This past October I sat down with Epson in New York to get an early preview of the new P5000 in a room filled with amazing images that were made with this printer. My 4900 created some of the best prints I had ever seen up until recently, so I was happy to see that its replacement satisfied my extremely high quality bar.
Instead of spending a lot of time fawning over the printer body, I elected to have a deep technical discussion about the print head, inks and what I could really expect from this new printer.
Head Clogging Problem Solved?
The print quality of the Epson StylusPro 4900 was regarded to be one of the best Epson printers, but it also had a reputation as a printer whose heads clogged easily. The head clogging problem ultimately sent my 4900 to its grave after about 4 years of limited use so I've been a rather harsh critic of the 4900 because of this.
The first question on my mind during my preview of the new P5000 wasn't about print quality - it was about <censored> head problem. During this discussion I was asked not to quote specific figures, but after a lengthy discussion on the topic I felt convinced that Epson definitely understood the problem and had made significant improvements to hopefully eliminate it. Time will tell and it will be something I pay attention to when I get my review unit, but my expectations have been set that this is a problem of the past.
What's in a name?
The release of this printer marks the end of the StylusPro series of printers that many print masters knew and loved.The SureColor printers represent Epson's latest and greatest printing technology for photographers, but the number of digits is actually relevant.
Three digit devices like the P600 and P800 that I tested and loved are geared for desktop users. Most of my readers fall into this camp and won't need a professional production class printer denoted by four digits as is the case with the P5000, P7000 and P9000 HDX ink based printers.
In the previous generation 3880 users who wanted roll support had to move up to the 4900 or greater, but Epson addressed this problem by offering roll support (albeit without a built-in cutter) with the P800. This is relevant because the P5000, just like its predecessor the 4900, is still a huge and heavy printer (albeit about 30 pounds lighter) that is designed for higher volume use. This means it won't go on your desktop and it's going to work best when used frequently versus the occasional print here and there.
New Ink Set
The new ink set is supposed to offer improved blacks that yeild a higher DMax, bronzing has been reduced, and with the new violet ink you can accurately reproduce 99% of Pantone colors.
Here’s a few questions I had about this printer that Epson provided for me:
- Is WiFi supported? No, an Ethernet network cable or USB 2.0 is still required which Epson claims was done for performance/reliability reasons.
- Is the annoying printable area issue improved to be more user friendly? Epson claims the Maximize feature I mention in my article has been made more discoverable, but I haven’t seen this UI change yet.
- Is it any faster? No, it performs about like the 4900. 8" x 10" prints from 0:59 to 2:26 (normal is 1:28) and 11" x 14" prints from 1:42 to 4:04 (normal is 2:31)
- Are letter size borderless prints possible? No, here’s the response I got from Epson:
When printing sheet media, the SureColor P5000 requires 3mm margins on all sides. The SureColor P5000’s setting are programed to print borderless on very common, specific photo sizes, including 8x10. However, [it] cannot print 8.5x11 borderless. With roll media, the SureColor P5000 can support borderless widths of 8”, 10”, 11”, 13”, 14”, 16”, 16.5”, and 17” print. Like the Stylus Pro 4900, the SureColor P5000 does not support Borderless on Sheet media (SC-P800 best choice if that is the primary need), you can make borderless 8" x 10 " prints by using a 10" wide roll of media and selecting one of the borderless trim modes for the cutter.
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Jan. 11, 2017 – Epson is once again setting the benchmark for professional imaging excellence with the introduction of the new 17-Inch Epson® SureColor® P5000. Incorporating the latest imaging technologies, the SureColor P5000 resets the standard for the desktop photography, fine art, graphic design, and proofing markets. Leveraging the advanced Epson PrecisionCore® TFP® printhead and UltraChome HDX® 10-color pigment ink set, the SureColor P5000 delivers outstanding output with an increased color gamut, higher-density blacks and twice the print permanence than the previous generation1. A refined printer design includes improved dust and static control for reduced maintenance and increased durability and reliability.
“The SureColor P5000 is a replacement to the last Epson Stylus® Pro model still available – the renowned Epson Stylus Pro 4900. The Epson Stylus Pro brand was iconic, and it helped Epson build a pronounced reputation within the photography industry. We have since announced the SureColor product line, which is bringing Epson’s photographic technology to the next level,” said Larry Kaufman, product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc. “The SureColor P5000 brings all of the SureColor printing technology into a 17-inch desktop model, providing photographers and graphic designers with the best imaging technology has to offer.”
The SureColor P5000 leverages 200 mL UltraChrome HDX 10-color ink cartridges2 utilizing newly developed core pigments, including new Orange and Green inks, as well as Black inks that are 1.5 times denser than the previous generation, delivering a wider contrast ratio and improved resin encapsulation technology for superior gloss uniformity and optically clearer, sharper images. Touting a refined design, the SureColor P5000 supports a 10-channel PrecisionCore TFP printhead that includes a new ink-repellant surface coating, along with improved dust and static control for reduced nozzle clogging and maintenance, and supports printless nozzle checks for time, production and resource efficiency.
The SureColor P5000 can support two different ink configurations. The SureColor P5000 Standard and Designer editions leverage Light Light Black ink for twice the overall print permanence, smooth and neutral tonal transitions and support of the Epson Advanced Black and White print mode, ideal for photography, fine art and graphic design applications. The Commercial Edition includes Violet ink, in place of Light Light Black, for an expanded color gamut, to deliver an industry-best 99 percent PANTONE® PLUS FORMULA GUIDE solid-coated color matching3, ideal for commercial and flexographic proofing applications.
The SureColor P5000 offers versatile media handling capabilities with auto-switching between the high-capacity front paper cassette and roll media feeder. It includes a power-driven roll media spindle, ideal for producing panoramas and roll printing up to 100-feet, and an internal high-speed single pass rotary cutter. The high-capacity cassette can hold up to 100 sheets of premium paper for high productivity printing on sheets from 8”x10” up to 17”x22”. In addition, the SureColor P5000 features a front feed straight path for delicate fine art sheet media, including poster board, up to 1.5mm thick. Auto-switching between roll and cassette sheet feeding allow both sources to be loaded at the same time.
Additional Epson SureColor P5000 Features:
- Exceptional Print Permanence – Offers next-generation pigment ink technology for up to twice the overall print permanence than previous generation1
- Remarkable Detail – Epson PrecisionCore TFP printhead delivers high print speeds with 360 nozzles per color channel, with variable-size ink droplets as small as 3.5 picoliters
- Epson Precision Dot Screening Algorithm – Ensures incredibly accurate control of the sizing and mixing of ink droplets for beautiful prints
- Borderless Printing – Four-sided BorderFree® printing is available at common widths, including 8”, 10”, 11”, 13”, 14”, 16”, 16.5”, and 17”
- Optional SpectroProofer® UVS – Developed jointly with X-Rite, the in-line spectrophotometer provides automated color management and verification-related tasks for a range of proofing applications. It supports all current illumination standards for UV and UV-Cut measurement and is UV selectable between M0, M1 and M2.
- LCD Control Panel – Full-color 2.7-inch LCD panel allows for easy setup, control and maintenance of the printer
I’ll have more info after I have a chance to review this printer, but in the meantime if you have questions that I haven't covered here or in the press release below then let me know and I'll see what I can find out.
Where to Buy?
CLICK HERE to learn more or order a Epson SureColor P5000 Standard Edition 17" Wide-Format Inkjet Printer at B&H today.
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