Samples Images for Canon iPF8400
March 18, 2014 1:38 PM   Subscribe

We just bought a Canon iPF8400 printer at work. Yay! We support student services and bought it for student organizations/groups/projects that need poster printing. However, now that we have it, we realize that none of our fellow IT folks have test/sample jobs to send to it. Help me find something to print...

I don't honestly know much about the hardware itself; my support of it is only the billing side. I have a Canon Digital Rebel XTi, 10 megapixel camera I use for personal stuff. But I don't think the pictures I take with it would make good use/show off the capabilities of this printer. Too low of a resolution?

My thought was that maybe there are some extremely high quality digital scans of artwork out there, provided by various museums and institutions. I'm sure I've run across some in the past, but now I can't find them.

What's the minimum resolution I should be considering when looking for sample jobs?
posted by sbutler to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
You should reach out to the architecture department of your school, if applicable; that would be a great test-case scenario for getting high-res images (photos, renderings, line drawings, scans, etc) printed on large posters on different paper media. It would also be a good stress test for the postscript interpreter of your workflow. Can your printer handle a 300mb pdf file with 300,000 lines? etc.
posted by suedehead at 1:53 PM on March 18, 2014

I run a print shop, and we have a pair of the slightly older iPF-8000 that we run daily.

1) Any good, sharp high-res photos will work well as a demo. Alternately, good vector art that you can scale up to the full width of your media will produce a nice crisp print. The printer probably came with a copy of Canon Poster Artist, which has some nice high-res stock photos.

2) These printers are ridiculously inexpensive to run. The printer keeps a job log that you can access via the web interface, status monitor, or, you can kick out a hard copy report of the last several jobs run. It'll show the job name, the print area size, and the total amount of ink used. I escalated a call way up Canon's dealer support channel and yes, this is a very precise reading of the actual amount of ink used to produce each job. There are 12 ink cartridges, and the 330mL tanks cost me $148 each. $148 / 330mL = about 45 cents per mL. Check the amount of ink used in the job log, multiply it by your ink cost, and you'll have a good starting point for costing out (and marking up) print jobs. You'll find that even a full-bleed 24" x 36" poster uses a surprisingly small amount of ink.

Don't forget that in addition to the inks, the printer also uses a maintenance cartridge, ($50-ish) that we wind up changing every 2-3 weeks. So roll in a bit for that. Also, there are two print heads which require periodic replacement, and are a few hundred bucks each. Also, when costing out jobs, factor in the media you're printing on; there's a huge difference in cost between glossy photobase paper and 20# draft bond!

3) More about print heads. It is very important to educate users about properly setting media types when they change out the rolls. The printer has a powerful vacuum fan in it which works to pull the paper flat against the printer deck, to keep it from curling. If you set the media type incorrectly, it may not provide enough suction, and the paper might curl. If there's enough curl, you might see a smear on your output page. This is called a "head strike" and means the very delicate printhead nozzles were rubbing across the page. This is bad, and can be quite costly if it winds up damaging the print head. Once your operators are trained, head strikes are rare, but if I had to guess I'd say one in four head strikes required replacing a damaged print head, especially if it caught the edge of the paper and smashed it up.

4) If you don't have it already, you'll want to pick up the 3"-core spindle, in addition to the standard 2"-core spindle that comes with the machine. Most artistic media (matte/glossy photo paper, textured watercolor paper, canvas, fabric, etc.) generally comes on a 3" core, though you can sometimes find it on a 2" core. The 3" core is better, because it's not as tightly wound around the core. When paper (especially heavy paper) is wound tightly, it develops "roll-set", where even as it's unwound and fed into the printer, it still has a tendency to have a pretty hard curl to it. This gets more pronounced as you get toward the end of the roll, as it is a smaller and smaller diameter that the paper is wound around. Especially on thicker papers, we will often discard the last several feet of a roll and use it for other things, because the roll-set is so bad, a head strike is virtually guaranteed. You'll also find that many papers are only available on 3" core (mainly for this reason.)

5) The inks are archival and very UV-resistant, but it is aqueous ink and not at all waterproof. While vinyl and polyester material are available and can be run through this printer, it is not suited to outdoor banners or posters exposed to the elements. Posters hung inside old windows may still run, if the window "sweats" condensation. It is not fun scraping a poster off a plate glass window. ;)

6) Make sure you grab the Adobe Photoshop plug-in. This acts as an "export" plugin from Photoshop, rather than going through the standard print driver. The advantage is faster printing with a wider color gamut. I have compared output from the same Photoshop file, one printed via the plugin and the other by the standard print driver, and the output from the plugin had noticeably better color. Canon explained it as something to do with a limitation in the Windows print engine being unable to handle 12 colors and so would dither colors to approximate, but the plugin bypassed that limitation. If you do a lot of Photoshop work, it's worth learning the plugin.

7) It's not all about file size. It's how sharp the picture is. We have a professional photographer who uses us for large prints, and one of his favorite cameras is an old 2.1MP Nikon, and we can get 24 x 36" prints looking just fine. But this printer will handle just about anything you throw at it; we've done 44" x 12-foot tradeshow panels that were a gigabyte each and it banged 'em right out.

8) To your last question about resolution, think about how the finished product is going to be viewed. If it's a huge sign on the side of a building, even as low as 75dpi or 150dpi is fine, because it's viewed from such a distance. Most billboards are 75dpi or less. Now if it's a piece of fine art, 300dpi is about the minimum, 600dpi is better. The other big factor in "what resolution do I need?" is what paper you'll be printing on. If it's a heavily-textured watercolor paper, 300dpi is plenty, even overkill. The rough surface of the paper gives a usable resolution of far less than 300dpi, so anything more is wasted. If you really need razor-sharp 1200dpi output, you'll need to be running a high-gloss photobase paper, because any lesser paper will have a comparatively rough surface, and the extra resolution will be lost. Picture taking a piece of chalk and writing on a nice smooth blackboard, then taking that same piece of chalk and writing on the street. The rough surface of the street limits how precise and smooth your chalk can be; so it is with the paper you're using.

I've run my pair of iPF-8000s for the past five or six years; please feel free to pick my brain if you have any questions. :)
posted by xedrik at 6:44 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

found by googing for images, advanced search, large images
posted by at at 10:46 PM on March 18, 2014

Thanks a lot to xedrik for the tips! Took one of my XTi's pictures and ran it through the printer today as a test. I was like, "WOW! That came from my camera?!?" With a print width of 44" you could just start to notice some pixelation at high contrast edges in the image on the matte paper. On the glossy it only showed if you knew where to look. Very nice.

Guess my next step is to start digging heavily through the Accounting Manager application. Means a lot more sample images to print ;)
posted by sbutler at 10:09 PM on March 25, 2014

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