Free webinar with award winning pro photographer

Melbourne based commercial photographer Ian van der Wolde will co-host a free webinar next week with monitor maker BenQ.

Image by Ian van der Wolde. (See more about Ian on his website Altered Images.)

Ian van der Wolde is an award winning Accredited Professional Photographer, Life Member, Master of Photography IV, Honorary Fellow and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (AIPP).

His work includes advertising, aerial, architectural, corporate portrait, fashion, food, industrial, studio and location photography, and large format archival fine art printing.

At the free webinar Ian will discuss his “photographic journey and best shooting practices”, and will also look at the tools used in photo editing and post production. (Ian is a BenQ ambassador.)

The free live webinar is on Wednesday 17 March 2021, at 6.30 to 7.30pm. See more details here.

Canon PIXMA PRO-200 A3+ Photo Printer

Photo Review 9.0

In summary

The PIXMA PRO-200 represents a significant improvement on the PRO-100 model it replaces; it’s more compact, better designed and easier to operate, thanks to the LCD control panel and improved software. The ink set also appears to deliver richer, more accurate colours.

If you prefer printing on glossy or lustre paper, the PRO-200 will be a good investment, especially if you don’t need to make prints larger than 329 x 483 mm. It’s straightforward to set up and easy and one of the most affordable to run on the basis of ink cost.

Full review

Although it was due for release in November 2020, it’s taken until mid-February 2021 for Canon’s new PIXMA PRO-200 dye-based A3+ inkjet printer to reach our desk. Replacing the PIXMA PRO-100S, it provides an alternative to the pigment-based imagePROGRAF PRO-300 we reviewed last year. Features shared with that model, include a smaller footprint and improved efficiency and versatility over its predecessor.  But its eight-colour dye ink system is updated with new magenta and black inks that support an expanded colour gamut for reds and blues plus higher black density for a more faithful reproduction of blacks. The built-in colour LCD control panel makes the PRO-200 easier to operate than its predecessor.


Angled view of the new PIXMA PRO-200 printer. (Source: Canon.)

The ink colours are the same as in the earlier models and include Y/M/C/PC/PM/Gy/LGy/BK inks but they have been improved in unspecified ways. The set includes dark and light grey inks to produce black and white prints free of unwanted colour casts and ensure smoother tonal gradations in shadowed areas. All cartridges carry the CLI-65 label, confirming they contain Canon’s relatively durable ChromaLife 100+ inks.

To the best of our knowledge, ChromaLife100+ inks are rated for about 10 years fade resistance when displayed without any protection or about 40 years when displayed behind glass. Prints made with these inks are said to be able to last for more than 200 years in a photo album, which makes this printer ideal for photo book printing.

However, it’s worth noting that durability depends on the paper they are printed on. Print durability is generally greater with pigment inks, which are normally rated for up to 60 years exposed to light and over 200 years in a photo album. But that too will depend on the media used.

Compatibility with Canon’s Professional Print & Layout PC software means the PIXMA PRO-200 can integrate seamlessly with professional print workflows. It also supports various software extensions including the Media Configuration Tool PC utility along with image editing applications like Canon’s Digital Photo Professional and Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom.

Borderless printing is supported at the highest quality in all print modes, across a wide variety of media, including fine art paper. Three connectivity methods – Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB – allow it to be used in different environments including the office or studio, shared work spaces and at home.

Who’s it For?
The PIXMA PRO-200 is designed (and priced) to attract photo enthusiasts, particularly those who prefer printing with dye-based inks and tend to use glossy, semi-gloss or lustre media for most of their output. Professional users might also find this printer attractive for the same reasons, although they could be put off by the relatively low (12.6 mL) capacity of the ink cartridges.

There’s a reason for keeping the cartridges small: it allows them to be carried on the print head, removing the need for flexible tubes to carry the ink from static tanks. This system also means the actual printer can be smaller in size.

As with the imagePROGRAF PRO-300, this printer could suit photography schools and outlets offering limited edition print runs. With a similar footprint to the Pro-300, it would be easy to fit into most working environments.

If you already have a PIXMA PRO-100 printer that’s in working order, upgrading may be worthwhile to get the LCD control panel, which certainly makes the PRO-200 easier to use. As far as saving money is concerned, while the PRO-200 is more economical to run, it would take many a great prints to recoup the investment costs of buying a new printer.

What’s in the Box?
The PRO-200 comes in a cardboard box that is 725 mm long, 465 mm deep and 335 mm in height. The printer itself has a footprint of 639 x 379 x 200 mm, which makes it slightly larger than the PRO-300. And at 14.1 kg it weighs 30 grams less.

Included in the box you’ll find the print head plus eight individual dye ink cartridges (the full 12.6 ml capacity in their normal packages), a power cord, a CD printing tray, a software CD-ROM (Windows only; MacOS drivers are available online) and several printed guides and notes. A USB cable is NOT included but the user manual can be downloaded here. https://ij.start.canon This link also allows you to acquire the latest driver and software.


The PIXMA PRO-200 as delivered.

As with the PRO-300, the contents of the box are packed in Styrofoam, which is split to enable the top sections to be removed. The printer comes in a similar heavy-duty plastic bag with handles at each end and is strong enough to enable you to lift the printer onto a desktop.

As usual there’s a fair bit of packaging and you’ll have to spend ten minutes or so removing the strips of orange tape and plastic mouldings that keep everything in place while the printer is in transit.

Setting Up
Allow half to three-quarters of an hour to make the printer ready for printing, following the instructions in the starter guide, which are similar to those provided for the PRO-300. As with the PRO-300 the PRO-200’s LCD panel will display animated guides to show you what to do once you’ve set the language and date/time.

Like the PRO-300, this printer’s ink tanks ride on top of the print head so the first step is to plug in the power cable and switch on the printer. Opening the top cover shifts the head carriage across to the left so you can install the print head.

The print head comes in a sealed plastic bag with its contact points and ink outlets protected by an orange shield. Remove the head from the bag, take off the shield without touching the contacts and raise the locking lever on the right before slipping the head in below the grey bar. Lower the lever to lock it in place.



Installing the ink cartridges in the print head.

The ink cartridges are also individually packaged with orange plugs to seal their outlets. When the packaging is removed they can be clicked into place in their colour-coded slots. Once all inks are installed, closing the cover triggers the initialisation process. The printer must be left to ‘do its thing’ until it lets you know it is ready to use.


The display on the LCD control panel as the printer is initializing following ink cartridge installation.

When this point is reached it’s a good idea to run a print head alignment check – and the printer will offer this suggestion. It requires two sheets of plain paper in A4 or Letter size and will produce two different test patterns that will show whether the inks are being laid down correctly. (This process should be repeated periodically and should be repeated after the first depleted cartridge is replaced to refine the adjustments.)


Print head alignment.

The next step is to load the printer driver, which can be done from the supplied CD is you’re a Windows user or downloaded from Canon’s website. Note the download will give you the most up-to-date driver and make it easy to connect the printer to a computer and set it up to print. .


These screen grabs show the steps involved in installing the printer driver and accessing instructions for connecting it to a computer.

Of the three connection options – via USB cable, via wired LAN or to an existing Wi-Fi network – we chose the USB connection. If you’re connecting to a wireless network you’ll need things like passwords and permissions and you may need to reset security clearances.


The three methods for connecting the printer to other devices.

We had no problems connecting the review printer to a Windows 10 system. Mac OS users should check out the setup procedures in Keith Cooper’s report as he identified a potential issue with the Mac AirPrint setup.


Two of the links provided on Canon’s website.

The website also provides additional information with links to various functions, including for smartphone printing as well as additional software such as Canon’s Professional Print & Layout and Media Configuration Tool.

Professional Print & Layout can be used to print directly from Canon’s Digital Photo Professional or can operate as standalone software or as a plug-in with Adobe’s editing software. Media Configuration Tool is a customisable software utility that registers new media types selected by the user to the printer and related software. When new paper supported by the printer is added, the media information file can be downloaded and added to the printer.

Paper Feeds
Like the PRO-300, the PRO-200 provides two paper feeds: a main top feed and a manual feed that flips out from the back of the printer. A feed slot cover flips down to prevent stray items from falling into the chute while the printer is operating. It must be raised each time new sheets of paper are loaded.

Both feeds have pull-out paper supports to help the media feed in correctly and adjustable guides to hold the paper in position. Paper (including envelopes) should always be loaded in portrait orientation and, like the PRO-300, the PRO-200 uses a central feeding system to minimise mis-feeds. We encountered no issues with paper feeding during our tests, which included printing on paper with non-standard sizes.

The top feed chute is a general-purpose feeder that accepts sheet sizes from 10 x 15 cm up to A3+ in size and up to 300 gsm in weight/thickness. It can accommodate up to 50 sheets of plain document paper, 10 sheets of A4 photo paper but only one sheet at a time for A3+ media.

The manual rear feed tray is for papers measuring 20 x 25 cm and larger. Accepting one sheet at a time, it should be used for thicker ‘fine art’ media up to 350 gsm or from 0.1 to 0.6 mm thick.

Either slot can be used for printing on ‘Custom’ sized media in a range of widths from 89 to 330.2 mm and lengths from 127to 990.6 mm. The control panel can also be set to detect paper mismatches and display an error message.

Like other Canon A3 printers, the PRO-300 can’t use roll paper, which limits its overall capabilities.  However, it does allow users to print with Custom sizes up to 330 x 990.6 mm, which provides some scope for panorama printing if you’re prepared to cut roll paper to a size between those limits.

Users can also print on Canon’s NL-101 Printable Nail Stickers, which come in two-sheet packs of 108 x 48.5 mm sheets. It can also be used to print on Canon’s iron-on transfer media, which are available for use with dark or light fabrics and come in five-sheet A4sized packs.

The PRO-200 is also supplied with a ‘multi-purpose tray’ for printing on specially coated optical discs. It’s stored under the printer body and fits into a special slot behind a pull-down panel above the output tray.

In Use
The printer’s control panel is the same as the one in the PRO-300 and is used to display status messages and access essential functions. As with the PRO-300 its menu is comprehensive enough to enable the printer to be operated as a stand-alone unit. We’d advise potential buyers to ensure the media settings on the screen match those selected in the printer driver whenever they embark on a new printing project.

The printer driver is essentially the same as the PRO-300’s and straightforward to use. The PRO-200’s custom print sizes can be set for sheets up to 330 x 990.6 mm in size. Canvas is not included in the list of recommended media.

Printing Times
Regardless of the size of the media we printed on, the PRO-200 devoted between13 and 15 seconds to spooling (organising the image data prior to engaging the print head) before it actually started printing. This is normal and the time involved is average for printers of this type. We measured the following average printing times (including spooling) – measured from when we initiated the print sequence to when the print emerged completed from the printer – for the different paper sizes and output quality settings we tested:
A4 prints at Standard quality – 49 seconds;
A4 prints at High quality – 1 minute 56 seconds;
12×12-inch at Standard quality – 2 minutes 8 seconds;
12×12-inch at High quality – 3 minutes 8 seconds;
A3 prints at Standard quality – 1 minute 42 seconds;
A3 prints at High quality – 2 minutes 48 seconds;
A3+ prints at standard quality – 2 minutes 55 seconds;
A3+ prints at High quality – 5 minutes 57 seconds.

In each case, the prints had white borders of between 10mm and 15mm. Printing times were about 20% longer when borderless prints were made.

Ink Consumption
Because we obtained a brand new printer for this review, we’re able to provide a better estimate of average ink costs than we could for the imagePROGRAF PRO-300. Our calculations are based on measuring the actual areas covered by printed images.

The first ink to run out was Light Grey, which had to be replaced after we had printed 15 A3 prints with borders plus four A4 prints. After that, ink cartridges were depleted in the following order: Photo Cyan, Grey, Black and Yellow.


The ink status monitor when we measured ink consumption.

When the Grey ink needed to be replaced, we measured the area of the images we had printed and also estimated the amount remaining in the other cartridges by capturing a screen grab of the printer’s ink status monitor (shown above) and measuring the length of each coloured bar to work out how much ink remained in the cartridge.  We obtained the following estimates of the amount of ink remaining:
Magenta = 8.5 ml
Photo Cyan = 4.7 ml
Yellow = 3.5 ml
Black = 3.5 ml
Grey = 1 ml
Photo Magenta = 7.2 ml
Light Grey = 4.7 ml
C = 7.4 ml

At this point the ink used had covered 45,870 square centimetres of paper and we had used 37.8 ml of ink. This showed that one millilitre of ink can cover approximately 0.0008240 cm2 of paper, given average usage. From these measurements we estimate 37.8 ml of ink was used to cover 4.587 square metres of paper, leaving 63 ml remaining of the original amount of 100.8 ml in the eight-cartridge ink set.

Buyers of Canon printers are fortunate in having a wide range of outlets from which to buy replacement cartridges, which means discounting is relatively common and often quite substantial. The highest price we found for individual cartridges for the PRO-200 was AU$29.95 (= $2.38/ml), while the lowest was $20.68 (= $1.61/ml) – both offered by local online re-sellers. So it pays to shop around.

While you can save money by purchasing eight-cartridge bundles of the inks, it’s probably not advisable since the cartridges will become depleted at quite different times. For that reason, we’ve based our calculations on the prices for individual cartridges and provided figures for the highest and lowest cartridge prices we found. The table below shows the range of average costs per print with 10 mm margins for standard paper sizes:

Print size @$2.38/ml @$1.61/ml
A4 $1.03 71 cents
A3 $2.17 $1.50
A3+ $3.40 $2.35

These figures correspond quite closely with the figure obtained by Red River Paper in Dallas, Texas, which are published in its ‘The True Cost of Inkjet Printing’ report, which we’d encourage readers to consult.  Note: allowances should be made for the differences in paper sizes (Imperial measurements are used in the USA so papers are measured in inches) and currency conversion.

It’s much easier to calculate the costs of the paper you print on, especially when you buy paper in sheet packs. However, it should be noted that ink usage will vary, depending on the density of the tones in the image; high-key images will use less ink than those with a preponderance of dark tones. Our figures represent averages, measured over a significant print area when printing images that varied widely in tonality.

Conclusion

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SPECS

Printer type: Thermal inkjet
Print head: Permanent with 6144 nozzles (768 per ink colour); FINE (Full Photolithographic InkJet Nozzle Engineering) Print Head Technology
Resolution: 4800 x 2400 dpi
Paper sizes: A3+,A3, A4, A5, B4, B5, LTR, LGL, Ledger, Hagaki, 7 x 10 inch, 12 x 12 inch, 4 x 6 inch, 8 x 10 inch, 127 mm square, 210 x 594 mm, Envelopes ( DL, COM10); Max. Custom size – 254 mm 990.6 mm (manual feed only)
Max. paper thickness: Approx. 380 gsm (~0.6 mm)
Optical disk printing: Yes; 12 cm only
Ink system: ChromaLife 100+ Dye inks
Ink cartridges: CLI-65BK Black, CLI-65C Cyan, CLI-65GY Grey, CLI-65LGY Light Grey, CLI-65M Magenta, CLI-6PC Photo Cyan, CLI-65PM Photo Magenta, CLI-65Y Yellow
Cartridge capacity: 12.6 ml
Interfaces: Hi-Speed USB (2.0), Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) including PictBridge, Ethernet, 3-inch LCD colour display panel
Power consumption: 1.6 W (printing), 1.0 W (standby), 0.2 W (off)
Acoustic noise: 42.5 dB
Dimensions (wxhxd): 639 x 379 x 200 mm
Weight: 14.1 kg
Distributor: Canon Australia; 1800 021 167

Rating

RRP: AU$899; US$599

  • Build: 8.9
  • Features: 8.9
  • Print quality: 9.0
  • Print speed: 8.8

BUY

Hard work leads to Insta success

Peter Yan discovered his photographic talents when he took a trip to the USA in 2011. [ Article courtesy of Olympus ]

12 Apostles, Victoria.

Peter Yan discovered his photographic talents when he took a trip to the USA in 2011. He’d taken along his first DSLR and as he travelled he posted some of his pictures on Facebook. The positive feedback he received was, he said, ‘very refreshing and exciting to me.’

At that point in his life, Peter was happily building a successful career at Apple and while he enjoyed picture-taking, it was not his primary focus. ‘I didn’t take photography seriously,’ he explained, ‘until late 2014 when I bought the then-new Olympus OM-D E-M10 as a Christmas present for myself.’

Saying that he didn’t know much about cameras and photography at the time, he explained that he was initially attracted to Olympus for a simple reason. ‘I just got tired of travelling with DSLRs because of the weight. I wanted something lighter but which still took good quality photos. After doing tons of research online, I landed on the Micro Four Thirds format and never looked back.’

Cinque Terre, Italy.

Peter’s new Olympus camera re-ignited his photographic interest. ‘I started to watch YouTube tutorials and taught myself how to use the camera and edit in Lightroom. I also started to go on photography road trips around Victoria so I could practice. In 2016 I deleted all my old silly ‘selfies’ on Instagram and started posting landscape photos. I kept posting daily, and by the end of 2017, I went from a couple of thousand followers to more than 30,000, which was mind blowing to me at the time.’

Faroe Islands.

In August of 2018, Peter left his full time job with Apple to make a new career in photography.

‘It might sound like a cliche,’ he said, ‘but I realised how short life is, and although I loved my job at Apple, it became quite clear to me that it was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was a “now or never” kind of mentality that pushed me to make the best decision of my life.

‘At the same time, I knew that I have it in me to be a successful creative entrepreneur, and I was prepared to work harder than ever to achieve my goals.

‘Luckily for me, by mid-2018, I had already started generating passive income from my online store selling my Lightroom presets and prints, as well as paid partnerships on social media. So when the time came, I knew it was right, and I felt more excited than nervous about leaving my job and pursuing photography full time.’

Iceland.

Asked what his go-to kit includes these days, Peter said, ‘you will always find the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II and three of my favourite lenses in my camera bag. They are the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R (I know this is an entry-level lens, but you’d be surprised to know that many of my viral shots were actually taken with this inexpensive lens).’

When it comes to his landscape work, he adds, ‘I love wide-angle shots because of their unique and intriguing perspective. Most of the time, the ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO is mounted on my E-M1 II. This combo is sturdily-built, compact, and weather-sealed. I’ve had no trouble using it even on the coldest Greenland mountain or in the hottest Arabian desert.’

Greenland.

Having grown his social media followers on Instagram and TikTok to over half a million, Peter is used to having aspiring photographer friends ask him how they can improve their own skills.

‘I ask them to show me some examples of photos or creators on Instagram that inspire them. I want to see their idea of a “good picture” – what I consider a nice photo might not be the same for others. I recommend that beginners watch YouTube tutorials to learn the basics of operating a camera so that they can learn about ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc, and how each of these variables affect a photo. Most importantly, I tell them to always shoot RAW.’

Lago di Braise, Italy.

When it comes to editing, Peter advises beginning photographers ‘to pay attention to their favourite Instagram creators’ editing style and to take the time to learn how to use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, for which there are many free tutorials on Youtube.’

Ultimately, Peter said, every great photo ‘should have good lighting, composition and editing.’

Simple, really!

Peter Yan website

www.olympus.com.au

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Skateboarder

By Athol Hill. I love to shoot skateboarding but find it challenging to get new angles.

Skateboarder

By Athol Hill

Sony A7R lll and Samyang 18mm f/2.8; 1/1000s; ISO 100

I love to shoot skateboarding but find it challenging to get new angles.

I was watching this skater and she was incredibly stylish carving up the bowl in St Kilda skate park.

After picking up the angle I wanted, I asked her if she didn’t mind if I stood inside the bowl for a couple of photos. This was the result.

I love the shadow and the curves.

Don’s response

This is a wonderfully strong image.

I agree with photographer Athol Hill that the curve of the wall and the skater’s shadow are foundational to the visual story of the rider’s delightfully balletic style.

It really all comes together in this picture, from the summery sky, to the joyous abandon of the rider’s blissful expression.

See next competition and past winners

The DNS Zone For Beginners

For all intents and purposes, DNS can be considered almost like the internet’s phonebook. At least that’s how it’s most often metaphorically explained. However, your domain’s DNS zone is slightly less like an old yellow pages and much more like the saved contacts list within your cell phone. You enter a phone number and a name to go with the phone number, hit save and then you can promptly forget the phone number because you’ll only ever need to search by name. Right?

For a DNS zone though, the name would actually be a domain name, subdomain, or service (like email or FTP) and the phone number would be an IP address. The concept it still the same though, so long as you enter the correct information then a DNS zone is very much a set it and forget it situation. Let’s dig in a learn a bit more about it.

The DNS Zone

Much feared, and often misunderstood, the Domain Name System zone truly is simply a way for you to direct your domain’s visitors to the correct page or service under your domain. With just a basic understanding of a few things, you’ll actually be able to manage your own DNS zone like a total pro. 

Explaining how the entire internet works is slightly beyond the scope of this blog post, so for now let’s just start with nameservers. If you’ve ever registered a domain and had to point that domain to your hosting server, then you’ve interacted with nameservers. Nameservers exist solely to direct traffic from the internet to your actual website anytime someone types your domain into their web browser (or otherwise click on a link to your website).

Nameservers look exactly like a regular URL (in fact, they basically are simply a domain name created via A RECORD, which we’ll get to momentarily), and you would provide them at the domain registrar level in order for any request for your domain to be routed from the internet at large to your hosting server, which is where your actual domain’s DNS zone will take over. For example, here are the nameservers for cpanel.net:

cPanel Nameservers

What those nameserver do is ensure any traffic under the cPanel.net domain gets routed to the the point where the DNS zone for that domain will take over, depending on if the visitor wants to view the main website, or perhaps https://cpanel.net/store or even https://cpanel.net/blog. Each subdomain will have its own entry in the DNS zone to direct traffic appropriately. But how? The answer lies in the actual entries in the DNS zone.

DNS Entries

There exists four basic types types of DNS entries that we will discuss here:

  • A RECORD – Think “A for Address,” as in an IP Address, because what an A RECORD does is point a domain or subdomain directly to an IP address. This will generally be the point of entry to your website, as your domain will be here translated from domain into the actual IP address on the hosting server. You can also use A Records to point traffic for specific subdomains to entirely different servers, if you choose.
  • CNAME – The “C” stands for “canonical” and what a CNAME does is point a domain or subdomain to another domain or subdomain. For example, if (for whatever reason) you wanted to create a subdomain called “google” and direct it to google.com, then using a CNAME entry in your DNS zone, you would point the subdomain “google” to the domain “google.com” and as a result anyone who entered google.yourdomain.com into their browser would automatically be taken to Google’s website. Of course, there’s many other more practical uses for a CNAME entry, but that is exactly how they function.
  • MX – This is the “Mail eXchange” and exists specifically to direct email, basically these entries are the literal mailmen of the internet.
  • TXT – This is simply plain text that can be entered into the DNS zone, commonly used to prove ownership of a domain. This can be needed for a variety of reasons, but normally for proving to a third party (such as Google analytics) that you own a particular domain. They provide you the text to place in your DNS zone, you create the TXT entry, then they scan your DNS zone to verify, thus proving your ownership.

Using the above DNS entries, virtually all internet traffic is routed appropriately which causes the correct websites to load in your browser. Much of this exists in order to translate things back and forth between human readable (domain name) and computer readable (IP address) formats. Exactly like your cell phones stores your contact names for you, while keeping your contact phone numbers for its own use when you select the name.

Additional DNS Entries

There are other DNS entries that can potentially exist. For example:

  • NS – These would be nameserver records, they largely function exactly like A Records, in that they point to an IP Address.
  • SPF – A Sender Policy Framework entry exists to help prevent email spoofing. These are essentially just a special type of TXT entry.

Although the best way to learn how to manage DNS is by actually doing it, the above serves to inform you about the different types of records that you will generally encounter. When in doubt, or just to be on the safe side, you may want to consult your host or provider before making any changes as incorrect entries and cause your website to become unavailable.

As always, if you have any feedback or comments, please let us know. We are here to help in the best ways we can. You’ll find us on Discord, the cPanel forums, and Reddit. Be sure to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.