About three years ago, Epson improved the K3 ink set. The pigmented ink changed slighty of name: Magenta became Vivid Magenta and Vivid Light Magenta was Light Magenta in the old days. This improved ink set has a slightly larger colors space and is applied to the whole series of Epson printers, from A3 to A0.
The launch of the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 was a great success, but the printer could not print on a roll. Epson wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice and with the new 3880, this issue was solved. I was glad to have the opportunity to test the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 during a relatively short period.
When receiving the box from the courier, I immediately realized that this new printer is clearly much larger than my current Epson Stylus R2400. The box of the Stylus Pro 3880 is so large and heavy that I had to go find some help to bring it to my office on the 2nd floor. The Epson 3880 appears to be rectangle with a high front or in figures: 684 x 376 x 257mm (width x depth x height). A manual, CD with installation software and the necessary cables to connect everything correctly, were also included.
The Epson Stylus Pro 3880 is equipped with 9 cartridges, including Photo Black and Matte Black. The Epson 3880 can switch automatically between matte and photo black. The cartridges are large (80ml), what results in a low print cost for an A4, around 0.50 Euro. Don’t forget however to count about 425 Euros (excluding VAT) for a complete set of ink! The advantage is however that the ink can be used until the last drop!
After connecting the power, I had to make a choice between the 100Mb/sec Ethernet cable or a USB 2.0 cable. As the Ethernet cable has the advantage to connect to your network (and simultaneously print with different pcs) and knowing that Ethernet is still faster than USB 2.0, the choice was easy. On the Epson website, I could download the latest driver and immediately the installation wizard started. The printer software is similar to my settings on the R2400 with the exception of a few small changes / improvements / additions.
Because this printer is designed for large print jobs, large cartridges and a big paper tray are foreseen. No time to waste to frequently change your ink cartridges or add some extra paper.
The print speed for an A4 photo depends on your setup, but count approximately 3 minutes. Compared to my A3+ printer, this is a significant improvement, but compared to professional large format machines it is rather slow. Obviously you can’t compare a BMW with a Ferrari ...
Cool to know is that it is possible to make 10x15cm prints with the 3880, which will certainly be appreciated by a lot of people.
Ilford Smooth Pearl Paper 290gr
Epson didn’t provide me any photo paper for this review, so I was forced to use my own Ilford Smooth Pearl paper (290Gr). I started by downloading the Iflord ICC profile online (for free). The results were so satisfactory that just for fun, I decided to calibrate with my X-Rite Photo Pro spectrometer. The profile that I was able to obtain was slightly better, but I would certainly not recommend buying such a device. As I said before, the test prints were really good!
The Epson Stylus Pro 3880 is available on the market for 1687,95 Euro, but online the prices are 400 Euros less! So if you are considering a purchase, do not forget to compare prices!
The prints with an Epson 3880 did reach my high standards from the very beginning! The ink cost per print is low and this is great news for every photographer in these difficult economic times. The purchase price of the 3880 is fairly high, but compared to other A2 printers, within the standards.