Black-and-white printing with the Epson Artisan 50

August 1, 2011 at 9:00 am  •  Posted in Q&A by  •  0 Comments

I would like to print some black-and-white photos with my Epson Artisan 50 printer but have run into the usual problem when using a colour printer: all prints seem to have a colour bias. Sometimes, after some experimentation, I can come close to b&w but when I try to do a new photo the same settings don’t seem to work and I have to start over again. With a little research, I came across a printer that prints in black and white only but the quoted price of about $600 was more than I am prepared to spend. Any suggestions? —John N.

The Epson Artisan printers are highly desirable in many aspects, John, but they were not intended for high-quality black-and-white photo printing. In fact, I am not aware of any letter-size machine that really excels in this area. Typically, it’s photo enthusiasts who want to make superb monochrome prints, and usually in larger sizes, such as 13 x 19 inches. Hence, the manufacturers tend to optimize their larger printers, like the Epson Stylus R2880 ($600) and the new R3000 ($900), for this purpose. Both can make gallery-quality monochrome prints that are absolutely stunning.

Since HP discontinued their line of 13 x 19" format photo printers, the Epson Stylus Photo R1900 has been the most affordable machine that can make very nice monochrome prints. Unlike the pro-grade Epson printers, this one employs only a single black ink, but the monochrome prints were better than I had expected when testing the R1900.

Epson markets a couple of more affordable 13 x 19″ format machines too, including the Stylus Photo R1900 ($310) which uses only one black ink but makes surprisingly decent black-and-white prints. You can find a Review here. If you’re on a tight budget, the R1900 is the most logical choice. There’s a brand new model too, the Stylus Photo R2000 ($400), but I have not had an opportunity of testing that machine.  You may be able to find some Stylus R2000 reviews in the next couple of months using a search.

Readers who want a pro-calibre 13 x 19" photo printer that can make stunning colour or black-and-white prints should check out the R2800 or the new Epson R3000 (shown here). Both employ three black inks and can generate gallery-quality monochrome prints when used in the Advanced Black-and-White Photo Mode.

There are two other options, both from Canon. The Pixma Pro9000 Mark II ($500) is somewhat slow in monochrome printing because it uses only one black ink. Still, the results are highly acceptable, though not as rich as the monochrome prints from the Pro9500 Mark II. The latter is more pricey of course ($900) but makes gallery quality prints that are also archival.

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