How to set up your Canon pro photo printer

Canon printing specialist Frederic Vaneesbeck reveals how to set up and run a pro photo printer such as the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 to ensure high-quality performance and consistency.
A Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 is positioned on a glass surface, with a recently printed photo in its tray and further prints to the side.

Canon printing specialist Frederic Vaneesbeck says it's important to take the time to set up your printer, such as the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000, and install the correct drivers and software to get the best quality results.

To get the best from a new camera, including making the most of its available functions, a professional photographer needs to set it up correctly. The same goes for a pro photo printer. Canon's pigment ink-based professional photo printers, for example the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 and imagePROGRAF PRO-300, are capable of delivering consistently high-quality prints, while dye-based pro photo printers, such as the Canon PIXMA PRO-200, will also give very good results. But to get the best out of their advanced features and supporting software you need to know how to set them up properly.

Canon printing specialist Frederic Vaneesbeck has 17 years of experience leading printing workshops for professional photographers. Here he shares his expert knowledge, revealing how to make the most of what Canon imagePROGRAF and PIXMA PRO printers have to offer.

A screenshot of the Canon IJ Setup screen, showing an image of a print being removed from a printer alongside a number of options, with "Set Up (Start Here)" highlighted.

The Canon IJ Setup support site includes full setup instructions for a wide range of printers, including handy step-by-step advice, video guides and troubleshooting options.

Unboxing and initial setup

Recent Canon printer models have a QR code on the packaging that links through to the Canon IJ Setup support site, allowing you to prepare for setup before you've even opened the box. Frederic highly recommends using the support site as it includes important information and step-by-step guides to setting up individual printers, as well as online manuals, recommended functions and answers to frequently asked questions.

"Once you're on the website, you just need to select your printer from the list," says Frederic. "Helpful videos are available to guide you through the setup procedure, starting with removing the orange packing tape and protective inserts, plugging in the power cord, switching it on and applying the initial settings – including choosing a language and date/time. Further videos take you through the next steps of installing the cartridges and printheads, as well as aligning the printheads."

A screenshot showing a fixed IP address being assigned to a Canon printer.

When setting up a printer on a wired or wireless network, Frederic recommends first connecting the printer to your network, then fixing the IP address so that it is static in your LAN settings.

A screenshot showing a Canon printer being set up with the dedicated Canon printer driver.

Frederic also recommends using the dedicated Canon printer driver to enable full functionality and the correct application of colour profiles.

Installing printer drivers for Windows and Mac

Before installing the software drivers, Frederic advises setting a fixed IP address for the printer if you're going to be using it on a wired or wireless network. "This ensures that the IP address remains the same when you switch the printer off and turn it back on again, enabling two-way communication between the printer and a computer," he explains. "For Apple computers, it's also important to use the Canon driver rather than AirPrint, otherwise you won't be able to access the maintenance tab, and you might also experience colour management inconsistencies."

If you're connecting the printer to a single computer via a USB cable, it's vital to download the latest drivers first and run the software set up routine before attaching the USB cable. Wait until prompted before connecting the printer to the computer.

A screenshot of the Canon Accounting Manager program for the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000, showing the paper size being input.

With the free-of-charge Canon Accounting Manager program for the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 you can input the specifics of the ink cartridges and paper that you're using, as well as your local currency, and the software will automatically work out the combined ink and paper cost for each successive print based on the precise amount of ink used.

A screenshot of Canon Professional Print & Layout software's 'pattern print' option.

Canon Professional Print & Layout software includes a 'pattern print' option, so you can create hard proofs with a range of subtly different tone and colour treatments before picking your favourite for the final print.

Using Canon pro photo printing software

Once you've set up your printer and installed the printer drivers, the next step is to download the Media Configuration Tool from the Support section of the Canon website. Frederic explains: "This software has two main functions. First, it will ensure that you have the latest printer profiles installed for all own-brand Canon photo papers and fine art media. Secondly, it enables you to add printer profiles for a wide range of independently created, specialist media from companies such as Canson Infinity® and Hahnemühle, making the appropriate settings available directly both in your printer driver and on the printer itself. The papers will then be available via the manual feed tray for the smoothest paper pass." When printing you should ensure the correct paper type is selected on both software and the printer screen.

Frederic continues: "Canon Professional Print & Layout (PPL) is another essential piece of software. Building on the earlier Print Studio Pro, it's compatible with the latest printers including the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 and PRO-300, and the PIXMA PRO-200." PPL works as a full program in its own right and as a plug-in for third-party programs such as Adobe Photoshop, and it enables you to easily switch between different types of glossy and matte photo paper and fine art media, as well as edit the placement of multiple images on a single page. It also comes complete with soft-proofing and hard-proofing tools for ensuring colour fidelity or the preferred tonal treatment for black and white photo prints.

For professional photographers keen to keep an eye on the bottom line, Frederic recommends downloading the Canon Accounting Manager program, again from the Support section of the main Canon site. Compatible with the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000, the software automatically calculates the cost of making each print based on the paper you choose and how much ink is used in its creation. "Accounting Manager helps photographers to ensure that they get the return on investment they're hoping for when they make prints."

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A screenshot of an AM1X file being assigned for a specific paper type.

AM1X files go a step further than ICC profiles. For Canon and third-party media, these files can be assigned using Canon's Media Configuration Tool enabling quality and consistent results for each specific paper stock.

Colour fidelity

To achieve colour accuracy, it's vital to work with a calibrated monitor. This ensures that the luminance and colour rendition of the screen matches your environment. To get the best match for printed output, it's imperative to select the right paper in the printer driver, says Frederic.

"This is why Canon now uses AM1X files, which build on the capabilities of using an ICC profile and add many factors including ink density limits, paper feed vacuum strength, print head height, drying time and borderless printing parameters," he explains. "These aspects are covered for specific, individual types of photo paper and fine art media, not only for Canon's own-brand papers, but also for a wide range of third-party media." He also advises checking your prints against the brightness and colour rendition of your computer monitor under the same environmental lighting conditions, as moving to a different light source with a warmer or cooler colour temperature will change the appearance of the print.

A screenshot showing the different cleaning options for the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000.

Frederic says it's important to allow your Canon printer to go though a regular cleaning routine to ensure the highest quality prints. It will help avoid dust getting stuck in print nozzles and maintain the quality and colour of your prints.

How to ensure the best results

To keep performing well, Canon printers maintain themselves during operation. "People get up in the morning, have a shower and they're ready for the day," says Frederic. "Printers [figuratively speaking] are much the same. When you switch them on or wake them up from standby, they initiate a mini-cleaning routine that ensures the print quality will be optimised.

"It's also important to realise that we print on paper based on wood, cotton or other materials, and that fibres from these as well as dust particles in the air can contaminate the print heads," Frederic adds. "To avoid any streaking or loss of print quality, it's a good idea to run a nozzle check routine periodically, from the printer driver's maintenance tab. This will give you a visual check that there are no blocked nozzles in the print heads and give you the option of running a more thorough print head cleaning cycle if needed."

Frederic adds that you should never turn off a printer by taking out the plug. Instead, use the on/off button to ensure that the printer shuts down properly. "I prefer to leave the printer on all the time and to configure it in the driver dialogue box to go into standby rather than switching off altogether," he says. "It uses virtually no power in standby mode and is always ready to go."

As a final tip that will help you save money when printing, Frederic recommends creating photo prints in batches rather than one-offs, if possible. "Because each cleaning mini-cycle uses ink to freshen the nozzles, it's better to create, say, 20 prints in one session rather than creating them all individually, switching the printer on and off and instigating 20 separate cleaning cycles."

Ultimately, taking time to set up your Canon pro photo printer correctly from the start will allow you to repeatedly reap the benefits of your machine, producing consistently good prints and having more enjoyable printing experiences.

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