The ZEDOnet Blog
In our blog we would like to inform you about the latest from the ZEDOnet development department - e.g. about new printers, new technologies or other interesting topics.
We are often asked by our customers for our recommendation for a new printer purchase - after all, we have adjusted and calibrated almost every device supported by TurboPrint and PrintFab on site. It is of course not the task of our support to recommend certain devices. Instead, we would like to report in this blog from time to time about our experiences with one or the other printer that somehow caught our eye.
News from the ZEDOnet "Laboratory"
Epson SureColor SC-P700 und EcoTank ET-8550
This year we find two current Epson printers particularly interesting, namely the Epson SureColor SC-P700 from Epson's range of professional photo printers and the Epson EcoTank ET-8550 as the new photo specialist, which as a "bottle printer" is very cheap in terms of consumption costs.
Both devices can achieve excellent printing results, but there are clear differences in the ink systems: The SureColor SC-P700 uses the high-tech pigment ink "Ultrachrome Pro" in 10 colors, the EcoTank ET-8550 uses a simpler dye-based ink from bottles in 6 Colors including gray, which is important for black and white printing.
This results in significant differences in the ink costs - per milliliter, the Epson ink for the SureColor SC-P700 costs five times as much as that for the EcoTank ET-8550. To be fair, the dye-based ink in the ET-8550 is nowhere near as fade resistant as the pigment ink in the SC-P700.
What both printers have in common is that they can print on paper up to 13" wide / Super A3 format, thick media up to approx. 1.5mm thick and CD/DVDs and, thanks to the use of gray ink, are also suitable for high-quality black and white photos. The color space of both devices completely covers the ISO Coated color space, which is important for proof prints.
In addition to the different ink technology, the following differences are also important: The SureColor SC-P700 can also process roll paper, the EcoTank ET-8550, as a multifunctional device, has a scanner up to A4 format and duplex printing.
The printers are supported in our software PrintFab macOS from version 2.97, PrintFab Windows from version 1.17 and TurboPrint Linux from version 2.52.
Now about the two printers in detail:
Epson SureColor SC-P700 / Epson SureColor SC-P900
The Epson SureColor SC-P700 is the successor to the SureColor SC-P600 and differs from it by the additional color violet and a print head that is designed for 10 instead of 8 colors. The new print head now has its own nozzles for all colors, finally eliminating the annoying switching between photo black and matt black with high ink consumption, which was necessary with the previous models Stylus Photo R2400, R2880, R3000 and SC-P600.
Also new is the compact case, which should look appealing with its clear contours. A very nice detail is the window to the print head, which is illuminated during the printing process.
In addition to the SC-P700, there is also the larger SureColor SC-P900 model, which is almost identically equipped except for the larger maximum paper format of up to A2 / 17 inches and also delivers the same print quality.
The SC-P700 uses ink cartridges with pigmented Ultrachrome Pro ink in the colors photo black, matte black, cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, light magenta, grey, light gray and violet. The special color violet expands the color space with intense blue and violet tones.
At the back there is a fold-out roll paper feeder for paper up to 43cm / 17 inches wide. When developing the driver, we often had problems inserting the roll paper straight into the printer - the printer reports if the alignment is not correct.
On the front there is the option of inserting paper up to 1.5mm thick or a CD/DVD tray.
Epson EcoTank ET-8550 / ET-8500
The Super A3 size printer ET-8550 does not have classic ink cartridges, but refillable ink tanks that are filled with ink from bottles. It is also available as a smaller model, the ET-8500, for prints up to A4 format. The ink bottles each contain 70ml and thus about three times the amount of ink as the cartridges of the SC-P700 (25ml). As mentioned at the beginning, the costs for the ink are about one fifth - this results in very low running printing costs. But the printer also costs a little more than the SC-P700 and the printouts are not as long-lasting because more light-sensitive dye ink is used instead of pigment ink. In any case, paper with light protection should be used for longer-lasting printers.
In addition to cyan, magenta and yellow ink tanks, the printer has two black ink tanks - a larger one containing pigmented black for printing on plain paper and a smaller one containing "photo black" which is used when printing on matte inkjet paper and glossy photo paper. In addition, this printer also has the ink color gray. The ET-8550 is the first EcoTank printer that can also print color-neutral black and white photos, since it does not have to mix lighter shades of gray from yellow, magenta and cyan, as is usually the case.
A paper cassette of the ET-8550 takes up to 100 sheets of formats up to A4, a second cassette is available for photo paper up to 13x18cm. Larger paper formats are inserted via the rear feeder.
The duplex unit for automatic double-sided printing up to A4 format is located on the back of the device. Instead of the duplex unit, the feeder for cardboard paper up to 1.3mm thick can be used.
This printer can also be used to print on CD/DVD data carriers.
As a multifunction device, the ET-8550 also contains a scanner, which, however, only accepts formats up to A4 or legal (216x355mm).
The EcoTank ET-8550 uses dye-based inks (except for the pigment black for printing on plain paper), which are less lightfast than the pigment inks used in the Epson SureColor printers.
However, the dye-based inks also have an advantage, namely more beautiful print results on glossy photo paper - the ink penetrates the paper and is therefore scratch-resistant and provides a perfect gloss - pigment ink, on the other hand, remains on the surface of the paper and sometimes creates an annoying "bronzing" -Effect, ie uneven shine.
Color and Print Quality
The printing units of the two printers are similar - 180 nozzles per color, 5760x1440dpi maximum resolution, 1.5 picolitre minimum droplet size. This means that the printers are also about the same in terms of printing speed.
During the measurement and color profiling and the subsequent photo test prints, we were able to certify that both devices have a high color quality and print quality.
The color space is shown three-dimensionally on the graphics - on the left SureColor SC-P700, in the middle ET-8550 when printing on Epson Semimatte Proof Paper and on the right for comparison the offset printing color space ISOCoated v2. Both printers completely cover the "ISO Coated" print shop color standard and are therefore also suitable for "proof prints". As expected, the SureColor SC-P700 with its higher-quality inks has a slightly larger color space, with the violet ink in the blue-violet range, but also in the green and yellow range. The difference is hardly noticeable in normal photo printing, but the additional color space can be helpful for graphic artists, for example when printing Pantone process colors.
Another quality feature in photo printing is the intensity of black, which determines the image contrast that can be achieved. Here, too, the SureColor SC-P700 with an optical density of D=2.5 is ahead of the EcoTank ET-8550 with a value of D=2.3.
When printing black-and-white photos, both devices are characterized by neutral gray values that tend to have little "metamerism", whereby the SureColor SC-P700 prints somewhat more color-neutrally. Under the magnifying glass you can see that the SureColor SC-P700, thanks to its two gray inks, prints a bit more evenly and thus almost without a visible grid.
Einfluß der Beleuchtung auf den Farbton, Simulation durch Messung mit Spektrometer und anschließende Visualisierung
The metamerism or the influence of the lighting on the color tone of the printer is shown in the graphic above (simulation through measurement with a spectrometer and subsequent visualization): The normally visible color cast in artificial light is hardly present with both printers, the SC-P700 is even better (for example For comparison see our test of the EcoTank ET-7750)
For more information and the detailed specifications of the devices, visit the EPSON website.
The Epson SureColor SC-P700 (RRP approx. €750) and the larger, largely identical model SC-P900 are among the best photo printers currently available in the range up to 13" (Super A3) or 17" (A2). However, you pay for the excellent color quality and lightfastness of the printouts with high printing costs and the handling of the many color cartridges is complex - the user has to keep an eye on 10 different color cartridges and buy and replace them if necessary.
The Epson EcoTank ET-8550 (RRP around €850) and the smaller ET-8500 are the first photo printers with inexpensive bottled ink including gray ink, which also makes them attractive for black and white photographers. Thanks to the two black inks, photo black and matt black, they are suitable not only for photos and fine art prints, but also for good prints on normal paper. The duplex unit and the integrated scanner complete the equipment, so that you don't need an additional office printer.