Printer Review - Epson SureColor P600

Epson Surecolor Review

I should have seen it coming as I worked my way through print testing various pro photo labs.  When I got to fine art prints, the prices went way up, along with the shipping.   As I continued to research I discovered I could buy a printer with the same workings as a lab printer, but in a smaller size.   In fact, the new Epson printers on the market have a newly formulated ink, with deeper blacks and extended print longevity. So unless the lab has purchased all  new printers in the last few months, my home prints are hard to beat. 

You can see how a few of my prints measured up to the pro labs in this post. Not one lab had a better print.  These are truly exhibition quality prints.

Lab vs Home Printing

Now don't go running out to buy a printer. It's not for everyone.

Reasons to use a professional lab:
You have no room for a home printer
You have no money for a home printer
You have no time for home printing
You have no desire to learn home printing
You don't want to deal with repairs
You don't print often enough

Reasons to purchase a home printer:
It's less expensive per print
Complete control
Learning something new
Instant gratification
No more shipping costs
Deeper blacks
Extended Longevity

Canon vs Epson

Before I go any further we need to talk about why I chose an Epson.   An Epson SureColor p600, to be exact.  I researched for months and asked everyone I knew for feedback   At this time, there are two major players in professional  inkjet printing.  Canon and Epson.  They both have pros and cons. Keep in mind I've only printed on one printer, but this is the basic rundown I heard when comparing the Epson SureColor P600 to the Canon Pixma Pro-10 and Pro-1 printers.

Repairs:  Canon may be less expensive to repair since they offer user replaceable parts.  Once your  Epson warranty runs out, if you have a big repair, you might want to consider just buying a new printer.  I chose to buy an extended warranty.  Living in a dry climate puts me at higher risk for clogged print heads.   I asked Epson about it and they recommended I print something once a week to keep things clear.  

Print Margins:  The Canon printers have an enforced margin of 1.2 inches if you print on fine art matte papers.  So you could not, for example, print an 8x10 on letter size paper.  Epson can do borderless. 

Black Inks:  If you print on matte paper the printer uses matte black ink, glossy papers use photo  black ink.  The problem with Epson is those two inks share a line.  When you switch between them, it will flush out some ink which wastes both ink and money.  I was able to overlook this annoyance because I don't plan on switching back and forth between paper surfaces.   Canon doesn't have this problem.

Printing:  Canon has good reviews if you print on glossy or luster papers, but not so great reviews if you print on matte papers.  For the best black and white prints on fine art matte paper, I was recommended Epson.   I noticed this difference when ordering from Canon vs Epson equipped pro labs, also.   Canon no longer offers sample prints, but if you want to see printing examples from the Epson you can request a free sample.

The Learning Curve

I was told printing at home has a big learning curve.  It hasn't been too bad for me.  Everything seems straightforward and basic.  With one exception, I could not get my margins to print evenly when I used Photoshop.  I alleviated the problem by printing through Lightroom instead.  Epson has good customer service so you are only one call away if you get stuck. 

There are hundreds of online tutorials but here are two I watched.  One is a brief overview of printing through Lightroom and the other is a super in depth video that covers color space, sharpening, and anything else you can think of. 

Lightroom 5 - Print the Perfect Image

Inkjet Printing for Photographers

Print Size

The Epson SureColor p600 is a 13 inch wide format printer. I don't have the desire to print bigger than 13x19 inches so this works perfect for me. Epson also offers 17 inch, 24 inch, and 44 inch models. But I don't want a factory in my house, just my 13 inch will do.

Ink Costs

The number one objection I heard when I told people I was considering a printer purchase was ink costs. Ink is expensive. Yes it is, and that is why photo labs have to charge us so much.

I found some data on that and perked up.

Red River Catalog has tested a bunch of printers and recorded estimated ink costs by papers size in an attempt to get the True Cost of Inkjet Printing. If I were to order an 8x10 fine art print from my favorite lab it would cost me $24 plus around $5 shipping. If I printed that same size myself, Red River estimates I'd use .95 cents of ink plus my cost of $1.12 for paper. Of course I'm not factoring in my time, repairs, or print mistakes. But come on, these numbers make you pause! When we are talking $29 vs $2 I don't think the ink argument sounds the same anymore.

I found a great sale during the holidays and my Epson ended up $450 after rebate. That's the price of 16, single ordered, 8x10 lab prints. Either I was going to have to start ordering my prints in bulk to cut my shipping or I was going to buy a printer and do it myself. After all my lab testing, I had it. For me, this was the best option.

Purchasing and Rebates

From the looks of it, there is always some sort of rebate going on. Make sure you purchase from an authorized dealer for your rebate to be valid. When I was price watching Adorama and B&H often had a price lower than the Epson Store. All my links in the post point to Adorama because that is where I got mine and I am an affiliate with them. I only post affiliate links to items I would blog about anyways, but it does support my coffee habit when you purchase through them. That being said - the p600 keeps selling out. Today both B&H and Adorama are sold out. I'm sure the supply and demand will even out in a few months. Until then, it's intermittent. There is usually a 'notify my when in-stock' button so you don't have to keep checking.

And that's it.  I'll let you know in a few years if I'm crying about repairs or whatnot, but I have a feeling this was a good choice for me.

Update 05/09/16:  I've had this printer for less than 6 months and suffered two ink clogs.  I was printing at least once a week  I called Epson and they said dry climates cause more clogs and I should print a document every other day to prevent this - including a color document once in a while to keep all inks unclogged.  

More in this Series:

Part 1: C-Prints and Silver Gelatin Lab Review
Part 2: Press Prints Lab Review
Part 3: Fine Art Prints Lab Review
Part 5: Choosing a Storefront - Etsy vs Tictail 
Part 6: Eco-friendly Packaging and Shipping


  1. Maryanne, thank you for this review!
    I am in the process of selecting my next fine-art printer, and this review was very helpful. However, what intimidates me more is that this is already a 2014-printer and I am not sure what is the normal EPSON product life-cycle. Is there a new version in the horizon? Don't know.

    Other than that, all your comments (and especially the ones about ink costs) are to the point. Thank you for taking the time to review the P600.

    Best regards,
    Yannis Larios

    1. That is a very good question! I'm not sure the answer. You may want to call Epson and ask, they have been helpful when I've had questions in the past.