Epson Stylus Pro 3800

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Epson Stylus Pro 3800
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Excellent quality prints, outstanding speed on almost any media type

Cons

  • The need to swap cartridges when you switch between matte and photo black inks wastes at least 2ml of ink in the process due to ink "flushing"

Bottom Line

If you are a professional photographer or serious amateur looking to reproduce your work at large sizes and with extremely high quality, the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 Standard Model is a great printer. You get speed, quality, and efficiency at a good price, even when you factor in the swapping of the matte and photo black inks. While some people will view the printer's primary flaw as a fatal one, it's hard to argue with the end result: large, beautiful prints on almost any media type.

Would you buy this?

Dealing with ink

One problem with some of Epson's printers is that they require you to swap cartridges when you switch between matte and photo black inks. This process is clumsy and wastes a lot of valuable ink, and it can set off a cascade effect that drains other ink cartridges in the process. The Epson Stylus Pro 3800 is better in this regard, offering separate slots for each black ink type. When you choose a paper type in the print driver, the printer automatically chooses the appropriate black ink type.

Unfortunately, the black inks share a single channel to the printhead, which means that the printer still must purge that line of ink before switching. This two- to three-minute process wastes approximately 2ml of ink when swapping from photo to matte black, and 4.5ml when going the other way. While this is better than the R2400, both HP's Photosmart Pro B9180 and Canon's Pixma Pro9500 use separate ink lines for matte and photo black inks, a much less wasteful approach.

Fortunately the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 does an excellent job with ink efficiency. We printed almost 400 photos -- mostly 8x10in and larger -- before we had to replace any ink cartridge, and we went back and forth between black ink types during the testing. Because of this, the cost per page will be much less with the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 than it will be with any comparable large-format photo printer, which really turns into savings if you print a lot of photos.

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