Price (RRP): $2995
I learnt a valuable lesson the other day: when Epson mentions things like large format printers, I should pay attention to the word “large”. You see, I wrote a little about the Epson SureColor P5070 printer six months ago, and three months later wrote about how it had won the award as “Best Photo Printer” of 2017 from the Technical Image Press Association, so I thought it would be fun to review it. But failed to consider that magic word “large”.
When it arrived, it was on a wooden pallet. Seriously. Not in a box in the middle of the pallet, but a box occupying just about the whole thing. And the box was 600mm tall. And warnings recommended that it be moved by four people
So it turns out that the Epson P5070 really is a serious, serious printer indeed. Large format, high quality print. Just remember, you’ll need quite a bit of space.
Now, before getting to a detailed description, let me mention the price. It costs $2995 in basic trim. You can add extended on site warranty options for three (bringing it to $3445) or five ($3895) years. Or if you want even higher quality you can add the attachable “Spectroproofer” which guarantees colour performance. This adds $2700, $3000 or $3300 to the cost, depending on the choice of warranty.
I am astonished by the base cost. Not because it is high, but because it is low. For years $3000 was about what you could expect to pay for a 300dpi monochrome laser printer, and that was when three grand was worth a lot more than it is now.
With the Epson SureColor P5070, professional level prints up to A2 size – or banners which are even longer – are available to the enthusiast. If you’re the kind of person who’ll spend $5000 on a camera, $3000 on a printer doesn’t sound unreasonable.
The printer has a 17 inch wide print carriage. That, as indicated, allows it to accommodate cut sheet paper that’s up to A2 size – which is 420mm wide by 594mm long. That paper can be loaded into a cartridge under the printer, or in the case of thick stuff, fed manually. But it also comes with a paper roll feed, which can hold thirty metre long rolls of 406mm wide photo quality paper.
The printer packs eleven Ultrachrome HDX ink cartridges. Unfortunately, it looks like only 80ml “starter” cartridges are included, rather than the 200mm ones you’ll be replacing them with as they expire. And you can expect to use a significant proportion of those in “priming” the printer for the first time (filling up the tubes that takes the ink from cartridge to print head). They are individually replaceable, of course. If I’ve read Epson’s website correctly, each costs $139 to replace. These eleven come in two options. Both come with green, yellow, cyan, light cyan, vivid magenta, vivid light magenta, orange, photo black, matte black and light black. The final cartridge varies depending on how you intend to use the printer.
The review printer already had all the print cartridges installed – it had been well used — and it was using the Light Light Black set, rather than the Violet set. The only difference between the two sets is the one cartridge which, you won’t be surprised to read, is Light Light Black or Violet. The latter allows for a greater range of colours because with a touch of violet in the mix, the colour gamut can be stretched in new and interesting directions. The former adds to the Photo Black and Light Black cartridges to improve lighter parts of the picture when you’re doing monochrome photo printing.
As I was to discover later, the photo black and matte black colours are also alternates. Both are placed in the printer, but only one is switched in at a time. If you select the other in the printer driver for a particular job, you have to press a button on the printer to tell it to switch blacks.
The printer uses Epson’s PrecisionCore TFP print head with ten colour channels (thus the need to switch between blacks) and 360 nozzles per colour. It can deliver a maximum resolution of 2880 by 1440 dots per inch.
There’s a 69mm colour LCD display for showing the menu, and displaying printer status. You connect to it via USB or Ethernet. Gigabit Ethernet is supported so there are effectively no delays in sending picture data to the printer. That’s what I used.
As I mentioned, the printer came used. That made things easier for me in one sense because there wasn’t the whole process of pulling sticky tape off moving bits, installing eleven print cartridges and so on. But there were a couple of heart-in-mouth moments as things didn’t go quite as expected.