After working in-depth with the letter-size model, the ET-8500, for the past few months, I will say that these printers truly are the most exciting photo printers I have come across in a long time. They have excellent photo quality, flexible paper handling options and superb usability, with print costs that are a fraction of those found in specialized photo printers. The EcoTank Photo printers are not for everyone—you wouldn’t use one of these for gallery-ready prints, for example—but they are perfect if you want to get into printing your photos, and want great output with minimal hassle.
My latest printer review, of Canon’s imagePROGRAF PRO-300, has been posted over on Printerville. Upshot: it’s a great pigment-based photo printer for people looking to get into printing, and probably the best value in the 13-inch desktop market.
Over on Printerville, I posted an item about Epson’s new cartridge-free ‘supertank’ photo printers, the EcoTank Photo ET-8500 and ET-8550. Although they use six-color, dye-based inks — which some folks will dismiss — I still think they’re an important entry into the printer market, especially with regard to keeping the cost of printing affordable. The post can be read here.
My old website Printerville has sat dormant for a few years now, but yesterday, I rebooted it, and put up my first new post in a decade. I’ve tried to keep the look of the new site fairly clean, and it should be a bit snappier than before. I also pruned a bunch of the old content from there, except for a few posts that still come up in Google searches.
Ben and I started the Printerville and Complete Digital Photography sites around the same time, cross-sharing relevant links. With my own ongoing interest in printing, and some of the interest I’ve seen from fellow photographers, it seemed to make more sense to bring it back, so that this site could really be more about photography in a wider sense (and more related to Ben’s books).
In the coming weeks, I’ll be moving the more recent printing-specific posts from this site over to Printerville, and new posts on the topic (including the two reviews I have in the works) will be posted over there as well. I’ll post links to the new stuff here as they’re added.
I ran a website called Printerville for a while in the mid-2000s, but a decade ago, I ceased publishing new work there. The higher end of the desktop photo printer market had matured, and companies were no longer coming out regularly with new models. For example, at the beginning of 2020, the current set of printers from Canon and Epson—HP left this part of market long ago—had been around for five years. Only in the last year has there been any activity in this space, and I wrote a little bit about that here on the site:
With those announcements, I received lots of questions from folks who were interested in the idea of printing, and were wondering about how to even start thinking about buying a printer. I’ve been sending out an email to them witha few basic thoughts regarding things to think about when choosing a printer—or whether you should just use an online print service. Given the constant interest in this topic, it seemed worth publishing here.
Since writing about Epson’s new photo inkjet line back in April, I’ve gotten a lot of email, mostly from readers curious about the SureColor P900, the 17-inch version (and its 13-inch sibling, the P700). I’m happy to say that the first shipments of the P900 appear to be dribbling into the States. Both models were supposed to be available by early summer, but it does seem that the pandemic wreaked havoc on manufacturing and shipping channels.
All that said, I’m not sure about how full the channel actually is at the moment. I have a P900 arriving today, but it was ordered five months ago. I also know of a few other folks who’ve received P700s in the past 60 days, but Adorama and B&H have both the printers back-ordered. My advice to anyone looking for these units would be to order one from your preferred source, to get into the queue. I believe that a big part of the reason they’re back-ordered is that most arriving units are being sent right back out to folks who preordered theirs.
I recently had a discussion about printing with Jeff Carlson and Kirk McElhearn for their PhotoActive podcast. The episode, “What to Print,” covered a wide range of topics: we chatted about how I choose which photos to print, why I feel that printing is important to your growth as a photographer, and what it means to call yourself an artist. It was a fun and lively exchange (and yes, Jeff has finally bought a printer!).
As many readers know, I feel quite strongly about the power of the photographic print. It doesn’t matter if you print to your own device or upload to an online service. In this day of small screens and Instagram, Flickr and 500px, we have lost some of the tactile magic that we get in seeing our photographs on paper. There are times when I worry about what will happen to the snapshots and artistic photos we all take over the course of our lives; the digital ‘shoebox’ just doesn’t feel as real to me as the actual ones that many of us grew up with. (I wrote a piece on my personal blog a few years ago, A Life, Photographed, about why the print is such an important part of our lives.)
Ben and I have spoken with Jeff and Kirk before on PhotoActive, and I love their short, focused approach to podcasts. The episodes are only about 30 minutes in length, and they move quickly.
If you’re interested at all about printing, please give it a listen. As I noted during the episode — and in my recent post about the West photo project — I have been printing quite a bit more recently. I should have a review of the new Epson inkjets later this summer, and I am also working on a short book for CDP Press about printing, which we’re hoping to have out later this year.
Epson this week announced the SureColor P700 and P900 printers, updates to their SureColor 13- and 17-inch, pro-level photo printer line. The new desktop printers offer a smaller footprint; a new pigment-based inkset with 10 inks; improved color gamut; and enhanced connectivity and paper-handling options. In addition — and possibly the most important enhancement for many photographers — the P700/P900 printheads have dedicated channels for the matte and photo black inks, eliminating the previous generation’s ink- and time-consuming process of switching black inks when moving between glossy and matte paper types.
When speaking with students, Ben and I will often talk about the importance of projects as an element in one’s photographic growth. While we tend to talk about this in the context of practicing, projects can take on a life of their own, and can help motivate you, either when you’re out in the field, or simply to get you out shooting. It can also be the type of thing that can fine tune your ultimate photographic vision.
A project can be anything thematic, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be of tangible ‘things,’ although it can be, like Ben’s tree project, which he mentioned in Chapter 9 of Complete Digital Photography (that chapter is available as a free download from the book support page):
One way to make yourself practice, and to breathe new life into familiar locations, is to give yourself an assignment. You can choose a subject—old cars, doorways, local flowers—or maybe a phrase or a word—contentment; no pain, no gain; a penny saved. The subject matter or word doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone else, and you can interpret it any way you want. The idea is simply to give yourself some way to frame your view of your location. Having a specific point of view or photographic goal will often make you see familiar ground in a new way. I like shooting trees, so I keep an ongoing tree project. Often, going out with the idea of shooting trees takes the pressure off; I don’t have to worry about finding subject matter. The world is a big place, and limiting it can make shooting much simpler.