Review: Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500/ET-8550

ET-8550, shown with ink bottles.

[December 2, 2023: The letter-size ET-8500 is on sale right now on Amazon for roughly $100 off — it’s been fluctuating between $609 and $615 — while the wide-format (13-inch) EcoTank Photo ET-8550 is on sale on Amazon (and other outlets) for $550 — less than the current ET-8500 cost, and $250 off its normal list price of $800.

If you’ve been on the fence about these rather amazing printers, this is the time to jump. After nearly two years of regular use, we continue to be impressed by these printers. They’re the perfect entry point for anyone interested in learning how to print their own photos..]


I was intrigued last year with Epson’s announcement of the EcoTank Photo ET-8500 and ET-8550, the latest iteration of their “supertank,” high-capacity inkjet printers. These were the first EcoTank printers to offer a six-color print engine tuned for printing photos, while also offering high-quality document printing and scan/copy support. Reading through Epson’s lofty marketing language, which talked about “lab-quality color photos and graphics at an incredible value,” it was clear that, if the company followed through on its promise, the ET-8500/ET-8550 could very well usher in a new era of high-quality photo prints, at significantly lower costs than classic, cartridge-based, photo printers.

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Epson P700/P900 review update

Over the past year, I had been hearing reports that Epson had quietly fixed some of the paper handling issues I (and others) had run into with early production models of the SureColor P900 and P700 photo printers, and I wanted to see if the rumors were correct. So, in late 2022, I ordered a new P700 and a P900, one from B&H, the other from Amazon. Epson also loaned me a P700 to test as part of this project, so I felt that I had a good sample from multiple sources.

After months of printing hundreds of photos, ranging from 4×6 to 16×20–and through two recent printing workshops where the three printers were in constant use–it is clear that appears to have fixed the paper feed issues, and I have updated my review of the P900 and P700 to account for the fixes. Epson won’t go on the record to say that something in the feed assembly has been fixed, but they have told us in the past that they are “always looking at ways to improve” their products.

With the updates, it is clear that the P900 (17-inch) and the P700 (13-inch) printers provide the best combination of print quality, paper handling and usability found in the dedicated photo printer market today. Canon’s imagePROGRAF PRO-300 (13-inch) and PRO-1000 (17-inch) are each quite good printers, but they feel like last-generation machines compared with the P700/P900 series.

I’m finishing up a more detailed overview of the current photo printer market, but if you’re looking for the best combination of photo print quality and cost today, the P900 is it. Yes, you’ll pay more for it than the P700, but the more-efficient ink costs will pay for the upgrade in a couple of years. The review has all the gory details, of course.

Review: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300

Canon’s imagePROGRAF PRO-300 is a $900, 13-inch desktop photo printer with nine pigment inks. Introduced in mid-2020, not long after Epson’s announcement of the 13-inch SureColor P700 (and the 17-inch P900), the PRO-300 replaces the Pixma PRO-10 at the top of the Canon’s 13-inch photo printer lineup. It boasts a comparable feature set to Epson’s P700, including flexible paper handling, black-and-white and borderless printing, extensive connectivity options and more. After a few months of testing, I can say that it’s a solid printer with excellent print quality for its class. Like most photo printers at this level, there are a few rough edges in places, but overall it’s a good value, and quite competitive with Epson’s offerings.

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Review: Epson SureColor P700 and P900

Epson SureColor P900

[February 2023: This review has been updated, with a new conclusion, based on testing a group of newer SureColor P700 and P900 models. You can find out specifics on why here.]

Epson bills their SureColor P700 and P900 printers as models that can create “exhibition quality” photographic prints, and that is most certainly true: the quality of the prints that they can produce is second to none in the sub-$1500 market. Replacing two five-year-old models, the SureColor P600 and P800 respectively, the new printers have some important enhancements, including a new inkset that expands the printers’ gamut; enhanced blacks when printing on glossy and other photo papers; and the removal of the decades-old reliance of using a single black-ink channel to switch between photo and fine art media. The new printers are also small and light, which should make photographers with tight workspaces happy. All in all, the P700/P900 represent the pinnacle of desktop-based photo printing that is available today.

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Review: Epson Stylus Pro 7900

In 1999, I tested Epson’s first wide-format, photographic-quality, inkjet printer, the Stylus Pro 9000. At the time, there were a number of companies that offered wide-format proofers and signage printers, and the 9000 competed well in that space, but Epson was as interested in the nascent fine-art printing market, which was dominated largely by Scitex’s Iris printers.

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The Stylus Pro 3800: Still the king

In my Stylus Photo R2880 review, one of the biggest questions I get is not about the quality of the printer, or even comparisons with HP and Canon printers in the same price range. No, it is: “How does it compare with Epson’s Stylus Pro 3800?”

This is understandable: while the R2880 is a very good printer, it does suffer from a few issues, notably the smaller ink tanks and the necessity to swap the matte and photo black ink cartridges when you want to move between matte and glossy papers. The 3800 also requires a switch, but the process is automatic and requires no user intervention. The 3800 does waste a few dollars of ink per switch, which is troublesome, but given the rarity with which people change paper type—and its high-capacity (80ml) cartridge size, this is a lesser issue for many pro users.

Right now, the Stylus Pro 3800 is under $1,200 at Amazon (a savings of $100 or so), while the R2880 is priced around $650 ($150 off the list price). If you’re looking at the two printers, how do you choose between the two? I think it’s pretty straightforward: what follows are some of my thoughts, based on fairly heavy usage of both printers (and nearly every other photo printer in the $300 to $5,000 price range).

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The Printerville review: Epson’s Stylus Photo R2880

Epson’s Stylus Photo R2880, an $800 large-format (13″) printer, enters a vastly different printer market than that of its predecessor, the Stylus Photo R2400. When the R2400 debuted in 2005, Epson owned all aspects of the archival photo printer market, and the R2400’s only real competition was the model it replaced, the Stylus Photo 2200. The R2880, however, joins a market crowded by competitors from HP and Canon, as well as Epson itself: there are now five large-format, pigment-based photo printers priced between $500 and $1,000, and Epson’s competitors have done a superb job of catching up to their longtime rival’s print quality. There are many observers who believe that Epson still has the edge in quality, but there’s no disputing that HP and Canon have put themselves into the game, HP with the Photosmart Pro B8850 (and its older sibling, the B9180) and Canon with the Pixma Pro9500. How does the R2880 match up? Read on.

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Stylus Photo R2880 review: speed tests

We’re continuing to work on our full review of Epson’s new Stylus Photo R2880, which we hope to have online in the next week or so. In the interim, we have been able to finish our benchmarking of the new inkjet, comparing it with its predecessor, the Stylus Photo R2400, and the two semi-pro printers closest to the R2880 in fighting weight: HP’s Photosmart Pro B9180 and Canon’s Pixma Pro9500.

We know that speed is usually a secondary or even a tertiary consideration when looking at photo printers, but, with today’s increased competition, it can be a factor for some people when they’re choosing an inkjet. Below are two charts, noting the print speeds for six different print sizes, ranging from 4" by 6" to 12" by 18" on the R2880 and the other three printers.

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