Product Review – Epson Pro Stylus 3880 Printer
Written by: Tiffany Joyce
Over the years I’ve purchased various gadgets and toys that I really used and liked. I’ve also purchased things that within days I was asking myself what was I thinking and why did I throw away my money. Rarely, however, have I purchased something that has me saying “Wow” every time I use it. This is about one of those.
As a long time film photographer, I had always viewed digital photography as a quick and convenient way to capture images with a point and shoot camera. I was satisfied to download the images onto my computer and view them on the monitor. Sometimes I even transferred them to a DVD or emailed them to friends or family. I rarely printed anything but when I did, my HP Photosmart 1000 printer did an adequate job.
Early this year, I took the plunge into serious digital photography and purchased a Canon 7D. One of the things that drove this change was as I started trying to capture images that were a little more serious than Sunday afternoon picnics or Aunt Bertha’s birthday, I became frustrated with the limitations of the P&S camera. I longed for the freedom and versatility of my old SLRs. The first picture I took had me asking why I waited so long to buy a DSLR.
As I’ve mentioned before, I also began enrolling in classes to learn as much as I could about digital photography and photography in general. All of the classes I’ve taken to date include assignments in the form of photographs that are presented in class. As each homework assignment was completed I grew more and more frustrated with the inability of my Photosmart 1000 to reproduce the clarity, sharpness and colors I wanted in the printed images. The more I worked with it and experimented, the more the images improved but they still weren’t there.
Looking for a better result, I tried Walgreen’s and CVS. The result was a disaster. The images were worse than what I was printing at home. My experience was that the employees operating the large photographic printers at these stores either weren’t proficient at their job or didn’t really care. After a couple of tries with this approach I went back to the home printer.
(I’ve been told that Costco does a great job but that approach wasn’t practical for a number of reasons. I could have sent them off to a professional lab but because of the timing and the number of photos I was printing I was hesitant to go that route.
Still frustrated I began exploring higher end photographic printers to purchase. I talked to a lot of people and read a large number of reviews on-line before deciding to purchase the Epson Pro Stylus 3880 Printer.
The first print that came off the printer told me I had made the right decision. The colors, the depth, sharpness, everything said frame me and put me on the wall.
For a home printer it’s a beast. It weighs 45 pounds and has a footprint of approximately 30 inches wide by 20 inches deep. I have a friend down the street that has a Canon IPS 8300 and a Canon IPS 6100 both of which are much larger an able to make much larger prints but they’re somewhat impractical for a home office, at least from my perspective. The 3880 is large enough that you wouldn’t call it a desk top printer, but it is manageable.
The MSRP for the printer is $1,495 but you can buy it directly from Epson for $1,269. I bought it for $1,129 from B&H with free shipping and a $300 mail in rebate which I mailed in the day after I received the printer. A lot of money for a printer but at the end of the article I’ll show you how I showed my wife that the printer actually only cost $289.
Okay, if you’re drinking coffee or anything else you may want to put it down before you continue. The printer has nine 80ml pigmented ink cartridges that cost about $60 each for a total of $540 worth of ink cartridges. But wait – that’s only $0.75 per milliliter of ink. The 78XL tri-color ink cartridge the Photosmart uses is $59 which at 19ml is $3.10 per ml. Plus, with the 78XL and other tricolor ink cartridges, when you run out of cyan, you buy a new tricolor cartridge even if it still has red and yellow ink remaining. With the Epson cartridges, when you run out of cyan, you buy a new cyan cartridge.
The outfeed tray extends 18 inches from the front of the printer and the auto sheet feeder, when fully extended, needs about 10 inches of clearance for printing. However, these only need to be extended when printing. When you’re finished, they are easily returned to the inside of the printer.
The quality of the printed photos is phenomenal. I’ve been told by a number of people that the prints look like they come from a professional lab. In their mind that was the ultimate compliment. I printed a copy of one of my favorite images on the old photosmart and another copy on the 3880. Placing them side by side for comparison purposes, the photosmart image looks muddy and many of the details I can see on the computer screen are muted. With the copy printed on the 3880, the colors are saturated and the details are “tack” sharp.
It will print on any size paper up to 17”x22” which is as large as I would want to print at home anyway. The CD that comes with the printer contains, as you would expect, profiles for most of the photo papers sold by Epson. I am particularly fond of the Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster. I think the Luster produces tremendous images.
I haven’t had any experience with customer service yet but I do have a comment about working with people at Epson. All the images of the printer I used with this article are Epson marketing images. They are on Flickr but they are tagged with © All Rights Reserved. I sent an email to an advertising rep listed on Epson’s website requesting permission to use the images for this article. She replied the same day and forwarded my request to the appropriate person who emailed me permission to use the images the same day. When I sent the email I hoped I would hear from them in time for the article. I was extremely impressed with the speed of their response.
This article should make it obvious that I’m very happy with the printer and I would recommend it to anyone that wants to be able to print their own high quality photos at home.
Now, how I showed my wife that the printer only cost $289 – note that I said showed her not convinced her. I paid $1,129 for the printer and sent in the paperwork for the $300 rebate (I’ve received an email confirming that the rebate is being processed.) That reduces the price to $829. The printer came with nine ink cartridges that cost $60 each. That’s another $540 which means the printer was only $289. Good logic, huh?
All images Epson America
*The Author did NOT receive any products or compensation in exchange for mentioning the Provider’s products and/or services on this website. The Author purchased this product for personal use with personal funds. We will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. This is not an advertisement.
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