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Review: Canon imageProGraf W8400 Printer

(October 2005) posted on Fri Oct 21, 2005


By Jeff Dorgay

Print times were very zippy, even at the
highest resolution. A 30 x 40-in. print, for
instance, only took about 10 minutes to
produce at the highest quality setting. The
W8400 will also print borderless, which is a
very nice feature, although doing so will
slow down print times by about 15%.
As I indicated earlier, the W8400 features
a 6-color inkset in the basic CMYK+
light cyan/light magenta mode (what
Canon refers to as "photo cyan" and
"photo magenta"). It also comes with an
extra black ink cartridge. Depending on
what media you spend more time printing,
you can switch out the standard black,
(which will do an acceptable job with any
media) with a matte black ink. The matte
black will print a richer black on matte
paper, fine-art paper, and surprisingly
enough, inexpensive bond paper. If you
choose the matte black option, however,
you cannot print on glossy media (the ink
will just streak and smear off the page).

Canon also reports that its ink has a
new formulation, offering bright colors,
including a new, high-intensity yellow. I
found this to be true, with bright vivid
prints produced under all conditions. I
was able to get very accurate color just
using the default settings with the RIP. The
PosterArtist software produced pleasing
color as did simply going straight out of
Photoshop, but I was able to get the most
accurate and consistent color with the RIP
in moving from one type of media to
another. This can really come in handy if
you have to print a comp on one type of
media, but the final must be printed on a
higher-quality media.

Because of the W8400's limited 6-
color inkset, I could not make black-andwhite
prints that were as neutral as, say,
the new offerings from Epson. Nor could I
hit some of the brightest colors produced
by the CMYKOG (orange, green)
inkset from the Roland Hi-Fi Jet. But for
most everyday print jobs, the W8400 did
quite well"?especially with flesh tones"?
and went about its business with no difficulty.
I should also point out that prints
produced through Photoshop, using the
standard print driver, are limited to 59 ft
in length, which should be enough for
most users; you can print beyond 100 ft
by using the PhotoPrint Select RIP.

Minor concerns

I only have a few concerns about this
printer:

  • Unlike some printers, the W8400
    loads paper from underneath its housing.
    While this makes for a bit more attractive
    machine and a somewhat smaller footprint,
    it does not necessarily provide for
    the straightest paper path. Although I didn't
    have any problems with this in my test, if
    you plan on using heavyweight (i.e.: thick)
    watercolor or other fine-art media, I would
    suggest a test at your Canon dealer before
    you plunk down the corporate MasterCard.
    According to Canon's specifications, the
    W8400 will print on media up to 0.8-mm
    thick, which will be just fine for most photo
    applications.
  • While the ProGraf W8400 is a very
    stylish printer, it's not terribly quiet. The
    culprit here is not so much the printing
    engine itself, but the fans inside the
    machine that are almost always on. This
    could be a factor if noise is a concern.
  • The print longevity is rated at 70 years
    with Canon Heavy Weight Coated Paper. For
    most projects, this is probably fine, but if
    you're looking at a fine-art project, the
    trend is toward longer print life and 70
    years is somewhat at the back of the pack.
  • Finally, as I indicated earlier, I'm a bit
    nervous about the liberal use of plastic,
    but that seems to be the trend these days.
  • A Solid Value

    Judged on its own merits, Canon's new
    imageProGraf W8400 is a very good
    printer and a solid value. If it fits your
    shop space, budget, and workflow
    requirements, the W8400 may be your
    cup of tea. And, if you don't need a 44-in.
    printer, you may want to take a look at the
    smaller, 24-in. imageProGraf W6400.

    The Canon imageProGraf W8400 has a
    street price of $5995, including the
    stand, media catcher tray, RIP, and software.
    It will connect to a Mac, PC, or network
    via the built-in 10/100bt Ethernet
    card and a USB 2.0 port; a FireWire card is
    optional. Price on the 24-in. W6400 is
    $3495.

    CANON

    www.usa.canon.com

    Photographer and freelance writer Jeff
    Dorgay lives in Washington and operates
    WallWerks (www.wallwerks.com), a digital
    fine-art studio.


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