Color Inconsistency between Epson Large Format Printers

Date posted: July 31, 2019

This is my dilemma. I have been doing art reproduction for 11 years now. I started out with Epson 9800s. I moved to the Epson 9900/4900 all at once, and we went through a lot of work to adjust all our files, or at least ones that mattered, so that they would match the Epson 9800 color. Moving forward we didn’t need to do this, but for past files we had to do it manually, or reproof.

That was in the early days. Now with the volume we have this would just be impossible.

I purchased the P5000 because my Epson 4900 was having issues. But rather than replace the 4900, I added a P5000 to our network and bought another license for a 17″ printer from Colorbyte Software (Imageprint), so that we could compare the 4900 to the 5000 and figure out color differences. Since that time we’ve found some issues, and we can’t reliably use the P5000 to proof against the Epson 9900s. We also haven’t found any way to do emulation. Imageprint has an emulation mode where it’s supposed to match the color of a different printer. So I can set my P5000 to output like the 4900. The problem is that this simply doesn’t work. It might technically be a feature in Imageprint, but the feature clearly does not work at all. It does nothing at all.

This is why I’m trying to save my Epson 9900 that’s failing, because I still have no reliable way to match colors between the Epson 9900 and the Epson P9000. And nobody has an answer. Not Epson, not Colorbytesoftware, not us. We know of another company locally that is facing the same issue, and it’s a real issue if consistent color matters.

Add to this the P10000, which has no orange or green, and I’m dead sure there will be color issues between the P10000 and the P9900, or the P10000 and the Epson P5000. So not only can we not really use the P5000 now to reliably proof against our current 9900s, but if we got a P10000, then the P5000, which is really intended as a proofing machine, becomes absolutely useless to us, unless we just want to print cards that are slightly more saturated than what clients expect (we figure we can get away with this for cards, but not fine art prints).

For us, consistent color is better than great color. And yet right now we really don’t have any consistency anymore, and Epson’s move to a black with more dmax, while it might be nice, has completely screwed us in terms of color consistency.

We know we can’t go back, but we can’t really go forward right now either, and I’m not quite sure what to do. The P10000 seems nice, because it’s faster and the ink is cheaper, but it adds yet another layer to color inconsistency that we’re not sure how to deal with.

We currently have two 17″ printers and two 44″ printers, and we need them to all be consistent with each other. If I replace one 9900 with a P9000, then I have two large format printers that don’t match each other. I currently have two 17″ printers that don’t match each other, and can’t even imagine the nightmare of trying to have two sets of proofing printers and two production printers that are different.

Right now I really can’t imagine dealing with the color issues of the P10000 in order to have faster printing. Our color would be wildly inconsistent.

Epson, while moving forward with “better” printers, and introduced color inconsistency headaches that we’re not sure how to fix. In particular, yellows and skin tones have a noticable difference between the P9000 and the Epson 9900, or the 4900/P5000. Surecolor, it seems, isn’t so sure after all.

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