Considerations Before Buying an iPF Printer

Updated 12/15/10. Listed below are known limitations which may affect your decision to purchase this printer. Only you can decide if these issues would pose a significant problem for you. Note that there are many, many features which work perfectly, and that both Epson and HP have significant but different limitations.

Major Issues for All iPF Printers

  • Feeding from the Cassette on iPF5X00 printers is limited to papers less than 11.8 mil thick. Problems reported feeding Hahnemuhle Photo Rag and Somerset Velvet. Note: While some people have successfully fed papers thicker than this without problems, others have encountered problems. This is the official printer specification from Canon. If you want to print on thicker sheet paper, you may have to feed sheets one by one from the top tray.
  • Full Borderless printing is not supported on Sheet paper See this FAQ for a description of the borderless capabilities of the iPF printers. Note that the Epson 3800 has better support of borderless printing on sheets as described on Eric Chan's Epson 3800 FAQ.
  • Scratches on cut sheets of Epson Exhibition Fiber on iPF8X00 printers were reported in this Luminous Landscape thread. The problem was reproduced by Canon, and appears to be due to the design of the paper path in the 8X00 printers. Feedback from original poster "Canon's conclusion was that all gloss and semi-gloss cut sheets will be prone to scratching. Interestingly enough I have some of LexJet's 'metallic' paper in cut sheets and I have not noticed any scratches on it. After spending some more time with the EEF I can confidently say that it's some of the most delicate paper I've handled." Problem was confirmed by Northlight Images in their iPF8300 Review and Notes. Other posters have not reported problems with cut sheets on a variety of cut sheet media, including EEF, as discussed in this Wiki thread. The problem does not affect the iPF6X00 printers since the paper path for cut sheets is straighter (confirmed by the same poster who reported the problem on the iPF8300). Workarounds: Use Epson Exhibition Fiber in roll only on the iPF8X00 printers, or try cut sheets of a different paper.
  • Printheads are expensive ($450-500 each, current street price; two printheads in a printer) and each one comes with a warranty of one year or when the status of the internal dot counter changes from "a" to "b", whichever comes first. Since the internal dot counter used to verify the warranty validity does not indicate actual dot count, users cannot reliably estimate how much warranty period is left. Canon only gives an estimate of the amount of ink used before the warranty expires--4,000 ml per printhead. This volume does not include ink used for maintenance. This may be particularly significant for those who do not print a lot, as their warranty could expire after one year when they have not printed a high volume of work. Note that the warranty covers approximately 40% of the "expected printhead life", so the average expected throughput is about 2.5 times this amount (according to Canon document on their web site). In addition, the Canon extended warranty does not cover printheads as the Epson extended warranty does. There are only a few reports so far of early printhead failure, and all were covered by Canon under warranty.
  • There is less data on archival properties of ink/paper combinations than for Epson printers. Epson printers generally have test results for multiple papers, while Canon's results are on a very limited number of papers. For example, see Epson 7900 results from Wilhelm Research. However, available test results have generally shown Canon inks to be comparable or superior to Epson inks in longevity.
    • Wilhelm Research released print permanence information in September, 2010 for iPF8300 on 2 Canon papers
    • Wilhelm Research released print permanence information in June, 2009 for iPF6100 on 5 Canon papers
    • Wilhelm Research released print permanence information in October 2008 comparing HP, Canon iPF5100 and Epson inksets on Canson , Inkpress and Harman papers. HP's inks are found to have the best print permanence, Epson's have the lowest and Canon's inks are in between.
    • Independent light fade testing by Aardenburg Imaging shows Canon iPF5000 roughly comparable to Epson K3 inkset.
    • Canon issued a report in 2007 for the iPF5000 showing both their internal testing results and some Wilhelm test results. The number of papers in the Wilhelm report is quite limited and no bare bulb test results are included.

Minor Issues for All iPF Printers

  1. Resizing in the Photoshop Plugin done by percentage rather than by setting size limits for height/width. Very annoying when you want to print to a specific size (which is virtually all the time). You have to guess at the percentage and keep adjusting it until you get the exact size you want. Or, you can do the resizing in Photoshop before starting the Plugin.
  2. Some Media Types do not support Manual (3 mm margins). This may be due to concerns on Canon's part that the Fine Art papers won't produce adequate quality near the extended margin. However, reports to the Wiki indicate that the heavier papers (even up to Hahnemuhle Museum Etching, a 350 gsm paper) print fine with the extended margins. Since Premium Matte is often the best Media Type for these papers and it has 3 mm margins available, this is considered a minor issue. See the list of Media Types that don't have the 3 mm option in this thread.
  3. Version 4 ICC profiles do not work with Photoshop Plugin on Windows platform. Workaround available.

Minor Issues for iPFX100 Only

  1. Relative Colorimetric Rendering Intent from Photoshop Plugin does not include Black Point Compensation. Workaround available. Update: For the x300 printers, the plug-in let’s you choose to use the AdobeCMM if you like and utilize their Black Point Compensation for the Relative Colorimetric intent.
  2. 32 pass printing is not available for Special Media Types. Canon has included this feature for their Media Type using Photo Black ink, but hasn't seen fit to include it for Special Media Types. Now that the Canon Media Types have been unlocked with the latest Media Configuration Tool, this is much less important, since a Canon Media Type can be used to create a profile for a third party paper.

Major Issues for iPF5000 Only

If you are purchasing a used iPF5000 and need information on limitations unique to that model, see this page.