I figured it was time to upgrade. My Epson Stylus Photo R1900 (using UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 pigment ink) has done tremendous service and produces a very fine color image in either gloss, semigloss or matte finish. But I was ready to go to the next level and wanted the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 (using UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta pigment ink). Not to mention Epson’s $100 rebate good until June 30th!
The reasons I picked the R1900 to replace the Epson Stylus Photo 960 I had for several years still remain the strong points of the R1900:
- 13” wide paper capacity with rear roll feed option
- Pigment inks for long print life and many paper choices
- Gloss Optimizer “ink” to overlay gloss and semigloss papers to eliminate gloss differential
- Five colors of ink plus matte and photo blacks
- Desktop size
For me, the 3880 brings these advantages:
- 17” wide paper capacity
- Professional level image quality
- Enhanced pigment inks for a wider color gamut
- AccuPhoto™ HD2 Screening Technology which creates smooth color transitions and better shadow and highlight detail
- Factory calibration ensuring printer-to-printer color consistency and therefore making 3rd party ICC profiles more accurate
- Light Black and Light Light Black inks for superior black-and-white print quality
Many point to the large ink tanks (80 ml) on the 3880 as a significant advantage over the smaller R1900 ink tanks (11 ml), and it undoubtably is. But I’m not a high enough volume printer (maybe I will be now) to have really been pinched by frequent tank changes or the higher ink cost for the R1900.
Of course there are a few downsides to the 3800 that must be managed:
- No roll paper feed option
- No Gloss Optimizer
- Slightly larger size
- Wastes black ink when switching from photo to matte black and back (both ink tanks share the same print head nozzles and tubing)
So how do I plan to manage the shortcoming of the 3880?
- No roll paper feed option — for really long prints such as panoramas, I’ll have to go to a print lab such as White House Custom Color (they do 10” x 30” prints). Another possibility is cut size paper from Red River Paper, who carry my favorites (Arctic Polar Satin and 60# Polar Matte) in both 13” x 38” and 8 ½” x 25” sizes. Both ways should be fine for “ordinary” panoramas.
- No gloss optimizer — this one may be tricky, although the reviews I read online suggest that gloss differential is very well controlled with this ink set. But I don’t generally like high gloss papers anyway, so I’m figuring that the very low gloss satin and luster papers that I prefer won’t shown an objectionable gloss differential. More on that in a future post, perhaps.
- Slightly larger size — its just a few inches wider than the R1900 at 27” vs. 24 ¼”. My small rolling printer cart will still handle it. And since it does roll, I can move it away from the wall when I need to fold out the paper feed tray.
- Wastes black ink on swaps — I’ll just have to get over that and try to batch my media types together as much as possible. Eric Chan estimates that a photo to matte black swap wastes about $0.85 and the swap from matte to photo black wastes about $2.25.
There are a number of excellent reviews of this printer on the internet, so rather than doing another one, I’ll refer you to the reviews that were most helpful to me:
Although its not a review exactly, Eric Chan’s printer notes and resources page has a vast amount of information about the very similar Epson Stylus Pro 3800. And he’s beginning to add specific 3880 tips as well.
As an aside, I get all my everyday printing supplies (paper, ink, card stock, envelopes, etc.) from Red River Paper. And ground shipping is free (for orders over $25, but that’s all of them) by using the Red River Paper sponsor tile on The Digital Story website.