Epson R3000 vs Pro 3880 - IQ and opinions (long)

Started Nov 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
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NeroMetalliko Regular Member • Posts: 237
Epson R3000 vs Pro 3880 - IQ and opinions (long)


I know that there are a lot of threads regarding the comparison between the Epson R3000 and the Pro 3880, but, frankly, at the moment I'm still struggling and so, yes, I will really appreciate to hear from you some further opinions/experiences...

I'm not a pro, but I have spent a lot of my time in the latest years improving and learning all the aspects related to taking pictures, processing the images and even enhancing my gear. I'm a scientific-minded and methodic guy, I have no fear to provide the efforts needed for learning new stuff, even complex, and usually I like to go very deep in the things I make when I'm enthusiast and motivated to do it.

Now I feel that I'm really interested to start printing my pictures. For this reason some months ago I started to document myself regarding all the technical aspects of the printing process in order to choose the best solution for my needs.

I have tried some chemical photo lab in my country with samples, and I found I don't like the lokk/feeling of the typical photo papers used (Kodak Endura and Fuji Crystal Archive).

The main reason why I like to start printing my images is the possibility to use some nice fine-art papers. I'm interested in very good B&W but in color too. My preferred sublects are landscapes (including natural and city/architectural) and portraits. I will use smooth matte and probably baryta-type papers depending on the subject. I usually don't have a lot of color-saturated pictures (like sunsets) so I'm oriented toward a pigment ink printer, accepting the tradeoff I will get in this kind of images and still hoping that I will still get at least a decent result, if the case.

Print size will vary between square (20cm x 20cm and 30cm x 30cm), and rectangular (A4 and A3). The A2 size is very tempting because I know myself and I think that once I start to get satisfying results I will have fun to try bigger prints for sure, but I cannot say at the moment how many so-big prints I will do really...

Print volumes will be low/moderate, probably higher at the beginning (due to enthusiasm and trial&errors) and settling down in the long time. I have some wall to cover in the houses of my family and parents/friends, I will print some pictures for myself and for "special" gifts, and I cannot exclude that I will be able to start to sell some prints in the next year if a project I have will develop in the good way, but not big numbers for sure.

I don't like the glass over the prints at all: I will avoid to frame it with glass whenever possible and I will try to use some special Museum-grade glass when absolutely needed if the size (i.e. price) is not too big.

I will use mostly good quality OBA free paper (like Canson Rag Photographique 310 and Hanhemuhle Photo Rag Baryta 315).

I have evaluated the possibility to get a dedicated printer for B&W using Piezography inks: I have bought the InkjetMall sample set of all the Piezo inksets (for both matte/glossy paper) and I have bought some sample prints of my pictures made with both (Piezography and Epson ABW) from special labs here in my country. I recognize there is a certain quality difference but not so much to justify a double printer system with all their related hassle/efforts (and room requirements) for my current needs, so I will start with a single printer still hoping to be able to cover both B&W and color in a good enough way.

I still have a calibrated monitor and a Color Confidence light source.

I will use OEM inks and I will start with the ICC profiles provided by the above mentioned paper manufacturers.

Given that, I have restricted my search to these two printers and I kindly ask you the followings:

- There is a recognizable quality difference between the Epson R3000 and the Pro 3880?

I ask this because, from what I know, the drop size is smaller in the R3000 and I have read somewhere that the fine color gradients are better rendered in the R3000 despite the small size and the not so "pro" build quality.

- In addition I don't know if the other side of the medal of the smaller ink drop is that this will bring to higher clogs-probability for the R3000?

- There is an obviuos build quality and paper handling difference?

- Is the "pizza wheel" issue of the 3880 affecting/relevant the borderless printing only or there are some problems even in the white paper borders (not ink covered)?

- Is the absence of the wasted ink tank something I have to worry in the R3000? (I hate to know that at some point I will have to send the printer to maintenance for such a trivial issue).

- Are the K3 Vivid Magenta pigment inks good enough for both B&W and color photos in your experience, and how much the full saturated pictures will suffer?

Finally, I think I can trade the WiFi and small paper-roll of the R3000 for the A2 size capability and bigger ink tanks of the 3880, but the R3000 is a more recent printer, the 3880 is at their end of life. I don't like to buy old technology, I'm already on hold from some time but I cannot wait too much longer for an unknown replacement, I have no more real hopes for a new entry level HDR inkset printer and sooner than later I have to pull the trigger...

Difficult decision...

Any advice/opinion/experience/comment is very welcome and will be really appreciated. Many thanks in advance for the attention.


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