The New Epson Ecotank Printers are For the Home Office Photographer

There are brand new Epson printers using their EcoTank technology, and Epson targets them at photographers who work from home.

There truly is an odd divide in printing. If you want to print high-end images, then you need a high-end photo printer. Then if you need to just print documents, you need a different printer for that. But with the new Epson Ecotank printers, Epson wants to do it all in one. Better yet, they’re eliminating ink cartridges. The company’s Ecotank printers have been around for years. But these new ones are catering directly to photographers. The Epson ET-8500 and the Epson ET-8550 are both designed for home office photographers. These are dye-based printers, not inkjet-based. That fact alone may draw some hard lines on who uses these.

The Facts

  • Epson ET-8500 handles 8.5 x 11 paper. When printing, it’s 15.9 inches by 24.1 inches by 13.7 inches.
  • 1.3mm thick paper
  • Epson claims that you’ll save around $2,000 on each set
  • Epson claims you can print for up to two years
  • Use Epson’s apps to print
  • Touch display at 4.3 inches
  • Both printers use six colors: Black, matte black, grey, blue, yellow, and magenta.
  • The Epson ET-8550 can print up to 13 inches by 19 inches at 1.3mm thick. When printing, it’s 20.6 inches by 29.8 inches by 16.9 inches.
  • These are all-in-ones: a photo printer, scanner, document printer.
  • The Epson reps talked about using it to scan film too!

Dye vs. Inkjet

This is where I expect almost every photographer to become very polarized. Truthfully, I don’t know a single working photographer that uses dye ink. But some companies try to get you to do the dye sublimation process. And you can do that with Epson’s Eco Tank printers. The Epson ET-8500 and Epson ET-8550 are, again, both Eco Tank printers. But dye ink really only looks good on very glossy paper. If you’re wondering about what this looks like, think of the prints you get at Costco, Walmart, Walgreens, etc. They’re very glossy, and the texture of the paper feels almost like a plastic coating. Inkjets, on the other hand, are typically hung in museums and galleries. By all means, I think that every self-respecting photographer wants the latter. But the former is great for retail, commercial uses, and for selling prints on location. 

Every time I think about dye inks, though, I sort of shudder. Dye inks and the papers themselves aren’t really the problem. It’s more of the connotation and the use cases. Would you really want to give someone a lasting print that was made at Costco? Or would you go to a specialist printer to do it? Most of you who print are probably the latter. In fact, Epson’s Legacy paper is some of the best I’ve ever used–and it’s designed for an inkjet. Dye ink, again, really only looks good on glossy paper. And glossy prints come with their own set of problems. For starters, they only look good with indirect light. Once you shine a light directly on them, they reflect it. So typically, you have to light a glossy print from above. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean that they can’t look gorgeous. In fact, they surely can! But I don’t think that I’d personally trust six ink tanks vs. maybe 17 ink cartridges to create a print. But the new Epson ET-8550 and Epson ET-8500 are more for a different type of photographer. They’re giving you the convenience of not needing ink cartridges. These prints will also scan your film. 

I have yet to really try one, but I’m not very sold yet. Epson’s interface is light years ahead of Canon’s, though. So they have that surely going for them.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.