Epson has announced details of four new wide format printers, all using aqueous inks. Epson is in the process of phasing out its Stylus Pro range so these are branded as SureColor P printers and are targeted at the proofing, fine art and photographic markets.
Interestingly, Epson opted to show these to journalists at the Royal Academy in London, which Epson has sponsored, providing equipment for the grandly named Epson Suite. Mark Hampson, head of material processes for the RA School, says: “We use the Epson Suite to produce limited edition prints which we then sell to raise funds so Epson helps us raise money to be self-sufficient.” He went on to explain that not only does the world renowned RA School not charge students, but it also provides them with a bursary. It’s obviously working as just about every major British artist over the last 240 years has been through the Royal Academy’s training. Today the Royal Academy covers a wide range of fine art disciplines from sculpture to video production as well as photography and, of course, painting.
Of the four new printers, two are eight colour machines, with a choice of 24ins (P6000) and 44ins (P8000) widths, and two have ten-colour inksets with the same 24ins (P7000) or 44ins (P9000) choice.
The ten-colour inkset is the new UltraChrome HDX and this offers a further choice between using violet and light light black. You have to order the machine in one configuration or the other and can’t swap the inks over later.
Epson claims that the violet ink version can achieve 99 percent of the Pantone colour library and is mainly targeted at proofing and fine art applications. This is a worthwhile improvement over previous models, which reproduced roughly 93 percent of the Pantone range.
The light light black, which Epson says is capable of producing 98 percent of the Pantone library, is mainly targeted at the professional photography market as it is better suited to black and white images, as well as reproducing shadow detail. The light light black ink is included in the eight-colour HD inkset.
There’s also an optional colour measuring device, the ILS30 or SpectroProofer, which appears to be a spectrophotometer but is described as a colorimeter because Epson is not recording spectral data. It’s been developed with X-Rite and complies with the new ISO standards regarding optical brightening agents in substrates, classed as M1, so should also work with the new Fogra 51 standard.
The SpectroProofer comes with a new Colour Calibration Utility, that can be used to set a calibration point for the printer. This has been considerably improved over Epson’s previous solutions so that one measurement can cover all print modes and substrates, though you’ll still need to make individual ICC profiles. Martin Johns, Epson’s business development manager for wide format, says that once the data has been verified it’s a simple one-click process, adding: “The big advantage of using this software is that once the printer is calibrated the data is stored on the printer itself so it’s accessible to multiple users.”
This calibration can be applied across a fleet of printers, both local and remote, which should make it easier to keep track of remote proofers.
Epson has also improved the Look Up Tables, which are included within the driver. Essentially, the LUT interprets the data in the image to determine the optimum combination of colours needed. Johns says that it’s quite resource-intensive and so Epson has shared the technology with RIP vendors to incorporate it within their solutions.
There’s support for 1GB Ethernet networking though only USB 2.0 rather than the faster USB 3.0 for direct connections. There is also an optional 320GB hard drive, though I can’t help thinking that if Epson had opted for the faster USB plug then this wouldn’t be necessary.
All of these printers should be available from the 1st of November and prices remain similar to current models, ranging from £2095 to £5210, plus VAT.