My Epson R2880 printer did not survive the move to our new home. The trouble shooting table in the manual said the pattern of flashing lights on the printer indicated that it should be sent to Epson for repair. An online search confirmed my guess that it was actually complaining that the maintenance tank was full. Epson says the tank it is not user replaceable. Given that, and the increasing difficulty I was having getting the printer to feed heavier papers, even after running inkjet cleaner sheets through it multiple times, I decided that it was time for a new printer.
My wife and I have photographic prints of both her relatives and mine dating back to the 1890’s. The only way photographs of our current generation can possibly be seen by our descendants 120 years from now will be as prints. So print permanence is of primary importance to us. Given that I no longer have the room, or the attention span, to make darkroom silver prints a pigment inkjet printer is the only practical solution. I do not make big prints (8 x 12 max), and we live in small quarters, so the size of the printer is an issue too.
I was very happy with the Advanced Black & White (ABW) mode of the R2880. The best inkjet prints I made with the R2880 far surpass the best wet prints I made back in my darkroom days. I scanned some of the negatives I wet printed 50 years ago, made new inkjet prints, and showed both the old and the new print to family members for comparison. Without exception they prefer the inkjet prints.
Before the move to our new home I read about Epson’s new P700 and P900 printers that seemed to offer some incremental improvements on the P600 and P800 but, more important for me, were substantially smaller. The 17” P900 was not much bigger than the 13” P600 and the 13” P700 was a lot smaller than my 13” R2880. I thought the P700 might be a good choice when I eventually replaced the R2880. Little did I know that eventually was now.
I am reluctant to buy new models of anything incorporating computers or other electronics when they are first introduced. I like to let the early purchasers be the beta testers and give the manufacturer time to work out any early issues. I thought long and hard about my printer problem. It was eventually the smaller footprint of the P700 that settled the matter. I ordered a P700 from B&H.
The P700 started right up and printed a test page with no issues. As I expected, the smaller size made it easy to find a place for it on a small table next to my computer workstation. Connecting it to my iMac through our wi-fi network help reduce the tangle of wires I had with a similar setup in our old home. I thought being able to print from our other devices via wi-fi would be a nice feature; the old R2880 connected only through a USB cable. But by the time we walk to my workroom, turn on the printer, put paper in it and wait for it to be ready to print we could easily connect the device to the printer with a physical cable.
One new feature of the P700 turned out to be a bigger deal than I anticipated. Unlike all of Epson’s earlier 13” ABW compatible printers the P700 has separate slots for both the matte black and the photo black ink cartridges and can switch back and forth between them with no waiting, and no wasted ink. More than once with the R2880 I made a print on a paper I would not have chosen otherwise because the “wrong” black ink cartridge was installed. I can now print a proof sheet with photo black ink on luster paper and immediately make an 8 x 12 print of one of the frames with matte black ink on matte paper.
Epson also released new Epson Print + and Epson Print Layout for the P700 but I haven’t played with them enough to comment intelligently. If anything interesting turns up I’ll report on it here.