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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

Making the Press media available to the Epson Print Plug-In for Photoshop

The free auxiliary software "Epson Print Plug-In for Photoshop" can serve as a powerful tool to easy print layout work but it is – in the version as of Q1/2011 – not aware of the Press media. Going into the details of that tool exceeds the scope of this review and, frankly, I just scratched the surface of its capabilities. All I want to show is how to embed the Press media profiles.

Once installed, you access the plug-in through Photoshop via File -> Automation -> Epson Print Plug In. It opens in a new window as a separate application. The procedure of implementing media sizes and profiles that the program is not aware of by default is, unfortunately, a little complicated. I assume that you already managed to copy the downloadable Epson media profiles into the relevant ICM profile folder of your operating system, e.g. C:\Windows\System32\spool\drivers\color. Clicking on the wrench icon on the very right of the Print pane opens a window where settings for colour management can be made. Leave the "ICC Profile Management" on Automatic and click on . This opens the "Printer ICC Profile Settings" window which shows a list of installed profiles, arranged by the Epson printers that are known to the computer system.

Printer-ISS profile-settings

Select the desired printer and click ; this opens the "Printer ICC Profile Assignments" window. Here you have the chance to type a self-speaking name for the profile assignment (which will show up in the media type dropdown list later) and next comes a setting which is important for correct function: in the field you must set "Ultra Smooth Fine Art Paper" as paper type for the Epson Press media because this automatically instructs the printer to employ matte black and the rear fine art media feeder! Consider USFA as a generic media type description which acts as a template only, do not get confused by setting USFA although we are in the course of implementing Hot and Cold Press media.



Select the desired media profile from the list of installed ICC profiles, check once again that you choose the appropriate media type and close the windows in reverse order until you revert to the window where the ICC Profile Management can be adjusted. Here you can select which rendering intent shall be used by default. A rule of thumb says “relative colorimetric” is relatively often relatively appropriate, so this might be a good choice.

Eventually we are done; the generated profile assignment is recognized by the Print Plug‑In and can be selected from the dropdown menu in the Print pane as indicated in the following screenshot.

assign the generated profile

So, given the hassle of profile implementation, why should one deal with the Print Plug‑In at all? Because it allows doing something that the seemingly almighty Photoshop struggles with: precisely printing as defined in the layout. I selected the predefined layout "A3+ 5mm Border" and was awarded with a print that featured precise 5mm borders and exact centering. Bravo! Well done, Epson. Of course this kind of accuracy is vital for a tool that supports layout work; creating fancy print layouts without the confidence that they print correctly would be pointless.


To my surprise I learned that the Print Plug‑In works only for image sizes up to 8000 by 8000 pixel. Since a full 360ppi resolution A2 size picture has 8419*5953 pixels, the optimum native Epson resolution cannot always be used with the Print Plug‑In. Although I did not spot a loss in quality between a full scale A2 size 360ppi direct Photoshop print and a down sampled 340ppi with border (another predefined layout), I do not really understand the size cap. I could agree to 8500*8500 but not 8000*8000px.

Another need-to-know characteristic is the limited transfer of properties between the Layout pane and the Print pane. There is no automatism that prevents from defining a fancy layout for A2 size and then invoking the print on A3 size media because that was the last used print setting. A warning message is issued, though. If you fail to observe the warning and re-check all settings, a fractional print would be the result.

Admittedly, the Print Plug‑In provides lots of messages, e.g. with the launch of each print job you get informed that possibly the black ink will be swapped. This is quite irritating and caused me aborting print jobs several times. Apparently the Plug‑In does not recognize the current print driver setting and issues this message every time even if it is the 10th print in sequence.

The Epson Print Plug‑In definitely is a mighty tool which lacks some tuning. With its present incarnation the operator must work very careful and very concentrated.

Some final words

Once the Press media are fully implemented in your work environment, printing fun is ready to go except for one thing left to be observed: strict tidiness! As mentioned the Press media are coated and dissipate virtually no particles but they are of course susceptible to dust. Pigmented ink does not penetrate the media as deep as dye ink. Dust particles on the media surface simply get printed over and will leave a paperwhite spot if wiped off later. Effectively this may ruin the print. With respect to cost and effort involved in creating a large size print, careful inspection and cleanliness should be understood. I was too careless in two cases and finally binned two prints because overprinted debris came off in dark areas, leaving bright speckles where they did not belong.

My overall impression of the cotton-based Press media is absolutely positive. I am deeply impressed by their performance for B/W photography in particular. The prints I made came out exactly as prepared in Photoshop; no detail or hue were added or discarded. If something went wrong, it was my fault, a statement which refers mainly to improper preparation of colour prints. The surface feel is equally fantastic for all four variants, absolutely in line with the print results. With respect to media selection, there is no reason for technical qualms, you may choose purely emotional since the colorimetric parameters are so similar.

The new quartet deserves highest praise and recommendation. I could not find any weak points. Their haptics and rendering potential are superior over the established Epson matte media. Being an integral part of the Epson printing system, the mechanical and chemical properties of the Press media guarantee full compatibility with ink and printers.

Thanks for reading and forgive my imperfect English,

Thomas Berg

(1 Vote)
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Thomas Berg Thomas Berg (twberg)

Porz, Germany
Normal, 1 post


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

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014warded for

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