Review: Epson Artisan 50 CIS (CISS) Continuous Ink System


Review: Epson Artisan 50

with continuous inking system (CIS, CISS).

Epson Artisan 50 Inkjet Printer - about to be put to good use with a CIS, CISS, CI system.

CI System (CISS) and printer bundle here.

Great printer – 6-color photo printer, small form factor, outstanding prints, just a great 4×6, 8.5×11 top quality photo printer.  Will also do legal size paper, and prints to CDs and DVDs with included tray.  Professional quality photos – and when combined with a CI system, a perfect everyday printer for all kinds of documents.

Epson Artisan 50 refurbished inkjet printer from the Epson.com website.

Detailed specifications available on Epson’s website:

http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/consumer/consDetail.jsp?oid=63083139

The Artisan 50 replaced the Epson Stylus Photo R260, R280 (260, 280) as the only 6-color letter size “just-a-printer” offering from Epson.  Every other 6-color Epson printer  is a multi-function printer (Artisan 700, 710, 800, 810), or large format (1400, R1900).

Epson Artisan 50 with CIS, CISS, continuous ink (inking) system (solution).

The elusive refurbished Artisan 50 6-color printer with CI system – $59.00 at the Epson store.

When you can catch it – man they sell fast.  The refurbished printers include the same warranty as a new printer, and we have been happy with the quality.  You can also purchase new for $93-$99 from Amazon.

Price:

$60-$120

Features:

Short specs on the Artisan 50:

  • 4″ x 6″ photos as fast as 11 sec
  • Ultra Hi-Definition photos
  • CD/DVD Printing
  • 4.8 ppm black  – 5 ppm color
  • 6 (six) Individual ink cartridges
  • Dye based Claria inks
  • Prints from (4×6) to legal size (8.5×14)

This is just a printer.  There are no multi-function capabilities, and it will not print larger than legal size paper.  Great for what it does, but if you need a fax or a scanner, look elsewhere.

What About The Cartridges:

T078 – T077

The T078 and T077 (high capacity) ink cartridges cracked open and compared - which one has the most ink, and by how much?

The T078 and T077 (high capacity) ink cartridges cracked open and compared - the T078 has airspace! The T077 is completely full.

We cracked these cartridges open for a look a while back, you can see pictures and read more here:

http://freedomtoprint.com/2009/04/16/review-epson-t078-and-t077-ink-cartridges-cracked-open/

Cartridges for the Epson Artisan 50 are priced out of the stratosphere – the printer uses six (6) individual ink cartridges.  Epson plays the same full vs. half-full cartridge game as HP and Lexmark.  There are two cartridges you can use in this printer; the “half-full”T078, or the “full” T077 series.

Epson even puts a sticker on the inside of the printer so there is no confusion.

Epson T078 T077 Cartridge Numbers Printed On Inside Of Epson Artisan 50 Inkjet Printer

T078 series “standard capacity”

- or what they really mean (half-full).  These cartridges contain Epson Claria dye based inks.  One for each color, and black; the T078 series cartridge contains about 7-8ml of ink.  Average price of $13-$14 per cartridge, or $75.00 for a full set.

T077 series “high capacity”

- or the more correct term (mostly-full), available through the Epson store.  You can sometimes find them on Amazon – here. Cartridges contain Claria dye based inks.  One for each color, and black; T077 series cartridge contains about 11-12ml of ink.  Average price of $20 per cartridge.  A full set of the T077 cartridges will run you $95.00 minimum.

Cartridges? Who cares…

Epson Artisan 50 refurbished refurb inkjet printer with CI system (CIS, CISS)

We really don’t care what the cartridge situation is – this printer was born to use a CIS, or CISS (continuous ink (inking) system).  The only thing interesting about the Epson cartridges is how many we will *not* have to purchase over the life of this printer.  This lets us focus on paper – Epson paper is quality stuff, however we think Red River Paper is the same quality and about half the price.

Ink and paper products for the Artisan 50 photo inkjet printer from Epson

Installation:

Consist of these few steps (all covered in the included instructions):

  1. Equalize ink levels (tilt ink supply reservoir forward)
  2. Remove shipping plugs – (replace with breathers)
  3. Remove printer cartridge cover*
  4. install CIS cartridges and route tubing
  5. Trick “lid-open” latch (q-tip works great)*

*3.) This step is not difficult, however knowing how to remove the cartridge cover saves a few coins from the swear jar. The cover must be removed with a CI system so the tubing can escape, and the cover would not close anyway. The cover is not needed, it gets in the way, and it does not hurt the printer to remove it.  Off it comes.  See our install video for a working example.

Removing the cartridge cover – not hard if you know *where* to pry.  Upper right-hand corner of the print head – remove the hinge with a flat head screwdriver. *Then* the cover is ready to come off.

Where to pry the cover off an Epson Artisan 50 inkjet printer for use with a CI System, or CISS, CIS, Bulk Ink.

Epson Artisan 50 cartridge cover hinge, clip and where to pry or place the screwdriver

Press cartridges down firmly to seat. Epson Artisan 50.

5.) This printer is perfect for use with a CI system.  There is plenty of clearance inside the printer for the tubing to run free, and the printer is easily tricked concerning the “lid is open” message with a q-tip.

q-tip open cover hack for Epson stylus photo Artisan 50

Ready to print!

At this point run a few test prints and see if you want the external inks on the left or the right, or maybe you want the ink tank in the back?  By running some test prints we can see how the tubing behaves and decide the best position for the external tank.

This printer has 6 colors, and produces incredible photos.  We ran off 15 or so photos on some Epson and Red River glossy and matte papers, and our prints all looked fantastic.

The Artisan 50, and most Epson 6-color photo printers less than $300, use a dye based ink – so colors are brighter and more defined.  Our CI system has dye inks as well, and they look perfect.  Nice to be able to print without having to worry about the ink price.

Installation video (instructions):

We decided the external tank should go on the left, but we might change our minds.

Installing the system is easy enough…

CD-DVD printing:

Popular choice among CD-DVD printers.

The Epson Artisan 50 6-color inkjet photo printer will also print directly to CDs and-or DVDs.  Make sure to get the “inkjet printable” recordable media, and print directly on the media – no more labels!

Epson Artisan 50 refurbished refurb CD-DVD tray insterted and ready for printing

The coolest CD-DVD printing we have seen was with the Artisan 700-710-800-810 series; so cool we made a video.  The CD-DVD tray is stored inside the printer – much harder to lose this way.

With the Artisan 50 CD-DVD printing is easy with the included CD-DVD print tray.  The media sits on the plastic tray, and once lined up, it is sucked into the printer were the media is printed to.  Works fine, but take your time lining up the tray, and whatever you do, don’t lose it.  Must use the bundled Epson CD-DVD printing software utility to print CDs or DVDs.

Epson Artisan 50 refurbished inkjet printer with CD-DVD tray inside printer during printing

Video of the CD-DVD printing process:

Takes about 3-4 minutes to print a CD or DVD, but the results are fantastic!

Plenty of room inside this printer…

Epson ink monitor is still watching you…

Epson Artisan 50 ink monitor image

The Artisan 50 is really perfect for a CI system.  The print head is of the same family as the old R200, R220, R340, R320, RX620, RX600 series.  The quality of prints is fantastic, and the CI system has plenty of room to operate inside the Artisan 50.

What to do when the cartridge runs out of ink?

There are chips on the end of each cartridge – these chips “keep tabs” on your estimated ink usage and will report empty at some point.  There are several ways to reset the ink levels, but with our system there is a button.  Press the red flashing button on the printer to get the print head to the “replace cartridge” location.  Simply press and hold the white button 3-4 seconds.  Now press the red flashing button on the printer  and your cartridges are now reset.

It is important to note – the cartridges cannot be reset at just any point – the Epson ink monitor must report out of ink (for any cartridge), and then a reset of all cartridges can be done.  Once reset, all chips report full cartridges.

Artisan 50 Inkjet Printer Refurbished CIS, CISS Ink System Custom - reset the cartridges when they indicate empty.

Notice these cartridges, the Epson T078, and T077 series inkjet cartridges, also work in the Epson Stylus Photo – R260, R280, R380, RX595, RX595, and RX680 series inkjet printers.

Ink quality:

We also tried some different papers.

Tried some Epson premium presentation matte (double sided) S041568 (it was ok), and some Epson high quality ink jet paper S041111 (not awesome).  We then tried some of our Red River paper sampler – a luster photo satin, and about 15 different glossy photo papers – color adjustments took some time, however we were pleased with the quality of the prints we saw. We have no problems recommending this system, and printer to anyone – the print quality is outstanding.

Conclusion:

Get it.  Well worth the price, and flexible.

If you are looking for a solid “just-a-printer” the Epson Artisan 50 is a very good choice – new or refurbished.  Low entry cost ($60-$129) for the printer, and a continuous inking system works fantastically well.  Lab quality photo prints, fast 4×6 photo prints, and when bundled with a (CIS, CISS) CI system the Artisan 50 inkjet photo printer becomes a great everyday use printer.

If you are planning on using Epson brand ink cartridges, all bets are off – the Epson brand ink is a killer.

Here is the refurbished printer link – Epson.com (or try Epson.ca) – $59.99

http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/consumer/consDetail.jsp?oid=63088260

New printer – Epson.com website – $99.99.

http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/consumer/consDetail.jsp?oid=63083139

And there is always Amazon…

Epson Artisan 50 CIS, CISS, inking systems.

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