HP B8850 Review

January 23, 2008 | Mark Goldstein | PhotographyBLOG | 51 Comments | |

HP B8850Announced just last week, the HP B8850 is a new, competitively priced 13 inch / A3 photo printer aimed squarely at the keen amateur photographer. The B8850 offers a very similar specification to its well-received big brother, the B9180, whilst cutting features that most users won’t need to bring the price down. Is the HP B8850 a veritable bargain, or does it cut too many corners? Jon Canfield finds out, as we bring you the World’s first ever review of the HP Photosmart Pro B8850 printer.

Website: HP B8850 Review

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#1 Nickoning

What about the "pizza wheel marks" (like B9180)?

4:33 pm - Wednesday, January 23, 2008

#2 Frank Stanton

Can you recommend some good black and white printers?

6:56 pm - Wednesday, January 23, 2008

#3 Naples Wedding Photographer

Does this print full bleed or is that just advertising photo propaganda to make me want to buy it?

9:06 pm - Wednesday, January 23, 2008

#4 CCC

A good review - but as we all wait for a DJ90 format pigment machine from HP, here comes a re-invented wheel.

10:41 am - Thursday, January 24, 2008

#5 cal

good review; but did you experiance any sign of the dreaded pizza-wheel marks on any prints. is the feed mechanizm any differant from b9180??

7:50 pm - Thursday, January 24, 2008

#6 Jon Canfield

The feed mechanism is slightly improved over the B9180, but it's the same basic assembly. In other words, if you're seeing wheel marks with your preferred media now, you probably will with the 8850 as well.
I did not see any evidence of wheel marks with the test unit though.
Rollers are a bit closer together making the feed for 4x6 media more reliable now as compared to the B9180.

On the issue of black & white printers, what type of paper do you want to use? Photo rags and other fine art medias do beautifully with this (and the Canon 9500 and Epson 2400). The bronzing issue is something all printers that don't use a gloss optimizer or some form of coating will exhibit. Unless you're viewing the print at an angle it isn't an issue. I did feel it was important to mention in the review though as it is there, and I would hope to see something like the gloss enhancer used in the Z3100 come down to the desktop printers.


9:30 pm - Thursday, January 24, 2008

#7 John Kelly

Thanks for a great review and for very informative reader comments. I use Photoshop Lightroom; does the Photoshop plug-in also apply to that software.



3:57 pm - Sunday, January 27, 2008

#8 Jon Canfield

Hi John -

The plug-in does not work in Lightroom. Here you'd want to choose the appropriate profile in Lightroom. The printer driver will automatically recognize that Lightroom is handling color management and shut it off in the driver.


4:22 pm - Sunday, January 27, 2008

#9 Jan Morgils

As always are the cost of the ink not mentioned in the review (or i missed it?). The ink is quite expensive for some other HP printers in for example the Photosmart series. (the 363 cartridges)

11:53 pm - Monday, January 28, 2008

#10 Jon Canfield

I didn't mention ink costs, but they are the same as the B9180 - about $33 for a 27ml cartridge


12:54 am - Tuesday, January 29, 2008

#11 Dawn

I am an invitation designer. I am looking for a printer that delivers crisp text and awsome graphics/photos. How does the 8850 rate?.
And about the media handling I use a lot of heavy card stock 80# to 120# and I'm not really sure what weight of paper .7mm is? Do you have any idea?

3:59 am - Monday, February 4, 2008

#12 Jon Canfield

Hi Dawn -

Text output in my testing was excellent. I don't print text on these printers normally, but the output I reviewed showed sharp text at all sizes.

The paper weights you have listed here will work. The #80 should feed through the standard tray while the heavier paper would need to use the specialty tray.


5:54 pm - Monday, February 4, 2008

#13 Larry Mulmed

Thanks for nice review. You printed a 13X42 Panorama. Can you do the same with the B9180?

10:33 pm - Sunday, February 10, 2008

#14 Jon Canfield

Hi Larry -

Yes, you can print the same panoramic sizes with the B9180. HP doesn't announce support for it, and you need to make the custom page size, but it is possible to do this.


4:18 am - Monday, February 11, 2008

#15 Joe

How is the build quality. Is it the same quality as the 9180?

2:25 am - Friday, February 15, 2008

#16 Jon Canfield

The print heads and assembly, as well as the case and trays all are the same quality as the 9180. As for internal parts, I couldn't tell you for certain, but it seems to be every bit as sturdy as the 9180.

4:25 pm - Friday, February 15, 2008

#17 Fred

Hi Jon. Can you tell me if media entered in the special media tray which uses a straight paper path are subjected to the "pizza wheels"? I'm looking to print on thin sheets of metal and the product I will use to coat the metal cannot be subjected to pizza wheels, that is, I'm looking for something where no wheels will touch the surface of the media after it is printed (they'll leave tracks in the precoat). If this is the case with the straight paper path of this printer I think I might've found me a printer. :)

6:10 pm - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

#18 Jon Canfield

Fred -
The feed mechanism has changed slightly with the 8850. I haven't seen any signs of wheel marks, but I haven't printed on metal either. I do actually have some in though that has been waiting for me to have time to print. I got the material from booksmartstudio.com so I don't know if it's the same as what you're using. I'll try to run a test print tomorrow.


12:26 am - Thursday, April 17, 2008

#19 Fred

Thanks for the response Jon. Much appreciated. Booksmart is what I plan on using- their plates are precoated with inkAID. If you ever get around to using it I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks again.

6:28 am - Sunday, April 20, 2008

#20 Jon Canfield

I just did a couple of sample prints on the BookSmart Studios Fine Art Metals. Good news, and not so good (isn't it always that way?).
The thinner metals print just fine with no wheel marks. That's the good news. For the media setting I used Rigid Photo.
When using the brushed silver metal, I do see wheel marks. This metal is a little thicker than the others. I also had a problem with the ink rubbing off on this particular metal that I don't have with the thinner materials.

So, if you stay with the .012 metals or thinner, you'll be fine based on my limited testing.


5:05 pm - Monday, April 21, 2008

#21 JamesMilan

Nice printer, but when i reinstalled my OS, i cant install driver, driver for HP Photosmart Pro B8850 but then i found updated version and every thing become ok, good printer, especially for home use ...

12:47 pm - Sunday, July 27, 2008

#22 Hugh Fitzmorris

I am having a problem with the 8850 printing on the bright side and on the light side. it also looks like the reds lack some blue. I have a test print that I am trying to match.

11:20 pm - Saturday, August 16, 2008

#23 Joe

WARNING...the HP B8850 DOES NOT WORK WITH Photoshop CS3 color managee workflow, and HP knows about it and refuses to do anything about it other than blame Adobe (whom they designed it with) but don't just take my word for it check the Nikonians and DPREVIEW forums.

4:37 pm - Wednesday, October 15, 2008

#24 Lee Buehler

I ran into an unusual problem with the inks on this printer. It is advertised as a PhotoSmart printer but my experience of printing photos on this printer was totally unacceptable. First, HP's best photo paper,(HP Premium Plus Photo Paper) by their own chart on the back of packages, is not supported by this printer. Second, even when you use the HP Advanced Photo Paper, the ink is applied unevenly so that white objects on glossy paper reflect light differently than all the other colors. When you tilt the printed photo to see the glossy surface of the photo, the white areas are less glossy. This does not occur with the dye based inks used in the lower priced HP PhotoSmart printers.

I shipped my 8850 back and have purchased the B8550 instead.

5:06 pm - Wednesday, January 7, 2009

#25 Jon Canfield

The 8850 is a pigment printer like the 9180. None of the Premium papers are supported with pigment inks, they're only for the dye printers.

Gloss differential - the effect you're seeing when viewing the page at an angle is common with pigments and in some cases dye inks, particularly on glossy surface papers. It's not a case of applying ink unevenly, it's more of a difference in the reflective values of the ink. Dye inks tend to minimize this because you print on swellable surface papers like the Premium series.

6:08 pm - Wednesday, January 7, 2009

#26 marcia howell

thanks so much for your review. i just received this for my birthday and i'm very excited. i've been eyeing something along these lines for a couple of years now, and am glad to know that this will probably be a successful machine for me. :)

5:41 am - Friday, January 9, 2009

#27 thoburn

I purchased a hp b8850 printer in Oct 2008 it failed after 2 months. Despite having a 2 year warranty it is still not sorted after 3 months.
HP would not give a new printer. Beware

11:42 pm - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

#28 Dave

Can the HP Photosmart Premier Software be used with this printer? I noticed it only comes with the Essential verion.

Also, what are the differences between the two software offerings.

8:42 am - Saturday, April 11, 2009

#29 Don



I purchased an HP Photosmart 8750 pro printer and a 3 year extended warranty. Just over half way through when I had a problem, HP wanted to replace it with an 8550. Not even a professional printer and on sale for $199.00 on their site.
The following link: http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/wf09a/18972-18972-3328063.html#
On hp's site says the replacement should be the pro 8850 model.

My studio would look really professional with a toy printer. I want everyone to know what to expect when they deal with HP. Someone please tell me a good story about the new Canon 9550 and Epson pro printers. IO want to purchase the best 13x19 size pro printer available. May even stretch to 24".


8:44 pm - Saturday, May 2, 2009

#30 Karen

I currently own the hp8850 and have never been so frustrated with a printer in my life! This machine won't feed paper that is custom size and of a different color than white. When I tried to put through custom photo card stock with opening, it will feed the top part just fine, but when I turn it over to feed the bottom that has brown tape strips, it won't accept it.

It is by far the fussiest machine I have ever used and would not my any means recommend it! I have regreted purchasing this piece of crap since the day i bought it. When it comes time to replact the cartridges, I will replace the printer instead!

Stay away from this HP8850!

7:07 pm - Monday, October 19, 2009

#31 Bob Wade

After reading Jon's review and several comments on user questions, I was ready to buy the 8850. However, the last few user comments certainly raised red flags. I want a high-quality b&w and color printer for exhibition and possibly publication (mostly landscapes, but portraits as well (esp. b&w). And, I want to be able to use with confidence glossy, semi-gloss (satin?) and matte papers. Is this the printer for me? How compare with the comparably priced Epsons (Ep.1900?) or Canons. Thanks.

9:01 pm - Thursday, November 12, 2009

#32 Jon Canfield


Personally, I'd go with the Epson 1900 if you want to print on gloss or luster papers, or the Canon 9500 or Epson 2880 if you also want to print on matte papers, or if you're interested in black & white prints on anything other than photo papers. Since my review, I've heard from a number of people that have had problems with the printer - I didn't experience any issues with the review unit I had, and I've had excellent results with the 9180, but like any product, there are some bad examples out there and it sounds like HP support hasn't been doing as good a job of supporting the product as they should.


6:47 pm - Monday, November 16, 2009

#33 Bob Wade

Many thanks, Jon.

Since last comments, I've become more interested in the Canons, given the many favorable comments and fact that Canon replacement ink cartridges seem to be much more reasonably priced--an benefit just for Canon camera users?

I'm going to check out more seriously the 9500, which from your comments sounds like it'll work well for both b&w and color and all kinds of paper. True? I'm thinking of matte for portraits and also for landscapes (if the composition will favor b&w for dramatic contrast).

Thanks again.

7:05 pm - Monday, November 16, 2009

#34 Jon Canfield

The 9500 is a pigment printer so it will do better on fine art papers using the matte black ink. I don't know that it's much more cost effective than the Epsons as far as ink prices go though. It seems to be a little more frugal with ink use, but not a significant difference.

7:29 pm - Monday, November 16, 2009

#35 r4 dsi

This printer is designed for the photo enthusiast who wants very, very high print quality, but doesn't want to spend top dollar on higher-end models such as the HP 9180. Thus the B8850 serves, in a way, in the same role as the Bentley used to serve for the Rolls-Royce: almost the same, but not quite.

7:03 am - Friday, January 1, 2010

#36 thoburn

Earlier I had a HP B8850 and HP did not want to deal with me but eventually the importer gave me my money back. Unfortunally for HP I have a Canon now and it works.

3:52 pm - Friday, January 1, 2010

#37 Jolauren

I just purchased the HP B8850 from HP for $349. with free shipping. That's $200.off the regular price.

1:24 am - Thursday, January 21, 2010

#38 Wolfgang

I've had my HP B8850 for well over a year now and have used Hefger media inks since the originals ran dry. I cannot say enough good about this printer AS LONG as you ONLY load the BASIC drivers. The constant ink cartridge reminders and Volumes of HP crap that are loaded onto your computer can drive one crazy. I have Hefger pigment ink prints hanging here in my office without glass, and they look as good as the day I pinned them to the wall. Paper feeding IS a bit finicky at times, but you just have to learn to live with its foibles. Let's face it, ALL printers have some issues, but this one has run completely clog free for all the time I've had it, often not using it for weeks at a time. WK

9:22 pm - Friday, February 12, 2010

#39 Bob Wade

Vielen Danke, Wolfgang, fur irhe comments.

5:31 pm - Saturday, February 13, 2010

#40 G. Kusluch

I have, as one blogger put it, " a 40 pound paper weight" sitting on my desk. It's a HP B9180. It continues to jam, have, (service stalls), and high ink useage. The reviews for the HP B9180 were all glowing when it first was introduced, but you don't have to search long to find the many sad and angry customers of it. The HP B8850 just seems like a clone of the other. HP will eventually have the same problems as the auto industry. Make a poor quality product and extremely poor service support the customer will go elsewhere, e.g. Epson

2:36 pm - Friday, March 12, 2010

#41 Wolfgang

Sorry about your experiences. I also have a couple of paperweights in my basement. An Epson R2200 and a Canon i9900. Both started clogging after about six months to a year on their proprietary inks.
It's funny that right after I wrote the above review I had a small streaking issue with the B8850 (didn't knock on wood hard enough?)
I took out the offending head. Laid it on a piece of alcohol-soaked paper towel in a small dish for an hour or so. Then ran a heavy cleaning cycle. Now seems good as new. If I had failed, the big advantage to the B8850/B9180 is that heads are cheap and easy to install.
But like all printers, when you get a lemon, it's all bad. You have to bitch like h... to get the company to send a NEW one (NOT a refurb with someone else's problems).
Just my 2 pennies' worth of experience.

4:18 pm - Friday, March 12, 2010

#42 Qaiser

hi do this printer available in pakistan ??

3:44 am - Tuesday, August 31, 2010

#43 wolfgang

OK, let's be logical now. I live in the USA. How would I know if it was available in Pakistan? Call HP and they might be able to give you an answer.

1:36 pm - Tuesday, August 31, 2010

#44 Sam Armstrong

I've had the HP B8850 for a year now, and while the hardware seems excellent I am currently experiencing SERIOUSLY FATAL SOFTWARE PROBLEMS...I upgraded to Win 7 and MAJOR PROBLEMS fell out like a ton of bricks...Having a Sony A900 outfit and some good lenses, I became desperate to get good prints again. NO SOLUTION TO THE VERY VERY BUGGY SOFTWARE SEEMS TO HELP.

Switching to an iMac 27, the insurmountable problems are quite the same....I STRONGLY CAUTION ANYONE AGAINST BUYING THIS PRINTER.....I'm gonna dump this thing in the shitter where it belongs and get a proper Canon or Epson...Buyers Beware

8:39 am - Sunday, January 9, 2011

#45 wolfgang

Yes, there are good and bad ones out there. I just finished another run of 100+ calendar pages 13x19, both sides printed. Using Hefger media inks. Worked like a charm. Windows 7 64bit printed thru photoshop and adobe illustrator. Must be your system or your particular printer.

3:54 pm - Monday, January 10, 2011

#46 Andrew

This printer is the biggest pile of shite I have ever had the displeasure to use. It spends most of its time not printing, spitting out paper, not printing on the setting / quality its meant to, and spitting out the paper half way through the print.

When you use the front loading option to print heavy media, its generally skewed, no matter how hard you try to put it in straight.

So far this morning I have been trying to print 1 piece of transparency. It has taken 4 hours, and I still haven't managed it.

Avoid it like the plague! I will be taking it to HP's head office, and throwing it through there window when I get a new one.

It does however have a good print quality, when it actually works.

1:38 pm - Tuesday, March 29, 2011

#47 Jo

Mine has been trouble free and fantastic! Have not missed a beat and it's been a year of printing joy.

6:38 pm - Tuesday, March 29, 2011

#48 Andrew

Year of printing joy? I've had a year of printing hell. Its hell using the straight through media path, and not alot better using the tray feed.

It has put me off HPs for life, if the HP Indigo is anything like this, I'll stick to Heidelbergs.

10:45 am - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#49 jo

I can't speak for your problems but mine is setup and I have many beautiful prints (color and B&W) in my studio that came from this printer. I would suggest you tweak the printer and use other fine paper recommended for this printer. I do not use HP paper. Just a search online will produce several fine photo papers even assorted trial packs. I am not promoting HP, I only bought the unit because I got it at a super low price.

9:47 pm - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#50 Keith Barnes

I was happy with my B8850 but then a problem occurred which produced red/magenta bleed at the top of an image. As the machine was out of warranty HP would not even talk to me about it let alone repair it and there is no one in the UK that handles repairs so if you buy one keep the warranty up because then they just give you a new machine. Good printer poor after service. I won't be buying HP again

2:59 pm - Friday, July 22, 2011

#51 joe indy

How has HP turned into such unmitigated crap? Have had a HP8750 for a few years now, it is truly a pathetic piece of engineering garbage. I have purchased $100K's of HP equip in the past but since Carly and wall street money whores have been in control, it is sad. The 8750 works about 5% of the time. The rear feed slot feature never works. Anyone found a fix for Win7

11:52 pm - Friday, April 25, 2014