Mini Review: Epson SureColor P800

November 3, 2015

By Greg Scoblete

When we reviewed Epson’s SureColor P600 with NJ photographer David Patiño, he told us that he wished it was bigger.

With the SureColor P800, Epson has made it bigger. 

Indeed, the P800 is like the P600 in many important respects. It uses the same newly formulated eight-color UltraChrome HD pigmented ink set with incredible print longevity and deep blacks. The P800 boasts a maximum print width of 17 inches vs. just 13 for the P600.

There are a few other differences, too.  It offers a maximum print resolution of 2880×1440 with variable droplet sizes as small as 3.5 picoliters–not quite as small as those produced by the P600. The printer supports papers up to 17 x 22 inches in size, but using roll media you can also produce a panoramic print that’s up to 10 feet long and 17 inches wide. For fine-art media lovers, the P800 supports papers up to 1.5mm thick through a front-loading single sheet feeder. The roll feeder supports papers up to 0.7mm thick.

The P800 uses nine 80ml ink cartridges with automatic switching between Matte and Photo Black. You can connect to a PC via a wired Ethernet connection, or use the built-in Wi-Fi (802.11n).  It’s available now for $1,395. The 80ml ink cartridges retail for $60 a cartridge.

What We Liked

To test the P800’s black performance, we ran through several of the same prints from Patiño’s archive than we initially ran through the P600, including an image from his archive of a woman clad in a black blouse against a black background. On screen, her blouse is faintly visible against the jet-black background. The P800 faithfully recreated the image, saturating the background in a deep black while preserving the distinguishing details of the black blouse. Switching to black-and-white, the P800 delivered the same excellent contrast that we praised on the P600. 

We produced prints on several fine art medias, including Epson’s Exhibition Fiber, Moab’s Juniper Baryta (reviewed here) and Museo’s Silver Rag (Museo did not have a profile for the P800 when our test was conducted). The P800 produced consistently strong results.

While we found that loading thicker fine-art media through the front-loading tray was sometimes hit-or-miss on the P600, Patino told us front loading on the P800 was nearly flawless, without the paper shifting we encountered. 

Finally, longevity testing conducted by Wilhelm Imaging Research has found that the P800’s UltraChrome HD ink set in tandem with select Epson papers (Premium Luster, Exhibition Fiber, UltraSmooth Fine Art paper) will last for 200 years if properly stored. Black-and-white prints can hit up to 400 years. In short, if archiving your images for the very long term is important to you, Epson has hard drives beat by several generations.

What We Didn’t Like

There is a 2.7-inch touchscreen display attached to a 3.5-inch control panel that can be tilted up from the unit for easier operation. While the on-screen menu is easy to navigate, and we found the touchscreen a bit too small next to the size of the hefty P800. Another quibble: the P800 doesn’t include the roll feeder. You’ll have to drop another $200 on one to print those gigantic panoramas. 

Bottom Line

With HP having abandoned the market for smaller-format professional photo printers, it’s two-horse race between Canon and Epson for your inkjet printing dollar. Canon only just announced its imagePROGRAF Pro-1000, which competes directly with the SureColor P800. Both models retail for about the same price and each brings something unique to the table. Epson’s printer supports roll media, while Canon’s printer has built-in calibration. Both models will support 80ml ink cartridges at the same $60 retail price. We haven’t tested the Pro-1000 yet, but suffice it to say, we found the P800 to deliver outstanding image quality in an easy-to-operate design.