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Software Reviews

Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Guide

Thomas Berg (twberg) on June 20, 2011


Keywords: epson, stylus, 3880, printer, paper, non_nikon, product, articles

Right, it is high time to show the ready-to-work printer.

3880_1
Front
3880_2
Sideview

As you see, all electric interfaces are located on the back of the device and will hardly ever interfere with a wall since, really, the printer demands for quite some clearance in order to be operated conveniently. I strongly suggest – at least for the initial learning phase – to place the printer on a desk, freely accessible as shown for a simple reason: to handle and align the large DIN A2 size sheets (16.5*24 inch), you not only need both hands but also unobstructed view into the feeder. This works best when standing behind the device, having direct view on the paper path. After opening the front lid and folding out the paper support, the stance from the front would be so poor that I consider precise feeding of large media next to impossible. A freshly inserted A2 sheet sticks out the feeder quite considerably and moves slightly back and forth during the automatic alignment, therefore the sheet should be allowed to slide freely, not scratching along wall or furniture; the alignment process does not need any extra friction.

My recommendation is to place the printer on a desk or sideboard large enough to provide space also for the media box as well as restroom for the just printed sheets. Of course, you should be able to handle the media feeder conveniently, this is of prime importance. Like the smaller brother R2880, the transport mechanism requires a gentle two second push-and-hold force before it catches and aligns the sheet.

I was allowed to allocate an unused office at my workplace in order to exercise with the printer and discuss pictures, problems and findings with some colleagues. Therefore this review reflects a mélange of opinions, not just my personal one.

3880_3
Formats

Here you see the printer on a typical steel-frame office desk sized 80*160 cm, about 2.6*5.2 ft. This turned out to be just about perfect for my testing.

Once a location decision is settled, it’s time to start installation. The device provided has been used before and came fully equipped with ink cartridges, therefore no need for me to go through the initial steps of device setup. These are well described in the quick guide and handbook. I would just like to highlight that the vacuum-protected cartridges want a decent shake before installation – every time. We are dealing with complex pigmented ink chemistry. Despite the many smart engineering efforts that went into the ink formulation in order to avoid particle cluster formation, such clusters might develop while resting on the shelf. Shaking the cartridge is a proven countermeasure to dissolve clusters and recover optimum ink state. This effort is little pain compared to blocked nozzles (and subsequently anything between nozzle rinsing and head exchange).

For the sake of exercising I decided to employ both USB installation and TCP/IP network installation. USB for its simplicity; TCP/IP for its versatility. You might know that plain USB cable links should not exceed 5 meters in length. CAT5 network cabling covers much longer distance and, since the printer might require more space than the typical crowded desk can handle, I consider a somewhat remote location the better choice, hence the network link.

Since the Stylus Pro 3880 has the power to generate awesome prints, keep repeating the nozzle check until the pattern is flawless. My method is this: one sheet of plain paper enables four nozzle checks, if there is still a flaw after the fourth run, I invoke a head cleaning and verify the success on a fresh sheet before doing a real print.


 

Earlier I recommended not to invoke the Windows printer test page print immediately when Windows wants to. This is because the Epson driver installation default is Luster photo paper, which would lead to a spillage of much more ink than office paper can handle. Therefore, as long as you are busy with installing and testing and getting familiar, set the driver to plain paper. For now, you don’t even need to care for what kind of black ink is enabled (since both black inks flow through the same nozzles).

Obviously the Stylus Pro 3880 can handle a large variety of print media and most of them require tailored driver settings. This quickly raises the problem of managing the appropriate settings and it is pretty inconvenient to adjust the driver each time you change media size or media type. Fortunately there are several ways to organize the print options such that custom presets can be created and maintained.

One way is embedded in the Epson driver, where user-defined settings can be stored. Another way is to add “logical” printers to the computer and assign a fixed combination of print characteristics (media type, media size, rendering) along with a self-explanatory name. Both have advantages and disadvantages, as always in real life. The point that I want to make is that nobody needs to be afraid of getting lost in a jungle of printer driver options. Work out your preferences and store them using either method, and even after a year of non‑use you can replicate a certain print because you saved a preset.

Just as an example using the "Windows Add Printer" approach:

From Devices and Printers – add a Printer – add a local Printer – use an existing port – (select appropriate port) – select the existing Epson 3880 driver (no need to reinstall), replace the default name by one that will nicely reflect the application target, e.g. "SP3880 FineArt USFAP Matte A2" as for fine art media of UltraSmooth type in DIN A2 format. You may then apply the necessary driver settings to this “logical” printer and don’t need to touch anything but selecting the device in order to perform a print with exactly those print characteristics which you set and saved.

The Epson printer driver is a nice piece of software. It allows creating numerous “logical” printers, each with dedicated settings which will not raise conflicts. The best feature, however, is its ability to support colour management when called by colour-managed applications like Adobe Photoshop. The improved driver detects the colour manager, so you do not need to be afraid of accidental double colour management any more. If you define “colour management by Photoshop” in the Photoshop print dialog, the Epson driver automatically recognizes it.

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Thomas Berg Thomas Berg (twberg)

Porz, Germany
Normal, 1 post

8 comments

Thomas Berg (twberg) on August 11, 2011

@Bob: I am convinced there is sufficient similarity between 3800 and 3880. AFAIK the technical upgrade was rather subtle and the article should fit like a glove the R2880, 3800, 3880 and, within limits, R3000 models. It is anyway not a tech freak writeup.

Thomas Berg (twberg) on August 11, 2011

@Marketing: of course I agree to providing PDF's!

Robert Horner (Broadway Bob) on August 11, 2011

Thomas, I have an Epson 3800 - is there enough similarity between this and the 3880 so that the tutorial would be useful? Thanks. Bob

Nikonians Marketing Department (nikonianssales) on August 10, 2011

@Del, It would be my pleasure to send you a pdf. If Thomas agrees just let me know your email. You can reach me under sales(at)nikonians(dot)org

Leon Guidry (periopnurse) on August 2, 2011

Very nice guide. I've had this printer for a while , and it's my first 'photo-dedicated' printer. Have been learning by trail and error (mostly error) This is a really handy bit of info you provided....Thanks!! Leon

Thomas Berg (twberg) on August 2, 2011

@Charles: Thanks for you kind comment; I'm glad you are so happy! @Del: Unfortunately I do not have the opportunity to provide a PDF version. I suggest you contact Hendric Schneider (hendric, the nikonians blogger) about that; he might be able to help.

Charles Carstensen (chuckcars) on August 2, 2011

Thomas, what a great review. I love my 3880. Have owned it for about 4 months. Your review is spot on in every regard. Good Job.

Del Caldwell (Del) on August 1, 2011

I can't figure out how to print the whole guide. Is there a way to save it as a pdf or buy it? del

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