The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review

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  • Charles Charles
    Charles Charles
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    The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    on: December 12, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    1. Your photo of Paris waking up is marvelous – the tones, the sharpness so vivid but still realistic rather than overdone, and of course the framed scene, dramatic with lots to explore.

    2. ” any matte papers), I can’t emphasize enough the importance of editing tone and color properly under soft proof.” Soft proof is one method; another is getting a feel for a good histogram. Do you think the importance of soft proof varies between Relative with BPC versus Perceptual?

    Tommy Weir
    Tommy Weir
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    Posts: 21
    Re: The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    Reply #1 on: December 14, 2020 at 9:58 am

    Appreciate the work Mark, quite something and interesting details in there.    Still torn here between the price and practicality of the P900 and the step up to the I-really-dont-have-the-space-for P7570.

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
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    Posts: 425
    Re: The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    Reply #2 on: December 14, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Wow!  No, not the printer ……which is very impressive.  Wow is for Mark’s effort.  Spectacular

    Brad Smith

    Thanks Brad, much appreciated.

    Mark D Segal Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8, SilverFast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop". Please check the PhotoPXL Store for availability.

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
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    Posts: 425
    Re: The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    Reply #3 on: December 14, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    Mark-What a spectacular review!  Many, many thanks.  I will certainly need to read the review multiple times.

    Amongst the questions that immediately come to mind:

    1. Is the quality of the printed images “noticeably” superior to those obtained from the P800?  Of course, one understands the subjectivity of the question.  However, knowing your modus you might have already compared gamut of a given print of the P900 with the P800.  Perhaps I missed the comparisons in your article?  More important than the quantitative review using the software….will small improvements in gamut really be noticed when holding the print?

    2. Smaller and the greater number of ink carts will mean more replacements needed.  One must suspect that the eventual cost for ink will be more than for the P800.  We know that Epson will certainly be increasing the selling prices for their carts.  I have read that the “lockout” provisions of the new P printers will definitely prevent the use of third party inks….once Epson has a monopoly on the inks, then buyers must expect the worst.

    3.  Obviously paper manufacturers will eventually have to profile their papers for the new P900.  However, for those of us who have already profiled our papers using experts who provide profiling services the cost of new profiles must be added to the cost of the printer.  If quality is only marginally better, and if one has the space…well, even thought the controls on the printer are excellent…you get my drift!  Some paper manufacturers provide free profiles for those who purchase their paper.  It would be great if Epson would provide free bespoke ICC profiles for those who purchase their Legacy papers AND switch to the P900.  Don’t hold your breath…

    4.  Yes, there is an inconvenience switching inks to and from glossy to matte.  The cost of convenience might be rather high when considering the P900.

    Again….your review is encyclopedic and will enable many to decide if the purchase of a P900 is worth the cost.

     

    Elliot

    Eliot, thanks, I just saw this thread today. There is another one, so it gets confusing. To address your points:

    1. The slight increase in gamut volume as read from profiles (not prints of real photos – this would be real hard to do reliably) would be immaterial for most photos.

    2.The smaller ink carts allow the printer dimensions to be smaller and Epson has scaled the pricing for the ink accordingly. Note that there is a lot of overhead in the packaging and distribution of ink that is invariate to the amount of ink in the cartridge, so it would not be surprising that per ml the ink from smaller casrtridges costs more than from larger ones. At B&H, P800 80ml ink costs $58, while P900 50ml ink costs $42, so .725/ml for the larger and .84/ml for the smaller. We can’t compare the cost of ink per print in any reliable manner because Epson doesn’t make usage data available either for ink used in prints and ink used in maintenance. Epson ink is formulated to spec for the print head. It is also tested independently for permanence and can be relied upon for consistency. I would not use 3rd party ink and I have no concern about them taking measures to discourage the practice. I put too much effort into my printing – the time and paper is worth a lot more than price differences between inks.

    3. OEM profiles are now generally available for the P900 including those from Epson and third-party paper suppliers. Because the printers are manufactured to a high standard of uniformity and most of the actors in the industry have upped their game in profile provision, it is much safe to use “canned” profiles now than it was a number of years back. There may be an extra bit of accuracy using custom profiles, but for those who cannot or don’t want to buy them, the OEM profiles will suffice. Not a decision variable.

    4. I agree that the elimination of ink-swapping is not reason enough to upgrade the printer model in and of itself. It’s a whole combination of features and most importantly one’s requirements and taste that should enter into such a decision.

    Mark D Segal Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8, SilverFast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop". Please check the PhotoPXL Store for availability.

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
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    Posts: 425
    Re: The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    Reply #4 on: December 14, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    + 1 …incredible detail and a lot of work.  Many thanks Mark

    Mike

    You are welcome Mike, much appreciated.

    Mark D Segal Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8, SilverFast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop". Please check the PhotoPXL Store for availability.

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
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    Posts: 425
    Re: The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    Reply #5 on: December 14, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    I am new to the world of color inkjet printing coming from over 40 years in the darkroom where 90% of my work was black and white.  I have had my SC-P900 printer for a bit over three weeks.  I have been very pleased with prints I made for an upcoming exhibit.  I still have a lot to learn.  Your comprehensive review of this printer is a lovely contribution.  It deserves several reads.  Thank you for all your efforts in creating your review!

    One area in which I am confused is the choice between using the top (rear) paper feeder and the front paper feeder.  The folks at Red River paper recommend that the front feeder be used for papers 13 mil and thicker.  You recommend the front feeder for papers 19.7 mil and thicker.  In his reviews of the P700 and P900, Keith Cooper of Northlight Images puts all the fine art papers through the top (rear) feeder.  So, certainly a wide range of opinions.

    I have been following the guidelines in the Media Loading Section of the Epson user’s guide which gives a list of papers for the rear paper feeder and a list of papers for the front paper feeder.  I have reproduced those lists at the end of this note.  I notice that each Epson paper is in just one of these lists.  And the lists are missing some Epson papers such as Baryta.  I have not experienced the problem you mentioned loading the front feeder.  I have only used Epson Hot Press and Cold Press papers there.  I have experienced problems with the top (rear) paper feeder when loading multiple sheets.  Following Kevin Raber’s suggestion in his P700 review, I had thought of leaving a small stack of glossy or luster paper in the printer so my wife could easily make prints from her iPad/iPhone.  The printer fails in loading from this stack.  It works well for a single sheet.

    I welcome further thoughts from this forum on loading media.

    John

    —————————————————————–
    Media Loading Capacity from the Epson SC-P900 online user’s guide

    Rear paper feeder
    Plain paper
    Epson Bright White Pro Paper
    Epson Premium Photo Paper Glossy
    Epson Premium Photo Paper Semi-gloss
    Epson Photo Paper Glossy
    Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Glossy
    Epson Premium Presentation Paper Matte
    Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster
    Epson Presentation Paper Matte
    Epson Presentation Paper Matte, Double Sided
    Epson Photo Quality Self-adhesive Sheets
    Epson Proofing Paper White Semimatte

    Front paper feeder
    You can load one sheet of posterboard or other thick media 0.02 to 0.059 inch (0.51 to 1.5 mm) thick in the front paper feeder. You can also load one sheet of the following types of media:

    Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper
    Epson UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper
    Epson Watercolor Paper Radiant White
    Epson Exhibition Fiber Paper
    Epson Exhibition Watercolor Paper Textured
    Epson Hot Press Bright
    Epson Hot Press Natural
    Epson Cold Press Bright
    Epson Cold Press Natural

    John, the guidance I received from Epson about what paper thickness to load in which feed  is what I reported in the article, and that advice seems robust.

    Mark D Segal Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8, SilverFast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop". Please check the PhotoPXL Store for availability.

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
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    Posts: 425
    Re: The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    Reply #6 on: December 14, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you, Mark, as always.  I hope you’ll post updates as long as you have it on clogging performance, which has been an issue for some printers more than others, particularly for those who print infrequently.

    Here’s a small contribution to the comparative economics of the printers Mark mentions, based on current B&H prices in USD/ml.  (So this doesn’t address ink usage, which Mark discusses, merely the cost of the liquid that he cautions us against drinking.)  3880 $0.94/ml; P800 $0.73/ml; P900 $0.84/ml; and P5o00 $0.46/ml.

    Hi Mark, you are welcome.

    So far clogging has been absolutely minimal but I have had his printer on test only since mid October. Based on this short experience I expect it will perform well in this regard. So far, having printed about 78 sq.ft. of image volume, I have commissioned only three cleanings for one single little missing nozzle each time (probably not necessary even to bother for this, but I did); it takes a couple of minutes, and uses a bit less than 2ml of ink per cleaning. No big deal.

    Mark D Segal Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8, SilverFast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop". Please check the PhotoPXL Store for availability.

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
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    Posts: 425
    Re: The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    Reply #7 on: December 14, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    1. Your photo of Paris waking up is marvelous – the tones, the sharpness so vivid but still realistic rather than overdone, and of course the framed scene, dramatic with lots to explore.

    2. ” any matte papers), I can’t emphasize enough the importance of editing tone and color properly under soft proof.” Soft proof is one method; another is getting a feel for a good histogram. Do you think the importance of soft proof varies between Relative with BPC versus Perceptual?

    Thanks Charles, much appreciated.

    If there are significant out-of-gamut colours in the photo, switching between Rendering Intent under softproof will often show differences of predicted print appearance.

    Mark D Segal Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8, SilverFast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop". Please check the PhotoPXL Store for availability.

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
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    Posts: 425
    Re: The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    Reply #8 on: December 14, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Appreciate the work Mark, quite something and interesting details in there.    Still torn here between the price and practicality of the P900 and the step up to the I-really-dont-have-the-space-for P7570.

    Apart from the space consideration Tommy, were it me I suppose the first question I would ask myself is how often I would make prints larger than 17 inch maximum on one dimension. If infrequent it may pay to outsource those prints and buy a P900 for most of your work. If frequent, then a larger printer may make sense if you can manage it. It’s a lot of machinery by comparison, as you undoubtedly know.

    Mark D Segal Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8, SilverFast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop". Please check the PhotoPXL Store for availability.

    Eric Brody
    Eric Brody
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    Posts: 27
    Re: The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    Reply #9 on: December 14, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Hearty thanks to Mark Segal for his exhaustive review of the P900. I’m waiting to hear from  Roy Harrington as to when his wonderful QTR RIP will work on the P900 before even considering  a purchase.

    While ink costs are certainly a first world problem for most of us, it is still a bit galling that my lovely 3880, still working well after seven years, has the most expensive ink in the Epson world. If one uses the worst case scenario, 4.6ml of ink for a matte to black change (https://people.csail.mit.edu/ericchan/dp/Epson3800/faq.html#swap_pk_mk), it costs US$4.32 to change the ink on a 3880 but only US$2.12 on a P5000. Of course there is zero ink cost on the P900. With the P900 costing approximately US$1,200, it would take 277 changes on a 3880 to pay for the P900 and a whopping 566 changes on a P5000 to spend the P900 purchase price. While I’m certain that if I had a P900, I’d do switching more often (new toy syndrome), it would take a while for me to do 277! Were I fortunate to have a P5000, well…

    Bottom line, even with the exorbitant costs, I’m sticking with my 3880 until it no longer functions. I’ll switch inks whenever I want and just not worry about it. When the time comes, I’ll look carefully at the P900, of course, but also at the P5000 and at the 7570 since I’ve always lusted after a 24″ printer, as has Mr Weir.

    Mark D Segal
    Mark D Segal
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    Posts: 425
    Re: The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    Reply #10 on: December 14, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks Eric, glad you enjoyed the review.

    Regarding ink cost and in switching, I believe that a decision to upgrade a printer should be a multi-dimensional one that takes into account the whole package of differences of the one versus the other and then making a decision about whether the package of new features is worth the cost.

    Mark D Segal Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8, SilverFast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop". Please check the PhotoPXL Store for availability.

    Tommy Weir
    Tommy Weir
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    Posts: 21
    Re: The Epson SC-P900 Printer Review
    Reply #11 on: December 15, 2020 at 6:45 am

    If infrequent it may pay to outsource those prints and buy a P900 for most of your work.

    Indeed Mark, my general thought too, one thing being my rural base, which means that its a three hour drive to my best options for outsourcing.  That’s the other factor I have to, well, factor in to my particular multi-dimensional decision 🙂

    Aside from all that, what a time to live in, when such quality is available to us now, where our concerns are down to such delicate micro-judgements and observations.

    • This reply was modified 4 months ago by Tommy Weir.
    • This reply was modified 4 months ago by Tommy Weir.
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