Professional photographers and serious amateurs will want to give the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 high consideration. Image quality for both color and black-and-white prints is impressive, as is the ability to deliver sizes up to 17 by 22 inches.
Impressive black-and-white, color prints. Experts say the large-format Epson 3880 is a great choice for those who are serious about photography. Whether you print on glossy or matte stock and in color or black and white, results are equally stunning all the way up to the maximum print size of 17-by-22-inch prints, reports say. "If you've been considering a larger printer, the 3880 should be at the very top of your list," says a professional reviewer on Shutterbug.
The Stylus Pro 3880 uses pigment-based inks that are designed to last 100 years, and photos print quickly. However, reviewers point out a couple of flaws: The paper feed, which holds 120 sheets, sometimes requires a lot of fiddling, and the printer does a wasteful ink purge every time you switch between glossy and matte paper.
Unusually compact for a large-format printer. Its terrific image quality is just one reason the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 fares well in both experts' and owners' eyes. Another is its surprisingly trim footprint. Unlike most large-format printers, the 3880 can fit on your desk as long as it's a pretty big desk, says PC Advisor. It also can be networked via Ethernet.
The Stylus Pro 3880 uses an eight-ink system, and ink costs seem high at first glance. The tanks are high-capacity, however, and reviews say that reduces ink costs in the long run. Shutterbug notes that the printer ships with nearly $600 worth of ink, taking a little sting out of the high up-front price.
The Epson 3880 isn't the newest printer on the market, and lacks certain bells and whistles like an LCD screen and the ability to print directly from cameras. But one Amazon.com user finds its other features helpful, including printer alignment and a job history function. The latter helps photographers organize the history of each print by file name, paper type, size and a quantitative readout of how much of each color ink was used to create the print.
Long-lasting ink cartridges. Customers who gripe about the Epson Stylus Pro 3880's performance often have issues from the beginning; very few complain about the printer breaking down long term. Owners say one pleasant surprise is how long the ink cartridges last, a benefit of their size being larger than what's used in many competitors.
The 3880 has been on the market for several years, but praise for the printer -- mostly from professionals, who seem to be the primary buyers -- keeps rolling in. One Amazon.com user says in a lengthy review, "After one year of printing fairly regularly, I have to say that I am still very pleased." Another notes that the nozzle requires no cleaning, even if the printer is turned off for weeks.
Review Credibility: Very Good The Epson Stylus Pro 3880 "is an amazing value," according to this photography website: It can print up to 17 by 22 inches, but it's much smaller and cheaper than a traditional wide-format printer. Canfield likes its color and black-and-white print quality, and points out that it comes with nearly $600 worth of ink.
Review: Epson's Stylus Pro 3880; The New 17" K3 Printer, Jon Canfield, April 1, 2010
Review Credibility: Very Good After a thorough test, Oliver concludes that the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 is "an excellent addition to any serious photographer's kit." It charges a lot for ink, he says, but not compared to what a professional photographer will earn from the prints.
Review: Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Review, Vincent Oliver, Nov. 23, 2009
Review Credibility: Very Good PCMag.com doesn't test many professional-grade printers, but the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 impresses Hoffman enough to earn an Editors' Choice award. As Epson's lowest-priced pro photo printer, its "exquisite" prints, robust feature set, versatile paper handling and capable speed make it a good choice for pros and serious amateurs alike.
Review: Epson Stylus Pro 3880, Tony Hoffman, March 21, 2011
4. PC Advisor
Review Credibility: Very Good "We simply can't recommend it highly enough," PC Advisor says of the Epson Stylus Photo 3880. Mead finds it quiet and easy to use, and calls color test prints "nothing short of remarkable."
Review: Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Review, Rob Mead, Sept. 2, 2010
Review Credibility: Very Good More than 50 owners post feedback on the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 here, and all say they're wowed by its print quality. Users do point out some flaws -- the paper feed is finicky, and the printer performs an ink-wasting purge every time you switch between glossy and matte paper -- but they give it 4.2 stars out of 5 overall.
Review: Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Color Inkjet Printer, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2013
Review Credibility: Very Good The website of New York-based B&H, which caters to photo and video enthusiasts, posts about 325 reviews for the Epson Stylus Pro 3880. Users give the printer 4.8 stars out of 5, with one calling it an "outstanding, cost-effective solution for…consumers ranging from semi-serious amateurs to serious professionals."
Review: Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Large-Format Inkjet Printer, As of February 2013