By Don Lindich
Week 33, 2019
Q. I would like to start printing photographs at home. Can I get the same quality at home as I get from the drugstore or an online service? What about the expense?
-J.T., Bethel Park, PA
A. When I first started writing the column back in 2002 I got lots of questions about printers, especially color inkjets for printing photographs. In recent times people tend to get photo prints from the store, and yours is the first printer question to come in for a good while. My recent columns about cameras and photography generated a lot of questions about the subject, and I am glad to see the renewed interest.
A professional-quality photo printer that uses eight ink colors can easily exceed the image quality you get from most stores and services. This was the case years ago, and still holds true today. I have a beautiful Epson Stylus Photo 2200 printer from 2004 that still makes some of the best photographic prints I have ever seen, and one of these days I am going to clean and restore the printhead so I can use it again. Such professional printers require a significant upfront investment, typically over $500, and it requires a certain amount of skill to get the best results with them.
Many consumer printers can also make great prints. Last year my sister purchased an Epson Expression Premium XP-6000 upon my recommendation, and she was thrilled when I wirelessly connected it to her smartphone and printed beautiful photographs. She still gets most of her photo prints from the drugstore due to the speed, ease and low cost, but the convenience of printing at home can’t be beat. The printer was a big hit at my niece’s graduation party, as we printed out pictures taken by the guests and posted them on a big display board for everyone to see. The XP-6000 is currently on sale for $79.99, and is a great deal at that price.
Though a $79.99 XP-6000 is an appealing proposition, I am convinced that Epson Ecotank printers are the way to go and the wave of the future. Prior to Ecotank, my inkjet printers collected dust from lack of use because I preferred to print my documents on a black-and-white laser printer and have my photographs printed by a lab. The cost and inconvenience of buying ink cartridges drove me away, and though my laser-printed pages were fine, I still missed documents with bright, beautiful color, as well as the convenience of being able to print out an occasional photograph at home.
Thanks to my Ecotank printer I am looking at lovely color documents again, and life is the better for it. Epson Ecotank printers come with refillable ink tanks and a set of ink bottles that hold the equivalent of 80 ink cartridges, enough to last most users for years. (Do the math, how much would 80 ink cartridges cost?) When you do need to replace the ink bottles, it is 90% less expensive than buying cartridges. Though you spend more for the printer upfront, you will quickly recoup the cost in ink savings and you will always have the security of knowing you will not run out of ink when you need it most. The Epson Ecotank ET-2720 all-in-one printer is only $199 and is a good place to start. Now it is my laser printer that collects dust as I enjoy color printing at an even lower cost per print than my black-and-white laser.