Epson SureColor P5070

      Photo Review 8.9

      In summary

      Output quality from the P5070 was every bit as good as we expected from a pigment printer at this level. We obtained some of the best prints we’ve ever produced, including from shots taken with the Fujifilm GFX 50S camera, the highest-resolution camera we’ve reviewed to date. The results were truly impressive.

      As anticipated, the most attractive looking prints came from matte papers, where media like Epson’s Hot Press and Cold Press papers reproduced the subtle tonal nuances, in both full-colour and B&W images. This was just as true for the GFX 50S images as it was for images from cameras with smaller sensors.

      We found no evidence of metamerism, no signs of head strike (which leaves marks on printed papers) and no smudging or banding   on images. There were no feed or roller marks visible in any of the prints we made.

      The new self-monitoring, cleaning, and alignment systems in the SC-P5070 ensure predictable, consistent and reliable output with minimal user maintenance.  Printless nozzle checks help to conserve ink and paper.

      Although some features fall short of market expectations for a modern professional printer (no USB 3.0 interface, for example), the SureColor P5070 is built like a tank right down to individual components like the paper cassette and roll feed system, and it’s  quite economical to run.

      The P5070 is  most likely to be of interest to photographers and graphic artists who sell prints as part of their business activities.


      Full review

      Released as a replacement for the six-year-old Stylus Pro 4900 A2 desktop inkjet printer, the new SureColour P50** model has multiple identities, with its name depending on where you buy it and the printer itself coming in three different configurations. Although announced as the P5000 (the name it bears in most of the rest of the world) in Australia it’s known as the P5070 and (going by the Setup Guide) it’s sold as the P5050 in Japan. When announced, there were three ‘editions’ of the printer: Standard, Designer and Commercial, although Epson Australia appears to be offering only one, which combines the Standard and Commercial editions.  


      Angled view of the new  SureColor P5070 desktop printer with a B&W print emerging. (Source: Epson.)

      Designed to cover a wide variety of photo, fine art, proofing and packaging design applications, the version sold locally comes with the ability to choose between two ink configurations, one using Light Light Black  and another that uses Violet ink.  

      Photographers should opt for the Light Light Black configuration, which supports the Epson Advanced B&W Photo printing mode. This setup covers 98% of the Pantone  hues and delivers the smooth and neutral tonal transitions that are ideal for photography.

      The version configured with Violet ink in place of Light Light Black is designed for commercial, graphic and proofing applications and achieves an  expanded colour gamut to  cover 99% of the Pantone range, which Epson claims is ‘an industry-best’. When installing the printer, users must decide which colour ink to load.

      Whichever configuration you opt for, the unused ink cartridge is surplus to requirements because, once configured, the printer must remain that way. So the unwanted cartridge must be discarded or on-sold to someone who could use it.

      Fortunately, this doesn’t waste a lot of ink. The ink supplied with the printer comes in ‘start-up’ cartridges, each with a capacity of 80 ml, which is significantly less than the 200 ml standard capacity. For more information, see the Ink Costs section below.

      For photographic printing, the ink colours in the new UltraChrome HDX  ink set are essentially the same as for the Stylus Pro 4900, which uses UltraChrome HDR  inks. (We didn’t review this printer.)

      They include photo and matte blacks, two levels of grey (‘light black’), ‘light’ versions of the cyan and magenta inks as well as ‘full strength’ versions of both colours and separate yellow, orange and green inks. The orange and green inks are included to expand the colour gamut, especially in the bright /vivid green to yellow and yellow to red ranges and to minimise image grain in skin tones.  

      The yellow ink in the new set has been upgraded to provide improved UV resistance for enhanced image stability, while the new black ink is 1.5 times denser than the ink used in the previous ink set. Epson claims the P5070’s inks deliver up to twice the print permanence of the previous generation inks, with accelerated exposure testing yielding durability times of up to 200 years for colour and 400 years for B&W when prints are displayed indoors behind glass.  

      The printer is labelled ‘Made in China’ and it’s very large and heavy for a desktop printer. The carton it comes in is a metre wide by almost a metre deep and 590 mm high and it has an all-up weight of 62.5 kg. It’s about three times heavier than the SureColor P800 and double the weight of the Canon  imagePROGRAF PRO-1000, the last A2 printers we reviewed. Note: both these printers use 80 ml ink cartridges, which partly explains their smaller size and lighter weight.

      We couldn’t fit it through our front door  or manoeuvre it into our office and, since we had to share the limited supply of paper and ink available we opted to have the printer set up in the house of a colleague who was also reviewing it and make periodic visits to learn about the operation of the printer and produce test prints. Not an ideal situation, but workable in this situation.

      The review unit had been set up and the 200 ml cartridges were already installed by the time we began to use it. Consequently, details of the setting-up process have been obtained from the user manuals, which can be downloaded from Epson’s website.

      Who’s it For?
       As mentioned, the sheer size and weight of this printer will rule it out for most domestic situations. It’s most likely to be  of interest to photographers and graphic artists who sell prints as part of their business activities.

      For photographers, the appeal will extend to those who make B&W prints because it supports Epson’s Advanced B&W printing mode. It also includes a number of features that aren’t offered in Epson’s other A2 printers, such as the built-in roll paper feed.

      Potential upgraders should note that the P5070 comes with a new Epson PrecisionCore TFP printhead, which has 360 nozzles per colour channel, double the number in the SureColor P800. Its maximum resolution is the same as the P800’s at  2880 x 1440 dpi, as is its minimum droplet size of 3.5 picoliters, the latter achieved via proprietary Variable Droplet Technology.

      It includes the same ink-repellent surface coating and improved dust and static control as previous SureColor printers, which minimise nozzle clogging. But, unlike the smaller printers it’s not Wi-Fi enabled, although it comes with Ethernet connectivity (10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX).  

      The new self-monitoring, cleaning, and alignment systems in the SC-P5070 ensure predictable, consistent and reliable output with minimal user maintenance.  Printless nozzle checks help to conserve ink and paper.

      In the box
      The SureColor P5070 is supplied with the start-up set of 80 ml ink cartridges (12 in all), a roll media adaptor set, two maintenance tanks (one of which is used for borderless printing)  a mains power cord, a printed installation and safety manual plus a CD containing utility software and the user manual (in PDF format). You have to provide your own USB cable if you decide on that method for connecting the printer to your computer.

      Since the printer alone weighs 52 kg, we’d recommend having at least two strong people to manoeuvre it out of the box and onto your desk. There are hand holds on either side of the printer to make it easier to lift. But it’s still large and bulky and awkward to handle.

      Once you’ve extracted the printer from the box and removed all the packaging and tape, you can begin the set-up process.  You’ll need to allow some space around the printer, particularly if you plan to use the optional SpectroProofer, which ejects the paper from the rear of the printer before printing. Allow at least 370 mm for an A2 sized sheet.

      Before you can fit the ink cartridges, media trays and roll paper spindle you should plug the printer into the mains power, switch it on and install the driver from the supplied software disk. Instructions are provided on-screen and you’re given a choice of ways to connect the printer to your computer and/or network. Password protection is available for the latter.

      Connecting via USB simply requires you to link the printer to your computer via a USB cable. But you’ll have to supply this as it’s not provided in the box.   Unfortunately, it’s a USB 2.0 connection; not the latest USB 3.0, which most computers have adopted because it’s faster.

      The software disk also includes a 192-page User’s Guide and a Network Guide, both in PDF format. We recommend reading the User’s Guide before you start working with the printer.

      Setting up
      Many of the printer functions can be accessed via the control panel on the right hand side of the printer. It includes a colour LCD screen with an ink monitor and icons showing the paper feed selected and media status.


       The control panel showing the LCD panel and surrounding buttons. (Source: Epson.)
       The control panel is used with the arrow pad buttons to display and select items on the various menus. (Most of these functions can also be accessed via the printer driver.)

      User-adjustable functions include maintenance (nozzle check, head cleaning, etc.), printer adjustments (such as cut position), paper type and handling controls (including platen gap, roll tension and feed adjustments), printer status (firmware version, calibration date), network setup and preferences (language, length units, temperature units). There’s also an ‘Administrator Menu’ which allows deeper head cleaning plus adjustments to the clock setting and a universal reset function.


       Two views of the LCD panel showing the paper feed set for cut sheets (left) and roll paper (right).

      Users can also print a status sheet and job information data for the last 10 jobs printed. The printout includes details of the file name of the image printed, start and end times, page count and the length of paper used. Unfortunately, the ink usage data provided via  the 3880’s Job History function is not included.

      After plugging the printer into the mains power and switching it on, you can begin loading the inks. Before each cartridge is installed, it should be shaken while being held horizontally to distribute the pigment particles throughout the fluid.  

      The cartridges clip into clearly labelled spaces below the front cover on either side of the paper feed-out chute. On the left side (in left to right order) you load the green, light light black, yellow, light cyan, vivid light magenta and orange cartridges, while the matte black, vivid magenta, light black, cyan and photo black cartridges go on the right side of the paper feed-out chute.


       Close-up views of the ink installations.

      A lift-up cover on each bay prevents contaminants from entering. Once the two covers have been closed, the printer will begin charging up the ink lines, a process that takes about 18 minutes. The printer will then run an Auto Nozzle Check, which takes about six minutes, bringing the total time required to prepare the inks for printing up to 24 minutes.
       The next step is to decide which paper feed option you’ll use first.   That will be dictated by the size of the prints you want to make, the number of prints you’ll produce in a batch and the paper you’ll use.

      Paper Handling
      The SC-P5070 offers four paper feed options. Cut sheets can be fed in via the top-loading slot, which accepts 432 x 559 mm sheets up to 0.7 mm thick. For heavier media (0.8 to 1.5 mm) you must use the front manual feed slot, while the paper cassette can accommodate up to 100 sheets of A4 paper. This reduces to between 25 and 20 sheets for A3, A3+ and A2 sizes.

      Thicknesses can range from 0.27 to 0.8 mm. Sheets must be loaded with the printable side facing downwards since they are pulled up and forward beneath the print head. Care must be taken to insert the cassette correctly.


       The SureColor P5070 shown with the ink cartridge bays open, the paper cassette being loaded and the roll paper holder at the rear of the printer loaded with paper.

      The built-in roll media holder is designed for 17-inch wide paper, most of which is 0.27 mm thick (0.34 mm is supported for Ultra Smooth Fine Art Paper). It has a standard 2-inch core with 3-inch adapters. The paper roll is slid onto the spindle with its leading edge facing forward, the end cover is attached and the spindle is then loaded into the printer using guide indicators.

      To load the paper, press the paper release button just above the colour LCD on the front panel and hold it until the message on the panel changes and you can see the roll paper icon on the screen (on the left hand side just above the green ink icon). You can then slide the leading edge of the paper into the slot, press the button again and select the type of paper from the displayed menu using the bottom button on the arrow pad. Pressing the OK button completed the paper loading process.

      Loading cut sheets of heavy paper through the front feed slot is a lot more tricky. First you must select Cut Sheet in the Paper Type menu. Then press the paper release button to release the paper roller and insert the leading edge of the sheet with the printable side up over the black roller in the front manual feeder. It’s positioned quite high in the chute.

      Then open the top cover and slide the paper forwards under the grey roller inside the printer. Feed it in until the trailing edge of the sheet is aligned with the marks on the cover over the paper cassette, keeping the right hand side of the paper on the white line marked on the right hand side of the chute. Once the sheet is in place, the top cover  can be lowered.

      Take-up extensions can be slid out above the cassette to support larger sheets of paper ““ including panorama prints ““ as the emerge. The printer comes with a built-in cutter for roll paper, which can be operated manually or automatically.

      If you opt for the former, the printer will print a cutting line across the width of the paper and eject it far enough for you to cut it with a pair of scissors. With the auto setting, the paper is cut at a point determined by the printer, which usually involves less paper wastage.


      Printing a panoramic image on roll paper with an image to be printed on sheet paper shown on the computer screen waiting for the paper sources to be switched.

      You can have a roll of paper and a stack of cut sheets loaded in the printer at the same time but you can’t switch between them randomly. If you try switching to cut sheets while the roll paper is loaded, an error message will appear telling you to disengage the roll paper before trying again.

      To disengage the roll paper, lift the roll paper cover and press the paper release button on the control panel to raise the pressure roller. The paper is rewound automatically if the  printer is on or in standby mode. Close the cover before you print on the cut sheets.

      The Printer Driver
      The printer driver can be accessed from the control panel or through a software editing application, such as Photoshop. It’s a standard Epson driver and very similar to the drivers in the SureColor P800  and Stylus Pro 3880  printers we’ve reviewed.


       The Main page of the P5070’s driver.

      Interestingly, the driver is labelled ‘P5000’ and this is the name used for the printer throughout the user manual and other supplied documentation. (Makes you wonder why Epson uses three different names in its international marketing.)
       The dropdown ‘Media Type’ sub menu in the main page of the driver contains the usual profile settings covering Photo, Proofing, Matte, Fine Art, Plain papers and Canvas.  Individual papers in each category are listed in the sub-menus.

      Unlike lower-priced models, the SC-P5000 driver lists both matte and satin canvas among its pre-loaded (‘canned’) profiles. It also has more canned profiles than most printers and you can install additional profiles, including those you create, and access them via the driver. You can save the driver settings you plan to use regularly with the Save/Del button once you’ve keyed in a name. The printer can accommodate up to 100 user-input settings.

      Selecting Advanced B&W Photo in the Colour dropdown menu lets you access the Advanced Black & White setting in the driver. This setting lets you produce excellent B&W prints with no unwanted colour casts. You can also adjust the output tones to produce ‘warm’ or ‘cool’ tone prints, should you wish.

      The Print Quality sub-menu is similar to other Epson drivers and offers four settings: Speed, Quality, Max. Quality and Quality Options. Three resolution levels are available in Quality Options: Level 3 (1440 x 720 dpi), Level 4 (1440 x 1440 dpi) and Level 5 (5760 x 1440 dpi). Below the Quality/Speed slider are check boxes for switching High Speed, Edge Smoothing and Finest Detail on and off.

      The default setting is Level 4 with the High-Speed box checked but we’d recommend unchecking the High-Speed box for the higher settings.  We didn’t bother with the other two adjustments because we’ve found they are seldom needed when printing photographs.

      Level 4 with the High-Speed box unchecked worked well for all the images we printed. The only reason to use the Level 5 setting would be if you wanted additional depth and intensity in the output tones, although we doubt most people would be able to see any difference in prints made at the 4 and 5 settings on matte and semi-gloss papers. Very slight differences are only just detectable in high-gloss papers to those with trained eyes.

      Borderless printing is supported but only for a limited range of paper types. It’s not available for any of the ‘fine art’ media.

      Epson’s drivers provide few manual over-rides for paper handling when you use the Custom paper sizes, which in the P5000 driver are the same as those in the P800. They allow users to choose width values between 89 and 432 mm and height values from 127 to 15,000 mm. To maximise the printable area, select Paper Config. and check the Centered and Maximum check boxes. An error message (shown below) will be displayed but you can ignore it.


      A screen grab showing the printer driver in use with the printable area adjustment box open.
       By default, the printer is set to switch between the Photo and Matte black inks automatically, depending on which paper is selected ““ or which paper was used when the image was last printed. This is something the printer can detect and you should be aware of it when re-printing images that have been printed before.

      It takes 3 minutes and 17 seconds to change from Photo Black (PK) to Matte Black (MK) and just under 4 minutes to change from Matte Black to Photo Black.  In the process, approximately four millilitres of black ink are used when swapping from PK to MK and five millilitres from MK to PK. This swap-over is necessary to prevent the ink line clogging if the printer isn’t used for a while.

      The Utility tab in the driver contains the usual maintenance functions and also lets you switch the Status Monitor display on and off, select the error notifications, display the print queue of waiting jobs, show details of the ink set and set speed and progress functions. You can rearrange the menu items, export or import driver settings, configure the custom paper settings and start the Epson Color Calibration Utility if you’ve downloaded it.

      All the prints we made were done through Photoshop as this was the only available setup option. We feel this is the method most users will favour.  As mentioned, the majority of prints were made with the Level 4 Quality Options setting and the High-Speed box unchecked. Leaving the High-Speed box checked will roughly halve the printing time.

      Although the actual time it takes to produce each print will vary with the output size, printing speed and quality settings and the density of the tones in the image, the printer recorded the following average times for the different output sizes we tested:
       A4 sheet using the paper cassette feed; print Quality 4 with High speed off: between 3 minutes, 16 seconds and 3 minutes, 62 seconds; A3+ sheet using front sheet feed; print Quality 4 with High speed off: between 5 minutes, 44 seconds and 6 minutes.

      Prints on roll paper measuring 406.4 mm wide varied with the length of paper covered by the image. An image 279.4 mm deep took 3 minutes, 24 seconds. Images measuring 635 mm deep took between 7 minutes 58 seconds  and 8 minutes 42 seconds. Two panorama prints measuring 1,118 mm in length took 12 minutes and 13 seconds and 13 minutes 59 seconds, respectively.

      Print Quality
       Output quality from the printer was every bit as good as we expected from a pigment printer at this level. We obtained some of the best prints we’ve ever produced with this printer, including from shots taken with the Fujifilm GFX 50S camera, the highest-resolution camera we’ve reviewed to date. The results were truly impressive.

      As anticipated, the most attractive looking prints came from matte papers, where media like Epson’s Hot Press and Cold Press papers reproduced the subtle tonal nuances, in both full-colour and B&W images. This was just as true for the GFX 50S images as it was for images from cameras with smaller sensors.

      There was some evidence of gloss differential in prints on glossy, semi-gloss and lustre papers, although only in areas where highlights were totally white. There’s a highlight density control adjustment in the Advanced Black & White that will overlay a fine layer of neutral grey on the print, which goes some way towards suppressing the gloss differential. However, it can’t be used when printing in colour.

      We found no evidence of metamerism, no signs of head strike (which leaves marks on printed papers) and no smudging or banding   on images. There were no feed or roller marks visible in any of the prints we made.

      Ink Costs
      Priming the ink lines uses up between 20% and 50% of each loaded cartridge during initialisation, which uses up just under 230 ml of the supplied ink, which is roughly a quarter of the ink provided with the printer. We’d recommend investing in a set of 200 ml cartridges when you buy the printer.

      With each cartridge priced at AU$139 (RRP), a set of 11 cartridges (including the Photo and Matte blacks) is valued at AU$1529.00 for 2.2 litres of ink or just over 69 cents per millilitre.   This is cheaper than the $1 per millilitre for inks for Canon’s closest competing model, the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we reviewed in February 2016.  

      Without starting with a known quantity of ink, it’s difficult to give ink usage figures based on our tests because the printer doesn’t track ink usage on a per-print basis. Actual ink consumption varies depending on the tonal density of the images you are printing, the paper type you use, how frequently you run the printer and environmental conditions such as temperature.  

      Going on past experience, we estimate the average amount of ink used for an A3 print should be between 2 ml and 2.5 ml, which means a typical A2 print should require between 4 ml and 5 ml of ink. That equates to between $1.39 and $1.74 for an A3 print and $2.78 and $3.48 for an A2 print.

      Epson lists individual cartridges at AU$139 each but if you shop around, some reputable local re-sellers have ink cartridges listed for as low as AU$125.10 each, which will bring your per print costs down a little.

      There are a couple of ways to reduce ink consumption ““ and save money.  The first is by switching off the automatic black ink swap function. At between $2.75 and $3.50 per changeover unwanted changes will soon add up to a significant hole in your budget.

      The second is to plan your printing to minimise the need for ink swapping by standardising on a set of papers that can be printed with either Photo or Matte black. Then print in batches so that when you have to swap you only need to change inks once.

       We didn’t get the chance to look at the optional in-line SpectroProofer UVS spectrophotometer, which was developed jointly with X-Rite specifically for Epson’s   17-, 24- and 44-inch  printers. Launched in late 2014, it provides automated colour management and verification-related tasks for a range of proofing applications.

      It supports all current illumination standards for UV and UV-Cut measurement and is UV selectable between M0, M1 and M2. It’s listed on Epson’s Australian website but without an RRP. (The US price appears to be around US$1200 but it’s difficult to confirm whether this is for the model suited to the SC-P5000 or the older Stylus Pro 4900.) One local reseller has the printer and SpectroProofer bundled for AU$5095.

       While the improvements over the previous model are certainly welcome and the SureColor P5070 is quite economical to run, some features fall short of market expectations for a modern professional printer. Failure to fit a USB 3.0 interface is difficult to explain, particularly as the market is showing a distinct shift towards the even faster USB-C interface in many more portable devices.

      Although the printer has no need for power transmission (a feature of USB-C), USB-C is theoretically twice as fast as USB 3.0, which itself is up to ten times as fast as the USB 2.0 standard. That makes the computer interface for the SC-P5070 sluggish, to say the least.

      Removing the ink usage logging from the job information printout is unfortunate as it deprives users of an easy way to see how much ink was used for each print. This information is handy for basic budgeting but particularly useful to professional users for job costing.

      Aside from that, potential purchasers can be assured they will be buying a printer that is built like a tank, right down to individual components like the paper cassette and roll feed system. The interface is attractive and relatively easy to use and the supplied PDF user manual is comprehensive and well laid out.

      Nobody would consider importing this printer from an off-shore reseller because the cost of freight would price it well above even the highest local prices. And, despite its recent arrival, there are deals to be had from the leading local resellers.

      Epson is currently listing the printer at AU$2995; or $3445 with 3 years of ‘on-site cover’. An additional $450 extends the on-site cover to five years. Note: Limitations apply to the provision of on-site service. According to Epson’s website: Regional locations and certain installation situations may attract additional charges.

      Most local resellers have it listed for between AU$2995 and $2695 (GST included) and some will bundle two to four rolls of paper with the printer at that price, while others offer different incentives to purchase. If you live in a capital city, look for a reseller who will provide free installation plus some basic instructions on key features of the printer. A free colour tune-up can also save you time when calibrating your workflow.



       Printer type: On-demand desktop pigment inkjet printer
       Printing method: Advanced PrecisionCore TFP 10-channel, drop-on-demand printhead with ink-repelling coating technology
       Nozzle configuration: 360 nozzles x 10
       Minimum droplet size: 3.5 picoliters; Variable Droplet Technology can produce up to three different sizes per line
       Resolution: 2880 x 1440 dpi
       Paper sizes:Max. width: 432 mm; max. length: 15 metres
       Max. paper thickness: Up to 1.5 mm
       Sheet media handling: Single Sheet, Top-loading: 432 x 559 mm; Paper Cassette Multiple sheets up to 0.35 mm thick, capacity varies by media, 250 sheet maximum on plain paper; Front Media Path Single sheet up to 1.50 mm thick; left/right & top/bottom margins: 3 mm each side
       Roll media handling: 432 mm wide up to 0.05 mm thick on 2-inch standard core; high-speed internal rotary cutter; auto or manual; printable barcode tracking system
       Ink system:UltraChrome HDX pigment ink; 11-ink, 10 colours
       Ink cartridges:Standard ink configuration: C, LC, VM, VLM, Y, LK, LLK, O, G and PK/MK;cartridge capacity = 200 ml each colour  
       On-board memory:256MB Main and 128MB Network
       Interfaces:Hi-Speed USB (2.0), 1000Base-T Ethernet (1 port)
       Power supply: 100 – 240 V, 50 Hz – 60 Hz AC, 2A
       Power consumption:Printing: approx. 52 W; Ready: Approx. 20 W; Sleep: Approx. 2.0 W (1000 BaseT Ethernet in Standby); Power off: Less than 0.5W  
       Acoustic noise:Less than 47 dB(A) according to ISO 7779
       Dimensions (wxhxd):863 x 766 x 405 mm with exit tray closed
       Weight:52 kg (without ink cartridges; Packaging Weight: 62.5 kg

      Ink cartridge price: AU$139 for 200 ml (RRP)
       Distributor: Epson Australia; 1300 361 054;  



      RRP: AU$2995; US$1995

      • Build: 9.0
      • Features: 8.9
      • Print quality: 9.0
      • Print speed: 8.5