Just bought an Epson 3880

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
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hjulenissen
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Just bought an Epson 3880
10 months ago

Thought I'd give a short report. I have a (now clogged) Canon 9000mk2 that have provided many fine prints.

I wanted a (relatively) compact printer that could give me large, high-quality prints. I don't expect to print large volumes (I am a hobbyist). The 3880 was introduced back in 2009 so I fully expect it to be replaced anytime now. That is the way things are, I needed a printer now, and judging by the 3880 introduction price, a "3900" would probably be beyond my budget (the 3880 is too, really).

http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/reviews/printer/epson_sp_3880.html

I have done my homework and read tests and forum discussions. My biggest worry (and one I pushed the sales guy on) is clogging.

The unit came in a large box and was fairly heavy, but still movable by one person. It occupies about the same footprint as my old A3+/14" Canon, but it is somewhat taller. It also needs lots of room in front for paper.

I removed umpteen blue tape/transportation things, powered the machine up and installed the enclosed inks with an assuring "click". Plastic doors are a bit "flimsy", but I can handle that. The printer did not recognize any of my inks, though. I restarted the printer, re-inserted the inks to no avail. Consulted the quick-start manual, then google. Finally, after several pages of non-original ink discussions, I found the solution: give the cartridges a push after they have clicked into place, and gently "lift" them at the back. This solved the problem, but kind of bad design.

The printer then needed several minutes loading ink into its system various whirring noises and a nice progress bar.

Plugged the USB cable into my win7 computer and went straight to the Epson website for the latest drivers (dated 2010?). Started Lightroom and found a couple of images that I was eager to test. Loaded Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique 310gsm A2 into the regular paper loader and installed ICC profiles (this paper/profile worked notoriously bad for my 9000mk2).

http://www.canson-infinity.com/en/baryta310.asp

Went through the usual hazzle of disjunct ICC download and manual look-up of recommended printer settings (why can't they co-locate this, or even better offer a joint download of ICC profile + printer pre-set?). The Epson printer driver was new to me but no better or worse than the Canon driver. Selecting the recommended paper type and size was easy. Finding the "no color management" setting took a few calories extra. It was no 1:1 correspondence between the recommended Canson Infinity speed vs quality tradeoff settings and what was presented in the driver, but I did my best.

Selected soft-proofing in Lightroom and did some final adjustements. Had a print with deep saturated man-made reds that have been problematic earlier. Lightroom seems to have selected 360 dpi automatically, used "glossy" and "normal" sharpening. Pressed "print". Saw the paper disappear into the printer at a moderate pace.

I am very satisfied with the results. The red had a "good" correspondence with my calibrated screens (somewhere in-between my wide-gamut Dell and my old sRGB Dell). Not perfect, but good enough that I can do most of my final editing on-screen instead of repeated printing. Did another print that had lots of dark shadows. The print came out with a very satisfying "saturated" black, but little detail in the shadows. I will have to look at my edits for that one.

One joy of a printer like this is the possibility of printing large. Epson offers presets at up to 17x22", and user-defined paper sizes up to 17"x37.5" (not boarderless). The accompanying Mirage software claims to support any length panorama (limited to 30000 pixels) but I have not installed it yet. This introduce some interesting challenges to matting and framing that I had previously "solved" for my Canon printer.

Comparision of absolute size and aspect ratios (landscape)

The 3880 allows for significantly larger prints than the Canon, especially if you are into panoramas (>2:1 width:height). By cutting 17" paper yourself you can print 3:2 DSLR images somewhat larger than using pre-cut A2 paper.

Various print size with/without 10mm margin inside a 60x90cm frame

60x90 cm seems to be a good size for 3:2 prints at 17". This corresponds to a standard US frame size of 24"x36". Sadly, that is not a standard here in metric land, we get either 50x70cm or 70x100cm.

Various print size with/without 10mm margin inside a 70x130cm frame

For 17"x37.5" panos, 70x130cm seems to be a sensible frame size. Again, this is a frame size that one would have to have custom made over here.

-h

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