When I was asked if I wanted to review Espon’s new SureColor P5070 printer, I looked at the photo embedded in the email and thought, “why not”. I didn’t realise at the time that the piece of paper sticking out of the printer in the photo wasn’t A4… it was, in-fact, A2.
So, when the printer arrived in a huge box on a pallet, it spent a week in the garage whilst I cleared a space in the office to accommodate the beast.
The P5070 isn’t really a consumer printer, and as such, in order to the best out of it, you are going to need to brush up on your graphic design skills. Whilst I’ve produced artwork for print in the past, it’s been a while and my current monitor configuration is far from being properly calibrated.
Suffice to say, my first attempts as producing decent output where a bit of a fail. Thankfully Epson supplied me with plenty of paper to test the printer with. Although it didn’t stop me from feeling guilty every time I screwed a sheet up and stuffed it in the waste paper bin.
A little work sorting out my monitor colour and brightness settings and I was in business. The P5070 uses Epson’s UltraChrome HDX 10-colour pigment ink setup. Which sounds like a licence for Epson to print money, especially as the printer has two blacks – photo and matte – giving the machine a total of eleven ink cartridges to replace. The cartridges will set you back NZ$150 a pop.
Once you get going, the quality of the images is absolutely stunning. There’s no banding what-so-ever. With the additional pigments the printer can reproduce a colour gamut of up to 98% of the PANTONE pallet. The ink set also includes an optional violet that enables expansion out to 99%.
I recently returned from PAX Australia, where they had a panel on creating art from video games. This is becoming increasingly popular with many games having a special photo mode. The expo had a gallery of beautiful images from the PS4 game, Horizon Zero Dawn. Using this as my inspiration I printed out a number of high resolution screens from the PlayStation 4 Pro and the PC (using Nvidia’s Ansel technology).
I was blown away with the results, especially the 4K images generated by the PS4. Although I do say so, myself, the images featuring Aloy, the protagonist of Horizon Zero Dawn, wouldn’t look out of place hung as artwork on a gamer’s wall.
The P5070 has a paper tray at the front, but also supports a paper roll and manual feeding of paper from the front or from the top. The printer can accommodate paper up to A2 size and can print banners 406mm wide from the paper roll.
For everyday printing using the paper tray is fine, but if you want to use quality paper you need to manually feed it in. Apart from the odd misfeed, I found feeding paper in from the top no trouble at all. Thicker paper needs to be fed from the front, carefully lining the sheet up with some markings. I found this fiddly and it was a bit tricky lining the paper up with the guide markings, resulting, nine times out of ten, in a slightly wonky image.
Whilst the chassis is metal, the body of the printer is the usual egg-shell thin plastic that you’d find on a $60 printer from K-Mart. Lifting the printer into place I could heard the plastic creaking as it flexed. The built quality isn’t far from what I’d expect for an average printer, but a lot lower than what I’d expect from a $3,500 printer.
The Epson SureColor P5070 is the best printer that I’ve ever used. The images that it produces are a world apart from those you’d get with any consumer or SMB printer, for that matter. For personal use, of course, the P5070 is a bit impractical. Not only do you need the wallet for the initial outlay, there’s all those replacement cartridges, as well as the cost of some decent paper. Any business that regularly relies on the services of a printing company for small quantities of large format printing ought to find the P5070 a viable investment.