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Epson SureColor SC-P800 printer review

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Epson SureColor P800 review

Using the SC-P800 A2 17 inch printer – the replacement for the SP3880

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The Epson P800 was announced in April 2015 and brings Epson’s new UltraChrome HD ink set to a 17″ A2 printer.

The inks are designed to give denser colours and deeper blacks than the UltraChrome Vivid Magenta inks in the SP3880.

Epson sc-p800 front

The P800 was succeeded by the P900 in 2020

Keith has been testing a pre-production P800 on a wide variety of papers, seeing how the printer performs, along with changes/similarities to the very popular SP3880.

Note – this is a long review -> Conclusions

Ordering the P800: B&H | Adorama | Amazon USWex (UK)

Our Epson SC-P800 review

Epson UK contacted me a while ago, after I’d written a lengthy review of the SC-P600 and asked if I’d be prepared to test a new printer, the long awaited replacement for the SP3880, which I’d also reviewed a few years ago (and the SP3800 before that).

This review is a little unusual, since it’s using pre-release hardware. The printer reviewed is internally the same as a production model, but the exterior casing is lacking a little refinement in surface finish. Epson UK tell me that there may be minor firmware changes between my initial testing (April 2015) and actual shipping of the SC-P800 in a few months time. The only significant missing aspect of the model tested, was that it didn’t have a working wireless card. I didn’t test it with any Epson bundled software either.

I’ve pushed the printer as hard as any I’ve looked at – if you’ve questions, please feel free to contact me or comment via the section at the foot of the article.

I’ve written numerous other printer related articles and reviews. Have a look in the site ‘Articles News‘ section for details.

What do you get with the SC-P800?

The SC-P800 comes with 80ml ink carts (9 of them – 64ml ‘starter’ carts are shipped), substantially larger than the carts in the P600 I reviewed recently. The print head uses a development of the one used in the 3880, with 180 nozzles per ink. The 3.5pl minimum drop size gives a finest resolution of 2880 dpi.

The colour front display is touch activated and of sufficient resolution to show much more information than earlier models.

The printer has an optional roll paper holder that is considerably more solid than the ones on smaller printers. It is not motorised and there is no cutter option. I’ll look at this in more detail with some of the panoramic printing I tried.

With nine inks and a similar head design to the 3880, it’s no surprise to see that the need to switch black inks between Matte black (MK) and Photo Black (PK) is still with us. The level of annoyance that this will cause depends on how you’re going to use the printer, but I’ll come back to this in the conclusions.

The printer weighs in at 43 lbs (19.5 kg.) so whilst it’s light enough for most desks, take care when lifting out of the packing.

Printer dimensions

If you add the roll paper unit, it takes up space at the rear.

printer dimensions with roll adapter added

If you’re printing A2 size paper, the paper tray at the front and feed tray at the back take up a fair bit more space.

Move your mouse over the image to see.

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Key Features (info from Epson)
  • New 9 colour UltraChrome HD technology
  • Exceptionally wide colour gamut and highest black density on the market (2.86 Dmax on PGPP)
  • Roll paper option for printing 2″ and 3″ core roll media up to 17″ width (product is optional extra)
  • Front loading fine art paper path for easy loading of fine art media and rigid media
  • Supports Epson Connect. Support for Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print
  • WiFi Direct for direct wireless printing from tablets, PCs and smartphones
  • Large 2.7 inch colour touch panel for simple set-up and management
  • 80ml cartridge size
  • Ethernet, WiFi and USB 2.0 connection

The full technical specs. are listed at the foot of the article


The printer is very easy to connect into a network, with 3 methods of connection.

  • Hi-Speed USB 2.0
  • 100Base-T Ethernet
  • WiFi

The wireless connectivity was not available in the pre-production unit (even though showing on the screen) – I’m told that it is similar to the SC-P600.

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Wireless LAN specs

  • Standard: IEEE 802.11b/g/n
  • Security: WPA-PSK (TKIP/AES) WPA2 compliant, WEP (64/128bit)
  • Frequency Band: 2.4 GHz
  • Communication Mode: Infrastructure mode, Ad hoc

The wireless connectivity allows the printer to be used on its own, such as printing photos at an event. Not the sort of work I do, but with the addition of roll paper, a fairly flexible event setup could be put together.

As well as making setup easier, the new touch screen is very useful if your computer isn’t right next to the printer. If something is set wrongly, you get a clear message, rather than a flashing light. During my testing I was trying out a lot of different papers and settings – you will get things wrong, and the info certainly helped find out what I’d got wrong…

The panel tilts up (mouse over to see).

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Both Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print are supported.

The printer was visible to my iPad without any further configuration. Here it is using Epson’s printing App, showing ink levels.

ipad printer conectivity

Using the SC-P800

During testing, I installed driver software on both my old MacBook Pro, running OSX 10.6.8 and Mac Pro running OSX 10.9

The printer driver functioned perfectly well and just like when I tested the SC-P600, so I’m not expecting any material changes between now and shipping.

We don’t have any Windows machines here, but given Epson’s usual driver support I’d expect similar functionality. With a pre-release machine I’ve not covered any aspects relating to software installation or additional software, since this might vary with what finally ships.

The printer has its own web interface, which allows for various setup and maintenance options

web interface for printer

It’s easy to use and set up many printer functions.

checking ink levels via web interface

Just one minor thing to watch for. When I installed the driver on my Mac Pro, I obviously didn’t read things carefully enough.

It wasn’t until I tried to print from Photoshop (CS6) that I noticed that all kinds of driver settings were missing. It seems that there is an alternative ‘simplified’ printer on my network – ‘AirPrint’

choosing the correct version of the printer driver

Deleting it and adding the correct version restored all the missing driver functionality.

printer driver interface


I’m trying most of my printing via Photoshop (CS6), using custom printer ICC profiles to match the paper.

Epson supply 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.

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 linerisation during this review.

  • Epson Premium Glossy Photo (PGPP)
  • Epson Premium Lustre Photo (PLPP)
  • Epson Archival Matte (EAM)
  • Epson Traditional Photo Paper (TPP) (aka ‘Exhibition Fiber’ in the US)
  • Epson Hot Pressed Bright
  • Epson Hot Pressed Natural
  • Innova FibaPrint Matt (IFA39) – 17 inch roll, a heavier 285 gsm bright matte paper [Keith’s review]
  • Pinnacle Lustre 300 – 10 inch roll. 300gsm, very similar to PLPP
  • Pinnacle Baryta 300 – a bright 300gsm lustre finish Baryta paper.

There is more detail on 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 telling Photoshop to leave colour management to the printer and selecting ‘No Color Adjustment’ in the printer driver.

printer driver media settings

Note the preset ‘P800 PLPP NCA’ in the driver settings. I always save selections of printer settings during testing, it helps me remember what I’ve done and ensures consistency if I want to repeat a print.

When printing with an ICC profile, I’ll select the profile in the Photoshop print dialogue. This deactivates the colour settings in the driver.

You can fine tune more printer settings if you are using thicker/thinner media

changing platten gap and paper settings

Changing ink on the SC-P800

As with the SP3880, the ink cartridges reside at the top front left of the printer.

Touching the inks button on the display shows current levels, and shows the panel opening button.

Touching this opens the cover (mouse over to see).

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The carts have tabs above them that you press downwards to release (mouse over to see)

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There is also a replaceable maintenance tank at the lower right, which collects waste ink from cleanings and general operations.

The cover flips out, whilst the cartridge just clicks into place (mouse over to see).

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Changing black inks

Since different paper types work best with different types of black ink, there are two black inks available.

If you just print on one general type of paper, such as glossy, or fine art rag (matte) papers then this is fine, but if you need to change paper you may need to change the currently installed black ink.

The printer can do this automatically, but I’d seriously recommend switching off this function. The minor inconvenience of having to manually instigate a swap is nothing compared to having it happen to you, by mistakenly selecting the wrong paper type in your print dialogue.

setting printer options via front panel

The swap process can be started from the front panel.

swapping black ink types

I timed my first PK to MK swap at 2m 12s, and 3m 10s for MK to PK. This isn’t far from the figures in the specifications

Black Ink Conversion Times
Matte to Photo Black 3:30 (min:sec)
Photo to Matte Black 2:30 (min:sec)
Ink Used during switch
Matte to Photo Black Approx. 4.6ml
Photo to Matte Black Approx. 1.6ml

Paper Loading and Media handling

The printer has three ways of handling sheet media.

paper loading options

The auto sheet feeder works fine for lighter papers, and at A2 size for papers such as Premium Lustre (PLPP).

However, the roller that draws paper into the printer is to the right, and had problems with heavier papers such as the Epson TPP and even heavier Pinnacle Baryta 300. Of course, if I’d read the specification sheets I’d have seen that both were thick enough to count as ‘Fine Art Media’. My fault for automatically associating this with thick rag type papers.

Only a few millimetres skew but you don’t really want to waste too many sheets of papers like that at A2 size.

paper skew with heavy sheet fed papers

In the printer settings you can turn off paper skew checking if desired.

There is a small clip (I didn’t notice it at first) on the feed support at the back that if you move forward, will help ensure a clean feed for larger sheets of paper. Move your mouse over the image to see.

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Thicker (art) papers

Thicker papers need loading at the front of the printer. There is also a straight through print path if printing on card.

To load papers from the front, you need to extend the light grey load tray.

manual paper loading tray

The paper is gently pushed in until you feel resistance.

loading paper via the front of the printer

The rear feed support needs raising. I noticed that when front loading papers you could see it move ever so slightly when you hit the rear stop (remember though that this is a test sample printer).

paper loaded via front feed

If you’ve roll paper installed, you don’t need to remove the holder, to use the rear feed (or the auto sheet feeder), just make sure that it is rolled back on to the roll.

manual feed paper, with roll adapter present

Using Roll paper

The optional roll paper holder is a very solidly built unit.

The black cross-piece is metal and the spindle moves very easily. If you’ve used roll paper on one of the smaller A3+ printers, then this is in a whole different league.

roll feed adapter unit

Two locating pins and screws hold the bottom of the unit in place.

roll feed attachment screws

The top of the unit clips into place.

The spindles as shipped take 3″ core rolls. You can remove the outer sections of the holders to use 2″ cores.

roll feed unit attached to P800

The front panel gives useful tips on setting up roll paper.

printer information display - roll paper

How to feed the paper in.

paper feed instructions

If you are used to large format printers that load and unload paper at a fair speed, then pay attention, since the paper is drawn into the printer very slowly at first.

The unit is not powered, so after cutting or unloading the paper, you also need to manually rewind the roll.

manually rewinding paper

Just in case you forget…

paper unload instructions

There is no cutter option. You can have a cut line printed if desired.

However you cut the paper, do take care to cut a 90 degrees to the length, since an uneven cut can cause loading problems.

Good quality wallpaper scissors will give a better cut quality than small general purpose scissors.

cut line printed on paper

When loading roll paper, you can set the size and paper type. In this case it’s the thick Innova IFA39.

setting paper size - roll 17 inch

Here’s the 17″ IFA39 whilst printing a profiling target.

printing on 17 inch wide roll paper

I had a roll of 10″ wide paper, so thought it worth a go, even if the printer specifications suggest that it’s too narrow.

10 inch wide roll paper

Why 10″ paper?

Well I’m told by Chris at Paper Spectrum (a local supplier in Leicester – Pinnacle Lustre 300 paper on a 10″ roll) that it was produced for event use, making it easy to print 8×10 and 10×12 and 10×16 prints (or any other 10″ [254mm] size).

setting custom roll paper size at 10 inches

I need to create a custom size setting (the huge length number is the default – I didn’t enter it)

If you’re curious, it’s 2.6 miles or 4.26km …no, I’ve no idea either ;-)

user defined paper sizes

Here are two A4 profiling targets on the 10″ paper.

printing on 10 inch width roll

What about borderless?

After a few experiments, I set a custom paper size (10×8 equiv.)

borderless print setting for roll paper

Here’s the result of printing 3 copies of a file sized to 10×8, with borderless printing selected.

multiple borderless prints

There is some 50mm of space at the start of a print, whilst the cut line is after some 15mm of space.

The autoenlargement for borderless does mean that you lose some of the periphery of your image.

loss of print area with borderless setting

Although I don’t often print on canvas, I’ve several small sample rolls from previous testing.

Canvas loads just as well as stiffer paper.

Here’s an A3+ profiling target printed on a Matte bright white canvas by Innova (IFA35) – the page size was set to 17″x22″

profiling target prited on matte canvas

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 here coincided with the launch of our new web site with local images of Leicester for stock and print use.

As you might guess I’m not usually in the habit of printing large numbers of A2 prints ‘on spec’, but Epson did say they wanted me to give the printer a thorough test ;-)

These square images were all printed on A2 size Epson Premium Lustre paper. The rear feed works just fine if you load several sheets of this A2 sized paper (similarly with Epson PGPP).

test print on Epson premium lustre paper

As I noted earlier, heavier and thicker papers such as Epson TPP are best loaded from the front.

The entrance to Leicester market – printed on Pinnacle Baryta 300.

The entrance to Leicester market at dusk

Here’s a borderless A3+ (13″x19″) print on Epson Hot Press Bright. Fed in through the front feed slot, it’s covered the whole sheet perfectly well.

borderless print on matte art paper

Panoramic prints

At 17″ wide, panoramic prints can become rather large.

I’ve quite a few images that have been printed at a fair size, so was keen to see how the combination of roll paper and very wide would work…

setting the image size for a large panoramic print

This first print is of the view from the Grand Mesa in Colorado one spring.

I resized it (down) to print at 360ppi, where it would fit the width of 17″ paper and be just over 6 feet long.

A custom paper size of 430mm x 2000mm should suffice.

black and white panoramic print settings

It’s printed using the ABW print mode on Innova IFA39, a good heavy matte paper, which is stiff enough to make the print easier to handle.

2 metre long panoramic print

If you’re going to be printing at this size, give some thought to what you’re going to do with the print coming out of the printer. I’m letting it rest on a paper box on a chair.

The printer only has friction rollers to move the paper and no vacuum system or roll drive, so make the print mechanism’s job as easy as possible.

Big, but could be bigger…

A couple of years ago I created a panoramic image of the city centre of Leicester and printed it at 47 feet long. The image would come out around 10 feet on the 10 inch roll paper…

creating panoramic image at a size to print

The full resolution image could have been downsized to 720ppi, but 360 will do here.

The paper is the 10 inch roll I tested earlier.

print settings for very large print

Printing took just over 20 minutes – note the box for the print to rest on.

part way through printing a 10 foot long print

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

Keith Cooper and large panoramic print

If you’re curious about the story behind the making of the full size 14 metre print, I’ve written a detailed description of just how it was made.

I also have a 16″ roll of Epson PGPP – how big could I get away with?

Taking a panoramic image that’s almost 150,000 pixels across. I resized it (down) to fit 16″ paper

resizing image to fit paper

I also decided to send 720ppi data to the printer – this image has a lot of detail.

print setup for 124 inch image width

As you can see, a 3.2 metre custom page size.

After clicking print, not a lot happened for about 5 minutes, the printer then coughed and asked me if I’d finished…

It seems that an 88k pixel image causes problems.

Reducing the image to 360ppi worked, with the printer starting up and taking nearly half an hour to produce an absolutely superb looking print, of an image I’ve never seen printed before.

11 foot print of the leicester skyline

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.

The printer drivers I was using have a relatively limited set of paper media settings and no way of customising them.

choosing the right media settings for profiling papers

It’s important to ensure that you are consistent when making profiles, hence my preference for saving clearly named preset collections of settings.

Note how I’m using the ‘No Color Adjustment’ option in the printer driver, for printing the target. This is essential when creating  colour profiles. There is more about this in my various articles/reviews related specifically to colour management if you’re interested in doing this yourself.

making use of driver presets for options

i1 Profiler profiling settignsGiven that the production version of the printer is not yet available, my profiles are probably of little use (ask me when you get one, if you’d like to experiment with them).

If you have i1Profiler, or would like to ‘pull them apart’ (they include measurement data) – let me know, they were produced at these settings (for the perceptual RI).

In general I’m inclined to believe that the new dithering patterns of the P800 combined with the new ink set (that increases pigment load in encapsulated ink particles) gives slightly deeper blacks and smoother colour rendition of strong colour gradients.

Since the firmware of the printer may yet change, I’m basing this on this one test printer and also my observations of the SC-P600 a few months ago, which uses the same ink set.

reflectance target spectral information measured for a canvas with high OBA amountsIt’s worth remembering that if you’re profiling media with much optical brightener (OBA) in it, then you may need to take a bit more care in making profiles.

The IFA35 canvas for example, is a ‘bright white canvas’ that shows a distinct boost in its reflectance spectrum if you measure your profiling target with or without any UV. Since it’s a matte finish, you might wish to varnish it, which may well act as a UV filter to some extent.

The graph at the right shows a lightly coloured patch from the target print measured with and without UV filtration.

It’s this ‘blue boost’ [the red line] that can make profiling a bit hit and miss if your print is being viewed anywhere with UV around. It’s also indicative that the paper might be more likely to fade/yellow over time.

Given Epson’s claims that the new ink set is more fade resistant (‘archival’), then you might want to pay a bit more attention to your paper choices?

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’m using the 51 step wedge on my B&W test image to make measurement.

print driver setup for profiling black and white via the ABW mode

Here are targets printed on Epson Hot Press Bright and Cold Press Natural papers.

During the exposure (~1 second) I’ve also played my blue laser pointer over the papers. Note how the wavy lines only show up clearly on one of the papers. The laser pointer is the quickest way to see how much optical brightener (OBA) there is in the paper, since it fluoresces (the OBA is taking the very deep blue light of the laser pointer and remitting it in longer wavelengths – more easily recorded by the camera).

Despite some naysayers, a modest amount of OBA in a paper is not the end of the world. OK, not for some markets, but the number of us selling in that market is fairly small.

black and white prints showing the presence of OBAs

There is far more about the linearising process I’m using, in some articles specifically devoted to this aspect of profiling.

I’m using the excellent QuadToneRIP package for producing my linearising profiles.

It’s actually designed for high quality B&W printing with Epson printers, so will likely be worth looking at for your B&W printing.

Measuring the 51 step ramp on the 300gsm Lustre paper shows the added density from printing (ABW) at 2880. These charts are the output from making a QTR profile.

Having made many such measurements both struck me as very linear.

First at 1440 dpi

linearity measurements lustre 1440dpi

Results for 2880 dpi…

linearity measurements lustre 2880dpi

Both show the sloping ‘b’ line typical of a paper with a fair amount of OBA.

This is obvious when looking at the ‘purple bump’ in the spectral response at 10% black (measured with an i1Pro 2).

spectral response for paper with OBA

Black levels are very good, with a bit of crunching of deepest blacks at only the highest percentages. This was only just visible in the test prints and is at the limit of where I’d actually use the linearising profile when printing.

Secondly, I’ll show an example using an OBA free art paper Epson’s Cold Press Natural.

Look at the very different spectral curve – quite a warm paper

spectral response for paper without OBA

The linearity at 1440dpi is off by enough in the dark areas, that I’d definitely consider using the correction profile with this paper, although a very modest adjustment curve would likely suffice

measurements of print linearity for CPN paper at 1440dpi

Just for completeness, here’s the Cold Press Natural paper at 2880 dpi.

measurements of print linearity for CPN paper at 2880dpi

With the Cold Press (textured) paper, any benefit of 2880 dpi is nowhere near so clear (we’re using a different black ink).

Remember with all the tables of data you see above that the data is not averaged, so don’t get taken in by any spurious sense of precision in the density values. The graphs are mainly there to show trends.

The ABW mode also varies the colour of inks that make up ‘greys’ depending on what paper is selected in the media settings. Take for example a textured watercolour style paper that I tested. I had a few metres of it on a 17″ roll, but no actual details about how it had got into my paper collection. I tried the B&W test image using WCR and USFP media settings.

The paper has no OBA in it, so the distinctly different ‘a’ and ‘b’ curves are due to the colour mix of inks being used in ABW mode for the two settings. Move your mouse over the image below to see.

A few test prints using the USFP setting needed the QTR correction profile to open out blocked (deep) shadows. I still don’t know what the paper was, but I ran off a couple of nice 6 foot long panoramic prints of a nearby wood.

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I’m going to assume that there will be no major changes in the printer at this stage in its development, however I must once again point out that it was a pre-release printer that I was testing.

Paper handling

The auto sheet feed worked perfectly well with all papers A3+ and smaller that I tried. With A2, heavy papers tended to skew slightly, when loaded. Once I realised this, I used the front feed for art papers and heavier A2 lustre papers such as the Pinnacle Baryta 300 and Epson’s Traditional Photo Paper.

The front feed needs experience of loading a few sheets at larger sizes to feel confident of the action. It worked fine, but there is always (with any new printer) a need to get the hang of how the paper feels as you feed it in.

Borderless printing worked well, and even with fine art media, there were no annoying margin limitations or page length restrictions.

Roll paper works very well in the P800. Take care that the leading edge is cut square, and that any curl is not too much to hinder loading. The paper is taken up quite slowly at first – something that might catch you out if you are used to large format printers.

If you’re going to be using roll paper a lot, invest in some good scissors.

Print resolution

The printer offers 1440 and a higher 2880 dpi resolution. Whilst there were some differences visible at very small scales, I printed several colour images at both resolutions and wrote what they were on the back. Looking the next day without a magnifying glass, I’d not want to claim my ability to tell which was which was a great deal above chance…

Here’s a very large stitched image, reduced down to 720ppi and sized to fit an A3+ sheet of Hot Press Bright.

print of Seattle, printed on epson HPB paper

I printed it at 1440 dpi and 2880 dpi

Look at this highly magnified photo of the print (on a smooth(ish) matte paper). Now mouse over the image to see a different print setting. No, I’m not saying which is which…

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Here’s the view from the Space Needle, a stitched image that would normally print at just over 5 feet wide.

Seattle viewed from the Space Needle

So, with art papers, I’m inclined to think that 1440 is just fine – what about gloss/lustre papers.

The two detailed shots below were taken with a pocket USB microscope, so of limited resolution. They do however show the difference between 1440 and 2880 rather more clearly.

The images are from ABW mode prints of my B&W test image (300ppi) on Lustre finish paper at 1440…

print detail on lustre paper at 1440dpi

… and 2880

print detail on lustre paper at 2880dpi

The finer detail in the 2880 print is noticeable here. If you add to this, the slightly better density (black) found when profiling the ABW print mode on the lustre paper, then it might benefit some images on some papers to be printed at the slightly slower 2880 setting.

Once again, I should note that the printer was a pre-production model.

In real world images I really found it difficult to tell them apart without a magnifier. I’m reminded that only other photographers ever look at my very large prints from inches away, and they never buy stuff ;-)

A personal view… Images that genuinely benefit from the additional detail of the 2880 mode likely need more careful preparation, and even then I’d wonder just who would ever notice? Yes, I am aware that such views may jar with some, but I run a photography business, where perfectionist approaches to printing need justification. One advantage of photography as a hobby is that you can take the time to experiment and fine tune your printing, but I’m firmly of the belief that for many people, taking more photos and thinking about them would be of greater benefit ;-)
YMMV as they say…

The patterns that ink dots are laid down on the paper with the P800, are said to be finer than the 3880, but given the time that has passed between when I wrote that review and this, I’ll have to leave such detailed comparisons until the P800 ships…

Print ‘Quality’

Making a very large print with the P800The printer is simple to use, and capable of creating truly impressive looking prints. The caveat is that as you print larger sizes, the quality requirements for the images you are printing rises.

If you’ve only printed at A4 size before, then printing at A2 or long panoramic sizes will need a lot more care in the creation and editing of your images.

The results of that effort, can be prints that will stop people in their tracks, while they explore your image.

There is however something that you’ll never find in printer marketing materials, that I do see. It’s that printers are now very good and that to say that model X is vastly improved on model Y is to imply that the old model Y had some obvious failings, when maybe it didn’t.

As someone who is lucky enough to test a lot of printers, I find it increasingly difficult to tell them apart purely on grounds of print quality.

The new ink set of the P800 gives deeper blacks and smoother strong colours, but many people would be hard put to spot this.

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/EP1408OL1.profiles

Ink costs

It’s very difficult to give ink usage figures from the testing I’ve done. The printer was delivered with fairly full cartridges and I did a lot of printing, including many more black ink swaps than I might normally do.

Given the internal similarities with the 3880, I’d expect ink usage to be broadly similar.

Black Ink swap

The Epson elephant in the room…

The printer still requires black ink to be used up every time you want to switch between paper types. I had thought (hoped) we might see the end of this when the SP3880 was replaced, but no.

The P800 uses a lot of tried and tested SP3880 derived technology inside, which probably explains a lot.

It comes down to cost. At a few pounds per swap, it’s a real cost, but even with its irksome ink swap, the SP3880 has been my desktop 17″ printer of choice for years – now that choice has moved to the SC-P800.

Cleaning, reliability and other bugbears

The printer was switched on for most of the time I had it, although it did power itself down overnight.

There were some of the usual Epson cleaning sounds on start-up, and when printing a number of images on roll paper, it did pause once between images to make a few cleaning sounds.

That said, I saw no smudges, ink drops or marks during the time I’ve been testing it.

Epson TPP is one of the more fragile papers I use, in terms of surface marking, but there were no feed or roller marks visible in any of the prints I made with it.

A minor note, but the tilt screen of the P800 seemed rather more solid than the one on the P600.

Will getting an SC-P800 massively improve your prints?

Well, it depends on what you print with at the moment, and to be honest, how good your images are…

If I had a perfectly good working SP3880 that printed everything I needed, I think the differences you’d notice would hardly justify the expense.

But, if I wanted roll printing, whether for bulk or for panoramic photos, I’ve now got a real alternative to the expense of going to large format, doubly useful if I’m a bit short on space.

If I was printing on an A3+ (13″) printer and perhaps finding the cost of replacing those relatively small ink cartridges a nuisance, the 80ml carts of the P800 could make a real difference. If I was battling with roll paper on a 13″ printer (with those horrid 2″ cores) the P800 would be quickly placed on my wanted list.


This printer has been long expected, and perhaps some will be disappointed that it doesn’t make a stronger break with the past. It’s definitely an evolution of the 3880, but I’m inclined to say, a rather good one.

When looking at the SC-P600 earlier this year, and now the P800, I realised that we are at a stage where it’s largely going to be your photographic skill and ability to process/edit files that make the big jumps in how good your prints look. The P800 will show up deficiencies in your photography much more readily than your work will show the printer’s.

Moving away from print quality, the practicalities of using the P800 seem improved, whether the connectivity or ease of use of the front panel/screen. The roll feed system worked flawlessly and is the first on a ‘desktop’ printer that I’ve seen that wouldn’t annoy me massively if I had to use it regularly.

The P800 makes the process of making great looking prints a step easier. Epson just produced a excellent excuse to move your printing up a size, without needing another room for the printer to live in.

Ordering the P800 (July 2015) : B&H | Adorama | Amazon US | Wex (UK)


A 17″ carriage width desktop printer that replaces the SP3880. Uses UltraChrome HD pigment inks. Supports roll paper printing with optional roll media holder.

Connectivity includes WiFi, USB and Ethernet.

USA SureColor P800 will be available for purchase in June 2015 through authorized resellers; pricing follows:

  • Epson SureColor P800 – $1,295.00 MSRP
  • Optional Roll Paper Adapter – $199.95 MSRP
  • UltraChrome HD 80 ml Ink Cartridge – $59.95 MSRP

UK: SC-P800 is available from June 2015 priced at RRP £974.18 inc. VAT (£811.82 without VAT)

Specifications (from Epson)

Base Printing Technology
  • MicroPiezo AMC Print Head
  • 8-channel, drop-on-demand, inkjet printhead
  • Epson UltraChrome HD ink
  • Professional-level pigment-based ink technology
  • 9 Cartridges (Photo Black, Matte Black, Light Black, Light Light Black, Cyan, Light Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Vivid Light Magenta, Yellow)
Printer Nozzle Configuration

Colour and Monochrome 180 nozzles each ink
Enhanced Variable Droplet technology as small as 3.5 picolitres


2880 x 1440 dpi; 1440 x 720 dpi;
720 x 720 dpi; 720 x 360 dpi

P800 Dimensions

26.93″(W) x 14.80″(D) x 9.85″(H) Printer weight: 43 lbs

Epson UltraChrome HD Ink
Ink Cartridge (80 ml)
Photo Black T850100
Cyan T850200
Vivid Magenta T850300
Yellow T850400
Light Cyan T850500
Vivid Light Magenta T850600
Light Black T850700
Matte Black T850800
Light Light Black T850900

The SureColor P800 printer is designed to be used exclusively with genuine Epson inks and cartridges

Epson Intelligent Ink Cartridge(*)
Cartridge Fill Volume 80ml each x 9 colour total
Ink Cartridge Shelf Life 2 years from printed production date (recommended) or 6 months after open

The SureColor P800 printer is designed to be used exclusively with Epson Genuine Epson Ink and cartridges.

(*) Cartridge yields vary considerably based on images printed, print settings, paper type, frequency of use and temperature. For print quality, a variable amount of ink remains in the cartridge after the “replace cartridge” indicator comes on. The printer ships with full cartridges and part of the ink from the first cartridges is used for priming the printer.

Fully Automatic Black Ink Switching (Optional)
Black Ink Conversion Times
Matte to Photo Black 3:30 (min:sec)
Photo to Matte Black 2:30 (min:sec)
Ink Used during switch(B)
Matte to Photo Black Approx. 4.6ml
Photo to Matte Black Approx. 1.6ml

(B) Ink used in conversion varies considerably based on temperature and other factors

Black Level
UltraChrome HD UltraChrome K3VM
Photo Media L* 4 6
Fine Art Media L* 15 17

L* is the Lightness axis of LAB colourspace on scale of 0 to 100. A lower number is darker (better)

Photo data based on Premium Lustre genuine profile
Fine Art based on UltraSmooth Fine Art genuine profile

Acoustic Noise Level

Colour Printing; Approximately 50 dB(A) according to ISO 7779

Operating Systems Supported

Windows 8, Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit)

Macintosh X 10.10, 10.9, 10.8, 10.7 (system tested also worked with 10.6.8)

Printer Interfaces & Language
  • One Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port
  • One Ethernet port (10/100Base-T)
  • Wireless n(*), WiFi Direct(*)
  • Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print support
  • (*) WiFi CERTIFIED level of performance subject to the range of the router being used. WiFi Direct may require printer software
Print Engine Speeds
Normal Max.
4 x 6 0:55 1:35
4 x 6 Border Free 1:22 2:01
5 x 7 1:08 1:58
5 x 7 Border Free 1:27 2:28
8 x 10 1:53 3:15
8 x 10 Border Free 2:15 3:55
11 x 14 3:09 5:30
11 x 14 Border Free 3:40 6:39
13 x 19 4:40 8:10
13 x 19 Border Free 5:11 9:07
16 x 20(centred on 17 x 22) 5:48 10:08
17 x 22 6:19 11:08
17 x 22 Border Free 7:00 12:26

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. Print speeds are shown in min:sec. All times are in HS = High-Speed Bidirectional Print Mode, with Normal = 1440 x 720 dpi and Max. Quality = 2880 x 1440 dpi Tests conducted by Epson America, Inc. as of April 2015

Sheet Media Handling
Auto Sheet Feeder 0.08-0.11mm
Front Fine Art Feed 0.29-0.70mm
Front Straight Path 1.20-1.50mm
Maximum Media Width 17 Inches
Minimum Media Width 3.5 Inches
Maximum Printable Length 22 Inches
Minimum Media Length 5 Inches
Margins – each side 0.12 Inches (3mm)
Border Free Sizes 3.5″ x 5″, 4″ x 6″, 5″ x 7″, 5″x8″, 8″ x 10″, A4 (8.3″ x 11.7″), letter (8.5″ x 11″), 10″x12″, 11″ x 14″, 11″ x 17″, A3 (11.7″ x 16.5″) and Super B (13″ x 19″), 16″ x 20″, A2 (16.5″ x 23.5″), 17″ x 22″
Border Free Expansion Retain Size, Auto (Min., Mid, Max.)
Roll Media Handling – Requires Optional Roll Media Adapter
Media Thickness 0.25-0.70mm
Maximum Roll Media Width 17 Inches
Minimum Roll Media Width 13 Inches
Top Margin 1.97 Inches (50mm)
Bottom Margin 0.55 Inches (14mm)
Left and Right Margin 0.12 Inches (3mm)
Border Free Widths 13″, 16″, 16.5″, 17″
Expansion Method Retain Size, Auto (fixed at max.)
Roll Media Length Manual Cut to Desired Length

Maximum printable length may be limited by software application, OS, available media and RIP

Safety Standards

UL1950, CSA 22.2 950 FDA, EMI: FCC Part 15 subpart B class B, CSA C108.8 class B, AS/NZS 3548 class B

Electrical Requirements
Printer AC 100-240 V
Frequency 50-60 Hz
Current Less than 1A
Power consumption
Operating 21W
Sleep Approx. 1.8W
Power Off (120V) Approx 0.3W
Power Off (120V) Approx 0.5W
Environmental Characteristics
Temperature Operating
50° to 95°F (10° to 35°C)
-4° to 104°F (-20° to 40°C)
Relative Humidity
20 to 80% (no condensation)
5 to 85% (no condensation)
Limited Warranty and Service

Includes one year of limited warranty coverage under the Epson Preferred Protection Plan Toll-free telephone support available Monday through Saturday Whole-unit exchange service

Optional one- or two-year Epson Preferred Plus service plans available

Products and Accessory Part Numbers
SureColor P800 SCP800SE
Optional Roll Media Adapter C12C811431
Replacement Maintenance Tank T582000
1-year Preferred Plus Service Plan EPP38B1
2-year Preferred Plus Service Plan EPP38B2

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  • Keith | Aug 31, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Sorry, I’ve not tried this and the printer has now gone back to Epson

  • Keith | Aug 31, 2019 at 11:18 am

    Yes, but make sure they are cleanly cut and with a square on edge

  • Keith | Aug 31, 2019 at 11:17 am

    The RIP is of minimal use to most photographers – the driver and good ICC profiles are what I’d personally use.

  • John Gilbert | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Keith I am considering the P800. Currently there is a $300 rebate on it. They offer this in two models one Standard Edition and the other Designer Edition. The Designer Edition comes with EFI Fiery eXpress RIP Software. I am totally confused on which one two buy. I used a PC and Photoshop CC2018. Also I previously owned the Epson 4900 but didn’t print enough to use up 200ml cartridges. I want to print 8.5X11 and 13X19 on Premium Luster Paper for my own use. I send off for larger prints.

  • Doug Dolde | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Can you load cut sheets of canvas in the front fine art loading tray rather than using the roll holder?

  • Keith Cooper | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    See the small photo of the clip (~25% into the article) it suggests a maximum of 80 A4/ltr sheets and 20 for photo paper. Your paper is likely similar to the latter, so no, 50 sheets is pushing it.

    I’m afraid I don’t regularly test larger printers with small paper, so I’ve no direct experience of this. I’d suggest asking on the DPReview printer forum, where there are lots of P800 users (mine went back to Epson after testing).

  • Tonio Lombardi | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Hi, thanks for this thorough review. I have read most of it but still cant find what im mostly interested in unfortunately. I regularly print 4×6 inch bordered prints (up to 80 per job). Can the printer handle 50+ sheets of matte paper (around 200gsm) with ease?

  • Redhorse89 | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Thank you for a most thorough review of the SC-P800. There certainly is a lot to consider before buying one of these printers as opposed to say, a 3880. I’ll definitely refer back to your review as there is a lot of information to digest.

  • Keith Cooper | Feb 6, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Not one I can help with I’m afraid – I still use CS6 and my Mac won’t run newer than 10.11

    This is the sort of thing that should have popped up on adobe forums if it’s at all a general problem.

  • reflex760 | Feb 6, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    So… I’m in Photoshop CC 2018 and now I want to print… so I hit Command P and that takes me to Print Preview… the picture I’m seeing is out of focus for some reason. Is there a Preference setting I’m missing… Ever since I upgraded to High Sierra I’ve had this problem.

  • Keith Cooper | Feb 6, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Print preview on what software – I only use Photoshop for printing on a Mac, so can’t speak for other software.

  • reflex760 | Feb 6, 2018 at 4:34 am

    Hi: Not sure if you can answer this… When I go in to Print Preview the image is fuzzy… any ideas… other than that, the printer works fine. Best, Drew

  • Keith Cooper | Nov 7, 2017 at 12:07 am

    Yes – the P20000 makes some -big- prints.
    BTW it’s P7000 for photo (with llk not violet) – same ink set as the P5000

  • John Davey | Nov 6, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    Thanks Keith
    Much appreciate your quick reply and your feedback.
    The 200ml carts are a big plus but what you say about roll feed and paper handling has swung it for me!
    Funnily enough I looked at P6000 but think I would be getting greedy for a first one!! Maybe in the future a P20000!!😃
    Thanks again Keith

  • Keith Cooper | Nov 6, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    I’d pick the P5000 for the inkset, cart size and paper handling (a powered roll feed and vacuum system )

    However, I do enough printing to make use of a printer like this – something every week. It’s not a printer I’d want to leave unused for weeks at a time

    OK, I’ll be honest and say that I’d prefer a P7000, since I like the 24″ width .. actually I really liked the P20000 I reviewed, but my house isn’t big enough ;-)

  • John Davey | Nov 6, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    Hi Keith
    This will be my first large photo printer. I have read a lot of reviews especially yours on the P800 and P5000.
    my dilema is i don’t know which one to go for? Cost is not an issue but i want to make sure i get the one that suits the needs for me. I wont be doing any large quantities at the start and am buying purely to print my own work to start off with, especially panoramics and A2 printing.
    Can you throw your advise in please to help me make a decision?

  • Keith Cooper | Jul 26, 2017 at 7:27 am

    The dried ink is the main issue, in that it could be expensive to find out what’s up – Given how cheap the P800 is in comparison, I’d go that route, since it’s two models ahead of the 3800.
    This time try and print something every week – even if it’s just a 6×4. Lack of regular use is still a notable killer of inkjet printers like this…

  • Barry Robin | Jul 26, 2017 at 2:28 am

    Hi Keith,
    I have an epson 3800 that I don’t know if I should fix, or if would be the same cost to buy the latest epson.
    The problem is I never changed the ink, and the ink dried up from non-use and I am getting a printer error. Also, when the printer was working I was having problems in the end loading large sheets of paper and I was only able to load 4×6. I don’t know if the printer just needs new ink, or if the loading problem would be another expense. I can either buy the p800 and after a rebate that ends this month, it would be around $800 or get new ink for the 3800, which would be $500 and the possible cost of repairing the paper feeding mechanism.
    Which option do you think is the better one?
    Thank you,

  • Derek Simpson | Jul 15, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    I had a problem due to the old “press start and let’s get going” syndrome. Only after ‘smudges’ on some expensive paper and some rapid feedback from Mssrs. Canson did I study the Paper thickness and Platen settings. Problem solved. Need I add that a week later I still await a response from Epson to the same query. One other irk is that if I’m wearing gloves to handle a print or some roll paper the touch screen isn’t as responsive as to sweaty skin – don’t like having to press so hard that the plastic screen bends !

  • Graham Fox | Jun 14, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Hi Keith
    Do you know anyone who has used the P800 to print on Pictorico OHP and what settings were used ? I seem to think I have read that there were no problems using the 3800 but Epson are being very unhelpful with their advice on this one. I have tried most setup options and always finish up with the same error message saying that the loaded media doesn’t match with the specified media.

  • Graham Fox | Jun 14, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    thank you Keith. I have waited until now to reply. I have used about 75% of my first roll of Hot Press without a problem

  • Steven Kornreich | Apr 27, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks Keith, For the occasional pano that I may print I can still use my Z3200. So looks like Canon for me.

  • Keith Cooper | Apr 27, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Whilst I have made great prints with both, for sheet handling (not board), the PRO-1000 has the best sheet handling of any desktop printer I’ve used – the vacuum system is more like the P5000 (which i’m hoping to get before too long). Between the two, the P800 would obviously get my personal vote, since the Canon’s max page length issue would be a show-stopper

  • Steven Kornreich | Apr 27, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Hi Keith,
    I always come back to your site when I want to do research on the latest photo printers. My inkjet photo started way back with the Epson 9000 the good old days. I no longer print bigger then 16×20 and looking to replace my aging HP Z3200PS 24″ printer. Obviously I am comparing the P800 with the Canon Pro 1000. I’m not going to ask you which is better, though in your opinion which has better sheet paper handling? I will primarily be using 17×22 sheets of Canson Infinity Platine

  • Amy Torrisi | Apr 24, 2017 at 4:16 am

    Thanks for your reply, much appreciated :)

  • Keith Cooper | Apr 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    The printer is still a good choice for varied printing, and supports smaller paper sizes better than the larger printers. Whilst as a photographer, I only really ever test printers in detail for that type of work, I do try a wide range of media, and the P800 also has a straight through print path for thicker card. The large black and white pano print in the review was made on a very stiff matte art paper for example

    Your print volume is high enough that the cheaper ink costs of the larger P800 over smaller printers should make a difference

  • Amy Torrisi | Apr 23, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Hi there… I know this is an older thread, but if you wouldn’t mind helping me out :)
    I have been reading numerous of your printer reviews and now I am a bit unsure which one I should be going for… I see that the P800 has been on the market for a little while now and wanted to see if that was the main one going for now and if you would recommend a printer for my requirements?
    I am a small paper based home business pumping out approx 200-500 sheets per month – varied products from invitations, signage, announcements, marketing materials etc, a lot with graphics involved photos/graphics/handdrawn images etc, so the print load can vary from heavy to light, I like to print on heavy cardstock minimum of 300gsm. I would also like the flexibility of printing up to A2
    You have made reference that the P800 in particular is a photo printer and using only photo paper, but is it versatile enough to be a graphics printer producing great products on Matte cardstock, Or should I be looking at something else??
    Your help would be much appreciated
    Thanks heaps!

  • Keith Cooper | Feb 21, 2017 at 9:12 am

    No, they are supported, but take care with trimming.
    I didn’t try media like this when the printer was here, so I’d expect any potential curl/feed issues to arise towards the end of a roll – I’d suggest asking at DPReview or Luminous Landscape print forums for actual experiences?

  • Graham Fox | Feb 21, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Thank you for an excellent and comprehensive review of this printer. However, I have just one small query :- are their any problems using Epson Hot or Cold press rolls from the adapter ?

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