I got the 8550 set up and all I can say is WOW. I was using a Canon TS9020 (also a 6-ink printer) and I had the hardest time color matching what I saw on my monitor. That and the pain of constantly filling carts. This Epson matched my monitor right off the bat. Photos are stunning compared to the Canon, but I'm probably comparing apples to oranges.
Still learning, but a happy camper so far.
Many years ago during the days of the Epson 1400 I speculated that Epson could actually skip the LM and LC inks in favour of a gray and matte black ink, because the variable droplet technology of Epson (up to 1.5 pl small) made it visually possible to omit the light colours without any visual degradation of image quality. With the Epson ET-8550 and XP-15000 they finally have photo printers with dedicated gray ink, which really helps in more contrast in shadows and better (more neutral) black and white printing. The next step would be an 8-channel pigment ink printer without light colours that would combine the Epson R2000 with the K3 printers with matte black, photo black, cyan, vivid magenta, yellow, gray, red and gloss optimizer using these 8 colours and variable droplet technology up to 2 pl small, so actually upgrading the gloss capable pigment printer R2000 with ABW-capabilities seen on the K3 printers, but with both blacks loaded simultaneously and without the light colours.
Mine's a week old and it's my (probably) tenth Epson (including a wide format 9800.
The ET 8550 was by far the easiest setup and provides the most satisfying initial prints of any of them. Even the wireless printing/scanning functions worked right out of the box.
I do have a slight thread drift question, though. If you'll excuse the impertinence.
I'm attempting to use the colour controls on the BW page of the printer dialog. Specifically the colour controls that allow you to drag from the center towards red, yellow, etc. to tone the prints slightly.
Despite the desired results (sepia) appearing in the Print Preview pane, my prints don't reflect those changes. They're always neutral grey. Anyone know what I'm doing wrong?
After using this printer now for a little more than a week, I don't know if I could go back to a cartridge-based printer. Ink management is pretty much a thing of the past, and the print quality is beyond what I expected.
There had been some recent discussion whether the print quality of an ET-8550 would vary visibly vs. printers like a p800 or other printers with light inks. A visual comparison is possible but it is quite difficult to describe and rate possible differences.
I did this - I printed a patch sheet with 283 colors with the ET-8550 - ultraglossy quality best and with an L1800 - 6 color dye inks incl. LM and LC - ultraglossy quality high.
I selected a green patch from both prints - the patch size is about 7,5 x 8,5 mm and scanned them with resolution 2400 dpi.
A small crop from the ET-8850 scan looks like this
This is a small crop of the L1800 print scan - probably 2mm wide as orginally printed
There is some variance visible - some luminance and chroma variations.
I'm loading these patch scans into the Monaco gamut viewer and display them as pixel clouds
The center of the pixel clouds are locaed at slightly different colors - green in the +b -a section of the Lab color space - I selected slightly different greens for demonstration so that the pixels don't completely overlap.
More important are the size and the shape of the pixel clouds - yellow for the L1800 print and green for the ET-8550 print.
Please be aware that the eye is more sensitive to luminance variations than to chroma variations. You could do more statistical analysis on these color patches - e.g. the size of the areas with color variations, or a spatial Fourier analysis could reveal repetitive patterns - e.g. banding or from the dithering algorithm, but I don't have such software on my computer anymore.
I printed complete profiling patch sheets, this could allow me to do a similar analysis of other colors but I won't since I don't have an XP-15000 to compare with.