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Author Topic: iPF5000 owner verifies (non)service story  (Read 5917 times)
Tim Anderson
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« on: March 31, 2007, 04:06:11 PM »
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Greetings,

You might recognize me from the iPF5000 wiki (Thanks so much to John Hollenberg and the rest of the guys there) posting as DV/DT.

I am a long time fan of LL, and a supporter via the video journal since 2004.  I have lurked in the forums here in the past, preferring to learn and listen and never really feeling compelled to contribute until now.

The thread I started at the iPF5000 wiki featuring the banded print examples has been up for just under a week.  During that week I have heard nothing from my contact at Canon customer relations.  This was after promising to give me a status report the week before.  This lack of response speaks quite clearly to me.  The last straw was when he failed to return my voice message that I left for him on Thursday morning, March 29th.

Since Canon customer relations *did* care enough to send me a link to a web based survey I took advantage of it.  Unfortunately the web form has a 2000 word limit, so I had to edit it down.  Here is my answer to the survey in its entirety, remember these words are addressed to Canon customer relations:

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I hope this feedback your organization has requested will be put to good use.  To this day I believe Canon has few peers in its ability to place advanced technology in the hands of consumers at fair prices.  That ability means nothing, however, if the people running the company forget who ultimately funds those R&D labs.

I invite you to read on, and to ask yourselves if any of YOU would be happy with the response from your service organization if YOU were the customer.  When the field tech representing your company agrees with me that there is a print quality issue with your "professional" photo printer I don't think it is unreasonable to expect your team to resolve the problem to my satisfaction.

I gave your service organization over two months to repair my printer.  When the problem remained unresolved I fully expected a new printer.  Instead I was informed that an anonymous engineer at Canon had decreed my printer was delivering "acceptable" results.  Acceptable?  For whom?  So banding in my prints is now a feature?  Can you all grasp what an insult that answer was after two months of working on this printer?

I was then handed off to this department, Canon customer relations.  After relating my story to my assigned rep I waited two additional weeks for some sort of resolution, culminating in a non-productive phone conversation and a promise from the rep to follow up on the matter. On March 25th I began scanning and photographing the output of my printer, having decided it was time to allow the user community to judge if the printer's output was indeed "acceptable".

I invite you to see for yourself, and do note that prints 5,6 and 7 are on Canon Photo Paper Plus, an exact match for the driver and printer paper setting.

http://canonipf5000.wikispaces.com/message/view/FAQ/407614

After another week of silence from your rep I left him a message and again asked for some kind of status report.  That was on March 29th.  As of March 31st there has been no reply.  Congratulations.  You have discovered the absolute limit of my patience.  I have sadly decided to cut my losses with this printer AND with your organization.  Your competitor in this market, Hewlett Packard, while not perfect, is more than willing to stand behind its product.  HP covers both the printer and the "consumables" with clearly stated written warranties, not relying on ad hoc coverage for crucial elements like print heads.

It was never my intent to bash Canon.  Indeed, this is the first time in my 43 years that I have been treated so poorly by an organization that I felt compelled to sound a warning in a public forum.  I would much prefer to be printing and displaying beautiful, artifact free prints worthy of the excellent files captured by my Canon DSLRs.  Your organization's unwillingness to properly address the reality of a DOA printer that could not be repaired in the field has permanently damaged your reputation both for me and, I trust, for anyone contemplating an investment in one of your products.

Every manufacturer, no matter how competent, occasionally produces a lemon; I accept that as a reality of mass production.  This is not a story about a faulty printer, this is a story about corporate arrogance.

Regards,

Tim

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Thus ends my relationship with Canon for my printing needs.  I am not interested in lawsuits or any other life draining exercises, I'll let the court of public opinion take care of justice.  I do think it is positively zen-like how I am posting this message at LL, since it was Mr. Reichmann's upbeat six month followup that led me to get out the credit card in the first place.  I have no doubt it's a great printer if you get a good copy, but my experiences with a defective one should be an embarrassment to all involved.

Currently I am in the serious research phase of what will likely culminate in the purchase of a 24 inch z3100.  I am in the hole $1612 with the Canon, and it appears I have the option to either take a $1000 rebate and keep the Canon or take the $1200 trade in allowance and surrender the printer.  Either option plus the sale of my remaining ink might allow me to break even in a screwed up kind of way, if I don't count the small forest worth of photo paper and the time wasted on this exercise.  At this point that looks like a victory.

If there is one lesson I am taking away from this it is the importance of buying from a dealer who is willing to take up the slack should the manufacturer's idea of support turn out to be a disappointment.  Any suggestions?  I already have a short list but more data is appreciated.

Regards,

Tim
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John Hollenberg
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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2007, 06:24:37 PM »
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Tim,

That information, along with the thread on the Wiki, is certainly the most damning indictment of Canon's "customer service" I can imagine.  While I had problems and complaints about my Epson 9600, I must say that the people in customer relations were reasonable to a fault and sympathetic to my problems.  They did right by me, and I haven't forgotten it.  While my roll feed problems were eventually fixed (after 3 service calls), I don't trust Canon to stand behind their printers the way Epson does.  Your nightmare is the perfect example of the problems with Canon "service".

--John
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Greg_E
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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2007, 06:45:54 PM »
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I love it when the support AI (or maybe just a plain ordinary bot) sends a questionare about your recent satisfaction with the support that you asked for. It seems that most of the time only the companies that have poor support send out that type of questionare.
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John Hollenberg
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2007, 07:02:26 PM »
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For those who missed the gory details, the Wiki thread is here:

http://canonipf5000.wikispaces.com/message/view/FAQ/407614

--John
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Jim_H_WY
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2007, 03:10:01 PM »
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Tim, just in case you had any question about whether or not Canon's service is a bit different than that from other companies, read this.

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....showtopic=15855

Just one more reason why I'm jealous of owners of other brands of printers.

I get visible Pizza Wheel marks on my prints on Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy.  Suppose I could get a new printer from Canon?  When you get up off of the floor and get the laughing under control, let me know how things are going at your end

Jim H.
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Tim Anderson
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2007, 06:55:11 PM »
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Jim, I swear our printers are evil twins.  I noticed the same pizza wheel garbage on the same type of paper, "photo paper plus".  Plus what?  Banding?  Pizza wheel tracks?

I didn't mention the pizza wheel tracks because I was preoccupied by the banding.  One crisis at a time.  I figured that once Canon got the banding fixed I could play with media drying times or other tweaks and get rid of the tracks on my own.  Oddly, neither the generic Ilford glossy paper nor the branded "red box" Ilford glossy gave me pizza wheel tracks, go figure.

Canon gets one last shot, and I am not holding my breath:  Today I sent a letter to the president of Canon USA via certified mail.  He should get it by the end of the week; I will of course receive notification when it is delivered.
 
In it I simply laid out the facts, voiced my disappointment with their service policies, and pointed out how these policies were squandering the good reputation and trust earned by their camera division.  I'll post the content of it on the wiki later this evening.

And another business day passes with no contact of any sort from Canon.

Regards,

Tim
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John Hollenberg
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2007, 07:34:27 PM »
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Quote
And another business day passes with no contact of any sort from Canon.

I would make a pest of myself by calling daily or every other day, so that they get so sick of it they just give you a new printer.  By not hassling them, you are letting it slide under the radar.  You can be polite, but persistent each time.  Insist that you need "next business day" service and you expect them to get back to you in 24 hours, not a week. Keep repeating the mantra, "At this point, I will only be satisfied by a replacement for the defective printer the field service tech has been unable to fix."  Don't take no for an answer until it goes to the very top of "customer relations".  Keep asking to speak to a higher level supervisor and state your case about how unreasonable their position is.  Insist that they check with the field service tech rather than the anonymous "engineer" who hasn't even worked on your printer.  I still think that with a minimum of hassle you may be able to get your printer replaced.  And if you don't, you should post the whole bloody story on every forum around.  

--John
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Jim_H_WY
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2007, 09:27:04 PM »
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Well, they're not identical twins, though.

The paper that has given me the least banding is that Photo Paper Plus Glossy   If I do a banding adjustment with that exact paper, and then do an "Adj Far Ed Feed" with it, the prints I get right afterwards are great - except for the pizza wheel marks, that is.

I just managed to send those prints I made for you today by USPS Priority mail (whatever that means).  So you should get them this week.

I suspect you'll find that the banding from my printer is at a level that you'd find acceptable.  To me, it's totally invisible on my "test patch" files.  On your Golden Gate print, it's only slightly visible in the 8-Pass mode and pretty much invisible in the 16-Pass mode.

But I'll let you look at them and let me know what you think.

I don't think I have seen the pizza cutter marks on other papers either, now that you mention it.  It's as if the Photo Paper Plus Glossy stays "wet" longer and the surface gets marked easily.

That is one of the great things about printing from the roll feed.  The pizza wheels don't even drop down so there's no chance for that problem, and because the rear-feed has control the whole time, there's no chance for far-end feed banding.

But it's interesting to read about other printers having similar pizza wheel issues.  It might be that if I adjusted the drying time I could eliminate it even on the Canon Photo Paper Plus.  But I don't plan on using enough of that paper to make it worth worrying about.

If they do give you a new printer, I think you will like it.  It does do a dandy job at times.  My large prints from rolls have been very nice.

As John recommended:  Keep after 'em!  They owe you a working printer.

Jim H.
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Island Design
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2007, 05:38:56 PM »
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Your experience with canon reminds me a lot of our experience with their tech support when we used directly purchased canon color laser printers, especially the part about changing the main board to resolve the banding issue. In our case it was a weave pattern that suddenly appeared, and after replacing electronics they were at a loss and concluded it was due to humidity that was either "too low or two high".

Ever since then we have been really lucky to deal with IKON for our printing equipment. Even though we're still using (and greatly enjoying) our canon printers, the IKON techs are well trained and know how to fix printers. The canon printers are great, but I think canon tech support direct tends to come up short when any kind of mechanical problem is involved.
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Tim Anderson
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2007, 08:53:55 PM »
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As promised, here is the text of the letter I sent to the president of Canon USA:

Dear Mr. Adachi,

I am writing you in order to bring a rather distressing situation to your attention.
My recently purchased Canon iPF5000 has failed to perform properly from day one.  I have worked patiently within the service system in an attempt to correct the problem, but thus far my efforts have been unsuccessful.

My frustration with the inaction of the service organization led me to share my story with my fellow photographers via a few well regarded internet forums.  It was my hope that by shedding light on the shortcomings of the current service and warranty policies I could perhaps effect positive change.  I was driven to public forums only after, by all appearances, Canonís service organization had chosen to ignore me.

As stated publicly, I have been a long term Canon customer and a major advocate of Canon photographic equipment.  From your design engineers to your service employees the people in your camera division have earned my trust over the years.  You should be proud of what they have achieved.  And while I have no doubts about the designers of the iPF series of printers I do feel the support structure is in need of attention.  Through their inaction they are destroying the reputation others throughout Canon have worked so hard to earn.

I believe my particular copy of the iPF5000 was delivered with a type of malfunction that would be nearly impossible to repair in the field.  It certainly resisted repair during the five times the field tech was dispatched to my home.  I believe the printer should be replaced, but nothing I have seen thus far has given me any hope of receiving that which I paid for, a fully functioning iPF5000.  Indeed, I had already given up and was about to trade the unit in on a competitorís model when it was suggested to me that I give your company one final chance to rectify the situation.

I appreciate your taking the time to investigate this matter. For additional context I have enclosed a copy of my response to a web based survey I was asked to complete after my (final?) contact with Canon customer relations.
Regards,

Tim Anderson
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Tim Anderson
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2007, 11:44:53 PM »
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Hi John,

I have a long fuse, but an even longer memory.  I will remember how this pathetic organization treated this "Dear Valued Customer" for a long time to come.  Each day that Canon chooses to ignore me only adds credibility to my warning for potential Canon printer customers:  If you are unlucky enough to obtain a printer that can't be fixed by having a field tech swap out a part or two then you are ON YOUR OWN!  Brand new and defective right out of the box, too bad, we at Canon simply do NOT replace entire printers, we fix them in the field.  Except when we don't.

After expressing my dissatisfaction with Canon's proclamation that my printer's banding was "well within spec" I was assigned a contact in Canon's customer relations group, Mike Schimmler.  He gave me his direct number and extension, and assured me that he would follow up on the problem and get back with me.  He knows that "your banding is well within spec" is the wrong answer, and he knows I am expecting Canon to replace the printer with one that works as advertised.

I simply reject the notion that it is my duty to contact this person multiple times and badger him repeatedly in order to "earn" a replacement for my defective printer.  I called him three times in three weeks and that is two times too many.  He has yet to initiate a single return call; his lack of communication speaks more clearly than all the "Dear Valued Customer" boilerplate and syrupy sweet false empathy on the planet.  In any service organization worthy of the name my obligation and burden of proof to Canon would have ended the minute Canon's field tech verified my print settings and watched the printer eject yet another banded print.  Inexcusable.


Hi Jim, and thanks again for sending the print sample, I will let you know when it arrives.  

I still wonder if there is not something amiss in your printer in that it demands individualized banding adjustments for each brand of glossy paper.  End of page banding tweaks I might accept because that is a matter of paper stiffness and is a function of how each paper behaves during the rear/front roller handoff.  (wait, YOU'RE the guy who pointed that out to Canon USA!!!) But for the printer to be so sensitive as to demand a tweak of the main banding adjustment each time you make change from vendor A's glossy paper to vendor b's similar glossy paper?  I can't imagine a guy trying to make a living with one of these printers putting up with that,  it's hard to believe they are all that touchy.  Good thing there's a wide-open communication line from Canon Japan to Canon USA so the support guys can fill us in on these insider details, right?

If they ever (yeah, I know) were to try to find out what is really wrong with my printer by way of dragging it back to the FA lab and doing some good old fashioned troubleshooting I'd be willing to wager your machine is suffering more or less from the same ailment mine is.  I'd still like to know what they did with *line feed tune* in the service menu, the one mine failed right out of the box.  The fact is there exists at least *one* iPF5K that does not band at all with "standard" quality on generic Ilford Glossy while both of ours show this bizarre density change from one edge of a pass to the next (see the last picture in my infamous thread over at the iPF5000 wiki to see an example) has to mean *something*.  Not that I'm married to generic Ilford glossy, it just brings out the symptoms more clearly for some reason.


Island Design, let's see, the printer fails because your ambient humidity is either too high or too low?  Well I guess that just about covers it, then!  I'm not sure that was supposed to make me laugh, but it did.  Dunk printer immediately in the nearest swimming pool and if the problem vanishes you can pretty much rule out high ambient humidity as a causative factor!

Seriously, I do think Canon should invest just a little bit of cash into the training of their field techs.  I was amazed when mine told me the only training he had on those iPFs consisted of a PDF service manual that looked like it was translated from Japanese using Babelfish.  Sounds like it's not an isolated incident.

Intuition, experience and common sense can carry a tech a long way, but they are no substitute for training and for access to the engineers who designed the thing in the first place.  Even then there will be times when a device simply has to go back to the FA lab for a postmortem, welcome to the world of hardware engineering.  I don't think it's fair to ask the field techs to patch up holes in the system when those holes belong to people much higher in the command chain.

Once again, it's not about a broken printer, it's about an arrogant corporation.  I have yet to see anything that would make me believe otherwise.

Regards,

Tim
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John Hollenberg
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« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2007, 11:59:42 PM »
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Tim,

I don't disagree with you for a second.  It's just that with an organization such as Canon one may need to push very hard to get them to fulfill their obligation.  While that should not be your job, it may be necessary to get the new printer you deserve.  In my book, that is a better option than walking away.  Of course, that would definitely affect your opinion about buying any future products.  I would call the supervisor and complain about the lack of service from customer relations and insist on dealing with the supervisor of said person in this matter.  This is how I ended up negotiating a 100% refund on my Epson 9600.  I insisted on a reasonable solution at every turn, and when Epson kept screwing up and I finally suggested a 100% refund, they almost jumped at the chance.  I have to say though, that they were 100 times more reasonable than Canon is being with you.

--John
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mkress65
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2007, 06:28:24 PM »
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Tim --

1) have you heard back from Canon (any response at all?)

2) would you be willing to share the contact information (the address that you used) or did you just send it to their US HQ (which I'm assuming I can find on their website.)

Thanks,

Matt
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Tim Anderson
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« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2007, 11:21:37 AM »
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I received a call from a Canon rep yesterday morning, April 17th.

It appears that John's suggestion of writing an old fashioned letter to the CEO of Canon USA and sending it via registered mail finally got the attention of someone at Canon with enough authority to resolve this situation.

Officially, Canon opinion is that the printer is performing within spec, but they are willing to acknowledge that I am not happy with its performance. Given those facts they feel the best way to resolve the issue is to refund my purchase price and send someone to retrieve my printer.

I was going to point out that I did not believe the samples I supplied to Canon's service center represented the output of a correctly functioning printer. Why would I have wasted my time and my postage to send in perfect prints? Never mind. I decided that particular battle was not worth another second of my time.

Given our difference of opinion over my printer I agreed with the rep, the best possible outcome at this point would be for me to surrender the printer in exchange for a full refund.

He apologized for the delay in contacting me, and told me he would arrange the refund and the retrieval of my printer in the next few weeks.

While not necessarily a happy ending I truly believe this is the best possible outcome given the circumstances of the last four months. The rep was very polite and professional, and his offer of a full refund and a sincere wish for future patronage has gone a long way towards mending their damaged reputation, at least for me. I assured him I would continue to purchase, use and enjoy Canon cameras at least!

Thanks to everyone who responded with suggestions and comments, and thanks especially to Les, Jim H, and of course John Hollenbrook for establishing the wiki.

I lit the fuse on a Z3100 purchase from IT supplies yesterday, it should be here in a few days. Happy printing!

Regards,

Tim

Matt, I got the surface mail address from David White who posted in the "PR disaster thread" where he suggested sending a copy of John Hollenbrook's user report to Mr. Adachi.  

Here is the address again:

Mr. Yoroku Adachi
President & CEO, Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Canon U.S.A., Inc.
One Canon Plaza
Lake Success, NY 11042
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mkress65
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« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2007, 11:58:53 AM »
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Thanks Tim.  Same address as on their website.

Glad to hear that the problem got resolved -- but disappointed that they continue to say that the prints are within spec.  Not very good advertising for them and certainly not a way to ensure customer loyalty.

Matt
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Jim_H_WY
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« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2007, 05:12:05 AM »
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A thought occurs to me.

Would Canon sales personnel be willing to use your printer (as it is right now) for demonstrations at trade shows?  And would they be willing to use prints from your printer as examples of what people should expect if they choose to buy one?

Sales people who work with this printer frequently should have a pretty good feel for what is acceptable or normal from this model.  And they presumably travel with and use printers that have been bounced around some.  So I'd trust their evaluation of your prints because they know what to expect from these machines based on a lot of field experience.

They'd know if your prints are examples they'd be willing to show to a prospective customer as demonstrations of what we should expect from an "in spec" iPF5000.  It's possible that these experienced sales personnel would have a different perspective than the engineer who evaluated your prints and deemed them to be within specs.

Jim H.
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Southwest Printers
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« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2007, 07:52:53 PM »
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Hello.  I noticed your banding problem while researching a small issue that I have with my iPF8000.  I'm currently running a CGS Oris RIP to send data to the printer.  Seems that the Oris allows you to choose between the proprietary Canon driver or the windows driver.  Upon testing the printer, I found that selecting the windows driver option immediately resulted in banding exactly like your samples.  Bottom line, might it be possible that you're having a driver issue?? (Not to say that Canon hasn't dropped the ball on this one).

Regards,

Chris H.
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Tim Anderson
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« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2007, 02:01:45 PM »
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Hi Chris,

I started with firmware 1.08 in the machine and the original drivers (don't have the version info in front of me right now).  When I upgraded to firmware 1.23 at the suggestion of Canon tech support I also updated the drivers as the instructions stated that 1.20 or greater required the new drivers.

No change.  Canon support also had the tech print from his laptop to totally rule out my pc, with exactly the same results.

The only thing that made the banding less obvious was when the tech put the printer into service mode and attempted an adjustment called "LF Tune".  The adjustment failed to complete, returning "ecc adj fail" to the front panel LCD.  After that aborted adjustment the banding went from huge gaps (picture #1 in my wiki thread) to the smaller gaps seen in the rest of the prints.

While it is interesting that your machine prints without banding while using a RIP, I have come to believe that my machine's ills have a root cause in whatever prevented the LF tune adjustment to successfully complete.  As I have stated before, the engineer in me would love to know what is really wrong with the printer, but it is now an academic question as the printer is currently sitting on the dining room table as I await communication from Canon on how to get the unit back to them for a refund.

I am still working on organizing the area for the new Z3100 that is cooling its heels in the garage.  I hope to have that unit out of the box and printing this weekend.  I just received my sample Z3100 prints from HP on glossy, semi-gloss and canvas papers and they are shockingly good.  All the reviewers have stated there is not a huge output quality difference between the big Epson, HP and Canon printers; if anything, Canon may have a slight edge in image quality.  Viewing the Z3100 test prints only reinforces my belief that my copy of the iPF5000 was flawed from day one and still is, Canon's opinion notwithstanding.

Regards,

Tim
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Jim_H_WY
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« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2007, 02:24:36 PM »
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Tim, it's good to hear that you've gotten your HP.

I'm still thinking seriously about getting one of those although I cannot even remotely justify it in any practical way.

But reading the threads on here about it, and now seeing that the new version of the APS is out (which I'd be tempted to get because I, unlike almost anyone else on here, could use a monitor calibration device and software) makes me think that the Z3100 should be a heck of a nice printer.

I've got space for one now, and even have ethernet run into that room.  But I really shouldn't do it.  Someone, please, talk me out of it ;-)

Jim H.
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Tim Anderson
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« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2007, 09:32:25 PM »
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Well, Jim, I will be setting the Z3100 up this weekend, somehow I don't think this one is going to disappoint me.

If the prints out of this machine look anything like the HP samples I am afraid I will not be of much use in talking you out of the printer....I don't exactly need a printer like this either, but as vices go it's relatively benign--I got over the classic musclecar thing years ago, sitting in the house and watching a big TV bores me, and taking recreational drugs at my age would just be stupid, so big printer it is!

I had a friend who spent years setting up his wet darkroom, and in the end he could only produce one thing:  black and white prints from his 35mm negatives.  Given the effort he put into his darkroom, my digital version is a cakewalk.  I have the input side covered, now I think I have the output side covered as well.  I'll know this weekend!!!

Regards,

Tim
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