What's the scoop on Epson Stylus Pro 10000 and 10600?

The Epson Stylus Pro 10000 dye and 10000 archival ink wide format inkjet printers are a tad faster and better constructed than their predecessors, the Epson 9000 and 9500. The Epson 10600 is an update that accepts the new Ultrachrome inks.

The Epson Stylus Pro 10000 prints at 720 x 1440 dpi. Thus this is not 2880 dpi, but that does not matter in the slightest. What counts is the speed and actual print quality. The prints we saw at several trade shows looked very nice. The designation is the Epson Stylus Pro 10000 for the dye-based ink version; Epson Stylus Pro 10000 "arc" for the pigmented ink version. In Europe the brochures listed 10000 for dye and 10000cf for pigmented. I guess cf = color fast.

This new printer will be competition mainly for the older Roland, Mimaki JV4 (with the same printheads as the Epson 10000) and Mutoh Falcon II.

The inherent slowness of piezo systems inhibits its acceptance in places that have Encad, Hewlett-Packard, or ColorSpan printers. ColorSpan also introduced the ColorSpan DisplayMaker Mach 12, the fastest printer of its kind until the Kodak 5260 was announced. Trouble is that the Kodak is not yet finished and was withdrawn first from the Print '01 show and then Kodak withdrew from Seybold 2001. The 5260 is not yet ready to be inspected by an inquisitive press. The speed claims for the Kodak 5260 have already dropped from 500 down to 475 sq feet per hour but it turns out that usable output is a mere 170 sq feet per hour. To get the details ask for the FLAAR Report on what happened to the Kodak 5260 and why it is almost two years delayed? What caused the problems with this printer was its overenthusiastic advertising campaign that promised more than any printer could possibly deliver.

It will be interesting to compare the quality of the Epson 10000 with the color depth of the newest ColorSpan X 12 in full twelve color array. At present Epson has the advantage of variable dot and a fine dithering pattern (considered the best that presently exists).

It will also be interesting to see how the output from the 8-color Mutoh compares with the Epson 10600. Mutoh is now showing an 8-color printer (since September last year). This is all described in the latest FLAAR report on "Wide format inkjet printers shown or discussed at Print '01 trade show."

Roland already came out with its 1440 x 1440 model two years ago so it is unlikely to come out with another new model so quickly. Besides, if it takes 2 hours for a Roland to produce one single image at 1440 dpi at 32 passes, how long would it take at 2880 dpi?

Parrot, Epson 10000 wide format printerJust remember, when the ads state "faster" that claim is relative. Being 30% faster does not help much if the printer is slow as a tortoise. Thus 1440 dpi is okay, indeed most users of Epson piezo printheads in general report they select 720 x 720 to make it less slow.

Last year the Hewlett-Packard DesignJet 5000 was the most talked about printer at the trade shows. Now it's the year 2003. It will be interesting to read the pulse of the trade shows this autumn, Seybold San Francisco 2003. Right now the hot printer is this Epson 10600; the most inquired about are the newer Epson2200, 7600, and 9600.

Every printer has its pros and cons so be sure to test drive them first. Neither the 7600 nor 9600 is a replacement for the 10000. The 10000 is not as slow.

In preparation for the new Epson Stylus Pro 10000, the price of the Epson 9000 and Epson 9500 was dropped considerably.

FLAAR recently installed an Epson 7500 and Epson 5500. It is important to have an actual printer in your own facility to really get to know it well. It has been interesting to see the reaction of the office staff who were used to the speed of the HP DesignJet 1055cm and the 300 dpi output of an elderly Encad NovaJetPro. They noted that each printer had its beneficial features: the HP was fast, very fast. The NovaJetPro is too old to seriously compare with newer models but produces acceptable output for its generation. The quality of the Epson 7500 attracts attention but has muted colors on most media. The Epson 7500 turned out to send the image fast even though the resultant printing is a tad slow. The Epson on its driver with USB connection, however, was faster than most internal RIPs. PosterJet is about the only RIP which would be faster.

Output from the Epson 5500 is very attractive. Currently this is the only tabloid-sized desktop inkjet printer with pigmented inks. Downside is that some photographers judged the color gamut of the inks was a tad limited. The printer was phased out in Europe (where the most complaints came from picky pros) and then phased out in the USA too. The replacement seems to be the Epson 2200.

If you have questions on RIPs this is all explained in the FLAAR report on RIPs. However with an Epson you do NOT always need a RIP if you print only photographs or fine art giclee prints. You need a RIP primarily if you require PostScript to eliminate the jaggies on text. If you do really large files, or operate a commercial company, you will eventually need a RIP for its extra layout and color management feaures. But if you intend to use an Epson printer in your home, or for a small retirement business, then you can start out with the bare printer and no RIP (presuming you never need to print text; text requires PostScript; PostScript implies having RIP software).

For additional information and for help making your decision, you can ask for the abstracts of the "FLAAR report on inkjet printers for fine art giclee." If you are a photographer you would probably prefer the report on "FLAAR tips on what printers to select for photo-realistic quality on canvas, photo glossy or photo matte: for home, hobby, photo studio, or commercial use."

The epson 10000 at a print testYou can also ask order the report on "Media and Inks for Fine Art Giclee and Photo-Realistic Exhibit Quality."

These reports cover only true large format printers (24" and above). No reports cover desktop printers.

If this will be your first printer, then we have a special report that holds your hand and leads you through all the basic questions that will assist a first-time buyer of a large format printer. Purchase the FLAAR report on "RIP + Help." This explains what RIP software is, why this is useful, and includes tips, warnings, information, and help for a wide range of matters for a newbie. Here you will really appreciate that FLAAR is based at a university; Professor Hellmuth has plenty of experience writing in a manner that explains what you need, and why.

No, we can't save you from printer problems that we don't know about, and yes, even the worst printer has some redeeming usefulness. Thus you need to make the final decision yourself. But at least we can provide plenty of helpful tips.

FLAAR continues to expand its large format inkjet evaluation center at Bowling Green State University. This facility evaluates inkjet, dye sublimation and thermal transfer printers, RIPs, layout software, inkjet inks, inkjet media, textiles, color management and associated accessories such as digital image storage. This new center will also evaluate input, meaning digital cameras and scanners.

We already have an Iris 3047 giclee printer, Epson 5500, Epson 7500, Epson 7600, ColorSpan DisplayMaker XII, ColorSpan Mach 12, HP DesignJet 2800, HP DesignJet 5000, HP DesignJet 5500, HP DesignJet 20ps, HP DesignJet 120nr, Mimaki JV4 and Mimaki Tx-1600s. This arsenal of printers means we have a bit of experience to write penetrating evaluations. FLAAR also has four other wide format printers concurrently at our other facility in Latin America.

The advantage of a place that offers both Epson, HP, and Epson is that they can provide some tips on the differences. If a store sells only one brand or the other, they will understandably push the brand they sell. One value-added retailer that we have visited several times is Parrot Digigraphic. They know each of the brands and models. Contact info is 978.670.7766.


Most recently updatedAug. 22, 2003
Previous updates:
May 14, 2003, December 10, 2001.