|EPSON STYLUS PRO 3880|
When I first heard that Epson was about to introduce a desktop printer in the 17 inch-wide category and after reviewing the specifications I was a little puzzled. At the time I owned Epson’s other 17 inch printer, the 4000 Stylus Pro. What made me skeptical was that the 4000 was the first and only (at the time) pro-line printer in the Epson line that allowed for both matte black and photo black inks to be installed simultaneously. With the subsequent release of the 4800 a couple of years later Epson went back to an ink configuration where the photo and matte blacks required swapping out. This was necessary in order to give one of the cartridge slots to a new light, light black in the new UltraChrome K3 inks.
Now here came along the 3800 which once again had all the inks on-board simultaneously. This printer featured automatic black ink switching which involved flushing and priming a single black ink line shared between the photo and matte black cartridges triggered by the user’s selection of paper in the printer driver. This was all good and well even in the midst of knowing that some amount of black ink would be wasted in the flushing/priming process, but there was something else that did not sit well with me. There was no support for the use of roll paper. How could Epson build a Stylus Pro printer that did not support the use of roll stock? That made no sense to me initially. Even with my limited experience with the pro line at the time I had already gained a big appreciation for the convenience of roll paper.
The 3800 was also different in its design. This printer definitely had the pedigree of a Stylus Pro but you could immediately tell this one had somewhat of an independent streak. This printer played by a different set of rules. For one it was small and compact for a 17 inch printer. When I took delivery of my 4000 it arrived by truck on a wooden shipping palette. It takes two people to move it and unless you have a very sturdy and large counter or desk you would be wise to purchase the optional rolling stand. The 3800, on the other hand, could fit on an average sized desk or table and with the top load and catch trays for the paper retracted it is not much bigger than a typical 13-inch wide printer.
It is actually these design characteristics that really make the 3800 line of printers so attractive to such a large audience. It is almost the perfect combination of professional performance and compactness. It takes a lot less commitment on the part of the photographer to own this printer than with the other pro line models, and let me tell you the print quality is just as good. The upside is you don’t have to rearrange the furniture to get this printer into your digital darkroom. So you lose a little utility (no roll paper support) but for many who are not printing large volumes of prints this is not going to be missed. And for those with the big printers in their studios it is very convenient to run smaller prints or proofs on a smaller printer that is up and running in seconds. Now that I have had a chance to review the latest 3880 Stylus Pro my skepticism has been totally eliminated.
|Epson Ultra chrome K3ink|
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