1/27/16

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

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.  If I don't print several times a week I have a lot of problems on my hands.

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.  Not really.  Epson has good customer service so you are only one call away if you get stuck. 

Print Size

The Epson SureColor p600 is a 13 inch wide format printer but Epson also offers a 17 inch model, the Epson SureColor p800

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.

Purchasing and Rebates

There are often rebates available for this printer but make sure you purchase from an authorized dealer.  Amazon is one of them and who I chose to link to.  They are affiliate links, so I get a few bucks with each purchase which helps support this blog.  All opinions are mine though.

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.


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

2 comments:

  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

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    Replies
    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.

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