Hands-on Review: Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Inkjet Printer

The advancements made over the last 10-15 years in photo-quality inkjet printing are nothing short of incredible. Some of the features that have made their way into a number of inkjet printers on the market are as follows: compatibility with a wide variety of paper and canvas materials; expected print permanence before noticeable change surpassing 100 years; improved inksets capable of outputting very wide color gamuts; and pricing in line with consumer electronics like TV’s and digital cameras.

3880openThe Epson Stylus Pro 3880 with its output tray and high-capacity paper feed open. Photo courtesy Epson America, Inc.

The Epson Stylus Pro 3880 is a 17-inch-wide inkjet printer that was first announced in late 2009. It is a prime example of a printer that embodies all the advancements listed above–and many more. I could start by listing all the specs for the printer, but instead, I prefer to provide specs as they arise during my review. Also look for a few tips within the Pros and Cons (they are indicated by the word Tip). The magic of the internet allows me to provide a link to an excellent overview with full printer specs on Epson.com’s Website, which you can find here. The printer shares many of the features of its predecessor, the Epson Stylus Pro 3800, which I’ve owned and used for about the last two years. The primary differences between the 3800 and 3880 are as follows:

• The Stylus Pro 3880 has two new Magenta pigment inks (Vivid Magenta and Vivid Light Magenta), which help provide an extended color gamut (more printable colors).

• Unlike the 3800, the Stylus Pro 3880 uses a new AccuPhotoâ„¢ HD2 Screening Technology, designed to produce smoother color gradations, better shadow and highlight detail and better color constancy (prints should not change as much when viewed under different types of light). HD2 Screening Technology also allows for a single ICC profile to be used per media type regardless of resolution (1440, 2880, etc.).

• Unlike the 3800, the Stylus Pro 3880 has an ink-repelling coating on its print heads, which is designed to decrease maintenance, reduce clogging and increase overall reliability.

Over the years, I’ve written a lot of product reviews, and I’ve read many more than I’ve written. I generally get the best information from reviews that contain well-researched “Pros and Cons” sections. Thus, I’ve decided to write this article primarily highlighting the Pros and Cons of the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 based on about three months of testing, and after printing and looking at hundreds of prints on glossy, semi-gloss and matte papers. I tested the printer using the standard Epson Mac OSX driver on OS 10.6 on an Intel Mac, as well as the standard Epson Windows driver on Windows Vista.

3880closed1The Epson Stylus Pro 3880 with its output tray and high-capacity paper feed closed. Photo courtesy Epson America, Inc.

The Pros:

• Printer arrived well-packed and protected, with very clear and easy-to-follow setup documentation. I was making my first print in about 30 minutes from the time I placed it on a table and plugged it in. And it did not need any special trucking service, thanks to its compact form factor and the fact that it weighs just 43.2 pounds.

• Very well-priced for the feature set. See the information at the end of this review for more about pricing and possible rebates.

• Outstanding image quality and color gamut when used with just about any pigment ink-compatible media.

A few interesting gamut plots can be found on this page of Luminous-landscape.com that show the differences in color gamut between the 3800 and 3880 (as well as a comparison between the Epson 3880 and the Epson Stylus Pro 7900). The paper used to measure the gamut (or the paper profile used) is not listed, but I would guess it is a glossy or semi-gloss paper.

• Excellent water and humidity resistance on most compatible media. This is important for long-term display and general handling.
• Very good expected permanence for color and black and white (approx. 100-300 years).See this page on Wilhelm-Research.com for much more information on this topic.

• Fast printing speeds, even at some of the higher quality settings.The HS (high speed modes) can cut print times in half with little effect on the overall print quality. However, images with very fine details or fine lines can often benefit if HS is left off (unchecked). High Speed essentially means the print head travels and lays down ink in both directions as a page travels through the printer (instead of just one direction).

On that note, the following chart and information that follows is from Epson’s website, and my tests resulted in similar speed findings. Very large files will sometimes take a few minutes to process and spool before printing, and the numbers below do not account for file processing. What I found quite amazing is that you can print a very high quality 16×20 print on 17×22-inch paper on the 3880 in just over 5 minutes. That being said, I could detect a slight improvement in overall detail, smoothness and density when using 2880 dpi HS compared with 1440 dpi on most papers, (especially semi-gloss and glossy papers). Also note that the Windows driver (at least the one I am testing with a Windows Vista machine, uses a 1-5 scale, with 1=180 dpi 2=360 dpi, 3=720 dpi, 4=1440 dpi, and 5=2880 dpi. Checking microweave (Windows) or Finest Detail (Mac) will slow the printing process even more, and I have not seen much difference between having it on or off compared with the printing quality without the HS checked.

Print Mode

8 x 10

11 x 14

16 x 20

SuperFine – 1440 dpi HS




SuperFine – 1440 dpi




SuperPhoto – 2880 dpi HS




SuperPhoto – 2880 dpi




HS = High-Speed Print Mode (Bi-directional Print Mode) | Print speeds are shown in min:sec.
Based upon print engine speed only. Total throughput times depend upon front-end RIP, file size, printer resolution, ink coverage,
networking, etc.  -Print speed chart and text above from Epson.com

• 17-inch-wide maximum media printing width in a great form factor. The ability to print on 17-inch-wide media really helps set the 3880 apart, since most printers in the $1000 range and below can only output on paper or other substrates up to 13 inches wide. In addition, the printer’s weight, at just 43 pounds, makes it very manageable for many individuals to move it from room to room in a home or studio, or from a home to the back seat of a car, as I’ve been doing with minimal effort over the last three months. This is a big deal.

• Uses individual 80ml ink cartridges that are easy to install and remove. 80ml ink cartridges were a major reason for the success of the Stylus Pro 3800 (most desktop printers use ink cartridges containing just a fraction of that amount), and like the 3800, the 3880 ships with 9 full ink cartridges. Though difficult to estimate exactly because of many variables, most users who print a range of images that use a wide range of colors should be able to print 500-1000 8×10-inch prints before the first set of inks are depleted. Some inks colors may last far past the 1000 print mark before needing to be replaced.

• Contains a very well-designed high capacity paper feeder for making multiple prints unattended. Many pro-level printers cannot accept multiple sheets. high-capacity paper feeder handles up to 120 sheets of plain, letter-sized paper or up to 20 sheets of photographic media.

• Excellent-quality free output (printer) profiles come installed with the Mac and Windows driver. The printer profiles supplied by Epson keep getting better, and even though I commonly make custom profiles for specific printer and paper combinations, most people should have no complaints using the built-in paper profiles.

•There is minimal head clogging compared with some previous models. For those who have used Epson printers in the past (especially models introduced more than five years ago), clogging of print heads from time to time was common, especially in dry environments, or in situations in which the printer was rarely used. Over three months in a range of temperatures and humidity levels, I experienced little-to-no clogging with the Stylus Pro 3880. I do occasionally hear the printer internally doing maintenance, but it does not appear to waste a lot of ink.

• 3 black inks for outstanding black and white and color printing on matte and glossy papers (see below for a related Pro).

• Easy-to-use Advanced Black-and-White Mode (built into the driver). The Advanced Black and White mode in conjunction with Epson’s three black inks makes black and white printing very straightforward. One of the major benefits is that you can choose a specific toning color from the Advanced section of the driver. You can then print multiple images with the same overall tonality, even if they are still in color.

• USB 2 and Ethernet connectivity.

• 9 ink cartridges instead of 10-12. Many people need to keep a full set of replacement cartridges nearby, and using fewer ink colors compared with other printers on the market can reduce the overall inventory cost of storing extra cartridges.

• Optional RIPs are available that extend the maximum print length of 37.4 inches. Many of these products can be found at the end of this article.

• Internal switch occurs between Matte and Photo Black instead of the manual switch needed with the Epson Stylus Pro 4800/ 4880. This is a major advance when compared with the 17-inch-wide Epson Stylus Pro 4800 and Stylus Pro 4880 printers. Also note the first Con below, because this topic deserves both a Pro and a Con.

The Cons:

• Matte Black and Photo Black heads are not always “active,” like on some other printer models. Even though the Matte Black and Photo Black cartridges are always loaded in the printer, an internal ink changeover takes 2.5 to 3.5 minutes and wastes a small amount of ink (approximately 4.6 ml from Matte to Photo Black and approximately 1.6 ml from Photo to Matte Black, according to Epson).

• Maximum print length is 37.4 inches unless a third party RIP (or Epson’s $300 Graphic Arts option) is used. See links at the bottom of this article for RIPs that allow you to exceed the 37.4-inch limit. My source of the information regarding the 37.4-inch limit is the “Epson 3800 FAQs”-see the links section below for a link to that very helpful and informative site. Much of the information there still applies to the 3880.

• No roll feed. I personally don’t miss this very much, but for some (especially those who print on canvas), this is an important feature.

•It is relatively easily to switch inks by mistake from Photo to Matte Black or vice-versa because no confirmation by the user is necessary to switch inks.
The way a switch is made from one Black ink to another (unless the Plain Paper Media Type setting is used-see below for more about that) is by selecting a matte or gloss paper from the Media Type list in the Epson driver. If you use a RIP (see the list at the end of the article), this may be different.

Items that have both Pros and Cons:

In addition to the high capacity paper feeder, there is a well-designed rear single-sheet feeder and a very sturdy straight-through front paper feed for very thick materials, such as illustration boards. However,

the rear single-sheet feeder can be finicky when paper is loaded, and

the front feed can accept only 16-inch-wide media. Though it generally works well, it is difficult to achieve 100% feed success with heavier papers using the rear single-sheet feeder. TIP: In my tests, the vast majority of papers up to about 300gsm (sometimes even 320gsm) feed fine through the main bulk paper feed. The key to avoiding using the rear feeder is to choose a Media Type that does not require the rear feed, such as Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte, then adjust the Platen width manually under Advanced Media Control in the driver (circled in red, below). I usually enter 6, 7 or 8 in the Paper Thickness box for 280gsm, 300gsm and 320 gsm papers, but this will vary a bit depending on paper thickness. Then save your settings next to the Presets section (circled in blue, below) so that you can recall the setting for your printer and paper any time without having to re-enter the media type, quality settings, etc.


The printer is
solidly built, but the front door of the printer is a bit on the light side, so care should be taken when opening or closing the front output tray. Tip: After dropping down the front door to extend the output tray, stand directly in front of the printer, hold the tray with both hands and pull the tray straight out (not up) to open it fully. When you are done, hold the bottom section with both hands and push straight ahead with both hands firmly on the front door to close the extension tray.

There is currently only one way to select 180dpi or 360dpi Draft Quality using the standard driver while Photo Black is loaded, and no 720dpi option is available. This is a very helpful option that has a few advantages. Epson has included a way to make super-fast prints, such as when you want to do a placement test (for example, when making custom books that have hinges), or when good (but not great) print quality is not necessary. Tip: The way to do this when Photo Black is loaded is to choose Plain Paper as the Media Type (see screen shot below), then select Photo Black ink. You normally cannot adjust this, but Epson has made it possible to choose either Matte Black or Photo Black when using Plain Paper, probably with the thought that some people will want to print office documents or PDFs on plain paper even if the Photo Black is loaded. The drawback is that you can’t choose 720dpi under any of the glossy or semi-gloss paper choices when the Photo Black ink is loaded when using the Epson driver. In the future, I hope that Epson will include a 360 and 720dpi option for at least one glossy or semi-gloss media type when the Photo Black is loaded.


It is possible, when Matte Black is loaded, to choose 180, 360 or 720dpi depending upon the matte paper type chosen. This feature allowed me to recently print a few hundred bookmarks at 720 dpi in about 1/3 the time it would have taken to print at 1440 dpi. I used the “Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte” Media Type. In some cases, you can work around this issue with either Photo or Matte Black ink loaded by using one of the RIP solutions listed at the end of this article. That being said, the Epson driver comes free with the printer, and it’s easy to navigate once you spend some time with it.

Conclusion and Recommendations

I highly recommend the Epson Stylus Pro 3880. It’s an outstanding printer, with a feature-set and price tag that no other company has been able to match to date. It’s a workhorse, and performed without a hitch while testing it at my home studio, and during a few photo workshops that I conducted over the spring and summer. That being said, I don’t think it’s the right printer for those who want to make just a few 8×10-inch prints every month–other printers with smaller ink cartridges are better suited for that. The printer should be used on a semi-consistent basis so that the ink doesn’t sit in the printer unused for many months. Though I haven’t scientifically tested this theory, I believe that the 3880 is ideal for anyone who prints at least an average of 2-3 11×14-inch prints or 4-6 8×10-inch prints per week.

Pricing and Availability

As of 9/24/2010, the street price for the Stylus Pro 3880 was about $800 for the Standard Edition and $1,100 for the Graphic Arts Edition after a $300 rebate. This is a considerable savings over the original street price just a year ago. The new 17-inch-wide Epson Stylus Pro 4880 was recently introduced, but it does not replace the Stylus Pro 3880, and the street price is yet to be determined (retail price starts at $1,995). If you’d like to check current pricing on the Epson 3880 and help support our site, please consider using one of the links below. We have an affiliate relationship with all of the companies below, and all are Epson Authorized Professional Imaging Resellers. A $300 mail-in rebate applies to purchases of the Stylus Pro 3880 from 8/1/2010-10/31/2010 (download the rebate form here for details).

Check pricing and availability on Adorama.com
Check pricing and availability at B&H

More Info and Links

Epson 3800: Printer FAQ (maintained by Eric Chan): An excellent reference for owners of the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 (much of the info can be
applied to the 3880). There you can also find more links to related products and reviews.

Printer RIPs and workflow software that allow you to exceed the 37.4-inch printing length restriction in the standard driver:
ColorBurst RIP
– $495 for the ColorBurst X-Proof RIP, which allows users to make custom profiles inside the system. Comes with a PANTONE licensed PostScript Language Level 3 compatible RIP.
Epson Professional RIP (by ColorBurst)– About $300 when purchased as a bundle in the Epson Graphic Arts Edition (custom paper profiling is not permitted, but the company supplies excellent profiles for a wide range of papers, and this is a good solution for those who need to print proofs from PDFs). Like the ColorBurst X-Proof RIP, this option also comes with a PANTONE licensed PostScript Language Level 3 compatible RIP.
ImagePrint RIP – About $900
Qimage (not exactly a RIP, but it shares some features of RIPs)


David Glasco - September 24, 2010

I just bought the Epson 3880 after some research. However, it is good to hear someone with your experience and expertise confirm that that I made the right choice.

Any comments on Fine Art papers for my new printer would be greatly appreciated. I produce both B&W and color prints.


Ron Vallario - September 25, 2010

Could you explain the difference between the 3880 standard and graphic arts edition?

Alan Chimacoff - September 25, 2010

This is a perfectly accurate review of a great printer. I\’ve had mine since early 2010 (unfortunately before the $300 rebate was introduced).

The image quality and speed, esp at the highest level are excellent–and with semi- and glossy papers, no bronzing,etc. I am using Epson Exhibition Fiber with great results.

As for the tricky manual rear feed, after some erratic behavior, I have found that firm but gentle pressure when feeding the paper until the “auto-grab” takes hold gives almost perfect results.

Agreed with David above, confirmation of personal wisdom (good luck?) is always good to have.


Andrew - September 25, 2010

Hi David:

Thank you for the nice comments. There are many great fine art papers that I recommend for color and B&W. Most that work well for color work well for B&W. Below are some of the papers and canvas that I recommend. Also available is an article that I wrote for Professional Photographer Magazine’s website that talks more about recently introduced papers: https://www.ppmag.com/web-exclusives/2009/11/roundup-new-mattewatercolor-in.html

Glossy RC Papers

Epson Premium Photo Paper Glossy (www.epson.com)
Ilford Galerie Smooth Gloss (www.ilford.com)
Red River 68# UltraPro Gloss 2.0 (www.redriverpaper.com)
Ilford Galerie Classic Gloss (www.ilford.com) (for Dye-based printers, but not for printers using Epson Claria inks)

Semi-Gloss RC Papers

Epson Premium Photo Paper Semi-gloss (www.epson.com)
Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl (www.ilford.com)
Ilford Galerie Classic Pearl (www.ilford.com) (for Dye-based printers, but not for printers using Epson Claria inks)
HP Professional Satin Photo Paper (www.hp.com)
Red River UltraPro Satin (www.redriverpaper.com)
Inkpress Pro Silky (www.inkpresspaper.com)
Oriental Graphica RC Luster – Especially good for older Epson printers like the Stylus Photo 2200/ Stylus Pro 4000 (less bronzing/fewer gloss differential issues) (www.orientalphotousa.com)
2-sided: Inkpress Photo Chrome Luster Duo or Hawk Mountain Sharpwing Duo (www.inkpresspaper.com)

Fiber Gloss Papers

Innova F Type Gloss 300gsm (www.innovaart.com)
Epson Exhibition Fiber (www.Epson.com)
Harman Gloss FB (www.Harman-inkjet.com)
Hahnemühle Fine Art Baryte (www.hahnemuhle.com)

Fiber Matte and Semi-Gloss Papers

Harman Matte FB Mp (www.Harman-inkjet.com)- Ultra-matte surface
Hahnemühle FineArt Pearl (www.hahnemuhle.com)
Innova FibaPrint Satin High White 300gsm (www.innovaart.com) -Semi-matte surface
Crane Museo Silver Rag (www.crane.com)
Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk (www.ilford.com)
Moab Colorado Fiber Satine 245 (www.moabpaper.com)
Inkpress Pro Baryta Warm Tone (www.inkpresspaper.com)
Pictorico Gekko Green (www.pictorico.com)

Coated Matte and Watercolor Papers

Crane Museo Max (www.museo.com)
Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper (www.epson.com)
Hahnemühle Museum Etching (www.hahnemuhle.com)
Moab Entrada Rag (Bright and Natural 300) (www.moabpaper.com)
Moab Somerset Museum Rag (www.moabpaper.com)
Innova Soft Textured Double Sided Natural White 200gsm- (www.innovaart.com)
Inkpress Rag Warm Tone 300 C2S (www.inkpresspaper.com)
Inkpress Rag Cool Tone 300 C2S (www.inkpresspaper.com)
Red River Paper LuxArt Satin Rag 270gsm (www.redriverpaper.com)

Scored Greeting Cards

Red River Paper River Linen Scored 7×10 (240gsm) (www.redriverpaper.com)
Red River Premium Matte C2S Scored 7×10 (240gsm) (www.redriverpaper.com)
Museo Art Cards (www.museofineart.com)


HP Artist Matte Canvas (www.hp.com)
Breathing Color Chromata White (www.breathingcolor.com)

Tasha O'Neill - September 26, 2010

I read with great interest your review of the 3880 and was ready to buy it immediately when I noticed that that the paper available is only 17×22.

My Canon image dimensions are for a 16 x 24 image. They say the max print length is 37.4 inches but don’t provide paper for that length and the 17 inch width.

How can I use the Epson printer utilizing roll paper when there is no roll-feed? Buy from a different paper manufacturer, measure and precut the paper and then feed it through?

Andrew - September 27, 2010

Hi Tasha:

Thanks for your comments. To print larger than 17×22 on the Epson 3880 using the printer driver, you need to create a custom paper size inside the driver.

Some companies sell inkjet paper that’s 17×25 (redriverpaper.com and inkpresspaper.com are two of them that come to mind). Or, you can purchase a 17- or 24-inch-wide roll, pre-cut the paper, and feed it as a sheet. The 3880 cannot handle roll paper like a printer that is built for roll paper feeding. That being said, it is much easier to just buy sheets that are the size you want so that you won’t need to do any cutting. The curl on roll papers can be a issue, and it is easy to damage papers while going through the whole unrolling, cutting, sizing, prepping, feeding and printing process.

Hope that helps!

Jeff Natrop - September 27, 2010

Is Epson indicating their Professional printers may only last 3 years? Read on. I have a 3800 which is three years old. I agree that it “was” a great printer, BUT…Epson customer support sucks!! I paid aprox $1500 for the 3800 Pro (with the ColorBurst RIP). The printer died after three years of light to moderate (weekly) use. After going round & round with the email customer support, the end results from Epson was “sorry it’s out of warranty”, it will cost (from an authorized Epson repair center) $350 to look at it, plus parts. They thought the issue was the head at $400 to $600 for parts. So $750 – $950 to repair. Epson support offered to sell me a remanufactured 3800 for $900!! My issue is that a $1000 and up printer should not be a “throw away” item. I can understand that for a $50-150 printer. It should not cost 3/4 the price of a new printer to fix a three year old printer. The max warranty with the extended warranty from Epson is 3years. After that you just throw away the printer. So what I hear Epson saying is that their Professional printers may only last 3 years. I still think the output quality on an Epson printer is excellent. But the quality gap as closed considerably over the last 5 years. So maybe it’s time to look at Canon or HP for a printer.

Andrew - September 28, 2010

Hi Jeff:

There is never a guarantee with regard to the life of any product, but you can often spend a bit more on a maintenance contract as you did, which is often a good investment. It’s really no different from car insurance and a car warranty. Most of my Epson, HP and Canon printers are still working after 5 years of use. When I worked for a printing/pre-press company, service contracts for single machines could be $1000/month. I only state that because Pro printers from companies like Epson, HP and Canon are about 1/3 to 1/20th the price of the machines that were not even half as good 10 years ago. The quality of printers that we are able to purchase today for under $1000 is amazing.

Jeff Natrop - September 28, 2010

Hey Andrew,

Yes I agree with your comment.
My issue with Epson is that the Support person actually said to me that the 3800 printers were very reliable with few problems. And that my problem was unusual and not typical with the 3800 printers. I had sent them photos of the prints (over all and close ups) showing the problem. They said the printer should last far longer than 3 years. Ok, I said; maybe I just got a “lemon”, it happens. I’ve been a long time Epson customer; in fact I’ve purchased 9 Epson photo printers over the years. What can you do for me as a loyal customer? I suggested two options: 1) send me a refurbished replacement at NC, 2) supply the parts at NC and I’ll pay the labor. Epson would do nothing at all. Correction, they suggested I purchase a refurbished 3800 from the Epson clearance site for $895. Thanks, but NO THANKS, I can currently buy a new 3880 from B&H for $818.95 after mail in rebate. So Epson not only would not work with me on repairing my 3800, but their replacement suggestion is just plain bogus. So I’m very disappointed in Epson.

Andrew - September 28, 2010

Hi Jeff:

I’m not speaking for Epson here, and I’m not a lawyer, but as you explain it, your warranty has expired. Any company is only bound to do as it promises with regard to the contract it makes with its customers. The 3880 only recently came down in price to under $1000 after rebate, so the $900 replacement from the clearance section was not a bad suggestion in my opinion, especially if it was recommended more than a month ago. That being said, I’m sorry to hear that you had problems with your printer and I hope you are up and printing again soon.

Jeff Natrop - September 28, 2010

Hey Andrew,
Yes, true the warranty had expired. But given that the 3800 is not a $50-$150 throw away printer, and Epson said my problem was unusual, and I was a loyal customer having purchased 9 Epson printers (tho my word only); I had hoped Epson would do something to keep a professional customer happy. The cost to repair should not be 3/4 or more of the cost of the printer. Can you imagine buying a new car for $20,000 and after the 3 year warranty runs out the engine becomes unusable. The dealer tells you it will cost $15,000 to fix / replace the engine. You’d freak out. Then the dealer tells you he’ll sell you the same used car that they’ve refurbished for only $14,500!! What a deal!!
Also the suggestion to buy the refurbished printer for $900 was on 9-14-10, well after the promotion was in effect on 8-1-10
So I’m still a very disappointed Epson customer


Gordon Jay - October 10, 2010

On 09/25/10, Ron V. asked whether someone could explain the difference between the standard and Graphic Arts versions of the Epson 3880 printer. I\\\’d like to know the answer as well.
Also, re the list of printing papers: Have you tested all of them with the Epson inks?

jc @ caribbean photography tours - October 12, 2010

Ive always known this printer as the bees knees, they use them for photo canvas prints


dave - October 17, 2010

I have a Epson 3800 printer. I have a long-term problem Epson appears to have wiped their hands of the problem and I\’m stuck with it. The problem being, it will print one large format photo on Velvet fine art paper and then only print half a page or one quarter of the page. Then I usually turn the machine off and the computer to start again. I am running Windows 7 with CorelDRAW. I have also got a R1800 printer A3, which has been any problem whatsoever. The whole purpose of the 3800 being an artist was to improve my prints. This however, hasn\’t materialised in as much as I\’m using vast amounts of expensive paper after my last conversation with Epson. It ended in then saying my warranty was out. Tough luck. Can anybody help me to solve this problem. Dave

photodiva30 - October 18, 2010

What is the best way to print photos on canvas? Very informative review btw.

Andrew - October 22, 2010

Printing on canvas can be tricky on the desktop printer models like the Epson 3880 due to the way the paper feeds. A strip of paper taped to the leading edge can help a lot. You will just need to add that amount of space to the custom paper size. For those who want to use an outside service, they can visit a company’s website like yours (ezprints.com) or one of many others who are offering the service. I recommend using a service that uses pigment ink printers and who coats the canvas (usually with a water-based spray). Photo transfer canvas prints (photos are used and transferred to a canvas material) can also look great. A test will help people to determine which they like best.

Andrew - October 22, 2010

Hi Dave:

I haven’t heard of the problem you are having. I would use the Print Preview option to see if it is showing just the half or quarter of the page (after the first full page) to confirm whether it is the computer or the printer. I would also reinstall the driver from Epson.com and make sure you have the most recent driver and any updates.

Hope that helps.

David Robertson - October 22, 2010

I started with the Epson 1280 and currently own a 3800, 4880 and 7880, so no one can accuse me of being anti-Epson. However, why can’t Epson fix their prints so that they can produce a neutral B&W print without requiring the use of an expensive RIP? HP can do it. It doesn’t matter whether you use the Advanced B&W printer setting or have Photoshop or Lightroom manage the output. There is still a danger of some color cast in every B&W print that emerges from each of these printers.

Andrew - October 25, 2010

Hi David:

Prior to the Epson R2400, I would agree, but I’m very impressed by the tonality that I get with the Advanced Black and White Mode on the R2880, Stylus Pro 3800, 3880, 7800, 7880, etc. Tonality is completely even across the range, except for the fact that highlights will take on the tone of the paper. It takes some experimentation to find just the right combination of X and Y numbers in the Advanced Settings, but once that’s worked out, I find that I can make consistent and high quality prints that have a look and feel approaching darkroom black and white output. Technically, everything has some “color cast” since gray is a color. I’m guessing that you are trying to achieve a “dead neutral” print under daylight. Lighting and whether or not the paper contains optical brightening agents is also a big factor when the issue of color cast is discussed. I wrote an article about the type of light I like to judge my prints under (50 watt Solux 4700K), which you can find here: https://tinyurl.com/25eurl6

As you note, it would be nice to be able to tell the printer in the driver to only use the gray inks, as you can do with the Z series of HP large format printers (the HP Designjet Z3100 and HP Designjet Z3200 use all three or four gray inks (depending upon whether the media is gloss or matte) when a specific option is selected in the driver). There may be a way to do that in a special RIP with the Epson printers, but I haven’t explored it. The ColorBurst RIP does an excellent job as well of keeping the gray ramp very even, even without a special setting like the Advanced Black and White option in the Epson driver.

Andrew - October 25, 2010

Hi Ron V. and Gordon J:

I just wrote an article on this site about some of the differences between the Stylus Pro 3880 Graphic Arts Edition and the Stylus pro 3880 Standard Edition.


Henk van Kruijsdijk - November 1, 2010

I have used the printer for the last half year. I hav only a remark. If I print A3+ paper with a weight of about 310 gram throug the rear single sheet feeder the paper surface get damaged.
I have the impression that those papers get stuck at the hinge point of the front flap. It get some resistance and bent at the printing head which then damaged the print surface.
If I lay a sheet of paper over this total tray which then guides the paper the problem is solved.
I contacted Epson but they say that this is not possible I should send the printer for surface.
I did not like this statement and you don\’t send a brand new printer to service if the technical people are not willing to try if the suggestion from a customer could be valid.

The printer works still perfect only paper larger then A3 needs an extra paper over the hinge to guide it proper.

P.S. This happens only with paper above 190 gram because this is stiffer. Paper below 190 is too weak to bent at the printing head it bent closer to the hinge contact.

Laura - November 1, 2010

Hi Andrew,

I love your book on inkjet printing, and just the tip on mid-tone contrast has greatly improved my prints.

We use the 3880, 2400, 2200, 4000 on different workstations in inkjet printing class at a community college. I own a 2880 at home and primarily use the 3880 at school. The 3880 is a very fine printer.

We can\’t seem to print the same file from one Epson printer station to another station. I cannot prepare and test a proof at home on my 2880, or on the school 2400 station, then print it on 3880 station or the reverse. I can\’t first work on the 3880, then print a file at home on the 2880. The first printer used with the file seems to be embedded into the file in some way.

When I try to then print the file with a different Epson printer, I get a dialogue box that says I first have to install a printer. There seems no possible way to open the printer dialogue box to select a different printer. I am not the only student experiencing this issue.

The only workaround so far seems to be, create a new blank document, the exact size and resolution of the image, then drag the background copy and all layers into the new file. At least that does work, but gets to be cumbersome, and very slow if the file size is large. And we have to repeat that each time we are on a different printer station. This requires creating file versions specific to the printer used. I could not find a more viable solution on the Adobe site, or forums other than the above. I contacted Epson and they could not provide a solution either.

I hope this makes sense. Is there a setting in Photoshop that you know of or in the Epson printer driver that allows you to select a different printer, once different Epson printer has been used to print the file? If you can help, thanks so much.


Andrew - November 2, 2010

Hi Laura:

Thank you for your kind words regarding my book. First, I would make sure that your print queue is always empty. If you are on a Mac, you can access it by going to System Prefs>Print and Fax, then choose your printer and choose “Open Print Queue.” Then click on any jobs that may be in the queue and delete them. Another option is to remove and reload the driver before you print, although this should not be necessary. To do that, go to System Prefs>Print and Fax>then click on the printer name in the left-hand pane, then click on the “-” key at the bottom, then the “+” key and as long as the printer is connected, it should pop up. Then select it and print. Hope that helps. Please let me know.

Tony (kingston) - December 12, 2010

Laura – the easy solution is to duplicate the file before you print! but nothing should be embedded in the file after printing if you don\’t save the file at all after print has finished

ink toners - April 15, 2012

You have provided ultimate information about Epson inkjet printer. This printer has a number of features and can perform multiple functions at a time. It is really nice to be visiting such an informative post.

von - January 23, 2013

After 8 years my 4000 finally gave up the ghost. I now own the 3880 which I am having a few maddening issues with. I reproduce my wife artwork which we have been wholesaling throughout Hawaii for the lat 10 years. We produce dozens of tart cards, prints and limited editions. Anyway, for the reason the colors do 3800 does not reproduce the colors the same way the 4000 did. I have been forced to color edit almost every file, which is in excess of 100. Some files, I have not been able to color match successful. No doubt, I am missing something here. Very open to suggestions. thanks.

maroc art - April 8, 2013

Excellent post. I certainly appreciate this website. Stick with it!

Alan Chimacoff - April 10, 2013

Hi Andrew,

Reporting in again after about 3 years–mine was one of the first comments when you published this review in 2010.

Your comments are still spot-on-accurate; it’s really a great review and, if they were smart, Epson would publish it themselves.

A couple of follow-ups:

–The clog-resistant nozzles on the 3880 have performed perfectly for three years with nothing more than an occasional lo-intensity cleaning.

–The inks last perfectly–well beyond the 6 months life they claim after opening. I’ve never had a problem with any off-color (so to speak) incidents.

–Often there are “deals” for complete ink packages from Adorama at significantly reduced prices. Since the “use life” of the ink begins once a cartridge is open, those deals are good.

–Occasionally the machine is a bit temperamental and doesn’t do what it is supposed to–and what it has done regularly. When that happens, I turn it off and start over–sometimes several times–and sometimes just shut everything down. Eventually, it seems to catch on to what it’s supposed to be doing and begins to behave normally.

All-in-all, after three years of use, I am still thrilled when a new print emerges.


Jeff Natrop - April 10, 2013

Well folks, fast forward 2.5 years and here I am again with the same printer problem that I posted about 9-28-2010(Epson 3800 – see previous post). I went ahead and replaced the Epson 3800 with a new (not re-man) 3880 printer. After 2.5 years it is exhibiting the exact same problem as the 3800. I’ve been in contact with Epson support, have tried everything they suggested. No solution. I’m waiting to see if they will do anything toward fixing the problem at a reasonable charge. Last time the cost to repair was the same as buying a new one. Looks like you should not be surprised if your 3880 only lasts 2.5 – 3 years.

Andrew - April 10, 2013

Hi Jeff: Thanks for sharing your experiences. If you buy another printer, I’d recommend investing in a 3 year warranty. Squaretrade.com is the least expensive option I’ve found from a reputable company.

Jeff Natrop - May 21, 2013

Here’s the follow up with Epson regarding the same exact failure with my 2nd printer:
Do not expect any quality service / support from Epson. They are hard nosed and could care less about your situation. Here’s my experience with two printers; a 3800 and a 3880 is they have a short life span. I purchased a 3800 (new) and paid for the extra 3yr extended warranty. It was a $1200 printer so I thought it was worth the extra for the extended warranty. After 3yrs and 8 months the printer started dumping 1 inch long by 1/8 in wide black ink blobs, and the Photo Black cart on the LCD read 90% full when the cart was actually empty. Epson support said it needed a new printer head. The cost was the same price a new printer. Because it was now past the extended warranty they would do nothing else for me. (Shouldn’t a pro printer at $1200 last more than 3.75 years of moderate use?), I guess not. I then purchased a new 3880, but did not get the extended warranty. After 2 yrs and 2 months, this 3880 started doing the exact same problems as the 3800: dumping 1 inch by 1/8 inch wide black ink blobs and the LCD showed the Photo Black cart at 90% full, when it actually was empty. I spoke with Epson support as well as next person up the line. Epson response: “Because it is out of warranty we will do nothing for you”. Despite the fact that this is the 2nd 38xx series printer that had the same problems. Note that Epson will only warranty this printer for a maximum of 3 years – if you purchase the extended warranty, costing several hundred dollars – not cheap. You can not extend the warranty past the 3 years. Given that short time frame you can see that Epson does not expect the 3880 (3800) to last much more than 3 years. If it does, you were lucky. If not, buy a new one or… change to another brand. Given the fact that I had this same problem on two different professional printers – 3800 & 3880. Knowing that these are not $100 disposable printers, but $1200 pro printers; and as a professional customer that had already given Epson several thousand dollars for their printers, and thousands more buying their ink; I had expected Epson Professional division to provide better support and work with me to fix the problems. I had been told that Epson customer support really sucks. Now I must agree with that statement. If you can risk dumping $1200-$1500 every 2 – 3 years on an Epson Pro printer, then you may be happy with the 3880. If you can’t, then look at anther brand. I’ve heard that Canon makes a good pro printer.

Andrew - May 21, 2013

Hi Jeff. Thanks for your comments. I recently recommended squaretrade.com to a consulting client as a source for 2 or 3 year warranties (unfortunately, that is the maximum length, and it may start after the manufacturer’s warranty which would make it 4 years, but you would need to check). They often have 30% off discounts as well for those who subscribe to their newsletter, which makes the warranty less costly than the Epson warranty.

Meryl Meisler - July 14, 2013

Dear Andrew-

I am a member and on the Board of Directors of PWPonline.org and took your wonderful workshop with them and enjoy your newsletters.

My 3800 needs repair again, so I thinks it is time to upgrade and I am considering the 3880.

I have 2 questions for you:

a) What are your current thoughts about buying the 3 year square trade warranty ($119.99) versus the Epson 2 year exchange service? ($289.95). Do you still recommend Square Trade?

b) I want to try using the deckle edge papers that Hahnemuhle is now making. Do you or anyone you know have any experience with them? Which do think the 3880 could handle in 17″ x 22″ size? Any tips greatly appreciated.

Photo Rag® Deckle Edge, 308 gsm
William Turner Deckle Edge, 310 gsm
Museum Etching Deckle Edge, 350 gsm

Thank you.


Meryl Meisler

Joe Kurland - October 11, 2014

I recently replaced my 5 year old 3800 with a 3880, as others have above because the repair would cost more than replacement. One thing to consider when buying a replacement printer is that it comes with about $500 worth of inks, which brings the cost for the printer alone way below the cost of repair. That almost makes the 38xx a disposable printer like those smaller $100 ones. I don’t like disposing of anything that can be made to work again, but this is the reality with this line of printers.

I use Colorburst RIP (I don’t think that RIP is still available though the company sells a newer RIP) which has done a number of things for me: enabled me to make truly neutral b/w prints, enabled me to work accurately in CMYK color space, and it has saved me its cost in ink by totally eliminating accidental switching between photoblack and matteblack inks.

Re: using the rear manual feed: I was given a tip to turn off “paper size check” in the printer setup menu on the control panel. I have not had any problems using the rear feeder since doing that.

Overall, I feel I got my money’s worth out of my 3800 and hope to do as well with the 3880.

To see what I do with my 3880, see:

Thanks for your review and everyone for their comments. It confirmed that I made the right choice.

Andrew - October 22, 2014

Hi Joe: Thank you for your very nice comments and excellent tips! I’m glad that the review was helpful. All the best, Andrew

Tynisha - October 23, 2020

I want to make silk scarfs, they must be washable, do you know any fabric option to print with pigment inks?

Andrew Darlow - November 5, 2020

Hi Tynisha: I would highly recommend checking out Spoonflower.com. They do incredible work and I think the cost will be much lower than doing that yourself. I would sign up for their newsletter so that you get special offers. Hope that helps! -Andrew (Editor, ImagingBuffet.com)

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