My first good printer

Started Jun 30, 2019 | User reviews thread
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rurikw Veteran Member • Posts: 3,196
My first good printer

Not sure a mini review of an old printer is of any use to anybody but some of us like looking for good but relatively inexpensive used stuff. Inkjet printers are fiddly and quirky creatures with lots of potential failure points which is no wonder when you think of the tasks they have to perform. That has been a bit too true of my 3 first printers and 15 first years of very occasional printing. When #3 became more or less defunct a few years ago I found an Epson 3880 for the IMO amazing price of 380 €. Of course I know the real cost is paper and ink and I suppose it's seen quite a bit of use producing customer prints in a store so not sure how long it will last. I have finally been having a serious printing session (A2 on Luster paper for an exhibition). My friend has also printed some gorgeous stuff on fine art paper on it. So now feel confident enough for a short write-up. Things I like:

  • Reliable, predictable, consistent results
  • No paper feed problems, comes out perfectly straight
  • Perfectly neutral B&W
  • Big separate cartridges for all 9 colors
  • A2 feels much less like a limitation than A3+

So with this machine it looks like the results are solely up to you learning to predict what a pic will look like printed (additive and subtractive color mixing are different things no matter how well you calibrate your monitor). My former printers used dye inks which might have something to do with why I am learning to boost saturation and contrast a bit more than I used to or they might just have been differently calibrated. When I get the image parameters right with the 3880, the results are impeccable. For the first time I am enjoying printing rather than fretting about what can go wrong. Printing is expensive and the 3880 is no exception but the 80ml cartridges do help and of course not having to discard prints because something went mystically wrong. The matte/photo black switching hasn't been that much of a hassle. Not switching all that often though I’m wondering if one should, to avoid clogs or something.

As mentioned above, the 3880 hasn't been acting up much. Twice dark black has suddenly stopped printing in the middle of a printing session. One power cleaning cycle took care of it both times. Maybe to do with some black ink valve/switch? That and some other components probably have outlived Epson’s (conservative?) life time estimates. Hoping nothing will give up the ghost too soon, repairs mostly seem complicated and/or expensive. But the way the 3880 has served makes me confident enough that I'd probably buy another one or its heir the P800 if need be. As for the design, one minor point of criticism would be the cramped access to the purge pads and rubber wiper which have to be cleaned regularly to avoid streaks. They could just have cut a bigger hole in the cover. One nice thing with having a popular printer is the great supply of tutorial videos.

 rurikw's gear list:rurikw's gear list
Nikon Coolpix 5000 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 Sigma DP1 Merrill Sigma DP2 Merrill Sigma DP3 Merrill +28 more
Epson Stylus Pro 3880
Professional printer • Inkjet •
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