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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
    Founder/editor
    Digital Photography Now (DPNow.com)
    Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
    Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
    Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

  • #2
    Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

    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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    • #3
      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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      • #4
        Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

        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?

        Comment


        • #5
          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, 09:10 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

            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

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

              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
              Founder/editor
              Digital Photography Now (DPNow.com)
              Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
              Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
              Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

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              • #8
                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

                Comment


                • #9
                  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.

                  Ian
                  Founder/editor
                  Digital Photography Now (DPNow.com)
                  Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
                  Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
                  Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

                    Originally posted by Ian View Post
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

                      Originally posted by JSR View Post
                      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
                      Founder/editor
                      Digital Photography Now (DPNow.com)
                      Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
                      Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
                      Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

                        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

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Epson Stylus Pro 3800 9 inks into one print head

                          Originally posted by Ian View Post
                          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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                          • #14
                            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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                            • #15

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