I’ve always felt like my current at-home photo printer (I’m withholding the brand and model number to protect the innocent) does a more-than-adequate job with photo printing. Then I had a chance to test the Canon PIXMA Pro-100 printer, and my old printer has to hang its head in shame.
While Canon has released numerous at-home printers in the couple of years since it introduced the PIXMA Pro-100, few of them can match the Pro-100’s print quality at sizes up to 13-by-19 inches. It offers eight different ink tanks, allowing it to create extremely precise color and monochrome prints. Considering how sharply it creates images, Canon’s Pro-100 also works relatively fast at all print sizes but 13-by-19.
As you might expect since it can handle A3+ paper, the PIXMA Pro-100 is an extremely large and heavy unit. And it has none of the features, such as copying or scanning, that make all-in-one devices so popular for the limited space in a home office. But this model will work with a USB, Ethernet, Apple AirPrint, or Wi-Fi connection, which gives it quite a bit of versatility. As long as you can afford its MSRP of $499, you will not be disappointed in the Pro-100.
What’s in the Box?
- PIXMA Pro-100 inkjet printer
- CD/DVD Disc printing tray
- Power cord
- Setup ink tanks
- Setup CD-ROM
- Print head
- USB cable
- Manuals and other documents
Features and Components
The front of the PIXMA Pro-100 is as basic as you’ll ever see for a photo printer. There’s no LCD screen, no glasstop scanning bed, no memory card slot, and no control panel filled with buttons. The only buttons are on the far right, and we’ll discuss those buttons in more detail.
You’ll lift the top lid to load paper into one of two paper guides. There’s a second interior upper lid on the Canon Pro-100, giving you access to the ink tanks and the print head. You’ll need to fold down the lower front panel to extend the output tray to receive the prints, as shown in the above image. If you don’t have the front panel opened, the Pro-100 will not operate, and you’ll see an error message on your computer screen.
You’ll control the Canon Pro-100 primarily through your computer and the included software, but you can perform a few functions using the three buttons on the far right side of the front of the unit.
- Upper button. Press the power button to turn on the printer. The power button includes a white light across the top when the printer is powered on. When the printer is working, the white light flashes.
- Middle button. The area above the middle button will light and flash orange when the printer is experiencing an error, such as when you forget to open the paper output tray. Press this button to run a print test.
- Bottom button. Once you’ve established a Wi-Fi connection, this button will light blue. Press this button to start the search for an automatic WPS connection with your local Wi-Fi network router.
When you open the upper panel of the Pro-100, you’ll see two paper trays. What Canon labels as the rear paper tray (shown here with the smaller paper) is the primary paper tray. Make sure you flip the small plastic guard toward the back of the printer to hold the paper in place, or this paper tray will not work. You can use the rear paper tray for paper in sizes ranging from 4-by-6 inches to 13-by-19 inches.
The larger paper visible in this photo in the back is what Canon calls the manual feed paper tray. (Yes, this paper tray is behind the rear paper tray, and, yes, the paper tray names are confusing.) Flip the back panel up and then extend the guide to use this paper tray. Only use the manual feed tray for thicker photo papers, rather than plain paper. You’ll probably only want to use one to three sheets of paper at a time in the manual feed paper tray. This tray also can accept paper sizes up to 13-by-19 inches.
You’ll need to select the paper tray you want to use through the print window on your computer.
Once you’re done with your print jobs, you can fold all of the guides back in and close the lids to store the printer.
Canon built dual paper edge guides into both paper trays of the PIXMA Pro-100. As you slide one guide outward, the other guide moves to match it, keeping the paper centered in the tray. The adjustable paper edge guides allow for various sizes of paper up to 13 inches wide.
To set up the output tray, pull open the front panel of the Pro-100, which then can slide out to serve as an output paper tray. If you attempt to print a page without the output paper tray opened, you’ll receive an error message.
You can insert the CD/DVD print tray in this area as well, allowing the Canon Pro-100 to print on specially designed optical discs.
Beyond making a Wi-Fi connection with the PIXMA Pro-100, you also can connect it to an Ethernet or USB connection through the ports pictured here. They’re located on the back of the printer. Canon did include a USB cable with the Pro-100, which is handy.
The printer’s standard two-prong port for electrical power is on the back of the unit. The power cord is only about 5 feet long, which could make it somewhat awkward to place the PIXMA Pro-100 exactly where you want. This problem becomes magnified when considering the large size of this printer, as you may be limited as to where you can place it in your office.
The ink system is where the Canon PIXMA Pro-100 begins to show its true capabilities. Few inkjet printers can match the eight inks found with this unit, which has cyan, magenta, yellow, and black like a standard printer. The Pro-100 adds gray and light gray inks, which provide greater accuracy for monochrome photo prints. You’ll also find photo cyan and photo magenta with this unit.
Canon shipped the print head separately with the Pro-100, meaning you must first install it before you can insert the ink tanks. The empty print compartment is shown above.
Flip the lever on the right upward to access the print compartment to install the print head.
The print head has some delicate components, so you’ll want to take care not to touch anything but the black plastic area of the print head, which is shown on the right in the above photo. Remove the orange protective plastic cap before installation.
The print head slides into place relatively easily, leaving the ink wells visible.
Flip the handle on the right side back downward to lock the print head into place.
Each ink tank slides into its designated slot, matching up with the label on the gray portion of the unit. As you slide the ink tank into place, the plastic tab on the bottom will click and a red/orange light will appear on the edge of the tank.
If you insert an ink tank incorrectly, the light will remain off, allowing you to fix it during this step, rather than discovering the mistake later when you’re ready to make a test print.
After all eight tanks are lit, you can close the compartment and begin the printer set-up process.
With the ink tanks in place you can install the Canon PIXMA Pro-100’s software.
Canon included separate CDs with software for Windows and Macintosh computers.
You’ll have to align the print head as part of the software setup. Be sure that you’re using the rear paper tray, rather than the manual feed paper tray. And be sure you flip the paper guard down to hold the paper in the rear paper tray, or the print head alignment won’t work.
You also need to open the output tray, or you’ll see an error message.
The Pro-100 software will give you a progress window as it aligns the print head.
As part of the software setup process, you’ll be presented step-by-step instructions on the computer screen for connecting the Canon Pro-100 to a network or to your computer. You can connect to a Wi-Fi network, an Ethernet network, or directly to a computer via USB. The Pro-100 supports Apple’s AirPrint standard too.
If you choose to make a Wi-Fi connection, it should be a relatively easy process, as long as you have a basic understanding of how your Wi-Fi router works. I had no problems connecting the PIXMA Pro-100 to my Wi-Fi network, and the on-screen instructions were easy to follow.
Canon included a few different software options and a digital user guide on the software CD.
You can perform the installation in the background while working in other areas. Plan for 15-20 minutes for the full software installation from the CD.
You can perform some very basic editing functions on your stored photos through the My Image Garden software. Folders on the computer or from a cloud storage site appear on the left side of the My Image Garden window. You can view thumbnails of your photos or a full-sized image on the right side of the screen using the icons on the far lower right of the screen. To perform editing on a particular image, it needs to be in full-size view or you need to highlight the thumbnail image.
With an image selected, you can pick from icons along the lower portion of the screen to perform an action, including New Art, Correct/Enhance, Special Filters, Video Frame Capture, Create/Edit PDF File, Specify Person, and Print. The icons displayed will depend on whether you’re viewing the image in thumbnail view or in full-sized view.
Use the New Art button to create photo gifts, including: Photo Layout, Collage, Card, Calendar, Stickers, Disc Label, Video Layout, and Paper Craft.
You’ll gain access to the primary editing functions by clicking the Correct/Enhance icon. The photo will open in another window, where the editing options will appear along the left side of the window. Click on the effect you want to change, and you’ll then see slider bars to control the editing effects further. Under the Auto tab, the editing options are:
- Auto Photo Fix
- Red-Eye Correction
- Face Sharpener – Weak, Medium, Strong
- Digital Face Smoothing – Weak, Medium, Strong
Click on the Manual tab to make further editing selections. Click the Adjust button to make the following changes:
- Brightness – minus-5 to plus-5
- Contrast – minus-5 to plus-5
- Sharpness – 0 to 10
- Blur – 0 to 10
- Show-Through Removal – 0 to 10
Under the Manual tab click the Correct/Enhance button to make the following changes:
- Red-Eye Correction – Weak, Medium, Strong
- Face Brightener – Weak, Medium, Strong
- Face Sharpener – Weak, Medium, Strong
- Digital Face Smoothing – Weak, Medium, Strong
- Blemish Remover
Through the Advanced button under Manual, you can also adjust the tone and color balance.
The editing options under the Special Image Filters icon are:
- Fish-Eye Effect – Weak, Medium, Strong
- Miniature Effect – Small, Medium, Large
- Toy Camera Effect – 0, 1, 2, 3
- Soft Focus – 0, 1, 2, 3
- Blur Background – Weak, Medium, Strong
When you click the Print button in My Image Garden, the print options in the popup window are:
- Paper Size – Letter 8.5×11 inches, 11×17 inches, A4, A3, A3+ 13×19 inches, 4×6 inches, 5×7 inches, 8×10 inches, 10×12 inches, 14×17 inches
- Media Type – Plain Paper, Photo Paper Plus Glossy II, Photo Paper Pro Platinum N, Photo Paper Pro Platinum, Photo Paper Pro Luster, Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss, Glossy Photo Paper, Matte Photo Paper N, Matte Photo Paper, Other Glossy Paper, High Resolution Paper
- Paper Source – Manual Feed Tray, Rear Tray
- Date Printing Settings – Print Date (Yes, No), Text Orientation (Horizontal, Vertical), Position (Bottom Right, Bottom Left, Top Right, Top Left), Font Size (Large, Medium, Small, Tiny), Font Color
- Grayscale Settings – Print As Grayscale Photos (Yes, No), Tone (Cool, Medium, Warm)
- Borderless Printing Settings – Print on Full Page Without Borders (Yes, No), Amount of Extension (None, Minimum, Middle, Maximum, Standard)
- Advanced Settings – Image Correction (Enable Auto Photo Fix (Enable Red-Eye Correction, Prioritize EXIF Info), No Correction), Print Quality (Auto, High, Standard, Custom)
During the software installation process, you’ll have the option of installing the Canon Quick Menu, which is a set of icons that will appear in the lower left corner of your Windows desktop and provide access to several of the PIXMA Pro-100’s extra features and settings. By default, the icons will load and appear each time you restart your computer. Because these icons occupy a lot of space on the screen, you may want to disable this feature, unless you plan on using them quite often.
Click the Canon Quick Menu icon to open the window shown above, which contains access to a large number of settings and functions related to the Pro-100. The options in the main Canon Quick Menu window are:
- Print – Creative Park Premium, Photo Layout Print, Video Layout Print, Card Print, Collage Print, Disc Label Print, Calendar Print
- Scan – (no options as Pro-100 has no scan capability)
- Web Services – User Registration, Member Login, Access to Consumables Shop, Creative Park, Introduction to Useful Functions, Product Information, Notices
- Manual & Device Information – Ink Model Number, On-Screen Manual, Start My Printer, Diagnose and Repair Printer
- Device Settings & Maintenance – Network Settings, Quiet Settings, Auto Power Settings
It’s understandable why all-in-one print units are so popular. After all, having a device that can perform three or more useful functions in one unit is great, as it saves storage space and makes working with the unit easier.
But when you’re really looking for great photo prints at large sizes, those all-in-one units usually fall short. They typically don’t have the kind of print capabilities that allow you to create large prints that come close to matching the quality you’d find from a retail photo print shops.
When you’re ready to begin making top quality prints at sizes you can put in a frame and hang on a wall, you’ll quickly realize some print jobs require a dedicated photo printer … and the Canon PIXMA Pro-100 inkjet printer is a great candidate for those jobs.
If you don’t mind the large footprint of this printer unit, and if you can accept the high price tag on the Pro-100 (with a starting MSRP of $499), you’ll be very pleased with the results and the performance of this model. Few printers designed for at-home use can match the PIXMA Pro-100’s print quality.
Beyond having no scan or copy capabilities, the Canon PIXMA Pro-100 also differs from all-in-one units in that it has no LCD screen from which to make changes directly at the printer. It has no memory card slot either. In fact there’s only a few buttons on the front of this model, which means you’ll need to control the printer from a computer. Still, the lack of numerous buttons makes the Pro-100 pretty easy to use.
This model offers the ability to print at sizes up to 13-by-19 inches, which is a size very few at-home printers can handle. And with the manual feed tray included with the Pro-100, you can print on thicker paper and different types of media than an at-home printer typically can use.
While it will be more expensive in the long run to operate a printer that makes use of eight inks, the image quality you can achieve by using eight different inks is extremely impressive. If you’re someone who enjoys creating black-and-white photos, the monochrome print quality is close to one of a kind with printers designed for home use.
- Dye-based ink provides vibrant colors and high-quality prints
- Especially good black-and-white photo print quality with two extra gray inks
- Two paper trays, one of which handles thicker papers
- Can print on paper up to 13-by-19 inches
- Slightly above average print speeds versus similarly priced printers
- Works over Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB connections
- Very easy to operate
- Because model is a little older, you can find it at a discount to MSRP
- Extremely large and heavy printer
- May not quite match needs of professional photographers
- No scan or copy capabilities
- No LCD screen, memory card slot, or control buttons to print directly from printer
- Operational costs are higher than average printer because of eight ink tanks
When printing at the best quality, the PIXMA Pro-100 doesn’t exactly blow through prints at lightning speed, especially compared to basic all-in-one printers. But its print speeds are a little better than average versus other high-end dedicated photo printers in a similar price range, outside of the 13-by-19-inch photo prints, which were of a below average speed. I made a handful of 13-by-19 prints, and the print times ranged from approximately 7 minutes to 9 minutes, so the number below is an average.
This model isn’t a blazingly fast printer, but it’s fast enough for most people’s needs, especially considering the image quality you’ll receive. All of the following tests were performed printing from a computer using Wi-Fi connectivity.
- 13×19-inch photos, glossy photo paper: High quality, color, 8 minutes, 6 seconds
- 8×10-inch photos, glossy photo paper: High quality, color, 3:04; standard quality, color, 2:42; high quality, black and white, 2:59
- 4×6-inch photos, glossy photo paper: High quality, color, 0:48; standard quality, color, 0:35; standard quality, black and white, (software conversion from color), 0:47
- 8×10-inch photos, plain paper: High quality, color, 1:31; standard quality, color, 0:51; fast quality, color, 0:32; standard quality, black and white 0:32
- Text document, one page, some color, plain paper: High quality, 1:43; standard quality, 0:33; fast quality, 0:22
- Text document, one page, all black, plain paper: High quality, 1:20; standard quality, 0:27; fast quality, 0:19
The fast and standard settings on the Pro-100 create a much better print quality than the draft, fast, or standard settings you’ll find on most all-in-one units. With the Pro-100 you can use both settings for most of your general text document printing. If you’re making a small photo print, fast or standard quality will give you a usable image that you easily can share with other people, although I would recommend only using high quality for photos you want to display in a frame for a long time.
The overall image quality for text and photos, regardless of the quality setting you’re using, is significantly better than nearly all inkjet printers at or below the Pro-100’s price point. I was pleased with the quality of all of the test prints I made. None had any smudging, banding, or any color errors. And the printer handled paper of varying quality with no paper jams, tears, or wrinkles.
It’s also nice to have a variety of connectivity options with this model, including Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Apple AirPrint, and USB capabilities.
Although the ability to print 13-by-19-inch photos is a great feature of this Canon printer, it requires that the PIXMA Pro-100 unit is physically large. You won’t be able to hide the Pro-100 in your office very easily, as it weighs 43 pounds and measures almost 9 inches in height, 27 inches in depth, and 15 inches in width. And you’ll need several extra inches of open space at the front of the printer and above it to extend the paper guides.
Its large size magnifies the issue that the Pro-100 doesn’t have scan or copy capabilities. With this large printer occupying space in your office, being forced to have a second unit available for scanning and copying would be a significant drawback.
If you don’t need scanning or copying though, you’ll be pleased to know that the PIXMA Pro-100 prints text documents and presentation graphics at a quality almost as high as its photo printing quality. While the Canon Pro-100 works best with glossy paper that’s made specifically for printing photos, it also easily accepts plain paper for everyday print jobs that don’t require pristine quality.
Ultimately though, it’s that pristine print quality with photographs that will attract you to the Canon PIXMA Pro-100. Minute details in your images that other printers can’t duplicate will pop out in the Pro-100’s prints, especially black-and-white prints.
Canon certainly makes printers that cost more than the Pro-100 and that use more ink tanks, but when you consider the nearly four-figure price tags for those printers, the PIXMA Pro-100 looks like an even better option. Few printers on the market from any manufacturer provide the strong balance among initial cost, ease of use, high-end photo print quality, and decent print speed that the Pro-100 will give you. It’s offers a good value among printers.
Finally, I should mention that if you can’t quite fit the cost of the Canon Pro-100 into your photography budget — but you want a similar set of operational components and very good image quality — consider the Canon PIXMA iP8720, which I reviewed recently. It’s also a really nice printer at a lower price, but it’s a step below the Pro-100 in terms of performance.
Canon has hit a desirable retail point with its PIXMA Pro-100 photo printer, offering a very strong image quality and performance level in a model at its price point. The Pro-100 makes use of eight inks, which yield very impressive color and monochrome photo prints. Even though it isn't designed as an everyday text printer, it does an excellent job with such documents too. It's extremely easy to use, yet it offers connections via Wi-Fi, Apple AirPrint, Ethernet, or USB. You'll be able to make prints as large as 13-by-19 inches, which isn't common in a printer designed for at-home use, and its print speeds are above average versus other printers designed primarily as photo printers. You won't find copy and scan capabilities or a memory card slot on the printer, but every other aspect of the Canon PIXMA Pro-100 is very impressive.