One of the things I’ve done, somewhat obsessively, while spending a lot of time indoors during the pandemic is print my photos. And the printer I’ve turned to again and again to make gorgeous 13-inch-wide prints over the past 12 months is the Epson SureColor P700 ($799), a surprisingly compact device that produces professional-quality photos with a minimum of hassle.
The Epson SureColor P700 was unveiled in April 2020 so while it’s not, exactly, a new printer, knowing the life cycle for Epson’s professional-grade output products, I don’t anticipate the company replacing it anytime soon. So, if you’re in the market for a 13-inch pro printer, you really can’t go wrong with the Epson P700 whether you’re making photo prints to sell on your website, hang for your next gallery show, or for premium proofs to judge image quality.
To learn more about what this 10-ink pigment printer can do, read my review of the Epson SureColor P700 photo printer below.
Design & Build
Professional photo printers, in the past, were large and unwieldy devices that were so bulky there was a tendency to try to “hide” them in your photography studio or workspace. I’m sure I’m not the only one who stuck a pro printer in the corner, put a cover on it, and piled photography gear and books on top so that it was barely recognizable as an output device. That’s not the case with the Epson P700, which is small enough to fit on a large desk or small table, so it’s accessible.
With dimension of 20.3 x 30.3 x 16.5 inches (WxDxH) and weighing 35 pounds, I perched the Epson P700 on an end table close to my computer, so it was always ready to go. Whenever I’d come back from testing a new camera or lens, it was a simple process to transfer my images to my laptop, open Epson’s well designed Epson Print Layout software and start printing out photos. (For mobile photographers, the P700 is also one of the first Epson printers to offer its Print Layout software for Apple’s iOS devices, so you can print directly from an iPhone or iPad the same way you would from a computer.)
While the Epson P700 has pro-level features, you don’t need to be a printing wizard to use them. The P700’s functions can be accessed via an intuitive 4.3-inch, customizable, flip-up touchscreen on top of the printer. There’s also improved support for wireless printing (including 5GHz). One other small but welcome feature: the P700 has an interior light so you can see the progress of your photo as it prints out.
The only thing negative I can say about the P700’s design is that the printer feels a bit flimsy in places. For example, the lightweight plastic used for the front printer flap and the extended supports for both the rear and front paper feed paths, don’t seem very durable. But that’s the price you pay for the cutting down on weight.
Features & Performance
The P700 uses Epson’s 10-ink UltraChrome PRO10 pigment ink set, featuring cyan, light cyan, vivid magenta, vivid light magenta, yellow, gray, light gray, violet, photo black and matte black inks. That’s a solid range of color and my landscape photos really popped without looking too bright. Skin tones in portraits were also warm and accurate in my prints.
The Epson P700 uses a new 10-channel MicroPiezo printhead with dedicated channels for both the photo black and matte black inks. This is a big improvement for saving ink from previous models. Older printers had a single channel for both black inks, so they had to be switched depending on which type of paper you used. This was time consuming and wasted pricey ink in the process.
While you can certainly use ICC profiles, which are a set of specific color data that optimizes photo printing on specific paper types, with the Epson P700, they’re not completely necessary. Epson’s color science has gotten so good, you might want to try skipping this step. Most of the time I just let the printer manage colors itself – which is the default setting – and my photo prints had accurate hues and true-to-life saturation.
Along with adding dedicated channels for both black inks, Epson has improved black-and-white printing overall with the P700. My monochrome photos looked beautiful, and I enjoyed Epson’s Advanced Black and White mode, which lets you finetune your images to get just the right tones. A new Carbon Black printing mode increases Dmax – aka maximum density – so the darkest areas of my photos looked pitch black for a dramatic look with increased contrast.
According to independent testing by Wilhelm Imaging Research, color prints from the P700 have fade resistance/print longevity for up to 200 years while black-and-whites will last 400 years. That’s about average for a pigment-based inkjet printer but still impressive. I was less impressed with the longevity of the reduced capacity “starter” inks that come with the Epson P700, however. They ran out pretty quickly for me.
Meanwhile, “full” ink cartridges for the P700 have been reduced in size to 25 mL for the P700, compared to around 26mL for the previous model, and cost about $38 per tank. Multiply that by 10 for a complete set on the P700, and that certainly adds up. The P700 also wasn’t the fastest pro printer I tested, taking around a minute and a half to output color, 8.5×11-inch photos and about two and half minutes to print out 13×19-inch photos. (The P700 also accepts roll paper and will automatically switch between roll and cut sheets.)
Ultimately though, this type of device isn’t about cost savings or speed, it’s about print quality and the Epson P700 was the best 13-inch printer I’ve tested. My color photos from the P700 were richly hued but not oversaturated, producing excellent results for both scenes of nature and portraits. Black-and-whites had an attractive mix of tones with deep blacks and detailed shadows areas mixing with more subtle gray sections, to create well-rounded monochrome prints.
Plain and simple, the Epson SureColor P700 is one of the best if not the best 13-inch pro photo printer out there right now. It’s also a surprisingly compact and simple to use output device, showing how far pro printers have come from the days when they were big, cumbersome devices you really had to sweat over to get a decent print from. The only major caveat I can say about P700 is something that’s inherent to a 13-inch printer itself. After spending a year making 13×19-inch prints from the P700 on a range of papers including Epson’s top Signature Worthy line and third-party art papers, I started to yearn for wider photos. For that, I’d probably want to turn to the Epson P900, a 17-inch printer released at the same time as the P700 that I haven’t tested yet but have high hopes for.