The steps you need to take in order to print a beautiful black and white image are very similar to the steps taken for printing a color image.
The PIXMA PRO-1 uses five monochrome inks as part of the 12-color LUCIA system. The monochrome inks are: Photo Black, Matte Black, Dark Gray, Gray, and Light Gray. These monochrome inks deliver an enhanced, deep black density that is ideally suited for grayscale photography. These inks also expand the printable dynamic range, especially in the darker or shadow areas of the image, while reducing the effect of bronzing. Additionally, you don't have to switch cartridges when changing from matte black to photo black –saving users a step that is not only time consuming, but potentially very wasteful.
As we learned in previous articles, the PIXMA PRO-1 supports a wide range of media sizes, which range from 4" x 6" (15 x 10cm) up to A3+ (13" x 19" or 32.9 x 48.3cm) and cover a very large variety of available standard and fine art inkjet papers. Check this link to learn how to choose the correct media for your printer.
I performed several different tests using low contrast and high contrast images, as well as very colorful subject matter and plain, almost monochromatic photos to really understand, and push, the black and white features of the PRO-1. One of the most interesting experiences was using this very colorful image, mostly because of the unexpected amount of fine detail that I found in the shadow areas.
I first exported the original image (let's call it Image A) from Adobe Lightroom using Canon's Easy-PhotoPrint plug-in software. The steps could not be simpler: Go to File > Plug-in Extras > Canon Easy-PhotoPrint Pro. If you are using Adobe Photoshop go to File > Automate > Canon Easy-PhotoPrint Pro. All of the following steps are identical for both software applications.
Since I wanted to use a color image, in the next step I converted the image to grayscale using Easy-PhotoPrint's "Grayscale Photo Color Adjustment." If you are starting with a black and white image that was shot in camera, already converted to black and white in an image-editing software, or even scanned from a black and white negative, you can skip this step.
I performed my tests with the PIXMA PRO-1 using 8.5" x 11" paper. The Media Type used was Matte Paper, including Museum Etching (FA-ME1), Photo Rag (FA-PR1), and Premium Matte (FA-PM1). A great way to inexpensively test different media types is to buy the "Digital Art Paper Variety Pack." For the paper source, I used the rear tray, and for the print quality, I set it for standard.
Here is where the magic happened. I made sure "Grayscale Photo" was enabled in EasyPhotoPrint, and then I converted the color image to grayscale. I generally use the default settings, but by clicking on "Color Adjustments" you have many additional options like "cool tone," "warm tone," or you can even create your own custom black and white recipe, which includes adding or removing Magenta, Cyan, or Yellow!
To make my test even more interesting, I converted a second version (we will call it Image B) to grayscale using Adobe Lightroom's black and white feature (using all the default settings), and also exporting that second version with the Easy-PhotoPrint plug-in.
- Image A and Image B side by side in Adobe Lightroom 4
- Image A and Image B side by side in Easy-PhotoPrint
For this article I chose to print both images on the same 8.5" x 11" paper, but the Easy-PhotoPrint's Layout tool offers several different options (on the lower left) to quickly resize the images and match your needs.
I was quite pleased with the results. The blacks were deep and rich, and the detail in the grain was very subtle. The tonal gradations looked very smooth and neutral, and there was no discernible dot pattern. Image A printed less than a third of a stop darker than Image B, but this difference was really only noticeable when the two prints were placed side by side using a color-corrected print-viewing booth. If you are not familiar with this wonderful tool, check our previous article "5 tips to consider when evaluating prints"
The results were excellent, and a significant improvement over output from previous Canon printers and other competing products I have used –especially when you take into account the fact that I didn't make any adjustments (besides clicking on "Black and White" and "Grayscale") on both versions.
The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.