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Gear Reviews

Epson SureColor P400 Inkjet Printer Review || Will it Exceed Your Vision? It “Sure” Will!

By Amii & Andy Kauth on May 28th 2016

Absolutely and without a doubt, we could get into a pretty good discussion (and eventual debate) about the merits of printing your own images. In fact, we have done just that over the past few months as friends and colleagues have heard us go on and on about how we love Epson and their SureColor printers.

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We had the opportunity to hang with the good folks at Epson at WPPI 2016, and we were stunned by the quality of their printers and paper, but maybe more so by the passion that they all had for what they do. In fact, out of all the companies and reps we spoke with, they stood out as having that rarest of passion, i.e. you can tell they love their jobs. They took a genuine interest in explaining to us what they were talking about and why we needed to try out their printers and paper.

Led by Katelyn & Eddie, the Epson crew impressed like no other. And that was the first win for us because when it comes to dropping cash, we want our money to go to quality products and quality people, and we know our readers feel the same!

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[RELATED: RL HANDCRAFTS CAMERA SLING & HARNESS REVIEW]

04-performance-5-stars

We gave the SureColor P400 Inkjet Printer 5 starts for performance because it did everything we asked it to do, and because it really proved to be an easy-to-use printer that not only houses many of Epson’s high-end printer technologies, but also produces prints that rival our favorite online printing lab.

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The P400 utilizes an advanced MicroPiezo AMC 8-channel, 1-inch-wide print head that produces a 1.5 pl minimum droplet size, with ink-repellent coating. It produces images with a maximum resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi, has an 8-cartridge UltraChrome HG2 pigment-based ink set (14 mil capacity), and AccuPhoto HG Imaging Technology.

It also has tech that allows the printer to auto-select black ink, meaning it will move between matte and photo black ink channels – that means you’ll get optimal results regardless of what paper you’re printing with: matte, fine art, glossy, and so on.

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(8″ x 10″ prints: Metallic Photo Paper Luster & Exhibition Watercolor Paper Textured; images sent to us for testing purposes by Justin Haugen of Justin Haugen Photography)

Print speeds are legit. We didn’t print any 11″ x 14″ prints, but Epson claims they print out in 1 minute and 42 seconds. That is believable because we printed countless 8″ x 10″s; Epson reports those print out at 1 minute and 8 seconds, and ours averaged about that.

Connectivity is flawless as well. Its interfaces are USB 2.0, 100Base-T Ethernet, and 802.11n Wi-Fi, and it’s compatible with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, & 7 (32/64-bit) and Mac OS X 10.7-10.11. That basically resulted in the ability for the printer to be on our second floor while our iMac is on the first. Good times for sure: “Hey, Babe! Is that 35″ panoramic canvas done yet?”

Oh! It’s also really quiet and fun to watch (52.8 db[A]):

(Justin Haugen of Justin Haugen Photography sent us an image for one of our panoramic test prints: the above video features his gorgeous  12″ x 35″ canvas print!)

Okay, so you’re new to the printer game and not certain what all that means? It means that this printer slays (feel free to borrow that term). You get an accessible, easy-to-use printer that rivals Epson’s own high-end printers. Period. Professional printing lab quality performance.

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08-features-4-stars

The P400 get’s this rating for features because, well, we’re picky. It has some solid features, but it lacks just a few things we’d like to see on the unit and in the box. Thus, the 4 stars.

The P400 has a top-loading feeder (that takes up to 120 plain sheets of paper and 30 sheets of standard photo paper with sizes from 3.5″ x 5″ up to 13″ x 19″); a roll holder that accepts 8.3″ or 13″ wide rolls (on a 2″ core) and allows for the production of panoramic prints up to 13″ x 129″; a rear fine art path; and a front media path. It will also do borderless prints from 3.5″ x 5″ up to 13″ x 19″. And, finally, it comes with a CD/DVD tray so you can produce your own pro-level CDs/DVDs in your own studio or home.

Epson P400

Epson P400

And we should mention that one of Amii’s favorite features is that it’s only 27 pounds (12.3 kg) so it’s easy to move from room-to-room.

Back to the 4 stars. The control panel is just buttons and LED lights, and that kinda bummed us out. Okay, to be fair, it’s Epson’s introductory printer in their SureColor line, but the P600 printer’s “3.5” tilting color LCD touchscreen” kinda made us hate the front panel on the P400.

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And while the printer allows for USB 2.0 connectivity, it doesn’t actually come with a cable. And for some unknown reason, despite it being 2016 and despite the fact that we own an iMac, we needed a cable to set up the printer. So when you buy one, get a cable just in case you need it. (And when you think about it, if the Wi-Fi goes down, you’ll be kinda screwed without one, friends).

14-design-5-stars

The P400 is all-black and has a modern, sleek design. Despite being a 13″ printer, which you’d think would take up tons of room, it’s as compact as we could possibly imagine. It’s 24″ wide, 8″ high, and 13″ deep.

The roller attachments attach easily, the various trays pull out and go back easily, and, overall, it’s a really nice looking unit.

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Not much else to say here other than Epson designed a rad looking printer. You won’t have any issues displaying it in your home or in a professional studio.

19-quality-5-stars

Other than cost of the unit and cost/print, our main concern was quality. In other words, do the prints look like our images, and do the prints compare to our online printing lab that we use in the day-to-day operation of our business? Yep. Absolutely. No question.

Epson Prints

Epson Prints

Does the quality of the prints have a lot to do with Epson’s paper? No doubt. And Epson hooked us up with Legacy Paper, Premium Glossy Photo Paper, Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster, Metallic Photo Paper Luster, Exhibition Watercolor Paper Textured, and a 13″ x 20′ roll of Exhibition Canvas Natural Matte. (Epson’s paper is of the highest quality, and as soon as you feel it, you’ll get it.)

But we were shocked that a $500-range printer could produce the quality of prints it delivered. We printed over 30 8″ x 10″ prints, over 20 4″ x 6″ prints, and several canvases (from an 8″ x 10″ to a 12″ x 12″ and even a 12″ x 35″) from the cartridges that came in the box (before we even had to change a cartridge). All the prints more than stood up to the prints that we regularly show our clients.

Epson Prints

(Pictured above are photographs printed from images sent to us for testing purposes by Justin Haugen of Justin Haugen Photography.)

We even had the opportunity to blow some of our colleagues’ minds when we attended the recent Arizona Weddings Magazine “first look party” for their 2016/2017 edition and covers. We brought prints from our featured shoot and gave them to vendors who rocked out the shoot with us. Color them impressed.

Epson Prints

24-value-5-stars

5 out of 5 stars. Easy. We crunched a bunch of numbers here, and can barely justify using our online lab for anything that we can now print on the P400, esp. 4″ x 6″ and 8″ x 10″ prints. We estimate that even if you bought an entire set of cartridges, which can reportedly knock out 70 8″ x 10″ prints, you’ll average  (at most) around $3.00-$5.00/print (depending upon what type of paper you use). There are numerous in the Epson Paper line.

Epson Prints

You can currently get your hands on the P400 at B & H for $536.99.

Our only gripe price-wise? There is a $200 mail-in rebate on the P600 right now. That means you can head over to B & H right now and upgrade for a mere $50. And if you’re concerned about cartridges costing more for the P600, it’s fairly negligible because the cartridges for the P400 (14 mil capacity) are $17.99 while the cartridges for the P600 are $31.99 at a capacity of 25 mil.

And did we mention it’s Energy Star rated?

 

34-overall-score-5-stars

Overall, 5 out of 5 stars. Here’s the skinny: as wedding photographers who sell a fair amount of volume when it comes to prints, we never thought it would make “economical sense” to print anything ourselves. Well, Epson has clearly been working hard to change our minds. And when it comes to an accessible, introductory, but high quality printer, the SureColor P400 Inkjet Printer is the way to go! It definitely “exceeded our vision” (to borrow Epson’s own tagline).

Epson Prints

We peppered the article with links to the printer, but you can head over to B & H to get the printer, cartridges, and paper (we definitely recommend getting the Epson Legacy Paper Sample Pack to try out some seriously quality paper!) here:

SureColor P400

SureColor P400 Cartridges

SureColor P600 (The current $200 mail-in rebate makes this . . . just . . . wow!)

SureColor P600 Cartridges

Oh, how we love you Epson Paper!

Epson P400 at Sunshine & Reign Photography

Btw, all images are by Sunshine & Reign Photography. Where noted, we were assisted by the impeccable Justin Haugen of Justin Haugen  Photography. Justin sent us some images to print as we were testing and also kicks major ass! He’s based out of Tuscon, AZ, but will rock a wedding anywhere in AZ (and anywhere else because he’s always down to travel)! Images (and photographs in the images) are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify, or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

 

Amii & Andy are a wife and husband team of rad portrait and wedding photographers (Sunshine & Reign Photography) who absolutely love life and are generally just stoked! Yeah! When they aren’t photographing or writing and teaching about photography, you’ll find them off on a seriously legit adventure with their little ones, lifting weights in their garage, training jiu-jitsu, refining their archery skills, or surfing every chance they get. And on the rare chance they escape off on a “date night”? Yep! They’ll find a wedding to crash (true fact).

Website: Sunshine & Reign Photography
Instagram: @sunshineandreign

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Mark Romine

    I’ve looked at self printing many times over the years and always came to the same conclusion. I can’t get what I want from self printing for my client orders to make the time and effort worth my while. It would be nice for an occasional print for my studio but for studio displays I often want something larger than what can be printed by a printer that is limited to 13″ on the narrow side. I certainly don’t have enough of a need for large prints to justify buying anything wider than 13″.

    For my client prints I want them to be sprayed, textured and mounted for anything larger than a 5×7. This helps to set my product apart from what most clients can get on their own through Walmart, Costco etc. I definitely don’t want to get into the all the hardware for spraying and mounting plus the time to do that. With small prints you are always swapping out paper sizes 4×6, 5×7, 8×10 etc or having to trim them down from larger paper stock or roll paper. I hate trimming and the time it sucks out of my day to do it. In the end, I always come back to the same conclusion it’s a time and money vortex for what my clients want.

    If your business was based around fine art prints where you are selling wall art regularly I could see the value of being able to do this in-house on fine art papers but on a much larger printer.

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  2. Gareth Roughley

    I have the Epson R3000 and recently printed all of our images for a gallery wall at a pop-up market. I love the quality and the ease of having everything ready in studio right away. Granted this printer can take an age to produce even an 8×10 but if you are not in a rush it awesome. Any idea since Epson changed their lineup how this compares to the 400?

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    • Andy & Amii Kauth

      From a quick check, it seems that the R3000 is comparable to the P600. Thanks for checking out the article and sharing your experience, Gareth!

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  3. Richard Bremer

    I’m thinking about buying a photoprinter for 3 years now. Allthough I love the idea of printing my own images, not having to wait anymore on the guys and gals from the lab, the initial setup costs (printer, paper, spare ink) and the fact that I don’t print thát much (once or twice a month I send out a batch to be printed)… Well, I fear clogging of the print canals too. Is there anything that anyone can say to make me sway to buying a good photoprinter? (and yes, we already covered that its awesome to produce your own prints…)

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    • Andy & Amii Kauth

      Personal satisfaction and an (eventual) better return on investment? On the positive: the tech has been improving greatly over the last several years . . . On the negative: you’ll likely have to crunch numbers to see if it’s worth the initial investment (and how long it’ll take to make that back) and there’ll be a bit of a learning curve as well . . . Thanks for the comment, Richard!

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  4. Dave Lyons

    How does this compare against the canon pixma pro 100? With canon giving them away with everything and for nothing, there are tons on craiglist and eBay. Of course they try and get top dollar for them but after a month or so and none of the 200 local ones have sold they can be had for $50-$100 and refills are like $120 but I guess if you pay attention canon quite frequently sells them for like 60% off ( could be wrong on %.. too tired to care but you get the point)

    I’m certainly not a fan of their cameras but this is supposed to be a pretty good printer and like on camera’s I could give a crap what the name on it says as long as it does what i want.

    Someone did a cost analyst on ink and the lil guys you didn’t save much but a 13’x18″ was like $1.84 to print.

    Personally, I’m not buying a really good one until I know wtf i’m doing… printing is a pita lol

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    • Andy & Amii Kauth

      A comment over in the FB group stated they moved from Epson to Canon and got the Pro 1000, which is comparable to Epson’s SureColor P800. The Canon 100 seems comparable to the SureColor P400 (slightly cheaper). If you were going to get your hands on a printer to figure out what you’re doing, we certainly don’t think you could go wrong with sales, borrowing/using a friend’s, hitting up a used printer, etc. Looks like we might need to do an article comparing Epson with another brand. Thanks for the comment, Dave!

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    • Alan Dang

      The Pro-100 is spectacular at the $150-ish craigslist pricing. The Pro100 is dye based which makes it better than pigment based printers for glossy prints. The dyes will layer while pigments do not. The tradeoff is longevity. Exposed to air, you are looking at about 20 years and exposed to light (behind glass) you are looking at 40 years. Pigment printers usually handle 60 years. In an album both the dye and pigment printers have your 100+ year longevity.

      Where Canon beats Epson is the replaceable print heads. Every Epson I had eventually clogged up.

      Cabon also has a nice 16-bit print driver for windows and the automated ICC is good.

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    • Andy & Amii Kauth

      Agree that you can’t beat that clist price, if you can verify it’s in working order. Thanks for the comment and your experience with regard to print heads, Alan!

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    • Bill Bentley

      Hi Dave. I’ve had a PRO-100 for about 1.5 years now. Love it. I print both color and b&w and generally 11×14 and 16×9. It’s not the fastest for sure, but the quality is great imo.

      I researched the refill market and found a very good company. The nice thing about the PRO-100 is that a 12 year old can refill the cartridges. For more info check out: http://www.precisioncolors.com/index.html

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    • Andy & Amii Kauth

      Thanks for the comment, Bill, and the link. We would imagine refilling cartridges voids warranties, but thanks for joining in the conversation & pointing out that option.

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    • barbara farley

      I have the Canon Pixma Pro 100. Directly because of it’s lack of working as advertised, I had to plug it in with a USB cable to my laptop. That USB somehow got wrapped around my chair. I moved my chair and heard the most horrific crash. It was my customized MacBook Pro. You might think this was my fault but I put the beast of a printer where it would be fine for wireless connectivity and it was only after hours of frustration of trying to connect it wirelessly and needing to print something that I plugged it in.

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    • Andy & Amii Kauth

      Wow. That’s terrible. It was definitely strange that we had to set ours up with a USB, esp. given we use an iMac. Cables = *sigh* . . .

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  5. Joseph Ford

    now would you say it a worthy upgrade to the 3880.

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    • Andy & Amii Kauth

      Thanks for the read & comment, Joseph. With the 3880, you’re talking another price level at up to $2,000 + up to $500 for ink (80 mil cartridges granted). The SureColor line is probably more accessible even if you go up to the P800. Price-wise, even if you go up to the 800, you’re looking at $1,200 + $55 for cartridges (also 80 mil). The deal on the 600 makes that the obvious choice. All that said? For about $500, with the 400, you’re getting a printer that will produce professional quality prints at an accessible price, even if the cartridges are 14 mil.

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