If you like photographs on paper and you
like to hold newspaper-sized prints of your images, the EPSON R2880 and
Pro3800 photo printers could be right for you.
These printers are even more suited to your needs if you answer “yes” to these questions:
- Do you like to have control over your photography by making all image processing steps yourself??
- Do you dislike waiting for the postman to deliver mail ordered prints a week later than anticipated?
- Do you want prints to last without colours
fading (just like good old days of chemical photo paper printing) and
you are aware that pigmented ink has the edge over dye ink in several
- Do you know the basics of colour management, perhaps with experience working in front of a calibrated screen?
- Are you not afraid of modifying colour
management settings in your operating system, image processing
applications and (ultimately) the printer driver?
(You haven't got the slightest idea why one would want to print at all and read this review? Skip to paragraph 7 please!)
EPSON Stylus R2880 - Frontansicht
By way of introduction, I’m Thomas
Berg, fellow Nikonian and I consider myself a serious amateur
photographer. Recently I was given the opportunity by EPSON Europe and
Nikonians to exercise with and review the EPSON Stylus Photo R2880
desktop printer. In this review, I will not mimic the style and
contents of technical reviews which you can easily find using search
machines. I will concentrate on aspects that concern ease or complexity
of use, how streamlined the workflow is and how well or bad it
interacts with selected image processing software. I will try to give
answers to questions that I often find unanswered when I read reviews
rather than present small bits of random observations. So here we go.
Please have a comfortable seat and hope you won’t fall asleep!
First of all, I apologize to the MAC user’s community for this
review being based on Windows operating system, as I still live in a
world full of Windows. I feel the urge to apologize right now as the
normal third step after opening the box and preparing the printer
hardware would be to install the printer drivers onto the host
computers. Alternatively, this can be Step #1 since EPSON makes the
drivers available for download without limitation.
In my case, these will be a desktop PC running under XP and a laptop PC which runs either under VISTA or Windows 7.
The printer drivers can be downloaded beforehand, which I did.
Installing the driver prior to having the printer hardware available
proved to be a less than ideal step, just like queue jumping. The
reason is: during driver installation a scan of the available ports is
performed, seeking a connected R2880 printer. Obviously this quest must
fail in absence of the printer and then the driver makes an assumption
by selecting one of the available computer ports. In the case of my
desktop computer, LPT1 was selected despite the fact that this was
physically a parallel port with a vintage HP LaserJet 4P being assigned
to it. It was not too much trouble to rectify this undesired change,
however I did not rave about the drivers behaviour of allocating an
already allocated (and technically useless) port and therefore, dear
readers, be advised better not to invoke the driver installation if the
printer is not in your possession and ready to connect.
All right, since we possibly don't have that printer at hand right now,
let me spend some thoughts on which printer could be appropriate for
which character of photographer.
I spent a day at the EPSON Europe subsidiary in Meerbusch, Germany,
where I was briefed on the R2880 model and the differences in
comparison to the Pro3800 model.
Frankly, the major differences from the standpoint of an end user are
the maximum paper sheet size and the volume of investment, which of
course also holds true for consumables.
From the marketing point of view, both devices target at the
“advanced amateurs” and “small business
professionals”; potential customers with relatively low printing
volume might consider the R2880 and potential customers with medium
printing volume should rather consider the Pro3800.
The R2880 prints 11*17 inch / DIN A3 / A3+ (13*19”)
The Pro3800 prints 17*22 inch / DIN A2
Let's do a little math: the Pro3800 can roughly print twice the paper
area. The cartridges for the R2880 feature 11.4 ml and for the Pro3800
they are 80 ml. 23ml would obviously be the minimum cartridge volume
for a Pro3800 to deliver the same productivity as the R2880.
Consequently, with 80ml the Pro3800 can work longer and harder without
cartridge replacement. And from that it is easy to conclude, the
Pro3800 target audience is expected to print higher volumes and have
deeper pockets than clients of the R2880.
I was told that both devices are optimized for print quality and also
for work-idle-tolerance. That means, these two models feature (by
design)a better tolerance to infrequent utilization and random peak
print jobs. Compare it to printing a batch of photo calendars one
day before Christmas, since Christmas always comes suddenly and hits
In preparation of this review I happened to read more than once that
the upper class PRO4880 was recommended over both the R2880 and the
PRO3800 for two reasons: a cartridge volume of 220ml, driving down the
ink-per-volume cost, and “large sheets printing addiction”.
I will let you know later, if I feel at risk of any kind of
For the moment the conclusion can only be: the PRO4880 is designed for
frequent printing and is not designed for idle periods counting in
weeks. Doing so will increase the risk of dried ink nozzle blockage and
ink cluster formation, causing even more nozzle blockage.
Talking about nozzle blockage, this is a kind of complaint that can
easily be read about throughout internet communities. The internet has
a long lasting memory and any joker can write and publish any garbage
just as I can. The problem lies in separating truth from fiction (and
in some rare cases even stupidity).
EPSON now provides the fourth generation of pigmented inks and I trust
the statements of EPSON concerning the improvements achieved in
relation to reduced pigment cluster formation and subsequent nozzle
blockage. I also trust many of the reports about nozzle blockage and
failed nozzle cleaning, but how can I know for sure that each author
handled everything properly, no third-party-ink was mixed with genuine
ink (which can trigger undesired chemical or physical reactions) and
the report is not based on experience with a now obsolete generation of
ink and/or printer?
In most cases I can't, as much as you dear readers cannot know if I am
not presenting a biased review because some interested party has
offered to sponsor my next holidays at the South Pole. You will be
surprised, this is not the case.
I will solely publish my personal findings, unbiased, as I would expect
any other fellow Nikonians reviewer to do; however you can only rely on
my word. With that much said, I personally own a Canon iP6700D printer
(dye ink system) for several years and I am happy with it.