In this article I’d like to shed some light on managing media types with the Canon PRO-1000 (and other Canon printers), based on my own experience and Canon’s documentation on the topic.
Why should you care?
For Canon printers, the media types tell the printer how to handle a specific type of paper. The printers comes with predefined media types for Canon papers, and as long as you stick to those, you just need to select the media type for your paper in the driver or Canon Print Studio Pro and don’t need to think about it further.
However, when using third party papers it is important to understand the properties of media types to choose the one that fits your paper best. Also it can be of advantage to create a custom media type for your third party paper, but more on this further below.
What is Controlled by the Media Type?
This is not well documented, but so far I have found the following parameters being controlled by the media type. Most of these settings can be viewed in Canon’s Media Configuration Tool, for others you have to dig deeper into the documentation or find out by trial and error.
- Ink mixture and amount: the settings visible in the Media Configuration Tool are the Black Ink and Ink Usage settings, however each media type has an underlying and more complex “recipe”. For example the High Density Art media type will put down more ink than other matte media types. The Canon Accounting Manager shows the amounts of ink used for each print, and thus can help in figuring out how the different media types work. You can find more info on that piece of software here.
- ICC profile
- Which trays can be used: for thicker media types the rear tray is disabled. This is not shown in the Media Configuration Tool and NOT related to the Paper Thickness setting.
- Print head height: based on the Paper Thickness setting.
- Drying time
- Paper feed adjustment: can be used to “teach” the printer how to properly feed third party papers.
- Color calibration: for some media types PRO-1000’s color calibration feature can be applied individually, while others rely on one common calibration.
Working with Third Party Papers
When using a third party paper you can use the Canon paper media type that closest resembles the paper, and potentially override some of the parameters via the printer driver (e.g. to set the print head higher if the third party paper is thicker than the Canon paper). The PRO-1000 user manual provides some recommendations on which media types to use. In some cases paper manufacturers provide recommendations for how to setup your printer for their papers. For example Hahnemühle provides a PDF when downloading ICC profiles from their site, which details all their recommendations for printer driver settings.
As a second option, you can create a custom media type via Canon’s Media Configuration Tool. Creating a custom media type has several advantages:
- It is less error-prone. All parameters are permanently stored, and once you select the custom media type you can be sure they are all applied.
- When printing from Canon’s Print Studio Pro, there is no access to the printer driver settings. So there is no way to override parameters like the print head height or the drying time, and custom media types are the only way to set these differently from the standard Canon media types.
- If you are using the Canon Accounting Manager, only custom media types will allow you to associate costs with your third party papers.
Creating Custom Media Types
Check this page for instructions on how to create custom media types with the Media Configuration Tool.
When you create a custom media type, you first need to choose a base paper. You need to choose the base paper which resembles your third party in material and thickness. Again, if available the recommendation of the paper manufacturer is a good start here. If there are none, you can check Canon’s recommendation, based on paper type and thickness. Of the parameters listed above, the following are predefined by the base paper and cannot be changed:
- Ink mixture and amount (partly): the basic “recipe” is hard-coded in the base paper. Part of it is expressed by the Black Ink setting of the base paper, other parts are not visible. Note that the Black Ink setting only indicates the main ink used, since in most cases the PRO-1000 uses a mix of both black inks.
- Which trays can be used
- Color calibration (partly): whether the color calibration feature can be applied individually or not
The remaining parameters can then be set for the custom paper:
- Ink amount (partly): with the Ink Usage setting you can fine-tune the amount of ink. The setting is relative to the “recipe” in the base paper. For example the High Density Art base paper’s “recipe” uses more ink than other matte media types. A custom paper based on High Density Art and with Ink Usage on Largest will still use more ink than a custom paper based on Heavy Art Paper with Ink Usage also set to Largest. To find the right setting here, you can either check the value used by Canon for a similar paper, or experiment yourself using the Media Configuration Tool’s test print feature described here.
- ICC profile
- Drying time
- Print head height
- Paper feed adjustment
- Color calibration (partly): if the base paper allows it, the calibration can be performed individually
Custom Media Types for Hahnemühle Paper
I am using the following papers from Hahnemühle, and have created custom media types based on their recommendation: Photo Rag Pearl, Photo Rag 308, Photo Rag Duo, FineArt Baryta and Photo Pearl.
With Photo Rag Pearl I also print postcards, which was an issue because the base paper recommended by Hahnemühle only supports the rear tray, which does not allow post card sized prints. To work around that I created another custom media type based on a different base paper, only for the smaller prints. For glossy paper like the Photo Rag Pearl this is no problem. For matte paper like the Photo Rag 308 there is no base paper that allows use of the rear tray and provides the higher amounts of ink as the High Density Art base paper recommended by Hahnemühle. Thus, if you would like to print matte post cards, you need to settle for a base paper with less ink usage.
The following screenshots from the Media Configuration Tool show my settings for each of the above-mentioned papers:
Within the fine art series, Hahnemühle makes the same recommendation for all their glossy and for all their matte papers. So for instance you could use the settings shown above for Hahnemühle Photo Rag Pearl also for Photo Rag Baryta, or the settings for Photo Rag 308 also for Museum Etching.
I hope that the information provided in this article is useful to you. Any comments, additions or corrections are highly appreciated, feel free to contact me.
All the best, Robert