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Monday, 22 August 2011


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A temptress of an even worse kind when you realize they won't ship it outside of the U.S. of A.

"Anybody there?"

I'm not going to help you with justifying this because I have too many photography struggles of my own to justify. As my wife says, "People always find excuses to do what they really want to do." Ouch.

I'm really happy I got the Stylus Pro 3880 on sale and with a rebate for $800 final cost a year ago.

Well, $800 not counting the ColorMunki, the 100 pages of Epson Premium Luster, and the $100 of ink I used up trying to get the monitor/printer calibration right. Nor the $500 IPS monitor when I figured out that a MBP screen is simply uncalibratable to print. Or the many evenings, and books, and google searches. And it only works if I print through Photoshop; Aperture is still broken for printing. But it works now. Prints look very much like what I see on the screen. In the right light.

Those would have been sunk costs for any printer, I suppose.

Anyway, $1145 seems like a great deal. Assuming it's the same quality as the 3880, the prints are excellent, though the cost per print seems a bit higher than I calculated, sadly.

Love the 3800, but you have to print pretty regularly or you'll use an immense amount of ink cleaning the heads. And filling the inks will run a pretty penny as well! Great prints though... might force you to do a print sale!

Mike, another photog called me this very morning agonizing over the same problem you describe. He was figuring out what he could sell and then approach the wife...
But since you don't have that problem I think you should just go for it.
Happy printing!

Hi Mike,

Yep, Epson does have some really good deals occasionally. About a year ago I picked up an Epson 3880 for about the price of a 2880 at the time! I always wanted to be able to print 16x20, but I'm not sure why cuz I've only ever made one print that size my entire photographic life. But...it was a good deal, right? :) I just couldn't pass it up!!

Didn't you just buy a printer (R3000)?

While the 4900 will produce better prints (assuming you've got top notch profiles) you'd have to be selling your prints pretty cheaply and in sufficient volume for the cost-per-print/speed to make much of a difference.

But it's a great printer at a keen price ...

You aren't alone and that printer would require a BIG desk unless it had a desk of its own of course. But then you have to have room for two desks. As for a print sale paying for it???? None of mine would.

I thought the same with the 2400 - get this printer and it will pay for itself. It has but not in terms of monetary value. Printing is fun and a great way to continue/propagate the love of/for photography.

I'm impressed with each generation of Epson printers. Add some Baryta paper and ooh la la!

Dont even think about it.The cost will double after buying colour calibration, inksets,papers of all kinds,rips,better software,printheads and other stuff you have not yet thought about. Farm the big stuff out to reputable print firms and save yourself the grief.

The Battlestar Galactica of printers? It's outdated, worn out, but still in the fight? Also, it might be full of malicious cybernetic entities plotting to destroy you? I'm not sure I want THAT printer :)

On the serious side, that is one helluva a printer for serious printing. I just bought a Canon Pro 9000 (for FAR less money) and labored over that. I would not want to be in your shoes.

Okay, that's really weird. The 4880 is listed as "discontinued" at ATLEX, but is selling for more than the 4900 that replaces it (after rebate on the 4900). (B&H just shows the 4880 as discontinued, no price). Makes me wonder why a $1000 rebate on the new model and prices staying high on the old model!

The 4900 comes with 10 ink cartridges that retail for $100 each -- so after rebate, that $1495 price includes $1000 worth of ink (admittedly you lose a chunk in initially charging the printer), meaning you're paying only $495 for the actual printer. Best deal of the decade!

Dear Folks,

If you've got the room for it (be sure to check out the weight and space specs), this is a FABULOUS deal. Especially if you think you can use up a carts worth of ink in about two years (they're good for LOTS longer than six months after installation).

As a guide to figuring out relative costs of printers and inks, see this column:

"Why I Love My 3880" tinyurl.com/3ntx7k7

You should be able to run your own cost/benefit analyses (no, don't ask me to do it) for the 4900 from published data (use Atlex to estimate best ink prices).

pax / Ctein

Wow, I clicked 'add to cart' and it says it is a new lower price - final price in cart is $1,145.00. Thanks a lot Mike. Just when I had convinced myself to put off a new printer purchase for a good while.

The printer comes with 80ml cartridges and the replacement cartridges are 200ml. You may be ordering the 200ml cartridges before the first day of printing ends.


On the positive side shipping is free. Considering the printer weights 115lbs that's probably a good thing.

And you better have plenty of help getting it into place. That means a case of beer and mucho nachos.

Based on what I've seen recently from this generation of Epsons on Hahnemuhle 325g Baryta gloss and the Ilford equivalent, don't think twice. Order before you leave — you'll kick yourself if they're all gone by the time you're back.

I have just taken delivery of a hardly used B9180 ('hardly used' and 'B9180' — made for each other) but haven't been brave enough to turn it on yet.

Epson deals occur regularly. The printer is just there to sell the inks; it's the same business model, I think, as razors and blades.

Having said that, I bought the 3800 a couple of years ago (heavily discounted) and considered it to be a far better purchase decision than more camera gear. It has performed like a champ. I did experience one head clog problem early on, but the local Epson rep picked it up, repaired the problem and gave me a full set of inks (worth $450) for my troubles. No issues since.

A friend has the 4800 and I was tempted to upgrade to it when its cost came down to the same as my earlier discounted 3800 (just before the 4880 intro). I was going to retain the 3800 for dedicated black/white using Cone's 7 shades of grey inks. But, given the results I was getting, I decided to hold off.

You can't go wrong with either the 3880 or 4900 (or even 4880). But, if you use roll paper, print huge and/or print in large volume, then the 4900 is the way to go. Just beware how huge the 4900 is in the box. It comes delivered on its own wooden pallet and needs a large and sturdy base once set up.

Sleep on it ....., (your decision I mean)!

I just bought, setup and tested a shiny new Canon Pro9000 for $149.00 after rebates and free shipping. 13x19" prints are Big to me! The printer produces gorgeous prints to my eyes. That big Epson would bury me in short order. Wall space is already scarce at my house. Unless you're selling those big prints, I think you'll run out of space pretty quickly. Trust me, I watched a lizard run across my driveway a while ago and thought,"If I shot him with my 100mm macro lens and printed him at 13x19, he'd be Godzilla". Seriously, you start looking at subjects differently. Wonder what this would look like in a big print...or that, or no, maybe that!?!

I got a 4900 from ATLEX for $1,149, well it hasn't arrived yet, but they don't come with $1,000 of ink, they have small starter cartridges, 80 ml as opposed to the 200 ml standard cartridges, but it is still a good amount of ink. I think the reason for the disparity on the 4900 and 4880 is because Epson are the ones who fund the rebate, as far as they are concerned the 4880 is a finished line and all stock should have worked out of the supply line, some dealers still have some NOS but they get no rebate on them so can't discount them, dealers do not have huge margins on printers, they make their money on consumables. Epson are well stocked with 4900's, some suggest they are overstocked and actually have new models to unveil to keep pressure they have not felt before from Canon and HP. The dealers with 4880's still in inventory are hoping that clients 4880's die but the client, who needs a new printer, wants to stay with the same model, for a variety of reasons.

With regards costs per print, best worked out estimates I have seen have been a doubling of paper cost, a 50 ft roll of 17" paper cost me $117. I am expecting around $4 per linear foot of 17" printing costs that include paper, ink, other consumables and a bit of difficult to calculate depreciation on the printer. Realistically it should have a three year work life, if you can justify less than $300 per year depreciation on a printer and are realistic on the costs of doing your own printing, time, calibrating, screens, etc then it is a great buy.

If you need roll paper, or the ability to print longer than 22" on the long side, want cheaper prints, have the space etc, the 4900 could be a good fit, if you want to print smaller than 8.5x11, don't have the space, can't justify the purchase price or depreciation or the cheaper by ml but more expensive by cartridge ink costs, you could well be better looking at the 3880.

I'm still here, but that's because I'm still here in my graphic design office trying to proof a job on your guy's grandpa machine, my Epson 4000. I had a nozzle clog, had to run the power clean cycle, had to change two cartridges because the ink levels were too low to run the power clean cycle, now waiting for the output. Three weeks ago I had to pop $300 to upgrade the RIP (Colorburst) because the version I had is no longer compatible with the latest dot-something version of Snow Leopard (I think) and Colorburst no longer supports the version of the RIP that had been compatible with the previous dot-something version of Snow Leopard. Maybe I should jump on this new Epson 4-series because I'm sure it's a dream to use ...


Deep down, you KNOW you want it. Listen - it's calling to you with its siren song/buzz/click/whirr. In your mind you are picturing all those lovely big prints you are going to make. The special ones you always knew would look their best printed with this very printer. If you close your eyes for a moment you can see them hanging in your favourite gallery, being admired by the many, as the more discerning discreetly reach for their credit cards.

When you wake up you will not suffer buyers' remorse, nor will you feel pangs of regret at the other costs as you upgrade the other parts of your printing workflow.

Dreams are real, and this one only costs $1,145, plus extras and running costs. If you can't live your dreams, what are you living for?

Kind regards,

PS I just replaced my B9180 with a 3880. There are some decisions you just know are right, even if it means swallowing a loss and being out of pocket for a while. Satisfaction, not money, is the objective here. If you are sure you'll make good use of it, and get a lot of pleasure out of it, then just do it.

I thought the point about the Galactica was that she was built with obsolete technonolgy so the Cylons couldn't mess with her when she was new... never mind when she was 50 years od and ready to be decommissioned!

"Dreams are real"

Oh, you're good.


I have to admit I don't actually know the first thing about Battlestar Galactica. I only used the term because I first used "Darth Vader" and I thought maybe I should try to update my cultural references. I'd add the comment "fail," but I'm sure that expression's dated too.


If you have a print sale of your own work, shouldn't those be made in that new darkroom of yours? :-)

Dear John Krill,

Assuming the internal line arrangement on the 4900 isn't much different from the 3880/4880 (I really don't know), charging up the machine the first time will use about 1/3 of those 80mm carts. Still that leaves around 55ml of ink per cart, which is like four full sets of carts for a smaller printer like the 2880.

It's possible that Mike will be getting carried away and buying full 200ml carts in no time, but if he's running through the equivalent of 4 sets of small carts that fast he really DOES need a large printer.

Ink consumption per print isn't much different between the different models. Figure 1 ml for a bordered 8x10, 2 for a bordered 11x14 and 4 for a bordered 17x22.

Very roughly, of course.

The carts don't all run out at the same time. In my particular mix of subjects, PK and LK are likely to go a lot faster, followed by LM and LC. At the other extreme, I use less than a fifth as much of C, M or Y as I do PK or LK.

This is a good thing. I don't find myself having to replace all the carts at the same time, so the hit to the wallet comes in much smaller chunks.


Dear Fred,

Your post doesn't make it sound like you've done much of this. The 4900 comes with a substantial amount of ink. The built-in profiles are quite decent, although I do recommend that people spring for custom profiles, which are a whopping $35. A third-party RIP is totally unnecessary, and head replacement is a once-in-a-blue-moon thing.

Double the cost? Really, that's not gonna happen until Mike's done such a large volume of printing that having it done elsewhere would quadruple the cost.

pax / Ctein

Ahh frak - in space, no one can hear you scream... even if you think you can make it pay for itself.

Confidence redefined: when you think 2500 USD become a bargain!



I'm sure you'll have great fun with this if you buy it. These things are fantastic. I use qimage to drive my machines. Just make sure you have a budget put aside for the first fill of ink - it will be very soon after you start printing, so ouch on that. Also, based on my 9900, which runs every day, you need to keep a close eye on these things and use them regularly. Learn to become a QC freak and play the printer like a violin.. Its amazing how nozzles only ever seem to clog half way through the first of ten great big prints, usually on the most expensive paper you have, and only when you leave the room for coffee... A minor clog on something like a light black needs a magnifying glass to see the results, until the print is laughing maliciously at you from behind the glass of its new frame, or indeed just as the customer is about to ring the doorbell to collect it. My record is 6 24x28" prints binned in the same session. On the metaphor front, Darth Vader would be the Epson 4000 - don't start me on trying to keep THAT running economically.

"This item can only be shipped to a US address."


Love my 4800.

One of my best purchases ever. Just keeps working.

Just farm your big printing out to your mate Ctein ;-)

Much cheaper and easier!!

about decision making... you will like this mike


Hard to choose: waiting for a deal on the 3880 but this is tempting. Don't need a gigantic printer for my 3rd floor room though.


BTW if you see a deal on the 3880 in the meantime, can you please post it?

Darth Vader never goes out of style.

I'd pawn something to buy this, if i didn't have one already. Previous 4000 & 4800 printers always needed nozzle checks and cleaning before printing. This printer hasn't needed a cleaning in the 6 months I've had it in the same location.
Switchable blacks? HDR inks? And you're still not sure?

Maybe I need a backup....hmmmm.

Dear me, 80ml starter cartridges? Huh; Yep, there it is on the Epson page (but no mention on B&H or ATLEX, both of whom are supposed to be well-behaved reliable suppliers). Epson hasn't done that before on the pro-grade printers. That's despicable -- making a whole new cartridge design, and manufacturing them (with 11 different contents), just to confuse people about what they're getting.


I believe that if you get this printer, learn it for a bit and then have a print sale of the apple in the grass, that you'll come close to even, especially at that $1,145.00 price.

I have a 3800 and have never regretted it for a second.

P.S. Sign me up for the first print of the apple!

Mike, I suspect you're like me - old enough to remember when 'Battlestar' means something that was the heavy hitter, the ne plus ultra... As the 'Galactica' itself was in the original series, and as the term was used culturally through the 80's - even by people who hadn't actually watched the show. I understood what you meant immediately.

Here in Denmark you would have to pay 4400$ and with sale tax 5200$. I don't get it why. Prices here are normally more expensive than us, but not that much!

For us Canadians:


Dear Paul H,

Well, easier, maybe, but if you think it's cheaper, you haven't checked out my prices!

Five different 17 x 22 prints (or ten duplicate prints) from me is gonna cost as much as the 4900 printer.

I appreciate the vote of confidence, but a bargain I ain't!

pax / Ctein

This item can only be shipped to a US address."


In Canada, $1299.00 at The Camera Store in Calgary.

I too have agonized over the purchase of a printer but have done the math on it. Its not just the purchase of the printer but as another mentioned the calibration tools that go with it, which can be pricey and time consuming to work with. Also the ink costs, paper costs, electricity costs, space allocation and "ooops's" that do happen. A lot of times a lab can come close to matching just the straight print costs alone (more so in multiple print runs ) not taking in to account the equipment costs. There is the feeling you get of instant print gratification, the same as you do in the darkroom, but the darkroom was always a quite place to go relax, where printing yourself can be frustrating as proven by Ctein's postings on software problems and the like. My advice which I am taking myself is find a lab you can trust and who will work with you to get the best image and once you have sold enough prints to afford the printer and acc with the profits go for it.

For Paul McEvoy


40 lbs, no 100+ lbs.

I too saw the B&H new price and even called them this morning to confirm that the price would hold even though the printer is out of stock. But a few hours later it seems that this has changed. Not only has it changed but the $1000+ discount now means that you pay $2495 for printer b/c B&H is now listing the printer at $3495. If I recall, $2495 is very close to what the printer sold for prior to the B&H "discount". I'm surprised that B&H would do this but I just got off the telephone with B&H and I was told they'd get back to me (which I don't find satisfactory).

Adorama has these for $1,069.00 with free shipping. Mine is on its way!

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