I send my images to a lab when I need good quality prints for gallery pieces, framing and when I’m selling my work. Personally, I’ve never had a ton of interest in learning all it takes to get the right tones, mess with settings and tweaking images to get the print right. My part of photography is creating the image, I leave the printing to the print experts.
All that said, I was offered the chance to take a test drive of the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550. I have to admit it was fun to see my work coming out of the printer on different types of paper, with little effort on my part.
This printer is geared toward creatives, but not just photographers. Crafters, scrapbookers, graphic designers and those looking for a high-volume solution to printing lab-quality photos and professional graphics will find this printer works well for their purposes.
The Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550 uses a six-color Claria ET Premium ink system coupled with Epson’s high-accuracy printhead technology to deliver 4-by-6 inch borderless prints in as fast as 15 seconds, at a cost of about 4 cents each. Each set of ink bottles provides up to two years of ink, based on an average monthly volume of 200 pages.
It will print 16 black/12 color pages per minute and offers borderless printing up to 13-by-19 inches. The ET-8550 is one of Epson’s printers that is compatible with Epson’s Signature Worthy media line as well as cardstock and other specialty media up to 1.3mm thick. Specifically, you’ll find drivers in the printer that make it easy to print on Epson’s Premium Luster, Premium Glossy, and Velvet Fine Art paper.
Additional features include easy-access front-loading media trays, a high-resolution flatbed scanner, a 4.3-inch color touch screen display panel and easy wireless printing options. It also has available Wireless/Wi-Fi Direct so you can print from your laptop, tablet and/or your smartphone. And yes, it makes copies as well.
It is a bit larger than your standard office scanner/printer which is expected for the 13-by-19 inch capability. You do need a good 12 inches of space behind it when printing with the rear paper loader on the larger paper.
Getting the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550 set up was pretty easy and the directions clear enough to follow. Filling the ink tanks was also simple and clean, with little chance of spilling ink. Paper loading, again, simple and straightforward.
So, my first print attempts, well, let’s just say I had an issue. After printing about 25% of an 8.5-by-11 inch page it would stop. I’m pretty good at troubleshooting technical issues so I just carried on, and thought maybe my Wi-Fi connection wasn’t stable (because that happens often at my house) and tried again.
It wasn’t the Wi-Fi. I did some searching online for the communication error/time-out that was happening. I really wanted to test the 13-by-19 inch printing, but knew there was no way that would work if standard paper size files weren’t making it through. What I found was that the likely culprit was not enough disk space on my MacBook Pro. I was overdue for clearing off my 2020 image files anyway. So, I did that and did not have any more issues printing after that.
When I was having trouble printing from my laptop I popped an SD card directly into the printer and printed that way. It worked like a charm.
Quality of prints
I printed the same image on the three types of paper that Epson sent me, Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster, Premium Photo Paper Glossy and the Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper. In reality, I wouldn’t print the same image on each of these but wanted to see the difference between types of paper.
Color me impressed. Epson says lab quality and I’d say it lives up to that statement. The EcoTank Photo printer creates ‘gallery ready,’ prints, however this printer is not intended to create prints for long-term display or for retail. If you’re looking for a photo printer to create sellable output, look at Epson’s SureColor photo printer line. These were all printed at 240ppi using the standard Lightroom sharpening setting. The print type settings are changed in the print dialogue and the paper type can be changed there and/or on the printer itself.
You can see on the corner of the one print that some ink deposited there. The paper was not completely flat at that corner so I pulled another piece to see if it happened again. The third time it did not, but I also ran the Clean Print Heads function. The hood ornament image was too light/faded looking and there was a dark streak through it on the right side. When I reprinted that one I increased the contrast to +25 and it came out much better.
I chose to use the Epson Color Controls to handle color matching and used Epson Vivid for the color choice when printing color. It took me a few tries before I found the correct settings to change, but I tend to click until I find what I’m looking for as opposed to reading instructions.
Final thoughts on the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550
If I were to buy/own the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550 I would be quite satisfied with how it works and the job it does. Do I print 200 pages/month? No, but you can print up to two years on each set of ink. The value of price per print when printing 4-by-6 inch prints at four cents per print, compared to a lab which is roughly around 30 cents per print. That’s a big cost saver if you print a lot. Epson states that you’ll save about $2000 on each set of ink compared to ink cartridges.
Zero-cartridge waste is a nice environmentally friendly perk to have as well. No more throwing cartridges out or trying to find somewhere to recycle them.
The Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550 is an excellent printer/scanner/copier that can be the perfect addition to your home office, photography business or if you’re just starting out learning the ins and outs of printing. And you can’t beat the price.
I may even start thinking about printing my own images based on my experience with this.
Epson Ecotank ET-8550 All-In-One Printer
The EcoTank Photo ET-8550 wireless all-in-one prints lab-quality, wide-format color photos, graphics and everyday documents — all at an incredible value. Epson’s cartridge-free, 6-color Claria ET Premium Ink system delivers vibrant colors and sharp text for all your creative projects. Print everything from borderless 13-by-19 inch photos to customized CDs/DVDs. You can even print on cardstock and other media up to 1.3 mm thick. For added convenience, each set of bottles lets you print for up to two years. Plus, save up to 80 percent with replacement ink bottles vs. ink cartridges — that’s about $2000 on each set. The EcoTank Photo lets you do it all with affordable in-house printing.