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How to maximize color depth when printing?


Recent research on print quality with my Canon Pixma Pro 100 caused me to come across some heretofore unknown information that appears as though it might be relevant. I have this photo printer because I’m after the best quality I can get. One aspect of this has been developing the raw files from my Canon cameras myself. Insofar as raw files offer greater depth of field for color than jpeg’s 8bit color depth I’ve been using 16bit tiff format for my master image files. The referenced new news, I just recently discovered, from the installed Canon user guide is the following (in italics):

Since Print Studio Pro supports 16-bits-per-channel image data, you can receive the data as is from image editing software without degrading it, and print High Dynamic Range images (full 16-bit workflow).


To print High Dynamic Range images, it is required to select the XPS printer driver.
When performing color adjustment in image editing software, adjusting in 16 bits per channel reduces degradation of image quality due to banding (gradient stepping). In addition, printing High Dynamic Range images (full 16-bit workflow) produces smoother gradations compared to printing 8-bits-per-channel images.

I’ve had NO problem printing my 16bit tiff files using the Canon supplied software. This includes Print Studio Pro occasionally and My Image Garden mostly. At the same time I’m quite sure that I do NOT have the XPS Printer Driver installed. Therefore, I’m given reason to believe that my 16bit files get converted to 8bit before printing even though there is no warning, or any other indication, given that this is happening. Is this a correct interpretation?

Do I really need to install the XPS Printer Driver to get the benefit of more color depth? Is there some way the user can be informed of what format (i.e., color depth) is being used by the printer?



"At the same time I’m quite sure that I do NOT have the XPS Printer Driver installed."

You would know if this is true or not by seeing if you can select the XPS version of the printer in a printing app.

Screenshot 2022-01-26 132642.jpg

I have run tests using Lightroom printing directly with and without XPS driver selected and using PSP within Lightroom with and without the XPS driver. I could see no difference in 13x19 prints.

I print directly from LrC and select the XPS version of the printer since it is easier that going into PSP yet no harder than selecting the non-XPS version of the printer. That way if there is some subtle difference in some images I will get the benefit with no downsides.

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, Pixma TR8620a, LR Classic

Per your screenshot I have no XPS Printer Driver installed.

My interpretation of your abbreviations is as follows:

  • PSP -> Print Studio Pro
  • LrC -> Lightroom ?

I don't use Lightroom.  The reason I most often use My Image Garden (MIG) is that invoking Print Studio Pro (PSP) is just a bit more complicated .  Therefore, I only do PSP to get some capability NOT provided by MIG.

To be clear I'm not complaining about print quality but I don't have a good basis for comparison.  I think you are saying install the XPS driver and use it rather than the other (less capable in theory) one just to be sure nothing is being lost.  However, you have the same questions I do about what might be happening without the XPS driver when printing 16bit image files.  Yeh?

If you are using MIG it is my understanding it and most consumer photo apps only output an 8-bit file, so it doesn't matter which driver you are using.

I edit my photos in Lightroom Classic (LrC) and use a third party printing plugin called Qimage Ultimate. I have been using it since it first came out. It even has a work-around to allow me to print on fine art paper and avoid (when I want) the 30mm imposed margin.

My bottom line - its a great printer that prints excellent images at Quality 1 setting right out of the box.

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, Pixma TR8620a, LR Classic