Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer – Part 3

So far, we have discussed the unboxing and set-up of the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer (read Part 1 of our review here), and the document output quality and the Epson Photo+ app (read Part 2 of our review here).

While the Epson Photo+ app does a great job of preparing the finished product, the real test of the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer is the quality of the actual photo output.

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Apple Tech Talk Scorecard

Exceptional quality when using Epson Photo PaperNone
Printer accommodates a variety of media and sized

Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer – Photo Output

The Epson Photo+ app gives you the option of printing a photo in “Standard” quality or “High” quality. We printed the same photo in both options and then scanned them using the ET-8500 scanner set to Photo Mode at 600dpi in hopes that we can show you the difference in quality.

Of course, having to post these photos on line makes it difficult to see the difference, which admittedly are subtle, but we’ll do our best to print them out.

When we did our test of the Epson EcoTank ET-2760 printer, we printed a couple of photos and was surprised at how good they looked. The colors were bright and the detail was excellent. As good as the ET-2760 was, the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 was even better.

Epson ET-8500 - Standard Output
Standard Quality Output

The photo above was taken with an iPhone 13 Pro and printed using the “Standard” setting in the Epson Photo+ app. If you focus on the butterfly you can see the sharp lines between it and the background. The colors on the wings are bright as are the reds in the flowers.

Epson ET-8500 - High Output
High Quality Output

This is the same photo printed using the “High” Quality setting. It’s hard to tell but the colors are just a little brighter. The red in the flowers have slightly more brilliance and the color saturation on the butterfly wings is a little deeper.

If you can’t see the differences, don’t feel bad. These are very small differences and even looking at the actual pictures, it can be hard to pick out the differences. We showed both photos to several people without telling them which was which. They consistently said the “High” quality photo looked a little better but couldn’t say why. They just liked it better.

Here’s the thing, the real purpose of our testing wasn’t really to see the differences within the Epson Photo+ app. Rather we wanted to see if the output of the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 could compete with what we might get from a professional on-line lab or from the corner drug store photo department. To that we say, ABSOLUTELY!

Remember the picture of the parrots in the screen shot above? We printed that out on 8.5” x 11” Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper, and it is suitable for framing and hanging on display. In fact, we placed it next to a photo that was printed on metal which has a high gloss appearance. Side-by-side, it was near impossible to tell which photo was on metal and which was on paper without touching the prints.

We really wish there was a better way to show you the exceptional quality that is produced by the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer. It is by far, the best output we have seen from any printer we have ever used.

Add to that that Epson estimates that the cost per 4 x 6 print is about 4 cents each using an EcoTank printer vs. 20 cents each for Google Photo prints and about 40 cents each using traditional ink cartridges.

Photo Paper is Important

If you look at some of the on-line reviews of the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer, you are likely to see several complaints that the prints come out of the printer with wet ink and the colors smeared if handled. We have also seen related complaints that the ink is not smooth and has small bubbles on the surface.

During our testing we ran out of the Epson 4 x 6 Premium Photo Paper – Glossy which we had been using for our test prints. We had some non-Epson premium glossy photo paper on hand so we decided to load that into the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer.

As we looked at the photo coming out, it appeared to be fine but as soon as we touched it, we knew we had problems.

The ink was, in fact, not dry and rubbed off on our fingers as soon as we picked up the print. On closer examination, we could see that the ink was not smooth. Instead, it was layered above the paper surface with the darker colors creating almost an outline on top of the picture. Even giving it time to dry did not flatten the surface. It was not what we would consider a quality print, even from a non-photo printer.

We then purchased some of the Epson Premium Photo Paper – Glossy at a local store and printed the same photo again. This time we got the beautiful results we expected. The ink was completely dry as it was coming out of the printer. There were no raised surfaces and no quality issues. We also noticed that the colors were more vibrant than when we used the non-Epson paper.

We suspect that the people who complained about the photo output were probably not using Epson paper, which by the way, cost no more than the non-Epson papers that are available.

Just as we recommend using genuine Epson ink, we strongly recommend using Epson photo paper with the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer.

A Little More About the Costs

There is one more issue we should discuss, and that is the total cost of ownership.

If you’re like us, you are used to going into a store and finding an ink jet printer that costs $100 – $200 dollar. You may be taken back when you see that the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer has an MSRP of $599.99.

If you remember our ink cost comparison from Part 1 (read Part 1 of our review here), you will recall that the costs of ink to print 6,000 pages with the EcoTank system was $104.94, while the cost of ink cartridges was $1,198.00.

If you add in the initial cost of the printers, you get this;

PrinterEpson EcoTank ET-8500Competitor Ink Cartridge Printer
Total Ink Cost for 6,000 pages$104.94$1,198.00
Printer MSRP$599.99$129.99
TCO* after 6,000 pages$704.93$1,327.99

* TCO = Total Cost of Ownership

As you can see, there is still a huge cost benefit using the Epson EcoTank ET-8500. Looking at it that way makes the initial purchase cost much easier to understand.

The Bottom Line

The iPhone not only changed the cell phone industry, but it also changed the way we think about photography.  Instead of the low quality photos that used to come from a cell phone, today, we are all walking around with a high quality digital camera.

And while digital photography also changed the way we store and share our photos, we all have those precious moments that we want to print out and display on our desks, walls or give to others.

If you have a need or just the desire to produce high quality photos at home, the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer is a must have.

With its six color ink system, exceptional paper handling and versatility to print on a wide variety of media like documents, photos, card stock and more, the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer may be the one printer that can do it all.

The Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer, Epson 552 ink and Epson Photo Paper are all available from Amazon.

And for those looking to print even bigger photos, check out the Epson EcoTank ET-8550 Photo Printer. It has all the same great features but can print photos up to 13” x 19”.

We would like to thank the folks at Epson for providing the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer for our testing and review.

Do you print a lot of photos at home? If so, what do you think of the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer? Why not join the conversation and leave a comment below.

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  • Lynne Preminger says:

    Dear ATT,

    I have purchased the fabulous Epson EcoTank 8500 that you recently reviewed. I so appreciate your bringing this great product to my attention and giving the careful cost breakdown to make the price tag become reasonable. I am using it to print digital scrapbook pages on photo paper and the results are wonderful. I was originally printed these pages made on on my inexpensive all purpose printer and the pages were washed out and so disappointing. Now with the Epson printer, the pages are bright and vivid as they appear on my monitor.

    Many thanks.

  • Thanks so much for your kind words. We love hearing from our readers and it’s great to know you found our review helpful.

    Like all of the Epson EcoTank printers, the Epson ET-8500 is a great device and we hope you enjoy it for years to come.


    Apple Tech Talker

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