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Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5000 | by Richard-
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Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5000

New York City. One of the areas I went to Photo Plus Expo to research was pigment ink inkjet printers for making archival prints. My first round of research (documented here) led me to the Canon i9900 printer which I have and love. But, as I knew, dye inks are less archival than pigment inks (although more durable so are better for notecards and postcards).


If one is thinking about showing and selling prints one needs to consider this stuff, maybe not on a molecular scale but certainly on something a bit deeper than a brand scale. The old saying "no one ever got fired for buying IBM" applies to printers as well: no one ever got fired or in trouble for buying Epson and while I can't argue with the results of prints done on higher end Epson printers, they are notorious for clogging and high costs of operation. It was just a matter of time before Canon and HP got into this market segment.


This printer, the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5000 is Canon's answer to the Epson 4800, the tried and true workhorse of many professional photographers. Canon has come up with their own Lucia pigment inkset and independent reviews seem to say it will last as long or longer than Epson's K3 inks. For me the bigger issue is maintenance; how easy is it for the heads to clog on these things if you don't use them that often.


All of these higher end printers (as one of my other photos in this set shows) have ink cartridges not mounted on the head but on the body with plumbing between cartridge and head. When you put a cartridge in, half of it drains just to "charge" the plumbing with ink (shocking given the cost of these cartridges). The issue is, if the printer sits for a bit, does the ink dry out in the plumbing and if so, what is required to get going again short of an angioplasty or bypass surgery.


This printer has a self cleaning routine that it runs from time to time that moves a bit of ink through the system. Yes, it uses some precious ink but the alternative is much worse. The Epson 4800 also has a self-cleaning routine but it, notoriously, is not as good and the printer does clog.


I'm also looking at Canon's smaller, consumer level pigment printer, the PIXMA Pro9500 but it won't ship until next year. Same inkset, smaller, less "industrial scale" printer.

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Taken on November 4, 2006