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please don't tell me to buy an Epson 3800


Subscriber Member
thank you, Hot Stuff!

... i do, thankfully, have a few fans, however, that might enjoy a small framed print. it would be a thrill to see them somewhere.
Please count me among your group of fans. Should you find printing nirvana, I'd be honored to hang you (on the wall that is).


Active member
. . . ahhh! so you turned his apartment into a home!!! Good for you. :)
LOL! i think the kitchen is the only room i've turned out properly. the rest of the rooms were better off before a disaster-called-Cam set foot in them... i seriously can trash a hotel room in two seconds flat with minimal luggage. i sometimes think i should have been a rock star :p

i honestly do not have a desire to print larger. i will be totally content at that size. if, for some reason, i need to go larger, i am content that i will find a printer i can work with here.

your comment about quality is worrisome, however. are you saying the smaller printers are not as good quality wise? i thought only the ink consumption and paper size was at issue...

and thank you for more paper suggestions. i have a feeling i will be getting a nice assortment before i settle down and find my cinderella shoe.


Subscriber & Workshop Member
your comment about quality is worrisome, however. are you saying the smaller printers are not as good quality wise? i thought only the ink consumption and paper size was at issue...
I do not know about the quality of the smaller printers. I have no experience with them. (I thought my 3800 was a small printer LOL)

Most of the printers mentioned in this thread (2880, 2400, 2200, R1800) have a pretty big footprint (22"-24" on the long side). The 3800 is 27" and has just a few more inches in depth and height than the others. So you are already talking big with the 2400 and 2880. The bigger question is how many inks (blacks/greys) do you get with an 8.5 x 11" only printer and will this give you the "control" that you stated was most importnat to you? I don't know and am not trying to scare you away from a smaller printer but it seems this is the question you need answered. Perhaps Epson, Canon, or HP has something that will work.

Ranger 9

your comment about quality is worrisome, however. are you saying the smaller printers are not as good quality wise? i thought only the ink consumption and paper size was at issue...
Unfortunately, I think it's true that the smaller-format printers now are of lower quality -- although not necessarily in the sense of print quality, more in the sense that they are not built to last very long.

Most people who buy a large-format printer are professional and commercial users who expect a reasonable service life and are willing to pay for it. I think manufacturers assume most people who buy a small-format printer are consumers who want something inexpensive, and don't mind sacrificing service life to get a low purchase price. That doesn't mean the small-format printer won't make good prints, just that you'll probably need to replace it more often.

My personal experience and opinion are that HP is better than Epson in this regard; I've thrown away four Epson Stylus Photo printers over the years (an original model, an EX, a 1280, and an R800) because they simply wore out. So far my current HP printer has lasted longer. But that may simply be a fluke of my own experience, and I can't speak for any other brands. I suspect the best approach would simply be to buy a printer that produces quality that satisfies you, and don't expect it to be a lifetime investment.

I also think that some of the advice you're getting may lean toward over-complication; for example, I feel you should at least try getting along without an external RIP or third-party inks and see if you're satisfied with the results you get. It's a bit like working on an old car: you need to get it running well in stock condition before you start trying to modify it, or else you'll never be able to sort out the causes of any problems you might encounter!

Diane B

New member
The printers--all of them I expect, but only experience with Epsons (the 1280 and then cheaper but same IQ small ones at the time--the 780 and another a bit more money but bought on sale--I used to have to print for one client until I convinced them I could work with a graphics lab and save them money--and me time and headaches LOL) are really good with b & w--at least the 'better' ones. I used to use a RIP with the 1280 and 2200 but don't have to do that with the 3 black ink Epson. I would think HP and Canon are similar. If you are going to print b & w--make that your criteria and look for the best in the size you can handle.

The DigitalBlackandWhitePrinting group on Yahoogroups used to be good resources for printing b & w--and I know some use smaller printers. Some are a bit of fanatical about it, but may still be a good place to ask some questions specific to your needs.


Active member
Ranger, thank you. we wer having an in-house discussion brought about by your thoughtful answer... do i expect it to last forever? no! but i also don't want it to lay over and die quite so quickly as all that, especially as it costs a lot more over here than in the U.S. food for thought...

and you're right, screw RIPs for now. get the printer first and go from there... again, many thanks.

Diane, thank you again. i will go troll the forum and by the time i get to corner these manufacturers (or reps) at the show, woe unto them -- i will be fully armed thanks to you all!

and, Hot Stuff? i'm sure you do ;)


Active member

I have the 3800 and it's a nice machine - all the comments above ring true re: print quality, cost, low wastage of ink swapping between PK and MK, small foot print (relatively speaking), etc.

There is one BIG caveat - which is not unique to the 3800 by any means. Scratches on glossy paper due to the feed mechanics used. The issue varies by printer - likely due to manufacturing variances, humidity, paper choice, image printed (heavy blacks, etc) etc. When we're talking the tolerances involved in inkjet aka glicee printing, it doesn't take much to cause an issue.

Many 3800 users have no issue, some with only specific papers, some with every delicate paper. Some no issues for a time, then they rear their heads (my case)[/b]. Epson service is of no help - and for me, the closest center is 1200kms away. You can imagine the shipping costs for an out of warranty printer. Paris would be far less of an issue.

The 3800, like all printers it's 'level' and below, and unlike the 4800 and above. Uses the 'pizza wheel' style paper transport vs a vacuum system - and there are LOTS of sharp bits in the paper path associated with the feed mechanics as a result. If I were a delicate sheet of glossy one look inside that feed area would give me the willies.

In an ideal world with papers that stayed flat thru the inking process and the proper paper thickness/platen settings all should be fine. It's not an ideal world.

The best papers like Harman FBAL and GFS and others have two things in common - delicate surfaces and the tendency to see inked areas swell/buckle during printing (take a just-damp cloth to either side of a piece of your fave 13x19 or larger glossy or SG paper and watch what happens). The paper starts to take on a wavy profile due to inked (thus damp) areas buckling/arching as the print passes past the head. These areas then start contacting the glorious sharp bits I mentioned earlier.

If you print via the front feeder and watch with a flashlight as a sheet of glossy or SG paper emerges you can see the issue. Print starts out of ok, then inked areas start to swell, paper starts to take on wave-like shape and crests start climbing skyward. It's actually kinda cool to watch happen.

If unlucky, the crests start to contact the wheels (sometime enough to turn them, sometimes just enough to scratch) and various plastic bits (the purpose of which seems soley to mark paper) on the upper side of the feed area. Two big causes for me of marks (other than the wheels) are two white square plastic 'tabs' on partial swivels attached to the upper feed plate that seem to the be designed to slide along the top of a paper (switches of some sort?) - great idea.

The heavier the ink lay-down in a given area (e.g. heavy black) on a given paper, the more likely the issue. Head strikes are never an issue with proper (or more aggressive) thickness setting - problem happens AFTER areas are inked.

My 3800 was iffy out of the box with 13x19 and larger Harman FB AL (awesome BW paper) - doesn't matter what I tried (and I tried all the recommended solutions). It WAS ok with Ilford Gold Silk - up to 17x 22. Smaller sheets of glossy - no issues.

Unfortunately now IGFS scratches like not tomorrow. Have tried cleaning printer, every driver adjustment anyone's ever recommended, wetting back of the paper, more aggressive platen/thickness settings, use custom profiles, drying times, etc - no go. Even the usual 'front feed on a backer stock' technique of Eric Chan's site (wonderful resource and great custom profiles BTW) didn't solve the problem. I even removed the pizza wheels (non reversible) from mine - took care of some scratches but not all.

I've NEVER seen any issue with any matte papers - though have as yet to try USFA.

The 4880 and higher with it's vacuum paper retention system is another matter. The paper is held flat throughout the printing process.

The 3800 is a GREAT machine for sheet-cut matte and CAN or MIGHT be a great machine for glossy depending on what copy you get, what papers you print, what size you print, etc.

Long story - but my advice would be to think ahead. If you print primarily sheet matte, the 3800 is wicked. If you do glossy as well, you MAY have issues. Issues that apply to ANY printer with a pizza-wheel style feed system.

However, iF you EVER see your self moving to a more 'pro' printer that could use roll paper, the lower ink costs/ml,like the 48xx and above, but don't want to do it yet, or don't have the space yet and can get by with 13x19, I'd recommend buying a lower-end unit like the 2880, etc.

Versus the 3800 you'll pay more for ink/ml but sacrifice nothing notable in IQ and save some space. But IF you have a scratch issue (just as likely/unlikely as with the 3800), it's much lower investment to get upset over. Resale on printers, partially due to their shipping costs, is non-existent and chasing scratch problems, IF THEY ARE AN ISSUE, a fruitless exercise (assuming all paper and platen settings are proper). You eiether have or will have them or you won't.

As much as like my 3800, I will NEVER AGAIN buy a printer without a vacuum retention system. Nothing like watching a gorgeous B&W or color print on a higher-end "smells like my old darkroom" paper start to roll out the ejection slot only to see all sorts of fine scratches down parts of it's length and knowing there is nothing left to try to cure it.
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Diane B

New member
REally interesting Rob. I've read of those issues too--and evidently my printer is one that doesn't have them (at least yet and it was from first batch when they came out) as I use the papers mentioned. I will never have space for the 4800 and above (or be willing to spend that much on a printer), so its this or nada. I wonder if they will address this in later models?


Active member
wow, thank you Rob! really excellent to know! i would absolutely be miserable with that and, knowing my luck, i'd end up with one that does that....

i can't honestly say what i'll be printing on right now -- i have to experiment and see what strikes my fancy and works well with my photography. maybe i'll be all matte, maybe not.

lord, i'm going to have nightmares about scratches now....


Deceased, but remembered fondly here...

I've been using an R1800 for four years and like it for everything but B&W. I got a 1280 and use the Quadtone RIP with MIS carbon ink set. I've made B&W matt prints with it which an old darkroom guy I know who ranted about digital printing thought it was a wet print.

I'm going to up grade to most likely a 4880 after the discussion by Rob here but it's too late for the 500 dollar rebate. That would have been sweet.
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Active member
The rebate is still on in Canada until end Oct, but prices are higher accordingly.

The 3800 is a wicked machine - if you do only matte - or of you're luck/circumstances avoid the scratches. If it had vacumm feed it would be perfect for a sheet-based user who likes to swap between matte and SG/G material.

The potential issue would be with any PW-based system and delicate papers - not just the 3800. I guess I had higher hopes for it as the lower-end of the Epson Pro line.

Unfortunately, the nicer and more 'darkroom-like' they make SG and G papers, the more delicate the surfaces and the more the suckers will tend to swell. Combine this with papers not flat put of the box or curled a bit on the edge with an archaic and $%^& idiotic PW-style feed system and it's an accident waiting for an excuse to happen.

I was a little peeved when I discovered larger Harman sheets were a no-go. I liked it for B&W but IGFS was a close second, so not that big a headache. Now IGFS is an issue. Humidity change? Goblins? Who knows. Lots of theories and 1001 home remedies (none of which work for me) , but the bottom line is delicate/sweeling-prone paper and PWs have a 50/50 chance of not getting along well.

While VFA is my fave color paper, I didn't go to out to buy a matte-only printer. Some prints just look better on SG or G. B&W on Harman FBAL is killer. I can do it 8.5 x 11 and used to think that was a nice-enough size with my older printers until I started hanging 13x19 and realized the impact a larger print can have with certain photos.

Live and learn. My PK ink is almost empty, so I'm leaving it as such and will just do matte until I can swing a 4880 et al.

If I had to do it again, I would have waited for the 48xx or picked up a 2880 or lower, lived with smaller sheets, saved some $$$, thought of it as yet another disposal item of the digital age and if I had a scratch issue not felt so bad about thinking of the printer as a matte-only unit.
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Active member
so i got my first up close and personal view of the printers at hand....

most interesting to me was a little collection of photos Epson had -- the same b/w printed on 3 of their printers -- 1900, 2880, 3800. whilst none were slouches, if i was being a pixel peeper, the 2880 won. barely, but there you have it.

however, what surprised me most was the colour cast. i saw a cyan drift (my other saw pink) on the 1900. the 2880 was slightly jaundiced (he saw green). the only neutral printer was the 3800.

how can this be?

especially as it was printed by the experts at Epson to show off their printers... are they really trying to push the 3800 as the only pro printer??? this point confuses me mightily!

the show was too crowded today for me to talk to anyone from there, but i do plan on going back.

there is also an HP 9180 i am sussing out.

in the meanwhile, i found a paper i am in love with -- actually quite a few of them. Hahnemühle Fine Art makes a luscious selection and i surprised myself in actually (gasp!) liking their glossy and pearl papers. they were softer than what i consider traditional glossy (more texture?) yet the blacks were deep and the white was stunning. i got a few sampler packs though, unfortunately none of them have the Bartya FB (which they've only just released and is quite stunning)... and they also seem to have their own ICC profiles which includes all the printer i'm looking at.


Active member
The variance by printer could likely be to the profiles used. The best B&Ws (from an Epson) I find come from custom ABW profiles (as from the free 3800 ones on Eric Chan's site -- or his custom service) vs printing ABW using Epson color profiles. Get dead-neutral files. ABW is VERY good, custom ABW profiles - take it that last "holy cr*p.." step forward.

If you're looking at FA papers like the Hahnemuhle's, I'd look 2-3 steps ahead before buying:

1. What size will I want to print say 12-24 mos from now?
2. Will I be happy with dye (eg HP9180) vs the more prevalent pigment ink units? If you are thinking of FA MK papers at some point - you'll want a pigment based unit.
3. Will I ever want roll paper?
4. If I prefer PK vs MK papers - how big a #$%^ will it be if I start to see scratches from a pizza wheel-based unit?
5. How easy will it be to get profiles of any value for the printer(s) being considered? Epson color profiles for their papers are very good. I've yet to try a paper manufacturer profile that was worth a damn.
6. What kind of support is there out there in the 'net community? Manufacturer phone/on-line issue resolution tends to be far less valuable than support from folks on forums that have been there, done that.
7. How costly is the #%^& ink? Answer - very, but some more very than others. The larger the ink carts, the lower the $$/ml.
8. If I run out of one ink (say LK), will I have to replace 2-3 colors because the printer has 8 inks but 3 carts? Try to get a printer with one ink = one cart -saves large $$ in the long term if you do ANY degree of printing.
9. Try and get an idea what the printer driver is like - how big a PITA will it be to get the unit to print on non HP or Epson, etc papers that vary in thickness, etc.? A lot of lower-end units tend not to play well with papers beyond what appears in their as-shipped pull-down menus.
10. 101 other criteria based on your circumstances/desires/restrictions (e.g. space).


Subscriber Member
Cam I haven't read this whole thread but I've been quite happy with the B&W's I get off my Canon ipf6100. I realize that this is too large for you but if they make a smaller one I would at least look at it. I had Epson's in the past and quality differences between the two are miniscule. The Canon seems to use ink more judicially. my 2 cents


Active member
rob ,

i appreciate your input but i definitely think i'm getting a headache... my problem -- not any slight on your generosity.

1. no clue. i am very happy to stay small. if i ever get to a point where i want bigger (honestly, this is just for me and i don't need huge), i will either farm it out and/or get a larger printer if for some reason i really need it.
2. i do want that option, so....
3. not now.
4. tell me -- how big???
5. good to know.
6. yes, point taken. Epson seems to be the cat's meow... however, you are pointing me towards the 2880 (since i'm not going larger) and yet all the experience and support (including Eric Chan's profiles) are for the 3800, the so-called pro machine.
7. understood... but if i was only printing b/w how much will i get nailed for the other colours?
8. yes. that is understood. one colour, one cart.
9. very good reason for not giving in to my other's plea to buy a €99 printer.
10. the 3800 is going for €1300 (on sale) vs. @700 (on sale) for the 2880 (or the 9180). i understand the cost of ink issue, but i honestly don't think i will be doing as much printing as many of you do. is money an issue in this case? yes, it kind of is. my money is in dollars -- which means i'll be paying around $1050 for a 2880. when i get into the cost of the 3800, i start thinking of a lens i want to get.... sigh. i kept on reading about the prices of printers, ignoring how much more it is for us here.

i am honestly close to the point of just saying f*** it.


Active member
Mike -- thank you. you reminded me that i didn't even get over to the Canon booth...

arghhhhhh! i think i need a secret santa :eek:


Active member

First off my bad - I was under mistaken impression the 9180 was dye-based, it's a pigment machine.

Eric Chan will/can make profiles for pretty well any printer (at least Epson, but likely others), including I suspect, the 2880. Drop him an email. I've purchased some from him for the 3800 - something like $20-25 per and work wonderfully.

The scratching issue is just a big a risk (or lack thereof) with the 3800 as any other PW printer lacking a vacuum system. IF it happens (again scratches NOT headstrikes) it is frustrating and royal PITA. You start looking for all sorts of remedies ranging from the logical to the "what the hell, why not try it...", none of which will likely work, or work more than once, and you just end up getting frustrated and looking at every 13x19 or larger glossy/SG 'FA' print as it emerges from the printer waiting to see those fine hairline marks or pizza wheel dots. Again, this assumes you have the issue. AS many don't as do.

On the printing B&W only and multi-ink carts, it depends if the K inks are housed with other colors.

I feel for you on deciding on a unit. I went thru the same thing with the 3800 and am re-living it looking at the 4880 et al. Suckers aren't cheap (especially in Europe), bulky and (far too) often cantankerous for what you pay.

That said, as someone once said, a photograph isn't a photograph until it's printed. Viewing your shots on screen is nice, but the process looses something if they just vanish onto a hard drive. There's a real thrill in holding a well-made print on a nice paper of one of your images in your hands. Makes you want to do it again ;>

I have no experience with the Canon's, but they are also worth giving a look over. If you haven't done it yet, also try searching the Luminous Landscape printing forum - lots of user experience with a wide range of printers.

Best of luck.