At Image Science we've been using and selling Epson pigment ink printers for as long as they have been made. We know these machines in an intimate way other companies simply don't, because we don’t just sell them, we use them all day every day, to run a very successful fine art printing business.
We print daily for many of Australia's best known artists, and have a vast amount of practical experience to draw from when offering advice. We've helped thousands of photographers, illustrators, graphic designers, architects set up awesome, accurate printing environments for more than a decade now.
Of course we can help with all your ink, media and colour management needs as well. Most of our clients are repeat customers, because they know and appreciate the unmatched support we offer over the long term.
The best option for serious image makers is most often the Epson SureColor P800.
Unquestionably the best combination of quality, versatility, and cost of use in fine art printing currently comes in the form of the A2 capable Epson SureColor P800.
If your budget for a printer is anywhere near $1500, then consider saving up slightly longer and getting the Epson SureColor P800.
The value presented by the bigger printer means you have to look for reasons NOT to buy one, and really the only good reason would be a hard budget limit.
The P800 has unsurpassed colour and black & white print quality, handles all normal media including thick fine art papers with aplomb, and comes from the most reliable lineage of printers Epson has ever made (the venerable 3800 and 3880 which proceeded this model have proven to be very reliable over the last decade).
While the ink tanks seem expensive initially, the cost per millilitre of ink is noticeably much lower than the smaller models, so the printer is considerably cheaper to run in the long term. Indeed, given that it comes with nine 64ml starter cartridges and the P600 only nine 25ml cartridges, if you do the maths it means given the included ink it's actually cheaper to buy a P800 than the P600!
We think this is pretty much the perfect machine for all serious image makers.
Print quality is second to none, you can print on almost any type of surface at exquisite quality, and you can go all the way out to the very satisfying A2 size in sheets, or with the optional roll holder that is suitable for light roll printing use (if you're planning on doing a lot of roll printing, look to the 5070 below) - prints to 17 inches wide by almost any length.
(If you need to print anything bigger you can of course send it to us to print - since the inks we use are almost exactly the same, you can be confident of nearly perfect matches between your system and ours).
The P800 is unhesitatingly recommended.
Clearly we're fond of the P800, but of course it may not suit everyone, and Epson has two other excellent choices for you to consider in the small format printers range.
The Epson P600 is the A3+ (13" carriage) little brother to the P800, and very similar.
You'd consider this one if you want a pigment ink fine art printer but you're worried you won't have the volumes of printing work to support the P800. (In truth, the P800 inks last a very long time and clogging issues never seem to bother it that much, but if you want a smaller machine the P600 is an excellent choice).
Like the P800, the P600 is highly capable with fine art papers and offers excellent, easy black and white printing as well.
The Epson 5070 is the 'full roll handling' version of the P800 i.e. it's Epson's serious 17" roll printer. It has a motorised roll feeder, suction at the platen, and an in-built cutter - these are the key roll features missing from the P800's accessory roll holder which make the P800 only suitable for light roll printing use.
In addition, the 5070 takes 200ml cartridges, making it more cost effective to run again than the P800.
(Do be aware though that physically this is a MUCH bigger unit that then P800....check the specification to make sure you have a desk big enough!).
Large format printers start at 17" carriage machines, and then typically come in 24 inch, 44 inch and sometimes even 64 inch models.
They are of course all considerably more expensive and are really aimed toward people/studios making significant numbers of prints - these machines really like to be used regularly, ideally daily. But they are very much built to last, and in our printing service we run ours for 8+ hours a day, week after week, year after year.
These are BIG machines - typically they come with their own stand, and 24" models are similar in size to an upright piano, just to give you an idea.
When it comes to choosing a large format printer, it largely comes down to your size needs and budget. Right now, Epson continue to be the clear leaders in large format printers. Their current series of machines (Pxx70) are in our opinion without doubt the best options available once the whole package is considered.
Epson are the current leaders in print quality in general - widest gamut, least gloss differential, low metamerism etc when prints across a broad range of materials are considered.
They have been developing their pigment inks for 15 odd years and compared to the early generation feel of the current Canon and HP offerings, you can really tell the difference in refinement - particularly if you do use a wide variety of materials. All the paper manufacturer's test their papers first and foremost with Epson printers as Epson are the clear kings of this market (70% or more internationally, in some countries well over 90%!).
Epson printers are also easily the best currently in paper handling - the new roll holders are superbly designed, trivially easy to use, and the cutter in the printer is remarkably fast, clean and robust.
Worried about these being difficult to run? Well, they're really pretty easy and for most scenarios the standard Epson driver approach is very effective and simple.
If you do have complex needs, or want to speed up your workflow, we can take you through the popular RIP and pseudo RIP options and help you decide if you really need one. Most places selling Epson will want to sell you up to a high margin RIP, but for a lot of people the RIP ends up being a hefty investment with poor return.
Because we have extensive experience with both the standard drivers and RIPs, we can help you work out what's right for you.
Mirage is probably the easiest software to drive Epson printers. It provides a simple, intuitive and easy to use one-window interface which makes the (often daunting) professional printing process hassle-free. For most people, Mirage is probably the right solution versus a full RIP.
In addition to a really clear GUI, Mirage also offers the capability to remove the standard driver length limits – meaning that you’ll now be able to print on roll media without the usual complexities involved with this kind of printing.
As we don't just sell printers but actually use them all day every day in our fine art printing service, we can help you decide if Mirage or a full RIP is the right way to go for your particular set-up.
Mirage is now available in version 4 and includes new features such as direct image editing, full 16 bit support & loading of custom media.