looks like the original slide, a big compliment indeed. So, yes, it does an amazing job and, yes, it saves on ink costs (I am moving up from an i990) but, wow, what a price! So hard to know if it's worth it. Your review has really helped.

Cheers,

Don (from across the Tasman)

OzRay
07-11-2007, 03:25 AM
A further update and rather than add to the original post, you can see it here:

http://www.australianimage.com.au/reviews/ipf5000.htm

Cheers

Ray