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Canon imagePrograf Pro-300 - Review 2021


Canon’s imagePrograf Pro-300 ($899.99) is a pro-grade photo and graphics arts printer capable of borderless output on media up to supertabloid or A3+, 13 by 19 inches, as well as on banners up to 39 inches long. A direct competitor with Epson’s SureColor P700 (on PCMag’s Best of the Year 2020 list), the Pro-300 replaces the long-in-the-tooth Pro-100 reviewed here back in early 2013. The P700 costs $100 less and supports paper rolls, but the Pro-300’s running costs are notably lower than the P700’s. Like other Canon Pro-grade photo printers, it turns out terrific-looking grayscale images, graphics, and photos. If you don’t need to print ultra-long banners, it’s an extremely worthy contender.


Smaller and Mightier With Each Update

With its trays closed, the Pro-300 is notably smaller and lighter than the 2013 Pixma Pro-100: just 7.9 by 15 by 25.2 inches (HWD) and 31.6 pounds. The Epson P700 has a slightly smaller footprint and weighs slightly more. If you need even larger-format printing, up to 17 by 22 inches, you’ll need to invest in a much heftier printer, such as Canon’s Pixma Pro-1000 or Epson’s SureColor P800.

Canon imagePrograf Pro-300 banner

Though the imagePrograf Pro-300 doesn’t support paper rolls, you can still print banners up to 39 inches long.

The P700 and P800 have built-in paper-roll adapters; the Canon models only print from sheets. However, the Pro-300 will accept banner-size cut sheets up to 39 inches (3 feet, 3 inches) long, which is long enough for many posters, banners, and panorama-style print jobs. Pre-cut sheets with those dimensions are expensive, so your best option for banner printing is to buy a 13-inch-wide roll of premium photo paper and cut the desired lengths as needed.

The lack of paper-roll support aside, the Pro-300 does come with some impressive new features for productivity, convenience, and output quality. For starters, a newly formulated Matte Black ink provides deeper and more vivid blacks on fine art paper, a wider reproduction range in darker areas, and improved gradients. The Matte Black ink cartridge increases Canon’s Lucia Pro Pigment ink system to nine inks. The Pro-300 automatically changes among Matte Black, Photo Black, and Gray to produce beautiful grayscale images and gradients without time-consuming nozzle switching.

Canon’s Chroma Optimizer coats and seals output for improved brilliance and longevity. Canon claims the coating reduces the difference in ink droplet height to form a smoother and more uniform surface on premium glossy or semi-gloss media. The more evenly reflected light delivers more accurate print colors with richer and darker blacks, vivid colors, and less bronzing.

Just in case you’re still distributing physical media, the Pro-300 also prints labels on pre-surfaced CD ROM and DVDs.

Canon imagePrograf Pro-300 CD label printing

You can label your CDs and DVDs using this tray that slips in just above the paper drawer.

The front cassette of the Pro-300 can hold up to 100 sheets ranging in thickness from 64 to 380 gsm (grams per square meter), or 17 to 170 lbs. A one-sheet tray on the back holds all sizes of paper from 8 by 10 inches to 13 by 39 inches.

Canon imagePrograf Pro-300 paper input

Paper handling consists of a 100-sheet cassette in front and a 1-sheet tray on the back.

Getting the Most From the Pro-300

Most photographers and graphic artists edit, enhance, and print their work from their computers, but there are times when simply walking up to the printer and configuring it or initiating print jobs comes in handy. To that end, the Pro-300 comes with a three-inch display that you navigate and operate with a standard navigation wheel and OK button. You can check ink levels, tell the printer what paper type and size it’s using, generate usage reports, set security options, and more.

Canon imagePrograf Pro-300 control panel

The non-touch color graphical display lets you configure and operate the printer manually.

The Pro-300 can connect to a single PC via USB 2.0, to a Canon camera or video recorder via Wireless PictBridge, and to a network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi 802.11/a/b/g/n. Canon also provides several mobile apps, including Apple AirPrint, Canon Print, Canon Print Service (Android only), Easy PhotoPrint Editor, and Mopria, for working with photo files and printing directly from your smartphone or tablet. 

Canon imagePrograf Pro-300 printing from a tablet

Edit, enhance, and print images from your Android or iOS mobile phone or tablet.

For more intensive photo editing on a PC or Mac, Canon throws in its Professional Print & Layout software, Media Configuration Tool, and Poster Artist Lite. Professional Print & Layout is a superb interface for preparing your images and artwork for printing on the Pro-300. You can run it as a standalone app or as an overlay in Photoshop or Lightroom. Precision color management, matching your output to specific paper types, and several other considerations are critical to getting the best possible results from a printer like this. Professional Print & Layout brings all these options and more together in one comprehensive, relatively easy-to-use interface.

Canon Professional Print and Layout

Canon’s Professional Print & Layout program brings color correction and other editing and enhancement tools into one comprehensive window.

High-end printers use International Color Consortium (ICC) profiles that describe specific paper types and their characteristics to determine how to mix and apply ink. Each premium paper type and its properties—such as whether it has a glossy or matte finish, its absorption rate, drying speed, and other appearance variables—are defined in the paper’s ICC profile. Canon’s Media Configuration Tool makes it easy to add and manage the various media types and their ICC profiles on your computer.

Canon Media Configuration Tool

Canon’s Media Configuration Tool helps manage paper types and ICC profiles.

Poster Artist Lite is a pared-down version of Canon’s Poster Artist software. As its name suggests, it’s a page layout application for creating posters—one of the ideal uses for this printer. Working in an interface similar to Adobe InDesign’s, you import images and artwork and combine them with Poster Artist’s simple graphics (frames, rules, boxes, and so on) and text to bring life to your own vibrant and colorful borderless posters, from 11 by 17 inches all the way up to 13 by 39 inches.

Canon Poster Artist Lite screenshot

Canon’s Poster Artist Lite helps you lay out posters for printing on the Pro-300.

Slow Output, Worth Waiting For

When you use a $900 printer that deploys nine expensive inks (and a clear coat) through a printhead with 768 nozzles per ink onto high-priced, luxurious, oversize premium papers, it seems a bit trivial to worry about how long it takes. Professional photo printers are slower than other inkjets, but they get a little faster with each new round of upgrades.

Canon rates the Pro-300’s print speed as follows: 

  • 11-by-14-inch bordered (as opposed to “borderless,” which can increase print times by 25% or more) color photo prints in 2 minutes 50 seconds.
  • 8-by-10-inch bordered color photo prints in 1 minute 45 seconds.

During my tests (conducted over Ethernet from our standard Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows Pro, Adobe Photoshop CC, and Canon’s Professional Layout & Print software), I found these numbers were pretty accurate. I ran several other tests, of course, including bordered and borderless supertabloid prints, and found the Pro-300 was about 16 seconds faster than the Pro-100. Epson’s P700 performed slightly better than this Canon on all my tests. It printed out our supertabloid test images at an average of 2 minutes 23 seconds each, or about 59 seconds faster than the Pro-300.


Immaculate Images

A machine like this is all about output quality—period. A resolution of 4,800 by 2,400 dots per inch (dpi) and Canon’s FINE (Full-Photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering) printhead technology mean that the Pro-300 turns out impressively vibrant and brightly colored—often breathtaking—prints of your top-notch photos and artwork. The colors are precise, matching what you see in the source image or on your high-res color-calibrated monitor.

Many banners, posters, flyers, and other advertising material contain text, so we tested that too, and the Pro-300 printed all our serif, sans-serif, headline, display, and ornamental sample font pages with aplomb.

The Pro-300 and P700 use distinct sets of ink, different printheads, and so on, but each model produces exceptional images—slightly different to a discerning eye, perhaps, but equally impressive. Canon’s near-dedicated photo printers have the edge on grayscale images, and the Pro-300 is no exception: the Matte Black, Photo Black, and Gray inks create subtle gradations with imperceptible stepping, producing stunning monochrome photos and art. There’s no doubt that the Pro-300’s images are superlative in every respect.


Relatively Inexpensive Inks

Given the many different paper types and sizes and the varying amounts of each ink for each print, it’s impossible to strictly quantify the per-print cost of using this printer. But we can say definitively that printing on the Pro-300 and other pro-grade photo printers is in no way cheap.

Canon imagePrograf Pro-300 ink cartridges

The Pro-300 uses nine inks and a Chroma Optimizer image coating.

Instead of calculating running costs by the cost per page (cpp), pro-level ink cartridges are priced by the milliliter (ml). The Pro-300’s 10 cartridges cost $12.99 each, and each one holds 14.4ml of ink (or Chroma Optimizer). That comes out to 90 cents per ml, which is one of the least expensive I’ve seen. The Pro-100’s 13ml ink tanks run $1.31 per ml, and the Epson P700’s 25ml cartridges will cost $1.52 per ml. 

You’ll get a better per-ml value by paying the higher up-front cost for a larger 17-by-22-inch model, such as Canon’s Pro-1000 or Epson’s SureColor P900. Inks for those machines cost 70 cents and 83 cents per ml, respectively. (And, of course, you can print significantly larger photos and artwork.)

There’s also the high cost of premium paper to factor in. It comes in several sizes ranging from 3.5 by 3.5 inches up to 13 by 19 inches; as previous noted, you can also purchase a 13-inch roll and slice off custom-length pieces up to 39 inches long. To pick just one of the hundreds of products available, Canon sells its 25-pack of 13-by-19-inch Premium FineArt Rough for $109.99, or $4.40 per sheet.

You may be able to save a bit of money by purchasing off-brand paper. As long as it comes with accurate ICC profiles, you should be fine, but it wouldn’t hurt to research what others say about specific media and, if possible, request samples. Near-dedicated professional photo printers like the Pro-300 are not budget-minded machines, and skimping on paper may give you undesired results. Over the years, I have found that using Canon’s inks and papers on Canon’s high-end photo printers is the safest way to go.


Simply Beautiful Banners and Prints

I found so much to like about this printer. The lack of paper-roll support is all I can complain about. The inexpensive ($12.99) ink cartridges are commendable, balancing out concerns over the Pro-300 costing $100 more than its closest competitor, the Epson SureColor P700. As long as you start with high-quality, high-resolution image files (and use premium paper), the Pro-300 will return stunning results.

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