When you first purchase an Epson 3880 printer, are the print cartridges that come with it full size or are they "demo" type cartridges ? If so....then essentially one would need to spend an additional $500 on ink at point of purchase....correct ?
If the cartridges included are some reduced capacity, what can I expect in terms of life from them on average ? I know it's dependent on print size etc, but is there some ballpark number assuming I print at highest quality and say an average print size of 8x10 ??
I am finally making the change as I have milked all I can out of my ultra reliable 2880 printer for the past 5+ years.
The 3880 (a fine machine) comes with full-size cartridges and not "starter" cartridges. You'll use about 20%+/- of the ink just to initially charge the system, but depending upon how much you print, the remainder will last a long time compared to your 2880.
I bought a 3880 last year and the initial set of cartridges were all full size 80ml ones - though admittedly I'm in the UK so it could be differed in the US.
I don't think you'll be disappointed with the 3880 - it produces fabulous results.
As for cartridge manufacturer, I'm sticking to Epson ones, though there are a number of 'refill yourself' systems that are "guaranteed" to be the same spec of ink yet cost a fraction of the OEM ones. My worry is that if there's a problem with the printer, Epson will immediately say that I've not used their ink. As I'm not a high volume user, I'm erring on the safe side. I'd be interested to hear what experienced others have of these ink systems.
I'd be lying if I said I was not tempted to do the same (try cheaper cartridges) but since quality is what photography is all about, I think the cost to stay with Epson is probably worth it. I print higher volumes during my sports season (winter) so ink cost is important...but quality is more.
Also keep in mind that if you use 3rd party inks, you'll most likely need to create your own ICC profiles for the papers that you use if you currently don't do that and use the paper company's profiles as their profiles are based on Epson inks.
I recently checked out the 15% discount for the 3880 ink cartridges with the special Epson discount. Unfortunately the discount specials do not apply to the 3880 or 4900 or other "professional printers." In doing a quick analysis, and checking around on prices, the B&H price for a 9-pack of 3880 cartridges in the 80ml size comes to $48.34 per cartridge which is a significant savings versus the regular price.