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Wednesday, 29 April 2015


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As a long time owner of a 3800 my interest is piqued. Unless things have vastly changed, I would not worry about the need to drive it hard and often. Due to travel I have left my printer for six and eight week periods with no jams, clogs or ill effects. The one difference is that I live in humid Florida. Carl Weese has had problems in the past in Connecticut, where the winters are bone dry.

Longer lasting inks are nice, in theory, but the part that has me looking is that with every ink change, Epson's black inks get better. I print mostly monochrome so I await your first tests;-}

Also means that I'm taking advantage of the price drop on the 3880 that I've been lusting after for the last 3 years, and finally have the (fiscal and physical) space to own!

It appeals to me too, even though most of my prints are 11x14 or smaller (11x14 fits a 4:3 ratio well with a border). My 2880 really goes through cartridges and I'd like the option of occasionally printing something like a 15 x 20. I'm also feeling like I'm just starting to get better at tone control in my black and white prints so any kind of improvement in the output would be welcomed.

My current printer was a father's day present years ago, but with a daughter about to attend college I don't think that kind of splurge is happening just yet.

Happy to see these things are still being produced and improved, however slight. This might be close to the last hurrah if printer sales match recent camera sales.

Great news! Not.
I just replaced my blown 3880 less than a month ago, and I'm still waiting for my rebate check.
C'est la vie.

The 17” printer is a better value format for you Micro 4/3 people. I can print my 2:3 ratio 35mm-style frames at 12x18 on commonly-available 13x19 sheets, but could only increase to 14x21 on the 17x22 sheets most common for the 17” machines, only about 36% bigger. But the 3:4 ratio can print at 15x20 (again, sticking to whole numbers for simplicity), about a 56% increase ever the 12x16 I can get on my 13” printer. There a few 25” wide sheets for 2:3 ratio prints at 16x24, but far fewer types than the 22” width. Or the rolls, but again fewer types, higher initial cost and less convenience.

How many owners of these printers do paid work for others? Is there a directory/forum?

After I prep the files in Lightroom with their color profile, my local Costco makes a satisfactory print for my needs. But what if someone offers to pay for a print of mine? (Note the future tense... this hasn't been a problem yet.)

Knowing that there is a market for print services may help one to justify buying and supplying and maintaining and learning and using such a lovely toy. Not me, though...

Who you gonna call (other than Ctein)? Just curious.

Since I consider cropping an integral part of the photo preparation process, the format I shoot in doesn't really do that much to influence what shape prints are most efficient for me.

(Yeah, it's nice to get the most out of the recorded information, so getting as close to the borders as you safely can with these "miniature" formats is good policy. But hand-held, there are risks to getting too close, and when action is happening it's hard to be stupendously precise. AND, perhaps most importantly, the shape of the sensor I happen to be using doesn't inherently dictate the best composition for the scene in front of me.)

So the new inks are not backward compatible with the 3880? Epson probably would have sold a lot more ink if they were—but of course fewer printers.

I stared long and hard at the prints from the P600 on display at PhotoPlus in NYC last October. On glossy or semi-gloss papers i couldn't see any difference from 3880 class printers. M Reichman was very impressed with the improvement on matte paper - but I don't use that.

So, I take that as good reason to stay with my 3880 which has been terrific for years!

Dear Folks,

Two quick thoughts--

The 3880 is not "obsolete," unless you're obsessed with owning the latest and greatest. It still works as well as it did last week, and it will continue to do so until Epson stops making inks for it. Which, based on their track record for previous generation printers, will be some years from now. You can still buy ink from Epson for the 2200 which was discontinued, what a half dozen or more years ago? and they stopped making parts three (at least) years ago. But the ink? Still pumpin'...

You make prints for yourself because you want to make prints for yourself. End of story. Very few people's investment in a darkroom ever paid for itself-- either in printing they did for others or even in the amount of money they spent on printing for themselves rather than having a lab do it.

pax / Ctein

I have been waiting a few months for this printer since my 3880 developed the photo black ink rapid emptying problem, which is quite common and not fixable.

Rather mean limiting the inks to 64ml when it takes a fair amount to prime the system when setting up. But being able to use 3in diameter paper rolls is handy.

Keith Cooper of Northlight Images (Leicester,UK, the city where Cooke still and cine lenses have been made since 1893) has just done an excellent review of this printer (his reviews are always good). So I will be buying one when available.

Sometimes first impressions stick - my very first printer in 1998 was a head clogging Epson that was expensive to run. Having not forgiven that first one I stayed with HP until they dropped the grey ink option from their affordable range, since then I've been very happy with Canons.

P.S. Oh, and this is important. I *don't* own a 3880 because I do custom printing for others. I own it because I like doing my own printing for myself. I'd have one, even if I never made another print for someone else and if I never sold one of my own prints again.

My 9800's another matter. If I didn't print for others, I'd likely never have one of those. That's just too expensive an indulgence of my artistic impulses.

pax / Ctein

Can someone help me here. Whats the difference between this inkset and the 7900/9900? I use a 9900 and I'm struggling to see where this new product beats it, in gamut and longevity? Help....

I have to agree with James. I have a 3880 which sits for periods without use and clogs are virtually a thing of the past. I also, however, live in a more humid environment in Cairns Australia but compared to the 4000 series Epson I used to have, which was a clog nightmare, the 3880 is fantastic. Canson Platine Fibre Rag prints using ABW mode on the 3880 are perfect for me.

If I hadn't only just updated my complete computer setup (like last week!) I would be seriously considering this upgrade. I'm sure I eventually will ...

Dear Mike,

That theoretical LE of a silver-gelatin fiber-base print -- 500 years -- doesn't even qualify as "postulated." It's imagined, pulled out of someone's, ummm, err, hat (yeah, that's the word I want, uh huh). Nobody has a clue what all the deterioration modes really are for a photographic print that old. Until you know all the modes, you can't extrapolate from existing data.**

The best you can say, with any confidence and knowledge, is that a "very best-made silver-gelatin fiber-base print" has a demonstrated life well in excess of 100 years, and probably 200.

And, in the real world, very , very few people make "very best-made" prints or have the means to determine if they have actually done that when they imagine they have. And only a small percentage of those are stored under the conditions that will allow them to reach that venerable state.

Oh, and that 60-year figure you referenced... That's what's typical for 3880 prints on bare display with no glass or any other kind of protection. Even ordinary framing glass pushes it up to the century mark. and, in the dark, it's two centuries or more.

The 60-year figure is meaningless, because I can guarantee that if you have any print exposed to the environment without even framing glass for 60 years, it's gonna be clobbered by dirt, grime and airborne pollutants long before you hit the half-century mark.

It's a calibration number -- it's irrelevant in the real world. Citing it as if it points to something useful... well it doesn't.

pax / Ctein

**modes are really important. The only reason we can't state with certainty that digital prints will outlast conventional prints is that we haven't had them around long enough to know that we've identified all the failure modes. If we have, they'll beat the pants off your average darkroom print, because the mechanical nature of the printing process pretty much guarantees that they are all "well-made."

But, there's that big IF. So, modes-- really, really important.

So why not a strictly black and white printer? Nine inks match the zone system with one "warm-toned" ink and one "cold-toned" ink also in the array. Supporting papers simulate past greats such as Portriga Rapid, etc. WiFi enabled will print direct from in-camera raw processed JPEG. Those strictly black and white sensor DMD's are coming, yes?
The Ansel Adams Edition, methinks...

P800 making the 3880 obsolete?

I'm still using my ten year old — how can that be? — Epson 2200 and I've yet to hear any complaints about the print quality from my sometimes quite demanding customers.

After 6 years with the HP Z3100, it finally died. After saving money for a 3880, a much smaller printer, I found someone selling a 7900 for the list price of a 3880. That's a bargain that I couldn't refuse and I have to say that the 7900 is definitely better than the Z3100 in terms of ease of use and print quality. The latter is particularly shocking as the Z3100 print quality is quite high already.

The P800 looks more interesting for my kind of photo printing. Especially if it retains the straight through sheet feed system and the software that allows for long panoramic images. I want to print on thin stainless steel sheet metal to eliminate the paper issue. Yes, I am serious about this.


I was about to change my 7800 for something smaller like a 3880. Since I have the 7800 I didn't do more than 30 or 35 24x36" prints but I printed a couple of thousand smaller prints, between 4x6 to 17x22, so, I don need a large printer. Then a couple of weeks ago I learned about the P 800. It seems that the matte blacks are superb. A pretty good review already here


To Ed Hawco:

I got the 3800 about six months before the 3880 came out. It's not obsolete by any stretch of the imagination. I still get beautiful prints from it, and can't imagine how a newer model could improve much. I suspect you'll get beautiful prints from the 3880 for years as well.

It's okay; my 3880 has been out of date since I bought it instead of the 4900 back last summer. This new model doesn't change anything.

I got hooked on photography in a darkroom in high school watching an image that I had taken appear on paper under a safe light was just the bee's knees for me. Having my own printer is much the same. Could a professional printer do it better? Of course. Would that be cheaper? Almost certainly. Do I need a new printer? No. Will I buy one anyway? Absolutely.

Printers remain, for me, machines for people who like having technical problems to solve. Paper jams, expensive inks, mismatched colours, streaks, blocks, the horrifying computer / printer interface - one brain-frazzling issue after another. Learning how to print well is as hard as taking a decent picture in the first place but for some reason it feels (though it probably isn't) way more expensive; it's certainly more frustrating, in part I think because I have convinced myself that having a decent picture file should be sufficient to produce a decent picture. After years of having ink printers around the place and never being happy with them I finally gave in and bought a laser printer for low-quality printing when I absolutely have to have a map or letter or something on paper; otherwise it's a blurb book or a professional lab for actual physical images: I've taken the picture, dammit, isn't that enough!?

Well, my HP B9180 is hanging on by its last tooth and really needs replacing but I do not print enough to warrant such a printer. I have been prevaricating for a long time and maybe this will push me to dump the heap of annoyance that is the HP.

I should note that my lament about my new 3880 being "obsolete" was primarily a rhetorical strawman. (Mission accomplished.)

Like most people, I do feel a bit of a twinge when newly-purchased gear is soon replaced by a so-called "better" one. My Olympus OM-D EM5, with all of its button and controller problems, feels like a broken Holga now that the MkII is out. I feel like my Fuji X100S was barely out of the box when they announced the Fuji X100X, Then the 3880 thing.

But I have no complaints about the 3880, whereas I do have some complaints about the two cameras I mentioned (and most of my complaints appear to have been resolved with the replacement models, which is why they're cricks in my craw or whatever the expression is).

All that said, I would like to rephrase the final line of my 3880 lament to the following: I'll remember this one for a long time because I'll be looking at it every day and happily using it for the foreseeable future.

Are printing years the modern equivalent of dog years?

Oddly the Northlight review suggests the difference in image quality is irrelevant and the MR at LL review suggests it is relevant.

Looking forward to a review here.

But I have been using a 7800 ever since I realized that my 7500 really was not good enough (yep, customer complaints). And I doubt I will be in a big hurry to switch.

But I am quite curious.

I'll still continue to use Costco for prints when needed for an occasonal exhibition.

@ john babineau said "So why not a strictly black and white printer?"

Separate monochrome inksets and RIPS that convert existing printers to monochrome printers with the type of tonality control you allude to have been available for over a decade. Jon Cone's Piezography inks were among the first but a number of other folks make and sell these and they produce lovely results once you go through the learning curve. They also have the advantage of allowing you to buy ink in large bottles at a considerable cost savings. There are groups on Yahoo and elsewhere dedicated to this type of monochrome printing.

I actually wrote an article about Jon Cone's workshops and printing methods for Mike in 2004 as part of the Sunday Morning Photographer series that appeared on Michael Reichmann's site.

Pity that Ctein will not review the P600, though the reason makes lots of sense. I cannot decide between the P600 and the Pixma Pro1, the Epson seems to have some edge particularly for B&W, but for my work I will have to leave the printer idle for weeks from time to time, and I fear clogging.

I have two 3880 and have no desire to replace them. One has Epson inks for color printing and the other has Piezo inks for black and white. Hard to beat B&W with six shades of grey pigments but it really shines in making negatives for Platinum printing http://jimhamstra.blogspot.com/2014/04/platinum-printing.html
Hope Epson continues to support the 3880.
Cheers, Jim

The existing Epson printers do B&W wonderfully already; who would give up color for little to no improvement in B&W? No market opportunity there!

I have some information available for the smaller P600 model here:


It's a work in progress. The P600 has a maximum quality screening resolution of 5760dpi which will edge out the P800's 2880 dpi setting when making smaller sized enlargements. I do have an older Epson 3880, and the P600 does indeed produce a very subtle but real improvement in image quality if you are sending the printer image files with greater than 360 dpi native file size. Some preliminary Dmax numbers are also available for the new UCHD inkset compared to the older UCK3VM ink set. The difference, again, is real but subtle in most cases, although definitely media dependent. For my favorite luster fine art paper, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Pearl, the difference is quite significant.

I also ran a comparative cost analysis ( the 17" P800 is initially more expensive but has lower ink cost per ml), and it looks like the break even point between the two printers is about 525 8x10 inch equivalent size prints, so if you mostly do 13x 19 print sizes and smaller and don't plan on printing high volumes, the smaller 13 inch carriage width P600 is probably the better choice, but I tend to agree with Mike, the P800 is going to satisfy the serious photographer more due to its larger carriage width.

As for light fastness claims, well that was the reason I bought the P600...to find out how if the new HD inkset fixes the weak yellow performance of the older K3 ink sets. Testing will begin very soon, but it will take me a few months to post some initial results.


I have a 2880 and I was forced by circumstances in late 2010 to box it up and leave it in my workshop for nearly two years. I pulled it out again in late 2012 expecting to have to unclog the head, but no, it worked fine straight off the mark. No dried ink, no banding, no problems. I was impressed!

Then, once again, it was boxed up from Jan 2013 to Sept 2014 and when I set it up again, it worked fine. Maybe I've been lucky but I'm happy with that.

I paid about A$1000 for it new. I've since been through two sets of ink cartridges at A$25 each so that's 2x $200 and I expect to keep on paying. Ouch.

On the same beat as Ctein my dad invested in an R3000 when our R2400 quit it's service and we had to get some prints done. It is never gonna get a ROI.....but hay we bought it to do our own prints and be independent of shopshedules.

A 3880 crossed our mind but we decided against it. I declared photography dead anyway (to many rules and regulations in Europe and to many photo's taken in spite of that) and use it solely for 3D rendering test prints and my dad thinks A3+ is big enough!

Now I only have to sell my Olympus crap.....and the rest of my Fuji GX680 system and I'm back to an LX3 and a Canon 600D with 18-55 (just for 3D scanning using David 3D and Agisoft Photoscan mind you)!

Greets, Ed.

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