Over the last year I have been printing on nothing but the Epson Surecolor P400. It’s the smallest in the Surecolor family launched last year but it does an amazing job! After my recent trip to Atlanta for the AVG Reunion I was busy this past week getting prints out to new friends and clients. The P400 did a great job at making it easy and fast to deliver those prints. If you want to see why I like it so much you can check out the video I made highlighting some of its features.
Everything that is done to a photograph is carefully thought out. You study reviews and articles when buying a new piece of gear. You test that piece of gear, purchase it and then practice with it in order to get that one photograph. You spend hours planning out the right trip, studying where the best shots come from and do all your prep work so that you’re ready when the time comes. Then once you have that shot you go back into the computer and finish that image on your color calibrated monitor. Lots of work goes into every photograph before it is ever seen by anyone else. So if you’re going to print why not be picky about your paper?! Does paper matter? Absolutely!!
Over the last month I have been printing with the Epson SureColor P400 printer and it’s doing an amazing job! I have been trying multiple types of gloss, matte and canvas papers to see what the results would be. Every paper has its own unique signature that makes it different. Whether its the thickness, the yield, the texture, is it glossy, is it not, does it look good without direct light and most importantly how does it relate to the subject. All of these things matter but the subject is key! Ever image has a different feel to it and thus when printed the paper can enhance or detract from that feeling. For instance the metallic surfaces of planes look great on a glossy paper because that gloss is enhancing the already perceived notion in our minds of that smooth aluminum surface. A textured paper has the same effect when looking at a Bison in its thick winter coat. The subject is everything.
Every image you see here was printed on Epson paper. I’ve been using Epson paper for years because I like the results. But if you want to know what paper looks best when printing wildlife or landscapes, airplanes, or even people then you need to study your papers and know your clientele to find the optimal choice. The best way to do this is to go play. Purchase some paper that would’ normally and see for yourself what the differences are. There is no way to read or see an image of a type of paper and understand what the results will be. You have to see it and feel it for yourself to understand the difference. To truly master your craft you have to put in the extra effort.
I have had my Epson SureColor P400 for about a week now learning what this new printer can do. I have to say it’s quite impressive. The P400 is the smallest and lightest of the SureColor P Series. It’s physically not much bigger then the Epson R2880 I’m replacing but it has some great features. First off it has Ethernet and WiFi capability. This makes for a cleaner office space especially if you have multiple computers. It does come with standard USB 2.0 as well. Next the P400 can do both sheet and roll paper up to 13″ wide along with a print on CD option, making it very versatile while staying within budget. Now all of this is pretty straight forward but the big differences are on the inside.
The really big difference that makes this printer standout are the ink wells. For starters the P400 has a dedicated matte black and photo black ink well making it easier to swap between papers without having to swap out ink cartridges. Now it does take a minute when you swap settings for the ink to swap as well but that’s nothing. Next the P400 has the gloss optimizer which adds another coating to either the whole sheet or just the printed area and what it does is it makes it look very uniform across the surface.
Now here’s the big one. This printer has a dedicated Orange and Red ink Cartridge. It has eight cartridges, yellow, cyan, magenta, photo black, matte black, orange, red and the gloss optimizer. If you print a lot of color prints and not a lot of black and whites then you’ve probably noticed that preserving those very vibrant areas especially in the red to yellow range can be quite difficult. This printer does a great job of preserving those. Now the trade off is there is no light black or light light black cartridge which depending on your printing needs may not be as optimal. That’s for you to decide. But the first thing I did was print out a bunch of red and orange critical images like this F-86 Sabre. I’ve tried printing this in the past and it was tough. The candy apple red’s would fade. The P400 didn’t loose any. I like that!
So while I still have more testing to do, for right now I can honestly say that between the size, price point and above all else, the quality, the Epson P400 is a great printer for the advanced amateur photographer and even professionals like myself who take pride in their prints.