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Custom media for the PRO-300

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Using the Canon MCT software

Custom media settings for the PRO-300

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The Canon Media Configuration Tool is free software that allows you to make custom media settings for the PRO-300 printer.

Following on from his PRO-300 printer review, Keith takes a look at creating a custom media setting for an ‘unknown’ fine art paper. The setting can optionally include an ICC printer profile and saved as a file for distribution.

custom-paper-setting-on-printer

Have you found an am1x file for your 3rd party paper and the PRO-300 or do you just have an icc profile?
Well, MCT is the (free) Canon software you can use to add your chosen paper to the printer’s paper list it displays, and the list of papers you see available when printing.

Custom media – why use them

I’ve tested quite a few Canon printers over the years and regularly included information about using the Media Configuration Tool (MCT) for making custom paper settings. I used to have a large 44″ width iPF8300 here and made a custom setting for any paper I used at all regularly.

What do they let you do?

  • Have a named entry on the printer control panel
  • Optimise printing for a particular paper
  • Optionally include a custom printer profile
  • Create data files that you can send to others

The named entry appears in media settings in your printer driver too. This helps guard against paper mis-matches. I always found it useful when the printer was in a different room to the computer I was printing from. The custom media setting is available for B&W printing as well, where the print optimisation will be beneficial.

There is more about using custom media settings in the following articles/reviews.

That mystery paper in the first article is the one I’m using here. It’s one which I acquired several A3+ boxes of a few years ago. The testing and measurement I did in that article lead me to suspect it’s a Hahnemuhle 265gsm smooth natural white rag paper. Discontinued a while ago, but I’ve still got several boxes of it.

Using the software

The software is available from Canon. I’m using the Mac version here, but it’s the same for Windows. When you open it up it updates media types (from Canon or as a file you want to add) and shows what’s on your printer.

I’m showing the full process here, but if you’ve got an am1x file you can simply add it with the MCT.

media-config-tool-startup

There is a manual available for the software, so I’m just showing the basic process to add a media type.

My media type needs to be based on an existing paper type

source-paper

Now, from experience, I know that the best media type is likely ‘Fine Art Smooth’ which uses matte black ink (MBK).

If unsure, you can add in the paper thickness or weight and see what’s suggested.

paper-suggestions

The weight was calculated by weighing several sheets, knowing the area of an A3+ sheet and calculating the weight per square metre.

Some paper base types let you change ink densities, but not this one. I’ve covered this in some other MCT related articles.

BTW this has been a gripe of mine for many years since I’d like to be able to properly adjust ink limits if I wanted to.

adjustment-limitations

I’ll give it a name. This reminds me of the paper and what media settings it’s based on.

create-media

Updating the printer driver

For my freshly minted setting to appear in print menus, it needs to be installed in the printer driver.

update-printer-info

It needs to be updated in several places. I’ll come back to this once I’ve fine tuned the new setting.

Editing settings

There are some aspects of the new paper I can edit to refine print output.

edit-the-paper

All I’m going to do initially is do a paper feed adjustment for the paper.

This automated process will optimise print quality, especially with bi-directional printing.

editing-the-custom-media

Although the software says you need an A4/Letter sheet, feeding in one of my A3+ (13″ x 19″) sheets is fine.

alignment-print

The patterns is measured by a sensor in the printer and used to optimise printing. This optimisation works for colour and B&W printing.

At this stage I save the media config and update the driver and the printer.

This is because I next want to create an ICC printer profile, and I’d like to do so using my custom media settings. Given I’ve not actually changed ink limits, I could just use the Fine Art Smooth setting. However if you’ve made any changes to ink limits you do need to profile with what you’ve set.

Some ICC profiling

I need a profile to add to the media setting…

add-a-profile

I’m printing a profiling target of just under 3000 patches. Note my custom setting on the display.

custom-paper-setting-on-printer

I measure the chart using an X-Rite iSis XL scanning spectrophotometer.

The graph at the side shows that this paper is virtually free of optical brightening agent (OBA)

[click to enlarge any image]

profiling

After a while I have a profile.

Nice and smooth – no obvious bumps to suggest errors or profiling problems.

creating-profile

I can go back and add a preferred ICC profile to my media setting.

add-profile-to-media

The full media settings

As ever, this new media setting needs to be used for updating things.

update-the-printer

The information for the paper.

media-information

The file info for my saved media (.AM1X) files shows the increase in size from adding one of my rather large profiles.

two-am1x-files

I don’t personally tend to include profiles, since I may have several available. However, this is great if you’re a paper supplier and want to provide an extra service for users of your paper.

More updating

One of the biggest problems I’ve found when people start using the MCT is that they get their settings out of sync.

So, you need to update settings for:

  • The printer
  • Any other printer of the same model
  • Your printer driver
  • Apps driving the printer directly (Canon Pro Print & Layout)
  • Other computers that may use the printer
  • Other apps on those other computers…

The printer updating is included in the MCT, as is a chance to update the printer driver.

However once I’ve finished with the MCT I always go to the printer utility in my settings to do an update. If it’s not needed it will tell you.

update-printer-driver

This is easy to forget – I went to print directly from Photoshop during my testing on another computer and had to update for the media to appear in the print setup.

bw-print-mode

One other place that needs an update is the Canon Print & Layout software, even if like me you only use it as a Photoshop plugin.

update-media-in-PPL

It’s always best to close and restart any software you may use after all this – the same goes when making new printer ICC profiles.

Using the Settings for a print

I’ll just finish off with an A3+ borderless print of a seagull, via the Canon PPL plugin.

making-a-print

As you can see, the correct profile has been picked just by my selecting my new media setting.

print-settings

Here’s the A3+ borderless print on its way out of the printer.

PRO-300 print on han265

As an aside, the image is one I took on my 11MP Canon 1Ds in 2004, which I can now comfortably print at A2 size – I’ve an article about printing old low megapixel images that shows my 2020 workflow vs. my 2004 one.

Using the MCT

The MCT is a great tool for Canon printers which has over the years produced better quality prints and probably much reduced paper waste when I’m printing on varied papers.

For more about the PRO-300 see:

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Site Notice: Like many working photographers, our work has diminished greatly in these challenging times, so I'm at home a lot. The silver lining is that I've lots of articles and reviews to write - if you've any suggestions or questions, please do let me know - Keith
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