To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Canon Pixma Pro-1 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £615
inc VAT

It produces some of the best photos we’ve ever seen, but this printer is very expensive to buy and run

Canon’s Pixma Pro-1 is a large but surprisingly sleek-looking A3+ photo printer aimed squarely at the professional end of the market. At over £600, it’s one of the most expensive A3+ printers around, although it’s still a snip compared to A2 printers such as Epson’s Stylus Pro 4900.

Canon Pixma Pro-1

The Pixma Pro-1 uses Canon’s Lucia inks which, unlike more traditional photo printing ink systems, are pigment-based rather than dye-based. Dye-based inks are designed to soak into the paper while pigment inks contain suspended crystalline particles of pigment which sit on top of the print surface. Pigment ink can display an iridescent sheen under direct light, although this is rarely an issue with the best and latest pigmented compounds. It’s also popularly believed that dye-based inks produce more intense colours and subtle blending of shades, but again, technology has worked to minimise the differences. Meanwhile, pigmented inks have a proven track record of durability and faster drying times.

The Pro-1 takes 12 ink tanks, including a chroma optimiser coating that helps to seal and enhance the glossy finish of your photos. As well as the usual cyan, magenta, yellow and black cartridges, there are also lighter photo magenta, photo cyan, light grey, grey, dark grey and matte black inks to help produce a wide colour gamut and realistic shading even on challenging black and white images.

Configuring the printer is a fairly simple process. Although you can connect it to either your local network or via USB, we opted for the latter to ensure that our print times were directly comparable with other, USB-only, photo printers we’ve tested. Being able to connect the printer via your LAN is extremely useful, though, whether you’re working from a home studio or equipping a small business or print shop, as multiple computers can all have easy access to the same device.

Canon Pixma Pro-1

Whether you plan on using USB or Ethernet to connect the printer, you’ll have to install drivers either from an accompanying disc or, to ensure they’re up-to-date, from Canon’s website. As well as a standard printer driver, there’s an XPS driver which can install as an additional component. While the standard driver supports 8 bits per channel colour, the XPS one supports 16 bits per channel. Essentially, it means the printer can understand and produce a wider range of colours, assuming you’re working with an image format which supports them, such as 16-bit TIFF. Not all image-editing software can cope with 16-bit colour images, while some programs require additional plugins to handle them.

Other optional driver components include Adobe RGB ICC colour profiles, which allow you to install specific profiles for different paper types, and a variety of tools to help you manage and monitor your printer’s settings. These are particularly helpful, as the printer doesn’t have much by way of built-in status indicators or configuration buttons.

Printing our reference A3 photo took seven minutes and 28 seconds. The result was well worth the wait, with true-to-life colour and a pleasing lustre. Six 6x4in prints emerged in 13 minutes 29 seconds and two 10x8in photos took just under nine and a half minutes. We were particularly pleased with the excellent contrast and detail visible in dark colour and true black and white prints, which clearly benefit from the Pro-1’s dedicated grey cartridges.

We occasionally ran into problems with the printer’s paper feed failing to pick up even thick sheets of A3. This is an issue we’ve encountered with other rear-tray-loading Canon photo printers, but it only crops up here if you’ve just got one or two sheets of paper in the tray; a full tray produced no such problems.

Canon Pixma Pro-1

The Pixma Pro-1’s print quality is nothing short of stunning. Canon’s pigment inks don’t have the same level of glossy sheen we’ve seen from other inkjets, but nonetheless produced vibrant and attractive colours. Both pale and dark low-contrast areas are reproduced with stunning accuracy, making it easy to pick out tonal shifts that are often lost amid shadows and highlights. Fine detail is absolutely stunning, too, and is at its most impressive when it appears in conjunction with delicate variations in shading. However, although professional and serious hobbyist photographers, designers and print-makers could all make an argument to justify the printer’s over-£600 purchase price, its running costs are harder to come to terms with over the long term.

Including the cost of appropriately-sized Canon Platinum Pro photo paper, a 6x4in print costs a whopping 56.4p. That’s significantly more expensive than going to your local branch of Snappy Snaps, let alone using web-based printing services, which typically charge around 5p per photo. Admittedly, the Pro-1’s photos look better than those from online services and you get hands-on control over reproduction settings, but it’s still a painful jump. However, an A4 print on the same paper will cost £1.77, while A3 prints cost £3.87, both of which prices are significantly lower than having the prints made for you. You can also save money by using Canon’s lower-cost papers – the ink-only cost of a 6x4in print is 27p. Still expensive, but not quite as painful.

While some professionals may explicitly require the massive colour gamut and fine detail of the Pro-1, its sister models are not only cheaper but also cost a lot less to run, while sharing the Pro-1’s ease of use and excellent support for heavy duty papers. For most users, we think the Canon Pro-100 hits the sweet spot between print costs, quality and ease of use, although it lacks the grey cartridges which contribute to the Pro-1’s black and white print quality, while the Pro-10 gives you almost as much detail for significantly lower running costs.

Basic Specifications

Maximum native print resolution4,800×2,400dpi

Quoted Speeds

Quoted speed, mono A4N/A
Quoted speed, colour A4N/A

Tested Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.09m 24s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.013m 29s

Print Quality

Number of ink colours11
Number of ink cartridges12
Maximum number of ink colours11
Maximum number of cartridges12
Quoted photo durability78 years
Quoted photo durability sourceWilhelm Imaging Research

Physical and Environmental

Standard printer interfacesUSB, 10/100 Ethernet
Optional printer interfacesnone
Noise (in normal use)35.5dB(A)

Paper Handling

Maximum paper sizeA3+
Maximum paper weight350gsm
Standard paper inputs1
Standard paper input capacity150
Maximum paper inputs1
Maximum paper input capacity150
Duplex (code, cost if option)No

Photo Features

PictBridge supportYes
Borderless printingA3+
Direct (PC-less) printingYes
Supported memory cardsnone
CD printingYes


Printer technologythermal inkjet
Supported operating systemsWindows XP/Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.4.11 – 10.8
Other inkjet featuresautomatic print head alignment, print via Android/iOS app

Buying Information

Consumable parts and prices£25 each
Quoted life of supplied photo cartridge(s)Photo Black: 1300 photos, Matte Black: 1925 photos, Dark Grey: 710 photos, Grey: 724 photos, Light Grey: 1320 photos, Cyan: 1940 photos, Photo Cyan: 1445 photos, Magenta: 1850 photos, Photo Magenta: 1010 photos, Yellow: 1420 photos, Red: 2370 photos, Chro
Price per colour A4 pageN/A
Price per mono A4 pageN/A
Warrantyone year RTB

Tested Print Speeds

Time for two 10x8in photos 1.09m 24s
Time for six 6x4in photos 1.013m 29s