Thoughts on Epson Stylus Pro 3800
February 5, 2009 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Anyone have experience with the Epson Stylus Pro 3800? I'm wanting to print 16x20 color and B&W photos manipulated in Photoshop 6 running on an XP machine.

How's the cost per print, vis a vis ink, paper, etc? And how fast do you go through ink? Any paper recommendations? And of course, what do you think of the print quality?
posted by theroadahead to Technology (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to try the Luminous-Landscape forums. There are a lot of print maniacs around there.

Um, just FYI, I got a HP B9180, which is a pretty affordable printer, and it eats through ink like nobody's business. I think Epsons are just the same. I don't think which printer you use matters as much as you realizing that man, that costs a lot. I switched to an off brand ink supplier (which seems to be working good and looks pretty close to exactly the same (maybe exactly the same). That's helped a lot. It's about 1/4 the price. But paper costs a lot.

I was printing 13x19, a size I like a lot. But it's quite expensive. I'm going with 11x17 these days.

If money is an issue, I might consider going with a 13x19 printer. The printer itself is much cheaper. And 16x19 paper is going to be pretty costly. And you are going to burn through ink like you can't believe. Consider that. Someone had given me an Epson 7600, a great old printer but there was no way that I was going to be able to afford to make as many prints with that as I wanted, at the size it was capable of. So I sold it and bought the HP. I can move it myself (took 2 people and a headache to move the Epson) and I can afford to make prints on it.

Just thoughts. If you got money to burn, have fun! I mean that seriously. I just realized that I'd rather make a bunch of nice prints at 13x19 (pretty good sized), then 1 or 2 at 16x20 (and feel like a pauper).

Best of luck. I love making prints. Now that I got this cheap, good ink, I like it even more!
posted by sully75 at 5:06 PM on February 5, 2009

PS Epson Ultra Premium Matte is a really nice paper. It's not stunning but it's really good, and pretty cheap. It's not really archival (has optical brighteners in it, which will yellow with age). But it's a great paper. I have no fear of showing my prints on it.

There are some AMAZING new papers out there, usually called Baryta. They are imitations of gelatin silver fiber paper. I've used the Hanhumelle (I can't spell that) version. It's really pricey (like $2 a pop for 8x10) but man is it nice. But that's the the time I was screwing up 1 for every 1 I got out. Sometimes worse than that. It wasn't fun, at $25 a box. Would be a lot worse at 16x20.

There's probably a usenet kind of thing for the 3800...I'd google for that. You'll get a lot of good advice. But like I said, I definitely would consider a smaller printer. Just from experience. If money is an issue.
posted by sully75 at 5:14 PM on February 5, 2009

PS I might also look at what the aftermarket ink options are. Paying for the manufacturers ink is PAINFUL. If there is a good alternative, I'd keep an eye out for it. HP doesn't chip its ink carts to aggresively, so it's easy for these aftermarket ones to work. Epson might be more restrictive. I'd take a look into that.
posted by sully75 at 5:16 PM on February 5, 2009

Thanks for all the good info, sully 75. Lots of food for thought there. As to the aftermarket ink, I found this old story, so I'm a little concerned about that. When it comes to print size, I've thought about this and come to the conclusion that 16x20 is what I need. Smaller prints just don't seem as powerful for what I do. And yeah, money is an object, but if things work out like I would like, most of the prints will sell.

Yeah, it's a pricy printer, but for what the local places are charging for good quality 16x20 prints, the Epson would pay for itself after about 75 prints.

Again, thanks for your response.
posted by theroadahead at 6:32 PM on February 5, 2009

The 3800 is an excellent printer, the ink cartridges are larger than the smaller epsons (like the 2400 or r1900/1800), so consider that when looking at the cost of ink. Sully is right on paper-wise.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:36 PM on February 5, 2009

Glad it was of some help. I checked it out online, didn't know too much about it. Looks like a really nice printer.

One thing with Epson that's good and bad: for some of the larger printers the ink comes in gigantic cartridges. This is good because you are basically buying in bulk. This is bad because you are forced to buy gigantic amounts of ink. When I sold the 7600, I had a full set of unopened (outdated!) ink that I sold for more than $500 on ebay. I couldn't believe people would pay so much for outdated ink.

Anyway, big ink carts last for a long time, but when they go, they go, and they are crazy expensive.

Good luck!

The nice thing about digital is you can get a smaller size of paper than you are printing on, do your test prints on there and bang! pop out your 16x20 when you are ready, no sweat. Until some bug comes into the process and you start pulling your hair out (I speak from experience).

Oh yeah. Don't forget to read everything ever written by John Paul Caponigro. I'm not a big fan of his photography, but he knows everything about printing (to a ridiculously anal degree). Take it with a grain of salt, but his website has copious quantities of really helpful information.

You'll need a color calibrator for your monitor, definitely. I'll confess, printing is an infinitely frustrating process sometimes. It should be a lot easier.

Oh yeah and Epson Watercolor paper is pretty sweet. It has a lot of texture so it's a really weird paper in some ways but I did all my first prints on it and I really like it. I don't use it anymore but it's worth a try.
posted by sully75 at 9:54 AM on February 6, 2009

Thanks to the tips above, I found these informative links re the 3800. Just FYAEI (For Anyone Else's Information).
posted by theroadahead at 9:56 AM on February 6, 2009

And sully75 simul-posts! I get the feeling that I'm opening myself up for a world of frustration re: printing things myself, but I'm just as frustrated by the length of time it takes to get prints done locally, and the varying quality of said prints. And from what I'm seeing online, the pros outweigh the cons on this printer so I guess I'll take the plunge.

Thanks for all the tips, and wish me luck.
posted by theroadahead at 10:05 AM on February 6, 2009

Yeah it's cool. You're better off than I was, starting with a nice new printer. I was starting with hand-me-downs. The technology has improved ridiculously in recent years. Once you get everything tuned in, there's nothing quite like seeing a big ol' print. And also, it is the quickest way to improve your photography. Little errors you'd never notice on a screen will be big as day on a print.

Erm...just reviewing this. I think you're going to want to upgrade to Photoshop CS. I'm not sure what kind of printing capabilities there are in Photoshop 6, but woah...that's a while ago. I think before inkjet printers were really even worth using. It's quite possible it will work fine, but I think you are going to want to plan on an upgrade. I believe CS2 has the best printing capabilities so far. There are a lot of complaints about CS3, and it's screwed up printer interface. I'm not sure about CS4.

Many people use a RIP program to interface with their printer, which is another possibility. They can be expensive but I think they tend to take a lot of the frustration out of the process.

Ok I'll shut up now.
posted by sully75 at 1:14 PM on February 6, 2009

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