Printing photos at home on an inkjet was always expensive, a lot of the time you found something didn’t print right, then you’d need to clean the heads and it was messy, wasted ink and paper. Has Epson finally provided a solution?
I never used to print my photos at home. Well, sometimes I did but I’d avoid it because ink cartridges were expensive, the paper would jam, getting the colour to look right and the print to be ok was a hassle, and then something random would go wrong. I found it hard to print photos at home and get it right first time. And then, there was printing documents at home. Still expensive. So I gave up with inkjet printers in 2010 and used the retailers or professional printers for photo work or graphic design proofing.
Fast forward to December 2017.
But I wanted to try again so I’m trying the new Epson cartridge less system. I’ve chosen the ET-2650, most of what I print has been photos and the results are excellent, easily on par with consumer level photo printing offered at the retailers and a little better really. It uses just 4 ink tanks, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. This is important. I know there are much higher end 5, 6, 8 or 12 colour photo printers out there, that yes will deliver better results by being able to print a broader range of tones, but, I want to be realistic here:
Unless you are hanging photos in a fine art gallery, you don’t need it, and unless you are shooting film or high end digital such as a 5d, Leica, D800 range, Hasselblad or more you won’t pick it if you are shooting with a cheaper camera. Also, I’ve only ever had my photos in a fine art gallery on display twice in 10 years, and then I used a professional printer mainly as I needed A1 size.
But my photos are published in magazines, or flyers very regularly and in that case they are printed in 4 colour, CMYK – what this printer works at. Most of my photos are consumed on the web.
With my day-job printed, they could be in a flyer, otherwise magazines as art, tests, whatever. So I need to make sure I can get them to look great in CMYK. So I didn’t choose a higher level printer because it could have misled me. For graphic design this printer is awesome, if I work fully in CMYK in Photoshop, InDesign, and output a CMYK PDF I can print without the printer doing any colour shifts so I know what ink levels are going to the paper.
Colour spaces is something I really like about this printer. A major hassle is always getting your colours to look like they do in your editing program, as they do on paper. Once installed, Epson puts a new colour space for you to choose to work and export in.
In Lightroom you can select Soft Proofing, and edit your photos, balance colour and exposure to this colour space. Output using it, and then import your files, I use TIFF 300dpi 16bit, into Epson photo print. Wirelessly these files of 500Mb or more transfer to the printer quickly from my iMac and I get a sweet looking print with no visible banding, excellent colour and I don’t feel guilty about experimenting because I have loads of ink.
On that, setup for this printer takes a long time. About an hour. Why? Because you have to fill each tank separately from the bottle supplied. And I got nervous for my white carpet. The printer also does a funky nozzle charging thing.
Now for home documents, if you have kids who want to print lots, this is the printer for you, even for the home office. But if you want to print documents that have the wow factor, a laser printer will probably still be a better choice because of the way toner responds to uncoated paper verses inkjet.
Epson says you can get up to 6,500 A4 sheets from this printer, with the supplied ink. And for A4 sheets from Word or Excel, this thing is fast.
It sits on the WiFi network just fine and lets me print from any device, including my iPhone and iPad. The scanner works just fine, and you can print from the built in SD reader, which incidentally pops up as a network drive on other computers on your network.
So for my personal photos and proofing pictures up to A4 size, am I happy with the $500 Australian dollars I spent on it? Yep.