Epson SureColor SC-P600

      Photo Review 8.8

      In summary

      Like its precursors, the SC-P600 is designed for enthusiast-to-professional level users who want to make large prints on a variety of media, including ‘fine art’ papers, canvas and coated optical disks (DC or DVD). It can handle papers from ‘snapshot’ size (9 x 13 cm) to 0.33 x 1.4 metres, the latter using roll paper.

      ‘Connected’ photographers may welcome the addition of a couple of new ‘flavours’ of Wi-Fi integration, the modest expansion of Ethernet integration and the addition of facilities for printing directly from smart devices and cloud storage.  

      The Matte Black ink has been tweaked to perform better on third party papers. Other advancements include a new print engine and new screening technology for more precise placement of ink droplets.  

      It would be nice to be able to over-ride the tiling setting when printing on non-standard paper sizes. Another ‘nice to have’ option would be fully customisable borderless printing.

      Aside from that, the SC-P600 delivers very high quality colour and B&W output on a wide range of media types. Colours are vibrant and natural looking and there is no bronzing and minimal gloss differential on glossy media.


      Full review

      Despite the new nomenclature, Epson’s just-released SureColor P600 A3+desktop printer is essentially an update to the Stylus Photo R3000, which we reviewed in January 2011. The new printer comes in a redesigned case, which is the same size and weight as the R3000’s. Like its predecessor, it also comes with roll paper holders that can accommodate 329 mm wide rolls on a 2-inch diameter core.  


      Angled view of the SureColor P600 A3+desktop printer. (Source: Epson.)

      Like its precursor, the SC-P600 uses Epson’s UltraChrome  HD Ink with Vivid Magenta ink set, which has nine separate cartridges; five with coloured ink and three black ones. The P600 comes with a set of  ‘Initial’ ink cartridges with lower capacity than the regular cartridges. The printer we received had seen some use before we received it but a comparison of the weight of an initial cartridge that showed as ‘full’ on the ink level display with an unused regular cartridge showed it was about 14 grams lighter.

      Once the initial cartridges have been used, the regular cartridges are supposed to contain 25.9 ml of ink, the same as the R3000’s. The table below compares key specifications of the SC-P600 and R3000 printers.




      Print head

      Advanced Micro Piezo AMC print head with ink-repelling coating technology

      Printing technology

      On-demand inkjet with Variable-sized Droplet Technology, 180 nozzles for each ink colour; minimum droplet size – 2 picolitres


      Max. 5760 x 1440 dpi

      Paper sizes

      Cut Sheet : 89 to 329mm (3.5 to 13 inches wide)

      Roll paper support

      Yes; 329mm wide on 2-inch core

      Max. paper thickness

      1.3 mm

      Ink type

      Pigment-based Epson UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta inks

      Ink cartridges

      Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, Vivid Light Magenta, Light Black, Light Light Black, Photo Black, Matte Black

      Auto switching of black inks


      Cartridge ink capacity

      25.9 ml each colour


      Hi-Speed USB, Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base – TX
       Wireless Connection: Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11 b/g/n)
       Wi-Fi Direct; Epson iPrint Mobile App, Apple Airprint, Google Cloud Print

      Hi-Speed USB 2.0 (1 port), 100Base-T Ethernet (1 port), Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11n only)

      Power consumption

      Printing: approx. 20 W; Sleep Mode: approx. 1.4 W; Power off: approx. 0.3W

      Printing: approx. 21 W; Sleep Mode: approx. 3.7 W; Power off: approx. 0.4W

      Acoustic noise (ISO 7779)

      Approx. 48.2 dB

      Approx. 38 dB

      Dimensions (wxhxd)

      Closed: 616 x 228 x 369 mm, Open: 616 x 424 x 814 mm

      Weight (without ink cartridges)

      Approx. 15 kg

      Most of our tests were carried out the printer on a PC running Windows 7. A Nexus 7 was used to test the Wi-Fi interface.

      The printer was supplied with a sample pack containing two sheets each of seven different ‘Signature Worthy’ papers, all at 216 x 279 mm (8.5 x 11 inches) size. We ran test prints on all of these sheets. We also received a pack of A3 sized Premium Photo Paper Glossy paper and made prints on sheets of Epson’s Archival Matte, Premium Matte and some third-party lustre and matte double-sided papers we routinely use for printing books. Heavier papers were testes by printing on Epson’s Hot Press and Cold Press papers, also left over from previous printer tests.

      Who’s it For?
       Like its precursors, the SC-P600 is designed for enthusiast-to-professional level users who want to make large prints on a variety of media, including ‘fine art’ papers, canvas and coated optical disks (DC or DVD). It can handle papers from ‘snapshot’ size (9 x 13 cm) to 0.33 x 1.4 metres, the latter using roll paper.

      ‘Connected’ photographers may welcome the addition of a couple of new ‘flavours’ of Wi-Fi integration, the modest expansion of Ethernet integration and the addition of facilities for printing directly from smart devices and cloud storage. However, for most potential purchasers, wireless printing will be largely irrelevant.

      Epson claims to have improved the black density the P600 delivers, describing it as ‘the best black density to date from a pigment printer’. The Matte Black ink has been tweaked to perform better on third party papers.  

      Other advancements include a new print engine and new screening technology for more precise placement of ink droplets. Aside from that, there’s little to distinguish the new printer from its predecessor and you pay a fair bit for the ‘improvements’ it offers.    

      In the box
       The SC-P600 comes in a large box, which also contains the roll paper holders, a CD/DVD tray, a printed leaflet with basic instructions for setting up the printer plus the set of initial cartridges. The supplied CD contains the driver software for Windows only plus links to the online complete user manual, plus additional software that can be downloaded if the user requires.

      Mac users are required to download the driver and software from Epson’s website. USB and Ethernet cables are not included with the printer. But a power cable is provided.

      As usual, plenty of protective packaging is included. You have to remove the printer from its plastic wrapping and then tear off the strips of blue adhesive tape that secure anything that has potential to move. Then you pull out the Styrofoam pads in the front of the printer between the pull-out trays and the top panel.

      Once you’ve extracted the printer from the box and removed all the packaging and tape, you can install the ink cartridges and driver.

      Setting up
       The cartridges clip into clearly labelled spaces in a special holder located below the top panel on the left hand side. They are installed in the following order (from left to right): Yellow, Vivid Light Magenta, Light Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Cyan, Light Light Black, Light Black, Photo Black and Matte Black.


       Installing the ink cartridges. (Source: Epson.)

      Driver installation is straightforward but takes between 15 and 30 minutes (depending on your internet connection) as the software has to be downloaded and checked for updates. During installation you are given a choice of three connection methods: Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB. (The latter is USB 2.0.)


       Starting the driver installation.

      Wi-Fi setup and controls are activated directly from the touch screen. The interface is wizard-based and straightforward to use and you can choose between Push-button and PIN set-ups. The screen makes it very easy to enter complex passwords.

      Ethernet connections are also uncomplicated; you simply turn the printer on and connect the Ethernet cable between the printer and the router. The EpsonNet Setup software should list all products on the network, allowing you to select the printer. If the network supports DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), IP address settings can be acquired automatically. Alternatively, the printer has its own built-in web server, which you can connect to by entering printer’s address (obtained from the configuration printout) directly into your browser.

      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.

      Once the connection is made, the installer will check for firmware updates. If it finds them, you will be asked to switch the printer off and on again so the update(s) can be installed. It will then check for software updates.


       Checking for software updates.

      Australian users will have the option to download Epson’s Easy Photo Print, Print CD and E-Web print software at this point. Easy Photo Print provides layout templates to help you print multiple images on various types of paper. Print CD lets you create labels for printable disks, while E-Web print makes it easy to print elements grabbed from web pages. Installation of these applications is optional; the printer works perfectly well without them.

      Having completed these tasks, the printer is ready for use.

      Paper Feeding
       Three paper feeding options are provided. The top auto-feed chute accepts most types of paper and can hold between 20 and 100 sheets, depending on paper thickness. The front single-sheet path is designed for ‘fine art’ papers and thick media. Pushing in the gray bar above the paper output tray causes this tray to drop and extend outwards.


       Roll paper feeding. (Source: Epson.)

      To print on roll paper you must attach the supplied holders to the paper roll and clip them into slots in the rear of the printer. The end of the paper (which must be straight) is fed into the feeder chute until it stops. It will be loaded automatically after about three seconds. (You can check whether it’s been loaded by lifting the printer cover.)

      According to the downloadable user manual, Windows users can print  images up to 3276.7mm long and 329 mm wide using roll paper. Mac users are restricted to 1117.6 mm.


       User-defined paper size limits in the Windows driver.

      Interestingly, the Windows driver lets you specify a custom paper size up to 15,000.0 mm long (15 metres!). Unfortunately, we were unable to test whether it was possible to make such long prints or even evaluate any other aspect of the printer’s roll paper handling as no roll paper was supplied with the printer.

      LCD Screen
       The touch-screen display on the right hand side of the front panel makes it easy to configure and print without a connected computer. As well as showing the status of some operations, many operations can be controlled directly from this panel, which can be tilted to make it easy to view.

      Some functions, such as the Wi-Fi connection and ink saving setting, can only be accessed this way. Display options include the following:

      1. The media loading guide, which lets you specify the type and size of media that will be used. These settings will be over-ridden by the printer driver so they’re only useful when printing via one of the direct methods (Wi-Fi, etc.). This display will also notify you when paper is loaded out of alignment.


       The main screen of the LCD, showing the paper loading guide.

      2. The ink levels display provides a quick reference showing the levels of the various ink cartridges.


       The ink level display.

      3. Black ink changing can be initiated from the screen. The main menu includes an auto setting plus a notice telling you a swap-over is needed. You can turn off the auto setting and confirm or cancel the swap. A new ink saving setting in the set-up menu conserves ink during the swap-over, reducing wastage to a claimed one millilitre each way instead of about 4 ml for the round trip.

      4. Printer settings and maintenance messages will pop up when necessary. Messages include printer errors, paper jams, open cover warnings, functions that aren’t available and notification when the ink pad (which absorbs stray ink droplets that get sprayed inside the printer, particularly during borderless printing) needs to be replaced. Note: the ink pad is not user replaceable.

      5. You can also print a report listing current printer settings directly from the touch screen.

       The Windows driver we used is very similar to the drivers provided with other Epson photo printers. It includes ‘canned’ profiles for a limited number of paper types, covering both plain paper, photo papers (glossy, lustre and matte) and Epson’s most popular ‘fine art’ media. Selecting a particular paper type locks you into certain speed and quality settings and determines whether you can make borderless prints.

      For photo printing, three output quality options are available in the Quality Options sub-menu: Level 3 (1440 x 720 dpi), Level 4 (1440 x 1440 dpi) and Level 5 (5760 x 1440 dpi). Below the Quality/Speed slider is a check box for switching High Speed on and off.

      The settings you use affect production speed and ink usage more than output quality. We were unable to see significant differences in the appearance of prints made at the three quality settings and it didn’t seem to matter whether the High Speed was on or off with the two highest quality settings, although there was a slight loss of density in the darker tones when the Level 3 setting was used at high speed. If you want the best ink economy, choose the Level 3 setting but turn the High Speed off.

      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 Custom paper sizes. If the input paper size is even slightly larger than a standard size (like A4 or A3+) it will attempt to print in tiled format, breaking up the image for printing on separate sheets of paper.

      You can’t over-ride tiling manually (there’s no option in the driver) and we found it frustrating and time-wasting working through different settings and paper orientations until we found one that worked. In one case we had to load the paper in landscape orientation before we could print an image on half an A3+ sheet of paper.

      Almost all of our prints were made through Photoshop as we feel this is the method most users will favour. We made a couple of small prints wirelessly from a Nexus 7 tablet and found the Wi-Fi setup to be relatively straightforward and similar to previous printers with like capabilities.

      While it might be handy to make the occasional print from images stored in the Cloud, we don’t see wireless printing as an essential feature in a high-end printer for serious photographers. And printing from a distance would require you to have the printer switched on and ready to go when you wanted to use it.

      Making multiple prints would also require you to have a stack of papers in the printer, which creates its own set of issues. We were able to stack 20 sheets of A4 or similar-sized paper in the main paper feed slot and print one after the other ““ at least for a while. But the output tray was unable to cope with more than two or three sheets at a time and subsequent sheets were pushed off.

      In addition, after printing 15 sheets from the stack without problems, the printer fed subsequent sheets straight through without printing on them and posted an ‘out of paper’ message. Each of these sheets had a small indentation near the centre that prevented them from being used subsequently for anything other than making test strips. When we swapped to feeding in single sheets, they were printed without problems.

      In use, the SC-P600 is relatively noisy; its specs show it to be about 10 decibels louder than the R3000. During both spooling and printing it frequently makes a series of whirring and clicking sounds that can be disconcerting if you don’t expect them.

      Switching between Photo Black and Matte Black inks took about 1.5 minutes with the default settings and used up 4 mL of ink. It took roughly twice as long to go from Matte Black to Photo Black with the same ink usage.

      The change-over time was similar with the ‘Save Ink’ setting on. There’s nothing about this setting in the downloadable user manual for the printer, which is disappointingly basic in nature and not particularly helpful. You have to select the Save Ink setting via Setup sub-menu on the LCD screen.

      Ink usage is supposed to be halved with this setting, although only when swapping from Matte to Photo Black; there are no savings going in the reverse direction. While we could see a slight drop in the ink level at switch-over with the default setting, it wasn’t obvious when the  ‘Save Ink’ setting was on so we assume it works as claimed.

      We ran tests to see how long it took to produce prints with various paper sizes and speed and quality settings. In all cases, the Borderless option was switched off.

      We measured the following printing times for different output sizes and speed and quality settings:

      A4 sheet at Quality 3 with High speed on: 1 minute, 28 seconds;

      A4 sheet at Quality 4 with High speed on: 2 minutes, 2 seconds;

      A4 sheet at Quality 4 with High speed off: 4 minutes, 12 seconds;

      A3 sheet at Quality 3 with High speed on: 2 minutes 42 seconds;

      A3 sheet at Quality 4 with High speed off: 7 minutes 25 seconds;

      A3+ sheet at Quality 4 with High speed on: 3 minutes 12 seconds;

      A3+ sheet at Quality 4 with High speed off: 8 minutes 38 seconds;

      We had to turn off the Paper Skew Check setting   before we could successfully print on heavier ‘fine art’ media. This setting uses sensors to detect whether the paper is being fed in slightly askew. We found the default setting was a bit too sensitive and posted error messages when the paper was correctly aligned.

      Although we had a limited supply of papers for testing, subsequent sheets of heavier media passed smoothly through the front manual feed slot with the  Paper Skew Check switched off.

      Aside from the issues outlined above, we had no problems with feeding single sheets of paper at standard page sizes and printing double-sided pages. There were no instances of head strike during our tests and inks dried quickly and evenly.

      Print Quality
       Output quality from the printer was every bit as good as we expected from a pigment printer   at this level and price point. Quality differences between prints from the P600 and the R3000 it replaces appeared to be effectively negligible.

      As anticipated, the best overall quality was achieved by printing on matte papers, where the higher-quality ‘fine art’ media produced particularly attractive prints. B&W prints made through Epson’s Advanced Black & White driver contained truly neutral greys, which could be subtly toned with the  cool, warm and sepia settings in the driver, which are fully adjustable.   Brightness and contrast can also be fine-tuned.

      Colour images printed on Epson’s Premium Photo Paper Glossy showed gloss differential (discontinuities in tonal boundaries. It wasn’t obvious when prints were viewed straight-on but showed up when they were viewed at an angle. Gloss differential also affected prints made on Premium Lustre paper, although to a lesser extent, since the dimpled surface disrupts the discontinuities.

      Gloss differential is a common issue when pigment inks are used on glossy and semi-gloss media. Canon’s PIXMA PRO-1 and PIXMA PRO-1oS printers  use a  Chroma Optimizer resin to overcome this problem (and also reduce metamerism). Metamerism wasn’t an issue with prints from the SC-P600.

      Ink Costs
       We were unable to calculate actual ink usage because we didn’t start with a new set of cartridges. Also, ink usage varies with different images; high-key images require much less ink to print than low-key ones.


       The initial status display at the start of our printing tests.

      As a result of making a lot of prints, we have a good idea of relative ink usage rates with respect to different colours. The first cartridge to be depleted in our tests was the Vivid Light Magenta (T7606) after the equivalent of 34 A4 prints. By weighing the cartridge before we started printing and again after the ink ran out we estimate approximately nine millitres of Vivid Light Magenta was used up making these prints.

      The Light Cyan (T7605) was the next to run out, after 11 more prints, followed by the Light Black (T7607) after six more prints. The Light Light Black (T7609) ran out after two more prints but the printer kept going for another 30 more prints before the ink ran out.


      The first low ink reminder.

      The printer displays warnings before each ink cartridge is depleted. We found we could keep printing and expect to obtain between seven and ten A4 prints before having to replace the cartridge. Each time, the Replace Cartridge warning was displayed before a new print could be started so you need not worry about ink running out when you’re half way through a print.


       The Replace Cartridge warning.

      The RRP (recommended retail price) for the T760* cartridges is AU$47.99, which means a complete ink set for the SC-P600 amounts to AU$431.91 for 233.1 ml (assuming each cartridge contains the specified 25.9 ml). This works out at $1.85 per millilitre.

      By comparison, the 35 ml cartridges for the Canon PIXMA PRO 1 are AU$41 (RRP) and provide nine millilitres more ink. A set of cartridges for the Canon PIXMA PRO 1 costs AU$405.50 for 350 ml of ink, which is $1.16 per millilitre. (Interestingly, in North America, the Epson cartridges are cheaper than the Canon ones, selling for US$31 and US$36 respectively.)

       Although it’s a very capable A3+ desktop printer that will suit many serious photo enthusiasts, the SC-P600 isn’t a real game-changer. Although the P600 includes a slightly revised ink set, a few more interface options and uses slightly less power, if you already have an R3000 that is working well, there’s no real need to upgrade.

      Both printers appear to have identical drivers and, although their cartridges are different, both have the same ink capacities (which means fewer interruptions in long printing runs). Both support roll paper printing and come with in-built Wi-Fi. The footprints of both printers are identical, as are their weights.

      The R3000 is still listed on Epson’s website at an RRP of $800 but it’s been reduced to $550 on the local online ‘shop’ (although it was ‘not in stock’ the last time we checked). Canon’s PIXMA PRO-1 has similar specifications and communications facilities to the SC-P600 and a similar price tag. Although it does not support roll paper printing, its cartridges hold roughly 9 ml more ink than the SC-P600’s for roughly the same price.

      The 12 cartridge ink set for the PRO-1 includes an additional red ink cartridge plus one containing Chroma Optimiser, a clear resin for protecting and enhancing images by applying a clear coat over the printed surface. Epson’s pigment inks are Micro Encapsulated which provides a protective surface. All three printers support ICC profiles and can print on regular and thicker ‘fine art’ media.

      It would be nice to be able to over-ride the tiling setting when printing on non-standard paper sizes. Another ‘nice to have’ option would be fully customisable borderless printing.

      Aside from that, the SC-P600 delivers very high quality colour and B&W output on a wide range of media types. Colours are vibrant and natural looking and there is no bronzing and minimal gloss differential on glossy media.



       Printer type:Consumer pigment-based A3+ inkjet printer
       Printing method: Epson Micro Piezo On-demand Inkjet print head
       Minimum droplet size:2.0 picolitres with Variable-Sized Droplet Technology
       Resolution: 5760 x 1440 optimised dpi using Resolution Performance Management (RPM) Technology
       Paper sizes:  9 x 13 cm up to 32.9 x 48.3 cm (A3+) sheets plus 329 mm wide roll paper on 2-inch core; CD/DVD   printing supported
       Max. paper thickness: 0.3 to 1.3 mm for sheets; 0.08 to 0.3 for roll paper
       Ink system: Epson UltraChrome  HD Ink with Vivid Magenta (Auto switching system for Photo Black and Matte Black
       Ink cartridges: Photo Black, Matte Black, Light Black, Light Light Black, Vivid Magenta, Vivid Light Magenta, Cyan, Light Cyan, Yellow (  25.9 ml capacity)
       Interfaces: Wired Connection: Hi-Speed USB, Ethernet 10BASE-T/100BASE – TX
       Wireless Connection: Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11 b/g/n); Wi-Fi Direct; Epson iPrint Mobile App to support Apple Airprint, Google Cloud Print
       Power consumption:  Approx. 20W (printing mode); Sleep mode: Approx 1.4W (240V); Power OFF: 0.3W (240V)
       Acoustic noise: Approx. 48.2dB according to ISO 7779
       Dimensions (wxhxd): 616 x 228 x 369 mm (closed); 616 x 424   x 814 mm (open)
       Weight: 15 kg (without AC cable and bundled ink cartridges)



      RRP: AU$1499; US$800

      • Build: 9.0
      • Features: 8.8
      • Print quality: 8.9
      • Print speed: 8.5