Canon Pro 200 vs Pro 300 (REAL-WORLD Tests)

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I recently had the opportunity to test the Canon Pro 200 vs Pro 300 side-by-side, to see which is really the best photo printer for hobbyists and professionals.

I know that there’s a lot of confusion over the real-world differences between these two printers.

Does the pigment vs dye ink difference matter?

Do 8 print cartridges produce a noticeably worse image than 10?

Is the Pro-300 worth the extra money?

I’m going to cover the results of my tests in this article, so that you can see precisely where the differences lie, and so you don’t waste your money on getting the wrong printer for you.

canon pro 200 vs pro 300

Canon Pro 200 vs Pro 300: Quick Overview

My Top Pick

Ideal Consumer Photo Printer

canon pro 200
  • tickVibrant sharp prints
  • tickPrints colorful, glossy images best
  • tickLow ink cost per sheet
  • tickA3 borderless printing
  • tickUp to 13 inch wide prints
  • crossDye-based inks are less good for B&W
Even without the chroma optimizer of the Pro 300, the Canon Pro 200 delivers prints that shine with a glossy vibrancy.
Ideal for hobbyist users who will be primarily printing in color on glossy photo paper, the Canon Pro 200 is exceptional value for money.

Best Pro Photo Printer

canon pro 300
  • tickUnrivalled print quality
  • tickPerfect for B&W prints
  • tickPigment inks for archival quality
  • tick9 inks plus chroma optimizer
  • tick13 inch wide prints and borderless A3 printing
  • crossHigher cost per print
With the single black ink of the Pro 200 swapped for Matte Black and Photo Black, plus a chroma optimizer to give extra glossiness and shine to your prints, the Canon Pro 300 gives phenomenal print quality.
Pigment-based inks mean that the Pro 300 is ideal for more professional uses and for archival quality prints.

For color printing at home, choose the Canon Pro 200.

canon pro 200

For all black and white printing, choose the Canon Pro 300.

For professional color printing and archival prints, choose the Canon Pro 300.

canon pro 300

Canon Pixma Pro 200 vs Pro 300: Detailed Comparison

I’ll take a look at all of the differences of the Canon Pro 200 and 300 we actually care about below – I won’t cover all of the technical details for each printer because a lot of it is just marketing.

Printing Quality

In terms of outright printing quality, the Canon Pro 200 and 300 are very similar.

The differences only become apparent depending on the types of photo paper that you use, with the Canon Pro 200 generally suited to glossy or lustre photo paper, and the Canon Pro 300 suited more to matte photo papers.

The Canon Pro 300 gives slightly deeper colors, particularly in blues and greens, and the separation of black into matte black and photo black makes the Pro 300 unbeatable for black and white work.

Color Print Quality

Color prints from the Canon Pro 300 have a slightly deeper range of colors in blues and greens in particular, thanks to the pigment inks, but there’s no major noticeable difference in practice.

Canon Pro 200 Color Print Examples:

canon pro 200 color print
Canon Pro 200 print on glossy paper.
canon pro 200 color print
Canon Pro 200 print on glossy paper.
canon pro 200 color print

Note that you see much more significant differences in performance according to the paper type you use. The below print was made on glossy and matte paper, both from the Canon Pro 200 to show the importance of paper type.

glossy vs matte paper
Matte beneath and glossy on top.
matte paper
Matte paper closeup.
glossy paper
Glossy paper closeup.

Canon Pro 300 Color Print Examples:

canon pro 300 color print
Canon Pro 300 print on matte paper.
canon pro 300 color print
canon pro 300 color print

If you’re printing on matte papers, then the Canon Pro 300 can potentially deliver a more vibrant image thanks to the chroma optimizer, but glossy printing on the Canon Pro 200 always delivers the most vibrant results.

Black and White Print Quality

Black and white printing is a different story, with black and white prints coming out much stronger on the Canon Pro 300, thanks to the two black inks: matte and photo.

The Canon Pro 200 does still produce very good black and white prints, but the dye inks tend to give a slight color cast under different lighting conditions which is difficult to show in a photo, while the pigment inks on the Pro 300 do not.

You should also note that the dye inks of the Pro 200 also show this slight color cast in color images, but because they are vibrant, it’s not as noticeable as on black and white images.

Canon Pro 300 Black and White Prints:

Canon Pro 200 Black and White Prints:
Color and black and white both printed on matte papers
canon pro 300 black and white print

Dye vs Pigment Inks

Pigment inks have been so well marketed that many, if not most, people would prefer them over dye inks in pretty much all cases, but there is actually not much difference between them on today’s printers.

Gloss Differential

The major difference between the dye and pigment inks of the Canon Pro 200 and 300 comes down to gloss differential.

This is where gloss paper catches the light, and the light’s reflection in white areas where little ink has been deposited contrasts with the lower reflectivity of more dense areas of ink surrounding it.

This additional reflectivity of the white areas can be quite distracting, and is a notable side-effect of pigment inks.

canon pro 300 gloss differential
Gloss differential in the white highlights on the right in this Canon Pro 300 print (note this is very difficult to show in a photo).

Dye inks are absorbed into the paper, so show very little, if any, gloss differential – colors remain true regardless of the angle light hits the paper.

canon pro 200 gloss differential
Canon Pro 200 print on glossy paper – the highlights on the dress do not show greater reflectivity (gloss differential).

Pigment inks do not get absorbed into the paper, instead sitting in a layer on top, and this means that when using glossy paper, pigment inks show gloss differential.

So, if you are regularly printing on glossy paper, the Canon Pro 200 is the best choice with its dye-based inks.

Print Lifespan

Even a few years ago, pigment inks were far superior to dye inks in print lifespan, but there isn’t a lot to separate them these days.

Canon’s own data shows that the ChromaLife 100 dye inks in the Canon Pro 200 last for up to 100 years (in the ideal conditions). You can probably halve this figure for average home use, but you still have prints that could outlast you.

The Lucia Pro inks in the Canon Pro 300 should last for 200 years under ideal conditions.

So, lifespan is broadly similar in practice, and shouldn’t be something you’re concerned about unless you are selling very high-end prints where collectors demand archival lifespans.

The Pro-300’s Chroma Optimizer

Although the Pro 300 is marketed as a ten ink printer, it only has nine color inks (including the two blacks) and a single chroma optimizer.

canon pro 300 inks
The Canon Pro 300s inks.

This is essentially a glossy layer that is sprayed over the print after applying the ink, which reduces bronzing of black and white prints and increases the apparent density of blacks.

You should note that this should only be used on glossy paper, as it is designed to try to help the pigment inks replicate the effects of dye inks.

It does a good job, and means that color images from the Pro 300 are very nearly a match for the Pro 200 in terms of vibrancy, and are easily good enough for gallery hanging.

Ink Life and Replacement Cost

Cost per sheet and ink life are often overlooked when you are buying a new printer, but these can make a huge difference to the value for money of each model, and should be factored into the buying price.

At launch, the Pro 300’s inks were substantially more expensive than the Pro 200’s, but this has now come down to comparable levels, with a full set of genuine Canon inks for both available for not too much over $100.

You also need to factor in that the CLI-65 inks for the Pro 200 are only 12.6ml per cartridge, while the PFI-300 inks for the Pro 300 are 14.4ml per cartridge.

If you are printing at A3 size, you can expect to get around 50 prints from both printers, although remember that ink levels will not all go down at the same rates – it will depend on the colors in the images that you print.

On average, you should expect to pay around $0.40 per 6 x 4 inch print for both printers at replacement ink cost when this article was written, so make sure to check current ink prices and adjust if the prices are more than $100 – $120.

Check Canon Pro 200’s current ink prices.

Check Canon Pro 300’s current ink prices.

Canon Pro 300 vs Pro 200: Which is Best?

The Canon PIXMA PRO-200 is ideal if you are a hobbyist who mainly wants prints for themselves, or for the occasional sale.

The Canon ImagePROGRAF Pro-300 is best for professional photographers or those who are making a large number of prints for galleries or collectors, or for those who concentrate on black and white work.

canon pro 200

Canon PIXMA PRO-200

canon pro 300

Canon ImagePROGRAF PRO-300

You can also check out this very useful review in video form below.

Read More:

Glossy vs matte photo paper comparison

Lustre vs glossy photo paper

Printer test image free downloads

Follow Tim Daniels:

Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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