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Ink jet photo printers and printing Problem with your ink jet printer or are you exploring ways of making your prints ever more vibrant and pleasing. Post your ink jet printer posers here.

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Old 24-10-06
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Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

Epson's new A2 format Stylus Pro 3800 has stirred up a lot of interest because it's not that much larger than an A3 printer and because you don't need to physically swap black (photo black and matt black) cartridges when changing between matt and gloss or semi-gloss papers, which wastes ink in other Epson printers.

HP's new B9180 printer, which we're currently testing, also makes swapping the photo and matt black cartridges a thing of the past, but there is a difference. The B9180's two black cartridges have their own print head channels and so they are primed and ready to go at all times. We asked Epson if this was the same for the Stylus Pro 3800. The reply was:

"The SP3800 has an 8 channel head (7 colour, 1 black), but has 9 ink cartridges, and 9 lines running from the ink supply to the print head. There is an automatically controlled switch on the print head, which switches depending upon the media selection in the driver, and this selects either Photo or Matte black ink. The head is flushed when the ink is switched, but it is a minimal amount because only the printhead is cleared, it does not need to flush the entire ink line back to the ink cartridge."

So there you have it, the HP system is technically superior but Epson says relatively little ink is wasted. HP also point out an advantage in that the B9180 print heads are user-replaceable, while Epson ones are factory replaceable only. I also put this to Epson while I was a Photokina last month. Their view is that HP print heads have to be easy to replace because thermal ink jet print heads wear out gradually (also causing variablity in the linearisation of the print head - explaining why auto linearisation was necessary with the B9180), while Epson's piezo heads have a life that will be longer than that of the printer. Epson kind of implies that there is a chance that a relatively small saving in ink for HP owners is more than offset against the likely chance that you will need to buy a new print head at some stage.

Interesting!

Ian
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Old 05-11-06
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

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Originally Posted by Ian View Post
So there you have it, the HP system is technically superior but Epson says relatively little ink is wasted. HP also point out an advantage in that the B9180 print heads are user-replaceable, while Epson ones are factory replaceable only. I also put this to Epson while I was a Photokina last month. Their view is that HP print heads have to be easy to replace because thermal ink jet print heads wear out gradually (also causing variablity in the linearisation of the print head - explaining why auto linearisation was necessary with the B9180), while Epson's piezo heads have a life that will be longer than that of the printer. Epson kind of implies that there is a chance that a relatively small saving in ink for HP owners is more than offset against the likely chance that you will need to buy a new print head at some stage.

Interesting!

Ian
Although I understand why Epson would say that, I've become skeptical in my old age.

The idea of printheads lasting the "life of the printer" is kind of like Kodak saying prints on their paper will "last a lifetime". The term "life" sounds an awful long time, but what is the "life of a printer"? I'll be surprised if it's three years or more. Reports from those who are supposedly in the know on other forums imply that the HP heads will last 18 months to 3 years, depending on usage. The question of whether the heads will begin to deteriorate much earlier is never asked.

Users of printers like the B9180 and (to be) 3800 buy these printers because they are cutting-edge. Is it likely that such a user won't have replaced said printer in two years time anyway? I'm not in that category but my R1800 is over 18 months old now, and I'm looking 6-9 months down the road for a potential replacement (if something better hits the market). I'm not a devotee of the B9180 but it seems to me that if the printheads have a good chance of lasting 2 years, then replacing them would be a non-issue.

Replaceable printheads have their purpose in the event of a clogging issue, which would make the B9180 of interest to users of third-party inks but that's hardly the key purpose. I've read the review over on photo-I and, frankly, think that the installation procedure is convoluted (partly because of having to install your own printheads) but I can quite see the advantage of having user-replaceable heads.

Does anyone know much more about Epson's 3800? At first I didn't think the lack of a roll feed would be a concern but today, for the very first time, I've had a bash printing 3ft long panoramas on my R1800 and I'm really looking forward to doing even longer ones. The lack of a roll feeder on the 3800 would take away all this fun I'm having with my R1800. That puts me off it a bit. Why have those large inks if you can't rattle of some enormous prints?

Regards
JSR
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Old 07-11-06
Danny Chau Danny Chau is offline
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

Does anyone know much more about Epson's 3800? At first I didn't think the lack of a roll feed would be a concern but today, for the very first time, I've had a bash printing 3ft long panoramas on my R1800 and I'm really looking forward to doing even longer ones. The lack of a roll feeder on the 3800 would take away all this fun I'm having with my R1800. That puts me off it a bit. Why have those large inks if you can't rattle of some enormous prints?

Regards
JSR[/QUOTE]

The 3800 (sheet only) is intended for people who do a lot of printing, the 4800 can handle both sheet and roll, unless you do a lot of printing and you need to print beyond 13" wide, there is no point to go for the 3800.

Danny
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Old 08-11-06
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

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Originally Posted by Danny Chau View Post
The 3800 (sheet only) is intended for people who do a lot of printing, the 4800 can handle both sheet and roll, unless you do a lot of printing and you need to print beyond 13" wide, there is no point to go for the 3800.
Thanks, Danny.

The more I look at the 3800, the more it seems to fall between two stools.

Having printed a couple of 1m long posters on my R1800, I can't help but consider how much better it would be if I wasn't restricted to 13" wide. But if I had a 17" printer, I would want to be print longer than the 1m - and there the 3800 would fall a bit flat because it can't do it.

The other thing is this idea of printing a "lot". Just by printing two 1m long posters on the R1800 you can physically see the inks diminishing. You really wouldn't want to do too many *long* prints on the R1800 because of the size of the inks. This is where the large inks of the 3800 would be ideal, but then if it can't print as long as the R1800 then what's the point?

Also, if you use long paper in the 3800, can you actually print the full 17" width? I read somewhere that the limitation would be about 16" wide if it's longer than a cut-sheet. Is that right? Given that the R1800 will do 13", just adding 3" for all that extra money seems a bit mean.

It's difficult to understand who the 3800 is aimed at. If it's aimed at R1800/2400 owners who do a lot of printing, hence the big cartridges, that would be fine - but to have a length limitation means that it's not a fit replacement for them.

I wonder if the 3800 is just a stop-gap to address the ink-swapping debacle of the R2400 and other K3 printers and maybe Epson have something else up their sleeve?
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Old 08-11-06
Danny Chau Danny Chau is offline
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

I am not speaking for Epson, but I do work very closely with them, so I know the answer you're looking for. If you want to print 17" wide and use rolls there is the 4800, I know plenty of pro photographers only print with sheet paper, either for their portfolio or clients, and many wanted to print borderless. The 3800 (as fas as I know) is the only A2 printer that can print borderless on all 4 sides, Epson large format printers are not a mass market product, but plenty enough people will buy them for the intended purpose only.

It is almost asking Nikon or Canon to come up with a camera that will take 5X4, 6X6 and 35mm at the same time.

Best, Danny

Last edited by Danny Chau; 08-11-06 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 08-11-06
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

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Originally Posted by Danny Chau View Post
I am not a speaking for Epson, but I do work very closely with them, so I know the answer you're looking for. If you want to print 17" wide and use rolls there is the 4800, I know plenty of pro photographers only print with sheet paper, either for their portfolio or clients, and many wanted to print borderless. The 3800 (as fas as I know) is the only A2 printer that can print borderless on all 4 sides, Epson large format printers are not a mass market product, but plenty enough people will buy them for the intended purpose only.

It is almost asking Nikon or Canon to come up with a camera that will take 5X4, 6X6 and 35mm at the same time.

Best, Danny
Well, I guess the answer there is that if the 4800 in the UK was the same price as it is in the US, we could get the 4800 in the UK for about the price that the 3800 will be sold for here. But that'd be too simple...

For us, the 4800 isn't really an option unless you're a pro. I mean, if you have to keep a smaller printer (to do 6"x4", 7"x5", 10"x8", etc) as well then the larger printer is not a suitable replacement - it just becomes an addition. The 3800 is more akin to a desktop 17" printer - in that it could be a replacement for the 13" printers. But given that it makes certain sacrifices means that it can't replace its smaller siblings either. If it's possible to print 129"/3.2m long on the R1800 (and, presumably, the R2400), why would Epson think that users of a larger printer will be okay to stop at 37"/<1m? Again, if you go for the 3800 you'd still need to keep the smaller printer as well to print longer paper lengths.

The logic isn't really there. I guess it would make more sense if the 3800 had an "optional" roll feeder - say for an extra 100. Then you could buy it if you needed it, but not if you didn't.

Am I right in thinking that the 3800 is the only printer, over A4 size, from Epson that does not have the ability to take roll paper? I have roll paper attachments kicking around here from my first 1290, and with the two 1290S printers I bought since. It does seem bizarre that a sub-300 printer (the 1290S which cost me 235) can accomodate roll paper but not a 1000 printer. For Epson to say "Roll paper on a 300 printer okay, and on a 2000 printer, but not for 1000 printer" must be the height of folly.

Oh well, whoever said these printer manufacturers possessed more than a modicum of logic between them?

All things being equal, I think I'll give the 3800 a miss and see what wonders Epson will come up with next. It's been well over a year since the R2400 came out and I can't believe that a year's worth of R&D since then has only resulted in the 3800.
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Old 08-11-06
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

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Well, I guess the answer there is that if the 4800 in the UK was the same price as it is in the US, we could get the 4800 in the UK for about the price that the 3800 will be sold for here. But that'd be too simple...

For us, the 4800 isn't really an option unless you're a pro. I mean, if you have to keep a smaller printer (to do 6"x4", 7"x5", 10"x8", etc) as well then the larger printer is not a suitable replacement - it just becomes an addition. The 3800 is more akin to a desktop 17" printer - in that it could be a replacement for the 13" printers. But given that it makes certain sacrifices means that it can't replace its smaller siblings either. If it's possible to print 129"/3.2m long on the R1800 (and, presumably, the R2400), why would Epson think that users of a larger printer will be okay to stop at 37"/<1m? Again, if you go for the 3800 you'd still need to keep the smaller printer as well to print longer paper lengths.

The logic isn't really there. I guess it would make more sense if the 3800 had an "optional" roll feeder - say for an extra 100. Then you could buy it if you needed it, but not if you didn't.

Am I right in thinking that the 3800 is the only printer, over A4 size, from Epson that does not have the ability to take roll paper? I have roll paper attachments kicking around here from my first 1290, and with the two 1290S printers I bought since. It does seem bizarre that a sub-300 printer (the 1290S which cost me 235) can accomodate roll paper but not a 1000 printer. For Epson to say "Roll paper on a 300 printer okay, and on a 2000 printer, but not for 1000 printer" must be the height of folly.

Oh well, whoever said these printer manufacturers possessed more than a modicum of logic between them?

All things being equal, I think I'll give the 3800 a miss and see what wonders Epson will come up with next. It's been well over a year since the R2400 came out and I can't believe that a year's worth of R&D since then has only resulted in the 3800.
Interestingly, Epson is the only printer company to support rolls at A3 and smaller. I don't think the new HP B9180 can accommodate rolls.

Ian
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Old 08-11-06
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

We are living in a perfect world because of it's imperfections, I'm for one always get the best out of what's given or buy, then we would just get on with what we're intended to do, the rest, sorry to say, is a kind of wasted engergy.

Best, Danny
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Old 08-11-06
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

Come on Danny! JSR is doing us all a big favour and speaking out about what he justifiably sees are imperfections that Epson has the power to fix.

If none of us did this there would be no pressure on manufacturers to improve their products and maintain competitive pricing.

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Old 08-11-06
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

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Interestingly, Epson is the only printer company to support rolls at A3 and smaller. I don't think the new HP B9180 can accommodate rolls.

Ian
That's one of the reasons I mentioned it. I see messages on forums all over the place saying "what's the maximum paper length of this Canon" or "can this HP handle roll paper like the Epsons?". Other manufacturers should come up to Epson's standard, Epson shouldn't drop down to everyone else's.

In truth, I'm the last person to complain about the lack of roll paper support. I've been using Epson printers for over ten years, and I've had various 1290 and R1800 for the good proportion of those years - yet I'd never used the roll paper option. It's not because I didn't want to, it's because the paper is so expensive and the price of ink for such a large coverage is also ridiculously high.

At the weekend I finally got hold of some affordable roll paper (Olmec) and the first couple of long prints I did just blew me away. Everyone I've shown them to, despite the fact that my images aren't really up to it, have been really impressed. This size of print is something you don't expect from a home printer. I can see myself doing an awful lot more of these and I'm going to get a couple more rolls of paper in and stock up on some ink so I can have a really great time experimenting. That's what it's all about - fun. I'm not a pro (if I was, I suspect the 17" width from the 3800/4800 just wouldn't be enough anyway).

If Epson decided to do a u-turn and stop supporting roll paper on printers like the 3800, and whatever comes next, that's one more reason for people *not* to buy Epson. Whether everyone's going to use roll paper or not isn't the issue - it's whether they can or not.
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Old 08-11-06
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

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That's one of the reasons I mentioned it. I see messages on forums all over the place saying "what's the maximum paper length of this Canon" or "can this HP handle roll paper like the Epsons?". Other manufacturers should come up to Epson's standard, Epson shouldn't drop down to everyone else's.

In truth, I'm the last person to complain about the lack of roll paper support. I've been using Epson printers for over ten years, and I've had various 1290 and R1800 for the good proportion of those years - yet I'd never used the roll paper option. It's not because I didn't want to, it's because the paper is so expensive and the price of ink for such a large coverage is also ridiculously high.

At the weekend I finally got hold of some affordable roll paper (Olmec) and the first couple of long prints I did just blew me away. Everyone I've shown them to, despite the fact that my images aren't really up to it, have been really impressed. This size of print is something you don't expect from a home printer. I can see myself doing an awful lot more of these and I'm going to get a couple more rolls of paper in and stock up on some ink so I can have a really great time experimenting. That's what it's all about - fun. I'm not a pro (if I was, I suspect the 17" width from the 3800/4800 just wouldn't be enough anyway).

If Epson decided to do a u-turn and stop supporting roll paper on printers like the 3800, and whatever comes next, that's one more reason for people *not* to buy Epson. Whether everyone's going to use roll paper or not isn't the issue - it's whether they can or not.
On the other hand, I'll bet that only a tiny percentage of printers that Epson makes that is roll-paper capable is used with such media. Paper curl on the 10cm wide rolls is a real headache, for example.

Ian
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Old 08-11-06
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

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Originally Posted by Danny Chau View Post
We are living in a perfect world because of it's imperfections, I'm for one always get the best out of what's given or buy, then we would just get on with what we're intended to do, the rest, sorry to say, is a kind of wasted engergy.

Best, Danny
I'm pleased that you have such a philosophical outlook on life.

For the rest of us, purchasing decisions are made on mental point-scoring system. Supporting roll paper and silly great lengths of printing has always been a plus-point in Epson's favour. If the 3800 indicates the beginning of a trend that they're abandoning the support of roll paper and long printing lengths, that's another point that Epson no longer have over their competitors. At the moment, it's easy to say "but neither HP nor Canon have a desktop 17" printer in this price range", but how soon before that changes? Why should someone who's benefitted from great printing and great features of 13" printers now have to compromise when buying a printer that's 3x the price?

You can call such discussions "wasted energy" if you like, but unless people speak up no one will know of their dissatisfaction. Burying our collective heads in the sand and saying nothing is not the way the world works. People complain about things they don't like then they either buy anyway and put up with the problems, or don't buy.

Effectively, with the release of the 3800, Epson are saying "you can buy a small printer and print long OR a wide printer and print short BUT not a wide printer and print long". That is illogical, no matter which way you look at it, because it makes a 1000 printer inferior to a 300 printer.
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

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On the other hand, I'll bet that only a tiny percentage of printers that Epson makes that is roll-paper capable is used with such media. Paper curl on the 10cm wide rolls is a real headache, for example.

Ian
I know that the paper curl on 4" rolls of Epson Premium Glossy Photo paper is a real pain (this is the only roll paper I'd used previously because it was the only one I could afford! ).

I had expected to have a huge problem with paper curl on this 13" roll paper from Olmec - but I was surprised to find it doesn't have the problem anywhere near as bad as the 4" rolls from Epson. I don't know if it's just the length I printed that negated it, but I laid it on the table to photograph it and it laid flat - no curl, no nothing.

If I ever get enough ink, I want to try printing out a much longer print - just for the fun of it. I have some panoramic prints on the wall (using the old Epson Panoramic Photo paper - 210x594mm) and they look okay but they look positively tiny next to this 13"x36" print.

Sadly, at the moment, my photos aren't up to the task of large prints. The best I've got to play with is a couple of stitched-panoramas that I did some years ago on my Olympus 2.1MP camera (typical tourist-type shots taken when I was experimenting years ago). I don't have any panoramic photos taken with my Nikon 5MP camera, so I'll have to remedy that.
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Old 09-11-06
Danny Chau Danny Chau is offline
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

Hi JSR, Ian smacked me for being direct , so I better be careful the way I express myself here . I don't think there is a perfect product for everyones needs, I have sold a plenty of 9/7800 or the older 9/7600 printers, lot of people who runs these printers have come to understanding that these are roll printers, for their sheet handling is limit to one print feed at a time. Where the consumer A3+ printer can actually handles both sheet and roll alike for so much less, then should make the larger format look stupidly expensive.

The fact remains is that each model is made specifically for a specific job, and Epson have tried to make the consumer model to be as general as possible, but obviously not general enough. Not all of us can afford very expensive cars or cameras, that is just fact of life, and we do choose what we want to spend in the pursue of our hobby or interest, we must somehow make do with this financial restriction and enjoy what is available in our budget.

My cup is never empty....... Danny
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Old 09-11-06
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Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

I've been thinking about this today, and my thought now is that there are two different viewpoints. Epson seem to think that the 3800 is a "budget 4800", but consumers are believing that it's an "upgraded R2400".

I guess if you're a previous (or current) 4800 owner and prefer to print on cut-sheet rather than roll paper, than the 3800 makes economical sense. If you're an R2400 owner and believe the 3800 is a 17" upgrade, then you're going to be disappointed.

Maybe Epson'll be releasing a "3800 mark 2" a few months after the initial version - one that accomodates the roll paper support. Boy, wouldn't the early adopters be upset if that was true?

I'm just glad that it'll be another 6 months or so before I'm ready to part with some cash to upgrade from my R1800. I would like to think that there will be a suitable 17" replacement for the R1800 that isn't extortionately costly by that time. After all, when it comes down to it, a 17" printer only gives 4" more than a printer like the R1800 (that's assuming the 17" printer can print full-width). Is the extra cost of nearly 1000 over the price of an R1800 really justification for a measly extra 4"?

Put in those terms, the 3800 is not so much radical as comical.
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