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Epson SureColor P7000 printer review

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Epson SureColor P7000 review

Using the SC-P7000 24″ inch printer – the replacement for the SP7900


The Epson P7000 was first announced in September 2015. It’s a significant development of the SP7900 and uses Epson’s 10-colour UltraChrome HDX ink-set.

Epson UK kindly lent us a printer to test. Ours was the version with the light light black (LLk) ink option, which is recommended for photo printing over the slightly larger gamut Violet ink option aimed at the proofing market. This review is largely applicable to the larger SC-P9000.

The printer supplied included the SpectroProofer option, an X-Rite based spectrophotometer unit that can scan print output and measure for profiling and proofing. Since this is not of direct use for photo and fine art use, coverage in this review is limited.

keith and P7000 borderless print

The photo at the right shows Keith Cooper with a 24″ width borderless version of one of his black and white images

Note – this is a long review -> Conclusions

Ordering a P7000 for yourself? : B&H | Adorama | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Keith’s Epson SC-P7000 review

The P7000 is the first large format (24″ and over) Epson printer I’ve looked at since I had an SP7880 here a while ago, although reviewing the improvements in the P800 last year suggests I will certainly see the difference. Its ink set is an improved version of that in the SP4900 [review] I had here a few years ago.

I’m looking at one of Epson’s demo printers here, so it’s been moved round a bit and already had a fair few yards of prints run through it.

It was shipped here in the back of a van, and as part of the process of getting it into my ‘test lab’ tipped on its end to get the printer round a doorway. After setting up, apart from powering up and a few checks to see it was it was OK, I left it overnight before starting any detailed testing. This particular model of printer should be shipped with cartridges in place, since Epson’s ink system is pressure fed and really doesn’t want air getting in.

> If you’ve questions, please feel free to contact me or comment at the foot of the article.

I’ve written numerous other printer related articles and reviews. Check some of the article categories listed in the right hand column

What do you get with the SC-P7000?

The printer definitely needs two people to shift it. It does come off the stand (which for a new printer needs assembling).

If you buy one, do note that many carriers will do no more than leave the printer on a pallet on your doorstep. A lesson learned when my SP7880 turned up in 2008…

The side view shows the roll paper holder at the top at the back. You can see the maintenance cart directly below it at the bottom.

side view of P7000 printer

The printer manual suggests that a 300mm gap is needed all around the printer.

space required around printer300mm was a bit more than I had on either side, but you do need to leave a bit of a gap, since the printer will wobble side to side a little bit as the print head flies back and forth.

Key Features (info. from Epson)
  • System On Chip (SOC) controller board for faster processing and networking performance
  • UltraChrome HDX 10-colour pigmented ink system provides ultra wide colour gamut with excellent black density and a print lifetime of up to 200 years in colour of 400 years in black & white
  • Printer stand and fabric catch bin included
  • High-resolution printing up to 2880 x 1440 dpi with ink droplets as small as 3.5 pl.
  • Supports roll media with 2 and 3″ cores
  • Accurate roll media length tracking by reading the bar code, alerts user when there is not enough media to finish the job
  • Optional take-up reel system (SC-P9000 only)
  • Single-sheet top-loading fine art and poster board media input for media up to 59.1 mil / 1.5mm thick
  • Automatic media alignment and paper skew checking
  • True 16-bit compatible drivers
  • Advanced Black & White Printing Technology uses algorithm with three-level black system to optimise quality
  • Optional internal 320GB print server and SpectroProofer spectrophotometer for automated colour calibration and proof verification workflows

Epson sc-p7000 external dimensionsThe full technical specs. are listed at the foot of the article

Which printer?

I’m looking at the SC-P7000 with Light Light black ink.

The P7000 and P9000 have the option of using a new violet ink instead of light light black, to expand the gamut in some areas.

This change boosts the total gamut from 98% of the Pantone range to 99%.

This is very much aimed at graphics and proofing, so not the choice for photo printing, where precise Pantone coverage essentially counts for nothing.

Note that once you make the Violet/LLk decision, you can’t change back.

Epson precisioncore print head info

The printers have a smaller footprint than previous models and with a straight through print path can take up to 1.5mm board

The 24″ P6000 and P7000 models are the same size (53.4″ (W) x 26.3″ (D) x 48″ (H), 187 lbs.) as are the 44″ P8000 and P9000 (73.4″ (W) x 26.3″ (D) x 48″ (H), 256 lbs.) The 6000 and 8000 use the UltraChrome HD 8 colour ink set.

Info. from Epson:

SC-P6000 24″ SC-P8000 44″ SC-P7000 24″ SC-P7000V 24″ SC-P9000 44″ SC-P9000V 44″
UltraChrome HDX 10-colour pigment-based ink light light black violet light light black violet
UltraChrome HD 8-colour pigment-based ink including light light black
Colour gamut of 99% of Pantone
Colour gamut of 98% of Pantone
Pantone-certified colour reproduction
High black density
Large replacement 350ml and 700ml ink cartridges
Ink lightfastness of up to 60 years ink on PGPP
Front access to media and cartridges for ease of use
Spindle-less media loading thanks to flange-type media roll holder
Versatile media support
Competitive printing speeds
320GB hard disk option
USB 2.0 compatible
1GB Ethernet support
ENERGY STAR 2.0 qualified
Optional ILS30 SpectroProofer
Automatic timer and control (ATC) function for automated cleaning

Connectivity

The printer is very easy to connect into a network, with 2 methods of connection.

  • Hi-Speed USB 2.0
  • 1000Base-T Ethernet

rear prots for sc-p7000 connectivity

The white USB lead is connected to the optional SpectroProofer (see below)

The printer I was looking at also had the optional hard disk unit fitted (the little box sticking out at the back).

rear of sc-p7000 printer

I plugged the printer into our network, and it was just there, to add to my printer list.

The TCP/IP setting had found an IP address from our DHCP server.

printer network connectivity

Most options are addressable from the front panel if need be.

network setup from front panel

I’d prefer to set such things up from a computer, but they are all here, and can be printed out if need be.

Just remember not to request printouts when the printer has expensive paper loaded…

detailed network settings for printer

I’d just note that some of the photos of the screens are not as vivid as they are in real life, since the printer was lit by Halogen lights (~2800K) meaning that the clear yellow of the display highlight is lost in white balancing the overall image. The screen is excellent quality and makes good use of colour in the interface.

As with many devices, the printer has its own web interface, allowing quite a range of settings, such as shown here where it will email me on completion of a print job.

printer web interfae for email settings

It also allows me to access saved print jobs from the hard disk. Very useful if you have a range of prints you need to make regular copies of. Leave the print data on the disk after printing and you can call it up again to print, whenever you need.

The disk is supported with several driver options:

  • Print & Save – fast spooling with reprint functionality
  • Print Only – fast spooling without job storage
  • Save Only – holds for printing at a later time
  • Print after Transmission Completed – helps with slower links to the printer

checking stored print jobs on the P7000

Whilst having a hard disk is useful, access to it is slightly limited, in that you can’t access the disk directly. So don’t think of it as you would a normal shared disk.

Using the SC-P7000

After the printer arriving and settling for an hour or so (OK, a break for lunch) I ran some nozzle checks via the print utility.

printer utility software

I’ve some plain copier paper that’s fine for this.

As expected, there were a few nozzles not firing correctly, so I went to the printer control panel to run a clean.

running nozzle check from printer front panel

There are two types of cleaning, ‘Normal’ and ‘Power’ – power cleaning should rarely be necessary.

A welcome feature (with both types of cleaning) is that you can choose to clean just the nozzles with problems.

cleaning configuration

One basic clean and the test pattern was perfect – if there had been any issues, I’d have checked again after a few hours. Remember that inkjet printers (of any make) don’t like being bumped around and moved. Just letting one rest after a move is much better than just repeating cleanings and wasting ink.

cleaning individual pairs of colours

There are a number of options for automatic cleaning.

auto cleaning settings

A regular clean is useful if you are leaving the printer for any length of time.

setting automatic printer cleaning timer

If you do select any of the auto options, take note of the ‘Max. Repeat’ setting, since a failed cleaning is more likely something you actually want to check yourself.

limiting the number of auto clean cycles

After initial setup, and any move, it’s worth running a print head alignment.

You can run this from the utility.

print head alignment using the utility software

or run it from the printer.

head alignment from front panel

The printer was loaded with a roll of Epson Enhanced Matte at the time.

It prints a range of coloured patterns and measures them with the sensors built into the print head.

printer alignment test pattern print

Looking at the shipping list for the printer, I believe some basic matte paper is included, for just this purpose.

Printing

Most of my printing in these tests is via Photoshop (CS6), using custom printer ICC profiles to match the paper.

Epson supply a good collection of profiles for their papers. The ones installed with the driver were fine, but I prefer to make use of custom ones I’ve built. This also allowed me to try some third party papers and see how well they performed.

Epson installed ICC profiles on Mac

The Epson ICC profiles I tried were rather good.

If you are new to using a printer like this, please resist the temptation to go out and get an A2 box or roll of what was your favourite 3rd party paper with your old desktop printer, especially if the printer was a lot smaller and a different make.

Get an A3 or A3+ pack of an Epson paper of the style you like (my choice would be Premium Lustre) and take the time to learn to print optimal images. Use test images like the ones shown further on (with the Epson profiles), and find out for yourself just how print settings affect image quality. Do not print photos of your own until you have good looking prints of the test images.

I’m lucky enough to get a lot of printers to test and have found that resisting my urges to ‘ignore the manual and just get printing’, makes for much higher quality print work.

Unfortunately I see far too many people always looking for the ‘next great paper’ to ‘improve’ their print work, when their real effort should go into basic photographic technique and editing. Yes, there really is a strong chance that the quality you can get out of this printer is sometimes limited by your own abilities not the printer (I’m happy to admit that I go through this every time a new printer arrives).

When you do want to look at other papers, you’ll find many suppliers will supply ICC profiles – once again print a test image first and compare with the results you were able to get from experimenting with Epson papers.

Papers used

This printer will undoubtedly be popular, so expect many paper suppliers to offer profiles, or even profiling services (if you buy their paper).

Papers tested and also profiled for ICC Colour and some QTR B&W linearisation during this review.

  • Epson Premium Lustre Photo (260) (PLPP) – 24″ roll
  • Epson Enhanced Matte (EEM) – 24″ roll
  • Epson Enhanced Matte Posterboard – A3+ sheet
  • Epson Traditional Photo Paper (TPP) (aka ‘Exhibition Fiber’ in the US)
  • Epson Hot Pressed Bright – sheet
  • Epson Cold Pressed Natural – 17″ roll and sheet
  • Innova Glossy Canvas (IFA-56) – 24″ roll canvas [Keith’s review]
  • Pinnacle Baryta 300 – a bright 300gsm lustre finish Baryta paper.
  • Innova IFA-26 – Soft Textured Bright White Cotton 315gsm [Keith’s IFA 26,27 review]
  • Innova IFA-27 – Cold Press Rough Textured Bright White Cotton 300gsm

There is more detail about profiling later, but you first need to print a ‘target’ with coloured patches, to make your profile for any particular paper.

In this instance I’m printing on my Mac with the Apple ColorSync Utility (installed on all Macs) which has a special print mode for printing colour targets.

Do make sure it doesn’t try and scale your print (arrowed). For some reason this kept getting set for my 61cm x 33cm custom paper size on roll paper. Select ‘Scale’ and set to 100%.

When printing different papers and settings, I like to save print setup presets, as a reminder that I’ve got all the settings correct. in this case Epson PLPP260 media, 1440dpi and ‘No Color Adjustment’.

printing profiling targets with colorsync utility

You could also print using the free Adobe ACPU software – designed for printing such targets (Mac and PC).

Colour Calibration

One of the features of a printer like the SC-P7000 that is intended for colour critical proofing and other commercial print environments, is the ability to calibrate and match printers to known states of calibration.

Note that this is -not- the same as the profiling I was printing the target above for.

With a new printer, it’s worth running the calibration utility – in this case from some of the installed Epson software.

printer calibration

I’m using a 24″ roll of Epson Enhanced matte.

In the photo below, you can see the attached SpectroProofer unit – this can be used for, but is not required for calibration. Indeed, not long after taking this photo I removed it.

printing calibration test images

The test target is measured by built in sensors on the print carriage.

If you look in the lower LH corner of the display, you can see the icon for the optional hard disk. When the SpectroProofer is connected, an additional icon appears here.

front dispaly when measuring calibration print

Here’s the test print.

As you can see, it’s a series of patches for each colour ink. Measurement of these help the printer linearise its print output.

calibration test print

Changing ink on the SC-P7000

The ink levels are clearly indicated on the main display.

printer showing low ink level

Software gives a similar indication.

ink levels shown in printer software

The ink level warning on the display comes on quite early – take this more of an indicator that you should have a spare cartridge ready, since it’s quite a few prints between the warning and a ‘must change’ notice.

Carts are accessed via two side panels at either side of the printer. The cover is released via the button on the main control panel.

You’ll notice some printer activity after pressing this, since the P7000 uses a pressurised system, and it needs to prepare for removing cartridges.

front panel for access to ink carts

The carts here are 350ml ones. The larger capacity 700ml inks also fit in just the same.

Press a cartridge and it just pops out – the new one just goes in the same way and will click in place.

replacing an ink cartridge

Once you close the door, the printer will take a short while to start up again.

If ink runs out mid print, then you have a while to replace the ink and restart – too long and you will lose the print.

During testing I ran down two carts (Lk and LLk) – not enough to test the changeover process in detail.

Here are those two carts. Curiosity has led me to open one of them…

two P7000 ink cartridges

The metallic pouch contains the ink, and is forced out by air pressure from the air feed (below).

There are physical locating tabs which prevent you putting the wrong cart in place – given the low down position of the carts, this is a good idea.

detail of ink cartridge construction

One other expendable item is the maintenance cartridge, round the back of the printer.

Waste ink from cleaning, and overspray from borderless printing ends up here. The cart just clips into place.

Maintenance cartridge access

Changing black inks

Due to the way that pigment inks work with different paper types, there is the need to have two types of black ink, one for matte papers and one for photo (glossier) papers.

Epson printers need to swap inks, and this process is best instigated from the front panel.

initiate black ink swap from printer front panel

You can set the printer so that the swap process is automated, based on paper type, but I prefer to do it myself.

My initial testing of the printer was with matte papers, purely since that was what was loaded when it arrived.

After a few tests I loaded up a roll of Premium Lustre paper and started the swap.

Just over 5 minutes later, after lots of whirring and other assorted noises, I’m ready to go with Photo Black ink.

I note that this is over twice the time mentioned in the published specifications (at the foot of this article).

5 minutes to switch black ink type

The specs suggest that the ink usage for swapping is: Matte to Photo Black Approx. 7.2 ml. – Photo to Matte Black Approx. 1.12 ml.

Just to be sure, I run a nozzle check (this is the first swap since the printer was moved) and sure enough, the Pk print head needs some attention.

nozzle check after black ink swap

A single (normal strength) clean and all is well.

I changed inks quite often and did a nozzle check every time. A clean was needed after every ink swap, although the number of missing nozzles was never as high as shown above.

Paper Loading and Media handling

The easiest way to use the printer is just to load roll paper and print away.

There is a paper roller type cutter that will trim paper, and you just collect prints from under the printer (front or rear as shown below). The 44″ SC-P9000 (and P8000) have an optional take-up spool attachment, which fits to the stand.

print catcher under printer

The panel displays useful guides to loading different paper types – look through this at least once if you get such a printer.

paper loading methods

The print path is flat, as you can see from this view of my first test prints with Epson Enhanced Matte paper.

flat path through printer

Roll paper is held with a spindle-free arrangement, where two holders are fitted to the ends of the roll of paper.

The grey handle is the locking device that expands the blades and holds the inside of the roll firmly.

paper roll mounting flanges

The holders fit on the short spindles at the back of the printer.

left hand side roll paper holder

If you absolutely must use 2 inch core paper (it curls a lot, from my experience) then the holders are adjustable.

setting holders for 2 inch core roll paper

In a nice design touch, the top of the printer has a curved area where you can rest rolls of paper.

roll of paper ready to install

Holders are attached to the paper roll. Note that I’ve kept its protective wrapper in place.

fitting holders to paper roll

The screen guide covers the whole process of loading.

guide to paper loading on printer screen

Roll the paper into place.

paper ready for loading roll

Slide the whole assembly fully to the right, and move the grey locking clamp upwards to keep everything in place.

clamp roll in position

Smaller rolls, such as this 17″ roll of Epson Cold Press Natural paper, are loaded in the same way.

Loading was simple for me, but I’m 6 foot tall and used to handling rolls of paper. Karen (my wife and business partner) is 5′ 5″ and didn’t feel she’d be as comfortable with heavy rolls – particularly if this was a 44″ width printer. I mention this just as one of those things you might need to take note of, if you are new to large printers.

17 inch roll paper

Paper can be fed into the printer, once you have released the pressure roller that keeps paper in place when printing.

The orange light indicates that it is free.

If I’ve paper with a heavy curl, I can increase the suction applied by the printer’s vacuum system. This ensures that the paper is flat and removes the need for additional rollers (‘pizza wheels’) to guide paper and prevent head strikes.

release paper feed roller

Most paper settings are controlled by the media choice, such as these matte papers.

selecting paper type that is loaded

Or some photo papers.

photo paper options

You don’t need to select the paper first, since after loading, you get to keep existing settings or change them.

changing paper settings

If you regularly swap paper types, don’t forget to check the type of black ink in use (the wrong sort in this case).

checking black ink type

As a last line of defence, enabling the various paper checks, can also save wasting ink and paper.

enabling automatic checking of paper size

I’d also enable skew checking – just in case a sheet doesn’t load correctly.

Errors will stop printng. Mildly annoying if I have to walk back to my office, but not as much as a ruined print.

printer error display

If using thicker papers than would be standard for the media option chosen, you might want to open up the platen gap a bit.

Adjusting platen gap

Sheet papers

There is a slightly different loading process for smaller sheets of paper (A3 and below) and larger sheets.

Smaller sheets can just be placed into the loading slot, until they rest on the feed roller. Then press the down button on the panel and the paper will be loaded.

Whilst this will work for larger sheets, such as the A3+ one shown, it’s much more likely that the paper will be slightly skewed. For larger sheets you release the roller, whereupon if you are not holding the paper carefully, it will drop straight through the printer.

Line the paper up with the guide lines and then press the roller button. The paper will be drawn through and loaded (i.e. ready to print).

loading sheet paper

With a bit of practice, it’s possible to load sheets quite consistently, such as where I was making a number of prints with these A3+ cotton based art papers [See review of IFA-26, 27 for more]

single sheet test images on cotton paper

Running individual sheets through several times showed a variance of less than a millimetre in repeat positioning, if I was careful with loading. Just note that if you regularly require repeat registration of images, it’s going to take some real care and practice.

Printing on poster board

In loading an A3+ sheet of poster board, I noted that it’s much easier if you lift up the roll paper cover. You can see I’ve a roll of paper in place behind it. The brown paper that the paper is shipped with both protects the paper and stops it unwinding.

loading larger sheets of posterboard

Once again, reading through the guide to loading board, on the printer screen, gives the procedure.

With the weight of the board (and risk of damage to edges) be sure to hold it when releasing the feed roller.

These two prints on board are of an 1890’s map of my home town, Ipswich.

two maps printed on A3+ posterboard

Unidirectional printing (and ‘finest detail’) produced a noticeably sharper print. Also, by having a 720ppi source file, printed at 2880dpi, the right hand print can be viewed with a hand lens to see all the detail visible in the magnified version to the left, the small part of town where some of my family has lived for many generations.

Custom paper types

Although there are many different media types to choose from, it’s possible that you might want to use regularly a specific paper that benefits from custom settings.

There are a number of ‘slots’ available for your own paper types.

In this instance I’ve created a setting for a particularly nice heavy ‘Baryta style’ paper from a local supplier.

setting up a custom paper type for the printer

There are lots of settings I can customise, and when finished, the paper will appear on the printer menu.

[Pinnacle Baryta 300 info.]

screen shows custom paper loaded

You can print test patterns to check paper thickness, if it’s not available from the supplier.

paper thickness test

That said, it’s not that easy to read the results – maybe around 0.3mm?

detail of paper thickness test

I find a digital calliper much easier to use…

calliper gauge to measure paper thickness

I also tested a glossy canvas with this printer, and created a custom setting for it.

The Innova IFA-56 canvas is a polycotton glossy canvas that prints very well on the P7000 [IFA-56 canvas review]

custom paper type - canvas

It’s 0.5mm thick and works well with the PLPP(260) media setting – just like a photo paper.

custom paper setup for canvas

You get the option to produce test prints at different settings, which would seem to make choosing media settings easier, until you notice that differences are not going to be that obvious…

media test prints on glossy canvas

Here’s one of my sample prints – now on view in Karen’s office, where the gull even has a name…

Note I’ve written up a short review of the GOframe canvas mounting system I used

print setup for gloss canvas

It’s printed with a custom ICC profile (the blue is a little intense in this shot under halogen lighting).

glossy canvas print

Trimming

The printer has a built in cutter that worked just fine on everything I tried – even the Canvas above.

I’m not sure how long the blade would last if you did a lot of canvas printing, but it is easily replaceable, via a panel just below the printing area.

access panel for paper cutter

Borderless printing

Borderless printing is offered at the following media widths: 254 mm, 300 mm, 329 mm, 406 mm, 432 mm, 515 mm, 594 mm, 610 mm.

One of the reasons for specific sizes is handling the overspray ink (it needs to go somewhere).

Here’s the left edge of 610mm paper (24″).

left sponge for ink overspray

And below, the right side.

Note the cut line indicator attached to the print head carriage.. The actual cutter is further down, where the paper comes out of the printer. Pressing the cut button on the front panel advances the paper from the point indicated, trims it, and then backs up to where you see it.

The grey feed rollers are also visible. It’s the distance between these and the print heads that determines the minimum top margin for sheet papers, since once the paper edge moves below them, it will just drop down.

right edge of paper

There are a number of different borderless setting in the print driver, so take time to read the manual as to what works for different sizes and borders.

Remember too that I’m only testing with a Mac – settings are slightly different under Windows.

Even printing this large view of the falls at Steamboat Springs in Colorado at 240 ppi gives a perfectly good print, since it was never intended to be something you look at with a magnifying glass. It’s 1.3m high.

The specifications for the printer list the SC-P7000 maximum print length at 529″ (13.4 metres).

I’ve not tested this on my Mac and know from experience in making a 47 foot long print a while ago that nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems when you get to really long prints.

large image for printing

I’m printing on a 150cm custom paper size and using the ABW black and white print mode.

printing large borderless print

Printing…

large print coming out of printer

Here’s the finished print, with me holding it.

large print with keith cooper for scale

Printer testing

With any new printer I’ve a series of known test images that I always start off printing, I know what these images look like on different types of paper and many different printers.

It’s a quick way of seeing if the printer is up to more detailed testing, since if it can’t manage one of these images, it’s not going to suddenly look better with others.

I always suggest using such images when testing new papers, rather than your own favourite photos. If you can print an image you like the quality of, from these, then it makes refining the printing of your own work so much easier.

The images (and many others) are available for free download on this site.

black and white printer test imagedatacolor test image for printer profilie evaluation

Both images have lots of components to specifically test different aspects of printer performance.

I also use both for testing the performance of printer profiles. If you make use of them, then do be sure to read the explanatory notes that go with them.

Various Prints

Having the printer for a while meant I could try out a lot of different images and papers.

Karen used its arrival to decide upon a number of new prints for around the house, such as this one from the first time she arrived at Seattle, by boat (Epson PLPP260)

view of Seattle from the sound

Almost all my printing was directly from Photoshop, since I don’t use Lightroom.

haystack rock, oregon

The photo below shows a print of Haystack Rock (Pacific City, Oregon) doesn’t quite hit the mark.

It illustrates a problem in making prints, from an image you have edited, that sometimes arises.

I’ve always liked this view, that I took one evening when I first stayed on the Oregon Coast in 2004. I first printed it on Epson Enhanced Matte with my Epson SP9600 printer. It looked OK but a little flat (as you might expect on that paper).

Printing it here on Premium Lustre gives a print that is too contrasty and breaks the view up too much for my taste.

I used the RelCol rendering intent, which with my ICC profiles doesn’t have the slight contrast/saturation boost I pick for Perceptual rendering, when building the profiles.

It’s not much different on a baryta type paper. If I raise the black point a bit I can get rid of some of the deeper shadows, although this really needs to done with a masked curve if I’m not to affect parts of the image I’m happy with.

It might look better on a cotton rag paper, but needs work.

I’ve included it here to show how having a great printer and paper is only part of getting large prints you are happy with.

This is one of those images that I know I’ll return to, although I have to accept that some prints may never quite match your vision (or memory) for them…

test print of Haystack rock, pacific city

I also tested the printer with the latest version of ImageNest (V4) for laying out multiple prints.

In this view, samples from my collection of stock photos of the City of Leicester.

[ImageNest 4 review update (Mac)]

multiple images printed on roll paper using ImageNest V4

I also printed several images that I know really push the gamut of any printer, and, just as importantly address the smoothness of colour transitions from the printer driver.

This sunset on the Washington coast (another photo selected for the house) always pushes RAW processing and print setup, if you want to get a smooth gradation in colour to reproduce the intense orange glow from the misty sky over the Pacific.

This is one time where printing at 16 bit could make a useful difference.

print setup for pacific sunset

The orange ink of the SC-P7000 helps here, although a good profile, a good monitor, soft proofing and care in editing all help.

The print with some of the feel I’m after – not easy to reproduce with a photo on the web, but the house management is happy with the framed version.

test print of pacific sunset

Black and White

The Epson ABW print mode works even better on the P7000 than some of the smaller printers I’ve looked at recently. I’ve some more details in the profiling section below, but almost every paper I tested was effectively linear enough in its output with the default settings, to require minimal editing.

The print below is from an old Tri-X negative and has been printed on a bright cotton paper (IFA-26).

Brancaster beach, North Norfolk coast.

black and white print of Brancaster Bay

Colour profiles and profiling

I prefer to create my own paper profiles with my X-Rite i1iSis scanning spectrophotometer and i1Profiler profiling software. I have a range of profiling targets, but one of my favourites fits just shy of 3000 patches on a single sheet of A3+ paper.

If you’re not that into colour management, you might want to skip this section and jump to the conclusions.

Here is a profiling target coming out of the printer…

printing profiling target on sc-p7000

As I mentioned earlier, I now print my targets with with the Apple ColorSync Utility or the Adobe Print Utility.

It’s important to make sure that colour management is turned off when printing these targets.

When properly dry (overnight) I’ll measure the targets with an X-Rite i1iSis spectrophotometer.

This takes 10-15 minutes and even works with thicker media such as the Innova glossy canvas I tested.

In this shot of the canvas, I’ve emphasised the surface texture, to give a feel for any bronzing (none) or gloss differential (not a lot).

profiling target printed on glossy canvas

Once the chart is measured, the data is processed with X-Rite’s i1Profiler software.

All the profiles (which also contain measurement data) are available free for non commercial use on request, but do say which ones you want.

Last year I reviewed the SC-P800 printer, the replacement for the popular SP3880.

It too has an improved ink set and I was curious as to how it compared with the SC-P7000.

Fortunately I had several profiles based on the same paper and profiling target.

This example from i1Profiler, shows in blue. the larger gamut of the P7000 – it’s expanded in most areas, but more so where the additional orange and green inks show up.

profile comparison between p800 and p7000

An alternative view (using the Apple ColorSync Utility) shows the extended gamut in context. The solid interior shape is the P800 profile.

profile gamut comparison

Please don’t read too much into these diagrams – they really are just for illustration, confirming the larger gamut, and how the Orange and Green inks also contribute to this.

If it was just about gamut, then I’d be using the version of the printer with violet ink – but it definitely isn’t.

Relatively few of my photographic images really push these areas of gamut, and the Light Light Black ink gives improved smoothness and tonal transitions in the lighter and less saturated areas of prints.

A very light black also potentially gives better tonality in black and white images.

When comparing different ink sets, remember that the real advanced stuff is the way the printer firmware and driver handles getting those ink dots on the paper.

The SpectroProofer

The optional SpectroProofer unit uses an X-Rite spectrophotometer that is scanned across the print as it comes out of the bottom of the printer.

To make measurements, you need software that support the device. None of my profiling software does this, which is hardly surprising, given I don’t do proofing work or commercial print.

Whilst you -could- use the software utilty to read a set of patches, store the data in a text file, and open it with a profiling package, it’s far easier to print out targets – dry them overnight – and read with my normal i1Profiler software. The SpectroProofer covers a wider section of the paper than the old model, and is supported by some RIPs such as Mirage.

There are some more detailed comments (referring to the earlier version of SpectroProofer, but still relevant) in my Epson SP4900 review, from a few years ago.

SpectroProofer unit attached to the front of the P7000

The unit just slides into place along some small rails at each side.

A white backing plate (optionally black) and calibration tile are attached to the printer first, where the spectrophotometer will make its readings.

backing plate and calibration tile

These are just below where the print cutter runs across.

tile and backplate attached to the printer

The inside of the SpectroProofer shows the lens of the spectrophotometer.

base of spectroproofer unit

For measurement, a guide plate flips down onto the surface of whatever media is in use.

measurement guide for spectroproofer

The unit has a USB cable that runs under the printer to plug in the rear, next to the printer’s USB interface. The SpectroProofer also has its own mains power socket – but no on/off switch. If your mains outlet is behind the printer like it is where I’m testing it, there is no easy way to turn the unit on or off other than pulling out the mains plug.

The unit also needs to be switched on and connected when the printer powers up.

If all is well, a small icon appears on the screen in the lower left.

printer display with expansion options

If you want the device, you’ll know what it does and have software to make use of it.

This is not a general paper profiling solution for photographers like myself.

Black and White

The ABW B&W print mode works well on every Epson printer I’ve tested, although I always check how well it is doing with respect to linearity, by making QTR correction profiles for papers I’m looking at (they may not need them).

I use my own specialist B&W test image to get a visual feel for the print quality and also for quantitative measurements via the 51 step greyscale target.

For basic B&W printing, the default settings for ABW should suffice.

ABW print mode configuration

Although some argue that a 51 step target is too fine detail, I find that it gives a good feel for how different inks are being laid down on the paper. If you want less steps, then delete a few measurements when creating the curves.

I’ll not go into detail about making and using the curves, but there is more detail in a short article I wrote up about testing a new unknown paper type.

Here are two test prints, photographed more to emphasise differences in surface texture (cotton based matte papers).

texture of papers for black and white prints

For those wanting some numbers, here are the output files from making the QTR profiles.

First up, PLPP260 – Premium Lustre (Pk), printed at 1440dpi

measurement data plpp260

A very creditable black density of 2.53 and linear output that I’d be quite happy to use as-is for prints (such as the big one I’m holding up).

The steady shift left of the ‘b’ values show how this paper has moderate levels of optical brighteners (OBAs)

Now Epson Cold pressed natural (Mk). The ‘b’ values show a warmer OBA free paper.

A Dmax of 1.73 seems pretty good for a matte paper like this.

I should perhaps note that in general I find discussions about the Dmax of different papers marginally more useful than knowing the nominal top speed of my car. It’s just one piece of information to take into account when choosing papers – what looks good for your own photos trumps it every time IMHO.

cold press neutral measurement data

Enhanced Matte is a brighter paper, but not in such an obvious way as the PLPP260

You can notice also a slight bend to the ‘L’ curve towards the bottom – some images might benefit from a slight opening up of deep shadow.

enhanced matte paper measurement data

Now for Enhanced Matte again, but this time printed at the slower 2880 print setting.

A slightly different curve to the ‘L’ line and slightly higher Dmax.

Not much, but this trend is found in other papers when printing at 1440 or 2880

enhanced matte measurement data at 2880dpi

Is the marginal improvement from going to 2880, worth the significantly longer print time?

That’s one you’ll have to work out for yourself.

Oh, and when you do have a print of your work at 1440 and 2880, do get someone else to look at the prints and see if -they- can see any difference.

Conclusions

I’ve split this section over a number of areas, since there are many aspects of using the printer that may or may not be relevant for different potential users. If there is something not covered, please do ask, since it’s possible I missed a point in this review.

Paper handling

The printer didn’t mis-feed or exhibit any paper handling problems at any time during the testing.

The paper loading was quite simple with the spindle-less mount system, although I was only handling 24″ rolls of paper. It also helped that I’m 6′ tall and had no difficulty reaching the back of the printer.

All custom print sizes I tried (up to 2.2m) worked fine and margin settings were accurately reflected in actual print sizes, although I only briefly checked this with a few sheets and new rolls of paper.

The printer can mark roll paper with the amount of paper used when unloaded. This code can be read back in by the printer when you load the roll again, ensuring you know how much paper is left.

Nice idea for production environments, but probably not something I’d activate for a printer of my own, unless I was regularly producing some of my longer panoramic prints.

Print resolution

The printer offers 1440 and a higher 2880 dpi resolution.

I tried producing test prints at different settings (resolution and rendering intent) and on different papers, and was hard pressed to see much difference from the resolution setting unless I used a strong magnifying glass, such as with the maps printed on posterboard.

12 versions of the same photo printed on different papers

Print ‘Quality’

Any initial print ‘faults’ I found were invariably my own deficiencies in editing or choosing print settings. Paper choice can make such a difference that apart from printing a lot of test images of the same scene (see above) it’s difficult to make any clear comparisons.

Surface finish showed less gloss differential than previous Epson printers I’ve looked at.

Epson TPP (aka Exhibition Fiber) showed no signs of surface marking at all. It’s one of the softer surface finish papers I look at and is very easy to mark with paper transport mechanisms in printers.

I handle prints carefully, but even with a bit of scratching, there was no flaking or loss of ink adhesion on any paper. That said, I don’t really include this in testing, in any thorough manner.

Colour rendition was excellent and at no time did I feel that the printer was limiting me. The HDX ink set is capable of slightly deeper blacks and wider colour range than say the Epson SC-P800 I tested last year, but you’ll be fairly picky to notice.

Yes, I’d happily choose the SC-P7000 to reproduce my work (although I’d not pass on a P800 either)

Black and white image quality was very good using the ABW mode, and prints exhibited negligible residual tints under a range of lighting conditions.

The as-is linearity of the ABW mode is the best I’ve yet seen from an Epson printer – it would be my print mode of choice for my B&W work.

Epson profiles

These worked well, but I note that they are not installed as individual .icc files on the Mac, but in a package at

/Library/Printers/EPSON/InkjetPrinter2/ICCProfiles/EP1511LF5.profiles

Note that you will have to right-click and select ‘Show Package Contents’ to find the ICC files.

My own profiles are available free for non commercial use.

Ink costs

Not an easy thing to report on in any meaningful way, given the amount of testing and ink swaps I carried out, especially since the printer arrived with some previous use.

It’s interesting that the only two carts that I replaced were the Lk and LLk ones. I’d suggest looking at how inks go down for your day to day printing to see which ones are definitely worth replacing with 700ml ones.

The ink level display was clear and of sufficient resolution that I felt I had a good idea of what the printer was doing and how inks were going down.

Black Ink swap

For some, the Epson elephant in the room…

It takes a few ml. of ink and 5-6 minutes every time you want to swap black ink types. Epson do supply profiles for using Pk inks with some matte papers, but to me, the loss of depth was too obvious.

A cost you’ll have to factor into your printing, but getting a large format printer has always entailed a rather different approach to costs than a simple A3+ desktop machine.

Not nearly the annoyance it was when I had my Epson 9600 and 7880 where a black swap wasted masses of ink, but still there.

Cleaning, reliability and other bugbears

You will need to regularly clean the heads – even if this is done automatically just when starting up the printer.

Head cleaning is a basic function of all ink jet printers, whether it is obvious to you or not.

During testing I did a nozzle check every day – they all passed first time.

The only time I needed to run a cleaning cycle was after every swap between Mk and Pk inks, or Pk to Mk. Most times this was just for the black ink but a few other times one or two other colours needed including in the clean selection.

Remember that the one thing that all such printers dislike is lack of regular and frequent use. Printing for four days running every other month is never going to be helpful. If you want a printer like this, it needs to be used weekly (this goes for -every- other large printer I’ve reviewed as well).

One nice feature is the timer function that can automatically wake up your printer and run a regular cleaning cycle – great news if you are going away for a few weeks and no-one is around to fire up the printer.

Printheads are not user replaceable, since they are designed to last for many years. Obviously I can’t comment on how well the new heads in the SureColor range will last, but not being a ‘consumable’ it’s a pretty hefty replacement cost, you won’t have to factor in to your overall running costs.

Will getting an SC-P7000 massively improve your prints?

If your printmaking skills are up to it, you may well notice a step up from the improved ink set, but I have to be honest and say that if you are coming from a small printer, such as a P600, then you likely face a fair bit of work to truly do justice to what this printer can reproduce. Not difficult work, but the sort you can’t just shortcut by buying new kit…

As printers get better, the rate of visibly obvious improvement in print ‘quality’ will tend to tail off, so whilst I can definitely see improvements between the SC-P800 and the (more) inks of the SC-P7000, it’s perhaps more difficult to see the changes between it and the ink set of the SP4900 I looked at a few years ago. I don’t have many profiles or test prints created from then, but a few rough and ready comparisons suggest that the P7000 HDX ink set gives a consistent expansion of gamut and better blacks over the older ink set (as used in SP7900).

One area I was unable to check was the stated improvement in dithering pattern associated with the newer printheads – it’s very smooth, especially at 2880dpi, but you’d need to compare stuff pretty closely to see (I do keep some test prints from previous printer reviews, but my filing system is rather imperfect).

Where I did particularly enjoy using the SC-P7000 was its overall ease of use. Menus were clear and simple to use and paper loading quick and easy.

Overall

This printer is a massive improvement over the last large format Epson I had here, my old SP7880 [review] – that was always a good printer to use, but the developments over the years in quality and usability really lept out.

Print quality is excellent, if you take care with your editing and photographic skills. Images from my 50MP Canon 5Ds were packed full of detail at A2 and larger.

The new HDX ink set expands gamut and print depth, and profiles very easily, with a good range of media settings, predefined and custom.

Black and white print linearity and neutrality needs little attention, even with a range of third party papers.

Overall, a printer I’d have been very happy to keep here.

–ooOoo–

Places to get a P7000 for yourself : B&H | Adorama | Amazon US | Amazon UK

You can leave comments/questions about this review below

Summary

11 ink 24″ wide format printer, supporting roll and sheet media, with a straight through print path for thicker media.

Optional SpectroProofer and violet ink option for proofing support. For photo and fine art applications, the Light Light Black ink set option is to be preferred.

Specifications (from Epson)

Technology
Printing Method PrecisionCore TFP print head
Ink Technology UltraChrome HDX
Print
Colours Light Black, Light Light Black, Photo Black, Matte Black, Cyan, Light Cyan, Yellow, Vivid Magenta, Vivid Light Magenta, Orange, Green
Ink tank capacity 700 ml. max.
Minimum Droplet Size 3.5 pl.
Nozzle Configuration 360 Nozzles Black, 360 Nozzles per Colour
Auto-Switching Black Ink Technology

Black ink conversion times
Matte to Photo Black Approx. 2 min 55 sec
Photo to Matte Black Approx. 2 min 07 sec

Ink used during conversion
Matte to Photo Black Approx. 7.2 ml
Photo to Matte Black Approx. 1.12 ml

These times seem quite a bit shorter than I found during testing, however, Epson’s specs add: “Ink used in conversion varies considerably based on temperature and other factors”

Epson Intelligent Ink Cartridge

Initial cartridge fill volume 110 ml x 11 total colors (used for initial fill at setup)

Cartridge fill volume 150 ml, 350 ml, or 700 ml each x 11 colors total

Ink cartridge shelf life(recommended) 2 years from printed production date or 6 months after opening.

Epson UltraChrome HDX Ink

Ink Cartridge (150 ml) (350 ml) (700 ml)
Photo Black T834100 T824100 T804100
Cyan T834200 T824200 T804200
Vivid Magenta T834300 T824300 T804300
Yellow T834400 T824400 T804400
Light Cyan T834500 T824500 T804500
Vivid Light Magenta T834600 T824600 T804600
Light Black T834700 T824700 T804700
Matte Black T834800 T824800 T804800
Light Light Black T834900 T824900 T804900
Orange T834A00 T824A00 T804A00
Green T834B00 T824B00 T804B00
Violet T834D00 T824D00 T804D00

Paper / Media Handling
Paper Formats A1, A2, A3+, A3, A4, B2, B3, B4, 17 ” (43.2 cm), 24 ” (61.0 cm), User defined
Print Margins Sheet Media Mode 1: 3 mm (top), 3 mm (right), 14 mm (bottom), 3 mm (left)
Compatible Paper Thickness 0.08 mm – 1.5 mm
Duplex No
Borderless printing on 254 mm, 300 mm, 329 mm, 406 mm, 432 mm, 515 mm, 594 mm, 610 mm
Printer Speeds

16″ x 20″ prints from 2:02 to 6:58 Production is 4:16

20″ x 30″ prints from 3:40 to 12:25 Production is 7:36

Print times are based upon print engine speeds only. Total throughput depends upon front-end driver/RIP, file size, printing resolution, ink coverage, network speed, etc. Normal is for prints imaged using 1440×720 high-speed mode.

General
Energy Use 65 Watt, 19 Watt (economy), 2 Watt (stand-by), 0.5 Watt (Power off)
Supply Voltage AC 100 V – 240 V,50 Hz – 60 Hz
Product dimensions 1,356‎ x 667 x 1,218 mm (Width x Depth x Height)
Product weight 144 kg
Sound Power Operation: 6.5 B (A)
Noise Level Operation: 47 dB (A)
What’s in the box Driver and utilities (CD), Individual Ink Cartridges, Main unit, Power cable, Setup guide, Software (CD), User manual (CD)
Other Features
Memory Printer: 1 GB
Emulations ESC/P-R
Other
Compatible Operating Systems Linux, Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, Windows 7, Windows 7 x64, Windows 8 (32/64 bit), Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2003 (32/64bit), Windows Server 2008 (32/64bit), Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, Windows Vista x64, Windows XP, Windows XP x64
Interfaces Gigabit Ethernet interface, Hi-Speed USB – compatible with USB 2.0 specification, USB 2.0 Type A, Ethernet interface (100 Base-TX / 10 Base-T)
Media Handling Fine Art Paper Path, Roll Paper, Thick Media Support
Print features
Printing Resolution 2,880 x 1,440 DPI
LCD
LCD screen Type: Colour, Diagonal: 6.8 cm
Optional SpectroProofer

Carriage mechanism: 24″ (SC-P7000); 44″ (SC-P9000)
Spectrophotometer: X-Rite ILS30EP
UV handling: Software selectable
Illuminate Support M0, M1, and M2
Backing colour: White and Black
Supported Media Thickness: Up to 18 point (0.45 mm)
Workflow integration: Most leading third-party RIPs

More information on our site

We've many reviews of Epson printers. See the Epson Category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.

Printer profiles created during this review

Papers tested and also profiled for ICC Colour and some QTR B&W linearisation during this review.

The profiles created for this review are available free for experiment and non commercial use.

  • Epson Premium Lustre Photo (260) (PLPP) – 24″ roll
  • Epson Enhanced Matte (EEM) – 24″ roll
  • Epson Enhanced Matte Posterboard – A3+ sheet
  • Epson Traditional Photo Paper (TPP) (aka ‘Exhibition Fiber’ in the US)
  • Epson Hot Pressed Bright – sheet
  • Epson Cold Pressed Natural – 17″ roll and sheet
  • Innova Glossy Canvas (IFA-56) – 24″ roll canvas [Keith’s review]
  • Pinnacle Baryta 300 – a bright 300gsm lustre finish Baryta paper.
  • Innova IFA-26 – Soft Textured Bright White Cotton 315gsm [Keith’s IFA 26,27 review]
  • Innova IFA-27 – Cold Press Rough Textured Bright White Cotton 300gsm

Please email Keith if you’d like any profiles (which contain measurement data)

More print related information

For information about other printers, paper reviews and profiling (colour management) see the Printing section of the main Articles and Reviews page, or use the search box at the top of any page. There are also specific index pages for any articles connected with the following topics:

More of Keith's articles/reviews (Google's picks to match this page)


Buying anything from Amazon (not just what's listed) via any of the links below helps Keith and Karen keep the site going - thanks if you do! [Amazon UK]

 

 


  • Frederic Lee

    Hi Keith, I’m on the fence for for a LF printer.
    I do B/W & Color at a ratio 2:1. At one point I considered setting up a carbon print worklfow but that looked like kind of a hassle.
    I’ll probably end up with an investment in a 44″ model.
    At the Photokina last september I visited both the Epson & Canon booth and paid a visit at French paper manufacturer Canson. Both Canson guest photographer had the same discourse ” It doesn’t really matter what type of printer you use”
    But then over at the Innova booth they had large B/W prints on display that had been printed on the Epson SC P20000. The tonal rendition, grain, overall mood of the pictures was phenomenal ( they were from film originals featuring Lisa Minelli and Sammy Davis Jr.)
    Do you reckon the 4th grey in these printers SC P10000/ SC P20000 really makes a big difference ?
    And in choosing between a Canon pro 4000 and an Epson SC 9000 which would handle B/W best, knowing my main staple of paper would be Baryta and Matte papers.
    Greetings from Begium…

    • kacoooper

      Interesting problem… The new PRO printers from Canon make for some excellent B&W prints, as did the P7000 I had here in March. I’m hoping to get a look at the P10000 before too long, but it’s too big for our kitchen, so I’ll not get my usual long test!. I’m inclined to believe the Canson guy though – most variation comes from users’ photography and editing skills ;-)
      How much difference that extra grey will make is something I’m curious about – then again , there are things like the CO ink in the Canons (and the -eventual- arrival of TBW software from Bowhaus)

      • Frederic Lee

        Hi Keith,
        Thank you for your reply…
        I’ve been pondering about the 4th gray and the ommission of both orange and green.
        Perhaps something to do with upping the printing speed on both the 10000 and 20000. They are way faster than both 7000 and 9000, being advertised as printshop or in house large volume machines (albeit at fine art quality level).
        Anyway, I’m looking forward to your assesment of the P10000.
        Best regards…