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Epson Stylus Pro 3880 review

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Epson Stylus Pro 3880 review

Using the SP 3880 A2 (17″) Printer

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We’ve recently had an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer on loan from Epson UK for a few weeks.

Keith reviewed the original 3800 a while ago and we were keen to see what Epson had changed, from what was a very nice printer.

The printer was tested on our Apple Mac network, printing from Photoshop (CS3) – features are virtually the same if using Windows PCs.

There is a wider discussion of using the printer in the conclusion section.

Epson 3880 printer


Epson SP 3880

The printer is aimed at higher print volumes (and maximum pages sizes) compared to the A3+ SP R2880 that we looked at a few months ago. The ‘next size up’ would be the A2 SP4880, and above that, the 24″ SP7880.

I’ve looked at this test of the SP3880 from the point of view of someone wanting to produce large high quality prints for sale and exhibition (which is part of my work at Northlight).

Buy a 3880 at — full ink set

Epson sp3880 print headThe picture to the right shows the print head assembly for the 3880 – this is not something you’d ever expect to see, since Epson print heads are not a user replaceable part (they should last the life of the printer).
What do you get with the 3880?

The 3880 is an A2+ (17 inch max. width) printer for the desktop.

If you want more technical specifications and Epson information, I’ve included it at the end of this article.

The key specs (from Epson) are

  • 17” Print width (A2+) Cut Sheet
  • 8 colours (9 inks on printer) with new Vivid Magenta for a wider colour gamut
  • Three Level Black ink technology
  • Auto Switcher between Matte and Photo Black
  • 80ml ink cartridge capacity
  • 2880 x 1440dpi maximum print resolution
  • 3 paper feeding paths
  • Accepts up to 1.5mm thick media
  • Advanced LUT technology for smoother gradations, reduced grain, colour fidelity
  • Up to 85 years lightfastness in colour and up to 406 years lightfastness in black & white

It’s positioned between the 2880 and 4880 in Epson’s range, but unlike those two printers, it addresses what some might consider to be Epson’s ‘Elephant in the room’ problem – it has both photo and matte black inks and allows swapping between them relatively easily. I’ll look at this in more detail, but if you are looking for just one printer for a variety of work, then it can be an important feature.

In the picture below, you can see that despite the print capacity, the 3880 does not take up too much desk space. However, roll your mouse over the image and you’ll see how much the print tray pulls out at the front to hold A2 size prints.

Original ImageHover Image

The feeder at the back is the detachable rear manual feed one – normal sheet feed is via the pop up load tray in front of it.

I’ll show some more examples of this later, but remember that A2 sized sheets of paper need to go into and come out of the printer.


USB 2 and 100/10 Ethernet connectivity are available.

The printer was tested with a direct USB connection to my old G4 PowerBook (OSX 10.5) and over the office Ethernet network from an OSX 10.6 Mac Pro.

The printer found itself an IP address from our DHCP server (your router may well sort this out if you don’t have any such servers), but there are network admin. tools supplied via the printer’s software CD (Windows and Mac).

Although supplied on the CD, I downloaded the latest drivers from the Epson (UK) web site for each of the two computers. I do this for all our reviews, so as to make sure I’m testing current software (April 2010 for this review).


The 3880 is very similar to the 3800 in many ways. This is no criticism since I found that printer produced excellent results.

open ink coverUnlike smaller printers, the cartridges are located away from the print head and accessed from the printer control panel.

The 80ml cartridges are the same size as with the 3800.

It will take some 10-15 minutes to set up the printer out of the box, since the printer goes through quite a lot of activity when first loading ink from the cartridges.

One major change is a reformulation of some of the inks. In particular, the magenta and light magenta inks are now described as ‘vivid’.

In practice, this slightly increases the range of colours that the printer can produce.

I should add though, that if you took an average landscape print made with the 3800 and 3880, the differences would be difficult to spot (I’m minded to think that in a blind test, very few people could spot the difference from colour gamut alone).

I’ll come back to print quality later, but just remember that as printers get better and better, it should become harder to see improvements. This is not something that marketing departments will like, but is becoming quite noticeable as I look back over reviews I’ve written in the last 5-6 years. I’m also of the opinion that it makes detailed tables and graphs of gamut volume and the like even more irrelevant to real world printer use.

Move your mouse over the image below, to see the ink cover open.

Original ImageHover Image

The image below shows the access to the ink carts (move mouse over image)

Original ImageHover Image

The default display shows small bars for each cart (you can see them above)

ink cartridge level in 3880The printer’s LCD display can also give a detailed display of cartridge ink levels (right). I like this level of detail, since it gives a good feel for how ink usage is going.

The display is easy to read in normal working conditions, and I found no difficulty in navigating my way round the hierarchical menu structure.

Then again, I’ve used a number of similar printers over the years (we have a 7880 in the print room) so it might be worth giving the manuals a read, if you are new to this sort of printer (software manuals, not printed).

If you’ve not used the printer for a while, or just changed the black ink type, then I’d definitely suggest printing a nozzle check print.

You don’t have to include the auto cleaning, but I find that such quick checks can save producing a messed up print.

Perhaps not so important to remember for smaller printers, but once you buy an A2 sized box of top quality paper, the cost of ‘scrap’ goes up quite a bit.

If you read the forums then you’ll find regular discussions about head clogs and the like, however just remember that such discussions are inherently self selecting for stories of problems – when did you last post about doing a whole day’s printing with no problems?

black ink swap on 3880As far as I can see, such issues are strongly related to average humidity. If you live in a dry climate, then it may be worth looking into ways of altering it (I heard of someone in New Mexico who kept their printer in a huge plastic bag when not in use – with a cup of water). Suffice to say, I’m in the UK and humidity levels are rarely very low ;-)

The 3880 has improved head coatings, which are supposed to reduce clogging and need for cleaning (with associated ink use). During my time of using the printer it didn’t fail a head check once – not a rigorous test, but a good sign.

A big feature of the 3880 is the ability to swap black ink types, between photo black and matt black.

Why the swap? Well, different papers respond best to different types of black ink.

I like printing some of my black and white work on heavy cotton rag papers. These require matte black ink.

For a lot of colour, and some monochrome prints, I like to use fibre type papers. These, with their surface coatings tend to work best with photo black ink.

The driver software will also instigate an ink swap depending on the media type selected when printing.

I rarely change inks on our 7880, since it wastes rather too much ink. It’s usually set to use photo black, whilst my older 9600 has matte black.

  • See the links at the end of this article for alternative ink swap methods for Epson printers.

On the 3880, the change is carried out from the front panel

running black ink swap on 3880

The process takes a few minutes of assorted whirring noises from the printer.

ink change progress indicator

After a while, it is complete and you can print using the new ink.

It would appear from the specifications that the 3880 takes a bit longer to swap, but uses similar amounts of ink.

  • 3880 Photo Black to Matte Black takes 2 min. 30 secs and uses ~1.6 ml of ink.
  • 3800 Photo Black to Matte Black takes 1 min. 55 secs and uses ~1.52 ml of ink.
  • 3880 Matte Black to Photo Black takes 3 min. 30 secs and uses ~4.6 ml of ink.
  • 3800 Matte Black to Photo Black takes 2 min. 55 secs and uses ~4.5 ml of ink.

When cartridges are low, a warning is displayed on the printer, and via the print monitoring software during printing.

You can carry on printing, but eventually the printer will stop (running on empty is not good for the print heads and ink supply system).

In the picture below, the printer is needing a new photo black cartridge (at position #2).

printer needing new ink cartridge

A while later I happened to be printing some sample prints from my own recent wedding, and the light black ink has run out (position #3).

Since these are test sheets to send round to the assorted relatives and friends who came along, I decided to see how many A2 prints the printer would manage after flashing up a warning.

The printer has just ground to a halt part way through the 5th A2 print.

ink swap during printing

If you look very carefully, and get the light reflecting at a particular angle, you can see the place the ink ran out.

This is on Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper.

Ink swap during printing

The vivid light magenta ink ran out later, and I can’t see where it happened on the print at all.

This suggests that with black and perhaps magenta/cyan it’s worth changing before the ink runs out mid print.

Since a bit of ink is used on start-up, levels will drop over time anyway.

One other part of the ink system will need replacing after a while, this is the maintenance tank.

It’s accessed behind a cover at the right front of the printer.

Move your mouse over the image to see.

Original ImageHover Image

It takes a while to fill, and the replacement warning will give plenty of time to get a spare.

Paper loading

The printer is shown below with the main sheet feed loader flipped up. The manual feed guide behind it, is detachable and used for single sheet feeding of thicker papers.

Move your mouse pointer over the image to see just how much the paper guides expand.

Original ImageHover Image

The image below shows a sheet of A2 paper fed through the printer (move your mouse over the image to see)

Original ImageHover Image

The loading slot you can see above is not for heavy matte papers.

paper loading - maximum quantitiesThere is a warning sign to remind you, although it’s worth pointing out that the printer driver settings will enforce certain page size restrictions for different media types.

It’s worth remembering that you have to get this right when setting the print size in, for example, the Photoshop print dialogue.

I’ll show some more details of this stage later, but you should remember that this is not the sort of printer that you just load a pack of paper into and then forget.

OK, it can take 140 sheets of plain copier paper, but I’d not normally think of using the 3880 as my office printer…

The quantity of paper of any type that you can stack, is limited by both the size and type of paper.

For photo paper (PGPP), the limit is 20 sheets at A4, 10 sheets at A3 and only one sheet at A2.

15 sheets of paper loaded into the 3880 top slot

As an experiment, I loaded 15 sheets of A2 Premium Glossy Photo Paper (for those wedding pictures).

single sheet load adapterAll fed through perfectly well – I’d not recommend this, but it helped confirm my impression that the sheet feeding of this printer has been improved from the 3800.

For single sheet feeding of heavier papers you have to use the rear slot.

When you insert a sheet of paper, it is detected and loaded into the printer.

I found that it needed a slight pressure to reliably load every time.

After loading a few sheets of paper I’d got the knack of getting it right, and had no loading problems with sheets of Velvet Fine Art paper, and some miscellaneous third party papers I tested.

I didn’t print enough ‘fine art’ sheets with this printer to get a truly meaningful measure of whether it had improved from the 3800, but I did make sure that sheets were not showing excessive curl before loading.

I remember from testing the 3800 that I had a few minor issues with paper curl, but it’s difficult to compare the precise behaviour of two review machines (which get shipped about a lot) over two years apart.

  • I’ve since heard of some people with problems loading 3rd party art papers, where errors are thrown up and the paper won’t load. One suggested fix (apart from making sure there is no curl or dust to build up) is to turn off paper size detection. Go to the printer Menu then Printer Setup then Paper Size Check. Turn Paper Size to Off. I didn’t try this but it might be of help for persistent load errors with some papers?

The A2 box of Epson PGPP paper I’d been sent from Epson, had been dropped at some time, resulting in a slight bending at one corner.

As I said, the wedding prints were just for sending around as samples, so I wasn’t too bothered about the crumpled corners.

However, this is what can happen with non flat paper. The print head has hit the paper surface.

problem with 3880 - head strike

You really do need to make sure that paper is flat.

Paper can also be directly at the front of the printer. This is primarily intended for extra thick media (up to 1.5mm).

You should note though, that using such a feed path requires plenty of space at the back of the printer with large media.

There is no roll paper support with the 3880, with media lengths being limited to 37″ (just under a metre), so for big panoramic prints you may want to look at another solution.

  • Note that 3rd party print drivers (such as a RIP) will often allow longer prints. You just need to be very careful with paper feeding.

Using the 3880

The 3880 has a huge collection of available print sizes, particularly once you include borderless print options.

Here are just a few for A2 size paper.

3880 paper sizes for printing

  • Mac users should remember to select the 3880 as their printer in the Photoshop page setup, or you will get a subset of paper sizes, and potential layout errors. Remember too that the Windows versions just look a bit different to the screen shots here – functionality is the same.

In the example below, I’ve selected a printer profile in the Photoshop print dialogue (back window) and the correct paper type (Premium Luster) in the driver setup.

I’ve picked ‘No Color Adjustment’ in the colour management settings, since I’m printing with an ICC profile.

3880 photoshop printer dialogs

I’ll return to colour management issues later, but suffice to say, I found the supplied Epson profiles produced very good results.

For larger prints I often prefer a lustre finish paper, which here, matches the printed area very well, with no undue gloss differential.

lustre finish print

A2 sized print from the Epson 3880Apart from liking this particular photograph (Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon), I know that it shows up printer deficiencies quite readily.

If you are looking at a new printer, I’d always suggest a test print or two with known good test images, as well as your own work.

For looking at colour and black and white performance I’ve initially used the Datacolor test image for colour, and my own black and white printer test image.

datacolor test image for printer profilie evaluation

The images (and many others) are available for free download on this site.

You’ll notice that the driver offers ’16 bit’ printing – it’s greyed out for ABW mode.

Of course, the original image has to be in 16 bit mode, and I still have to admit that I’ve not come across an image of mine that -clearly- showed the difference.

However, I take the general attitude that any small step that improves quality is potentially worth taking
…if it does not hamper other aspects of my work.

I still see debates about whether to work in 16 bit after converting raw files. I’ve seen banding appear in 8 bit B/W files after applying extreme curve adjustments to parts of images. This didn’t happen at 16 bit, so I take 16 bit working as one of those minor steps (often not readily visible) that contribute in a positive way to total print quality. Others may think differently, but I believe they help…

One option that I did decide was -not- worth the extra print time was printing at 2880dpi rather than 1440dpi. With a few quick tests I couldn’t see any visible difference, however like with most alternatives, I’d seriously suggest you do your own testing.

Just remember that -real- people who might buy your prints don’t take out a magnifying glass to study fine detail.

Colour printing

the beach at Southwold, England, in MarchIt’s very difficult and as I mentioned, getting more so, to be able to say that printer model X produces better looking prints than printer model Y, particularly when looking at an evolutionary step, such as the 3800 to 3880 change.

It’s even more difficult to show differences here in an article on the web.

I’ll limit this discussion to a more qualitative one, since I’m firmly of the belief that people who just look at numbers for describing print quality, run the serious risk of missing the whole point of why you choose to print an image in a particular way and on a particular media.

I’ve now printed many dozens of prints with the 3880, both colour and black and white.

They have all looked just fine.

I use a 7880 for much of my commercial work, so I know the sorts of images that suit different types of paper.

The picture of Southwold beach to the right looks great printed on Premium Lustre, where it’s captured the feel of a brisk March day on the Suffolk coast.

The photo of the beach huts below, comes from my ambivalent view of the traditional English seaside holiday.

You have to have a degree of optimism to spend time on the North Sea coast, and it’s no surprise that amongst the key items you’ll find in one of the beach huts, will be the stove, the kettle and the teapot.

Although, since it’s Southwold, I should probably include an espresso maker…

“Look, it’s brightening up a bit…”

it's brightening up a bit - Southwold beach huts, Suffolk

Printed on Velvet Fine Art paper.

These images are also part of a recent article I wrote, concerning the difference between prints you like and prints that sell.


I tried profiling a number of different papers, to see how the printer performed with other ‘art papers’.

The prints below are profiling test targets, printed from my G4 laptop (OSX 10.5) and using Photoshop CS3

test prints for profiling

Just as with the 3800, I found that it was important to get the correct media settings before profiling.

media test showing slight over inkingI’ll not go into detail of my testing, other than to say that results confirmed how you really do need to experiment with media setting before profiling, and that the suggestions for settings from the paper suppliers should be treated as suggestions…

The sample to the right shows over-inking in a target I printed with the Velvet Fine Art media setting, as opposed to the Water Color Radiant White that I found the best.

If you are profiling papers, I’d still suggest a look at one of the articles on media settings selection I wrote when looking at the 3800.

I tried the printer with quite a range of Epson media, and found the supplied ICC profiles pretty much spot on in terms of print quality, although some seemed a little optimistic when used for soft proofing (then again, this is always an area that you need experience to get the hang of).

The glossy wedding pictures passed the test of being handed around where, as you’d expect, the only problems noticed were related to subject matter, not print quality…

multiple prints on a single sheet of paper - Epson 3880

Black and white using ABW

I’m firmly of the belief that if you want to try black and white printing with the 3880, you should look carefully at the ABW print mode.

Inks are mixed in a way that gives very neutral looking prints on Epson media.

The Rutland Water print below, showed really deep blacks with Premium Luster paper, and a particularly fine print on Epson Traditional Photo Paper (AKA Epson Exhibition Fiber Paper in the US – review)

monochrome print setup

Both colour and B/W prints below are using Photo Black Ink.

test prints on epson 3880 - B/W and colour

ruins at Covehithe, Suffolk, EnglandFor black and white printing on matte, I let the printer driver initiate the ink swap, but in normal use I’d do this manually, so as to be able to do a quick nozzle check print on plain paper, before losing a sheet of expensive paper.

The image to the right is the part ruined, part rebuilt Covehithe church, just up the coast from Southwold.

As with colour printing I like to try a print or two of my own specialist Black and White Test Print.

printer test image for black and white printing

Both Premium Luster and Velvet Fine Art produced pretty accurate results.

During profiling I noticed that the ABW mode produced slightly darker black on any particular paper – not much, but worth checking when deciding on how to print an image.

With other papers it’s sometimes worth producing QTR correction profiles to better linearise the results.

I’ll skip the details here, but I’ve covered this aspect of ‘fine tuning’ B/W printing in several other printer reviews and articles, including:

The ABW mode also allows toning, although as in printing toned (RGB) images, I’d always suggest that erring on the side of too little ‘added colour’ is usually better than too much.

Print plugin

Although I invariably print individual images directly from Photoshop, via its print dialogue, it’s worth noting that Epson supply a print plugin that works via the File>Automate menu.

It’s a complete application that opens up in its own right, and allows various print functions for open images.

print plugin start up

You can process one or more images that you are working on.

epson print plugin - image transfer

Whoops, despite my spending some time on creating this black and white image, it doesn’t count…

colour images only for print plugin

Fortunately a mode change to sRGB allows it to be recognised.

sRGB is fine for handling a greyscale image (which was 16 bit and in Gamma 2.2)

A window opens up – I can see my image in the corner and a hint in the layout preview that I should drag images to the preview.

print plugin interface

There are vast numbers of options here.

Buttons, icons, tabs, radio buttons, checkboxes, drop down menus – I can’t see a basic interface element that has been left behind.

There are all kinds of print templates available, such as the ‘Fun Cork Board’ below…

There is genuinely a lot of functionality here, but I’d suspect that the initial complexity will put off a lot of potential users.

  • I should at this point mention that in the past I spent several years carrying out HCI and usability research at a research institute at Loughborough University, so my tolerance of ‘novel’ interface design is perhaps less than many.

One particularly unwelcome feature was discovered when I pressed the small print button in the top right hand corner of the screen shot below.

I’d left my speakers turned up – about half a second after pressing the button, there was a loud ‘whoosh’ sound and the panel expanded. Defaulting sounds like this to ‘on’, is a no-no, but it takes a master designer to delay them by half a second, so as ensure maximum surprise value. Fortunately I was not holding a cup of tea at the time…

interface layout for print plugin

multiple print size optionsFighting my urge to close the window immediately, but making a point of turning down my speakers, I looked at some of the functionality.

There are some very handy layout options that might be of use for working photographers.

The ability to automatically lay out multiple copies of an image on a sheet could certainly speed up some jobs and save the need to create complex Photoshop layouts and actions.

You’ll need to persevere to find out what’s in the package, but there are a lot of options.

I even found the right one for printing a single image on a single sheet of paper (A2 with 5mm margins in this case.

printer options 3880 plugin

print plug-in for photoshopAs in the normal printer setup, there are more standard paper sizes than you ever thought possible.

All too soon it was all over…

The plugin died several times on my Mac (10.6.3 and Photoshop CS3). I believe this may be a known issue with OSX 10.6

OK, I’ve a particularly low threshold for usability related issues, so take my comments in context.

If you can make use of such print functionality, then I’d suggest making the effort to fight through the interface design.

BTW if anyone regularly uses this plugin as part of their business, then please do let me know.


Buying the Epson 3880

We make a specific point of not selling hardware, but if you found the review of help, please consider buying the 3880, or any other items at all, via our links with Amazon or B&H

It won’t cost any more (nor less we’re afraid) but will contribute towards the running costs of our site.


OK, apart from the plugin above, what was the 3880 printer like?

In terms of ease of use and print quality I found the results excellent, and well up to the standard that I’d be happy to use for my professional work.

The changes from the original 3800 are incremental in many ways, and if I had a 3800 in relatively light use, I’d probably not rush out and replace it.

If I’d had a 3800 for several years, used it heavily and was thinking of a replacement, I’d quickly look at getting a 3880 whilst my 3800 still had a reasonable resale value.

I’d been asked to look at paper handling when I mentioned getting the printer, and my feeling is that Epson have fine tuned some of the 3800 internals to improve reliability and consistency. That said, the real test only comes from continued regular usage.

For colour work I found the Epson supplied ICC profiles to be capable of giving very high quality results on Epson media.

The black and white ABW mode produced neutral and smoothly toned black and white images.

The printer driver software behaved just fine – I’ll cover some Mac specific profiling issues in a bit, but no issues with printing or ink management to note.

The maximum print length (with Epson driver) of 37″ might be a problem – the 4880 does offer roll media, but doesn’t have the built in black swap.

new vivid magenta K3The black ink swapping issues of some other Epson printers are absent, with a pretty small amount of ink lost in the process.

Since the improved inkset is widely mentioned in promotional literature, it’s worth looking at any visible effects of this.

The diagram to the right is a typical one you’ll see, whether discussing papers or advertising ink.

As with most such diagrams, it’s essentially a pretty picture and doesn’t tell you anything meaningful – this is one reason I generally avoid producing them for printer/paper reviews. If you see a review with lots of them, then be very wary unless there is a lot of additional materials explaining just what such data can and can’t show.

I can tell from my own profiling work with the 7880 and 3880 that the gamut of the printer is indeed slightly better, but there is more to print quality than just ink gamut.

Original ImageHover Image

What does this mean in practice?

Well, I take a bit more care in profiling and printing to make sure that skies don’t shift slightly in hue to the magenta, since the slight sheen could make this a bit more visible.

I’m also more careful if printing an image that’s in the large ProPhoto colour space, since the combination of Perceptual rendering intent and out of gamut colours might just show a hue shift.

Then again if you were not expecting such potential issues, what were you doing trying to print from such a huge colour space in the first place ;-)

A warning though – I’m really being quite picky here and you shouldn’t think that these comments mean for one moment that I wouldn’t be happy to use this printer to produce prints to sell.


An excellent, solidly performing printer for people wanting to produce relatively modest volumes of larger prints.

Excellent colour and B/W performance coupled with larger ink cartridges mean that I’d suggest people looking at a R2880 seriously consider the step up to the 3880 – particularly if you want to print on a wider range of papers.

The lack of a roll paper option and 37″ maximum print length (with the Epson drivers) may be a problem for some.

The supplied print plugin for Photoshop has a rather complex interface, but could be of use for handling more complex print layouts.

The 3880 at — full ink set

Questions? Comments? Feel free to ask via this article’s Comments page.

Specifications (from Epson)
PRODUCT NAME: Epson Stylus Pro 3880
SIZE 17 inch wide (A2+)
INK MODE 8 colour
RESOLUTION 2880dpi x 1440dpi with Epson Variable-sized Droplet Technology
9-Colours pigment ink (C, VM, Y, LC, VLM, LK, LLK, Photo K, Matte K) with 9 slots 8 colour printing
Auto switching between Matte K and Photo K
Individual high capacity ink cartridge
Ink Capacity 80ml
4″x6″ Colour Borderless 1440dpi x 720dpi: Approx. 1.17 minutes (Premium Glossy Photo Paper)
A4 Colour 1440dpi x 720dpi: Approx. 2.02 minutes (Premium Glossy Photo Paper)
A3 Colour 1440dpi x 720dpi: Approx. 3.35 minutes (Premium Glossy Photo Paper)
A2 Colour 1440dpi x 720dpi: Approx. 5.80 minutes (Premium Glossy Photo Paper)
PRINTER DRIVER Windows 2000 / XP / XP64 / Win7, Mac OS X 10.4.X
HEAD CONFIGURATION 180 nozzles x 8 with VSDT
CUT SHEET Paper Size Borderless 4″ x 6″, 5″ x 7″, 8″ x 7″, 8″ x 10″, A4, 11″ x 14″, A3, A3+, A2
Thickness (ASF) 0.08mm to 0.27mm
Thickness (manual feed front) 1.2mm to 1.5mm
Thickness (manual feed rear) 0.29mm to 0.5mm
Width: 89mm to 431.8mm Length: 127mm to 950mm
TOTAL PRINT VOLUME 12,000 A2 sheets
CONSUMABLE PARTS Maintenance tank
MAINTENANCE PARTS Pump unit, flushing box, head cleaner, cap assembly
USB2.0 high speed (Compatible with 1.1) 10/100 Base-T/TX (Ethernet)
VOLTAGE / CURRENT / FREQUENCY 220 – 240V version
PRINTING 25W or less
STANDBY 5W or less
POWER OFF 0.4W or less
STORAGE 684mm(W) x 376mm(D) x 257mm(H)
PRINTING 684mm(W) x 1042mm(D) x 550mm(H)
WEIGHT Approx. 19.8kg (excluding Ink and Media)
Test Conditions
1. Under fluorescent light (Indoor Display Condition) with glass mount
2. The data is calculated by Epson’s accelerated test and it does not mean Epson guarantees periods.
3. The estimated longevity does not indicate the colour changing and the durability of the paper itself.
Light Source: Florescent Light
Intensity: 70,000 lux
Temperature: 24°C
Humidity: 60%RH
Glass mount: 2mm, soda lime
Fade criteria: Pure YMC 30% loss at OD = 1
Display-life calculation: Total illuminance/(500lux x 10hours x 365days = 1year)

Epson supplies for the 3880


Archival Matte Paper A3 – 50 Sheets S041344
Archival Matte Paper A3+ – 50 Sheets S041340
Archival Matte Paper A4 – 50 Sheets S041342
Enhanced Matte Paper A2 – 50 Sheets S042095
Epson Traditional Photo Paper – A2 S045052
Epson Traditional Photo Paper – A3+ S045051
Epson Traditional Photo Paper – A4 S045050
Premium Glossy Photo Paper A2 – 25 Sheets S042091
Premium Glossy Photo Paper A3 – 20 Sheets S041288
Premium Glossy Photo Paper A3+ – 20 Sheets S041289
Premium Glossy Photo Paper A4 – 20 Sheets S041285
Premium Glossy Photo Paper Photo Size (4 x 6″) – 50 Sheets S041867
Premium Glossy Photo Paper Photo Size (5 x 7″) – 20 Sheets S041464
Premium Luster Photo Paper A3+ (50 sheets) S041407
Premium Semi Gloss Photo Paper A2 (25 Sheets) S042093
Premium Semigloss – Photo Paper A3 – 20 Sheets S041334
Premium Semigloss – Photo Paper A3+ – 20 Sheets S041328
Premium Semigloss – Photo Paper A4 – 20 Sheets S041332
Proofing Paper Semimatte A3+ S041744
Singleweight Matte Paper A3+ (100 sheets) S041909
Velvet Fine Art Paper A2 (25 Sheets) S042096
Velvet Fine Art Paper A3+ (20 sheets) S041637


Epson UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge (Photo Black/80ml) T5801
Epson UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge (Cyan/80ml) T5802
Epson UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge (Yellow/80ml) T5804
Epson UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge (Light Cyan/80ml) T5805
Epson UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge (Light Black/80ml) T5807
Epson UltraChrome Ink Cartridge (Matte Black/80ml) T5808
Epson UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge (Light Light Black/80ml) T5809
Epson UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge (Vivid Magenta/80ml) T580A
Epson UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge (Vivid Light Magenta/80ml) T580B


Large Format Printer Options PRODUCT CODE
Epson PageProofer for Windows 3100026
Maintenance Tank for Stylus Pro 3800 & 3880 T582000

More Info

  • Video: Epson XP-15000 review 13th March 2021Keith Cooper looks at the Epson XP-15000 A3+ (13" width) printer for making colour and B&W photo prints at up to 13" width. With double sided printing for plain paper documents and envelopes it has a paper tray for plain paper. (13m 40s)
  • Epson XP-15000 printer review 5th March 2021Keith Cooper's review of the Epson XP-15000 printer for photo printing, The A3+ or 13" width printer uses dye based inks with an extra red and grey ink. The review concentrates on using the printer for high quality photo output rather than it's 'office printer' functionality
  • Epson SC-P900 printer review 19th November 2020Detailed review of the Epson SC-P900 17" (A2) pigment ink printer with sheet feed and optional powered roll paper holder. It has 10 inks and no matte/photo black ink switching
  • Video: Review of the Epson P900 printer 19th November 2020Keith Cooper looks at the Epson P900 17 inch (A2) printer. The video overview discusses the main printer features for sheet and roll paper printing (21 mins)
  • Epson SC-P700 printer review 26th August 2020Detailed review of the Epson SC-P700 13" (A3+) pigment ink printer with sheet feed and roll paper holder. 10 inks and no matte/photo black ink switching
  • Video: Review of the Epson P700 printer 26th August 2020Keith Cooper looks at the Epson P700 13 inch (A3+) printer. The video overview discusses the main printer features (11 mins)
  • Epson SureLab SL-D700 review 15th August 2018Review of the Epson SureLab SL-D700 six colour photo printer. Supports roll media from 102-210mm wide. Prints up to 1 metre in length, with built in cutter
  • Review of the Epson P5000 printer 26th September 2017Review of the Epson Surecolor P5000 printer. 17 inch width A2, with roll support and paper cartridge for sheet media. Looking at print capabilities and colour management
  • Epson SC-P20000 printer review 10th August 2017Review of the Epson SC-P20000 printer by Keith Cooper. 64 inch width large format printer with new UltraChrome Pro 10-colour ink-set including high density Mk/Pk inks and three grey inks for better Black & White printing
  • Setting up the Epson P5000 printer 27th June 2017Setting up the 17" Epson P5000 printer - installation & setup for the SureColor P5000 A2 printer, software configuration, networking and colour calibration
  • Mirage print software review (V3.5) 14th August 2016A review of the Mirage print software by Dinax. Tested with the Canon PRO-2000 printer, the software now supports Canon and Epson large format printers. One feature is its freedom from print length limitations, ideal for huge pano prints at photo print resolutions.
  • Epson Expression Photo XP-960 printer review 25th May 2016Review of the Epson Expression Photo XP-960 printer. All-in-one printer/scanner/copier that supports double sided printing and photo prints up to A3 size (11"x17"). Dual paper tray
  • Epson SureColor P7000 printer review 23rd March 2016Detailed review of the Epson SureColor SC-P7000 24" width large format printer. Using the P7000 for fine art and photo printing with the LLk ink option. Review applies to the larger 44" SC-P9000 as well.
  • Epson SureColor SC-P400 printer review 22nd December 2015Detailed review of the Epson SureColor SC-P400 13 inch width (A3+) pigment ink printer. Wide range of media and prints on roll paper up to 3.2m long
  • Epson SureColor SC-P800 printer review 20th April 2015Detailed review of the Epson SureColor P800 printer. A2 sheet paper (17" width) and roll paper support. Tested with a variety of paper types, colour and B&W
  • Epson SureColor P600 printer review 15th January 2015Detailed Epson SureColor P600 review. The SC-P600 is an A3 plus (13" width) pigment ink printer tested with different papers for colour and black & white. It supports borderless printing, roll paper and CD/DVD printing
  • Epson SureColor P600 initial setup 14th January 2015Setting up the Epson SC-P600 A3plus (13 inch width) printer. Installing inks, drivers and connecting the printer to your computer.
  • Epson Stylus Photo R2000 review 14th May 2013Epson Stylus Photo R2000 full review, using the SP R2000 A3+ printer for colour and black and white printing, with custom ICC profiles. 13 inch print width and roll media support
  • Epson Stylus Pro SP4900 review 23rd October 2011Review of the Stylus Pro SP4900 11 colour 17 inch (A2) printer from Epson. Setup and printing. Includes fitting and use of the optional Spectroproofer unit.
  • Epson Stylus Photo R3000 review 4th September 2011Detailed Epson Stylus Photo R3000 review. Using the SP R3000 A3+ printer for colour and black and white photo printing
  • Epson Stylus Pro 3880 review 4th May 2010Review of the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer. Desktop printer is 17 inch print width and takes A2 sheets, photo and fine art papers. Colour and black and white printing
  • Epson Stylus Photo R2880 review 4th September 2009Review of the Epson Stylus Pro 2880 printer. Desktop printer is 13 inch print width and takes A3+ sheets and roll, photo and fine art papers for colour and monochrome printing.
  • Epson Stylus Pro 7880 printer review 29th June 2008Review of the Epson Stylus Pro 7880 printer. Large format printer is 24 inch print width and takes roll paper and sheet media, photo and fine art papers. Inc. 7880/9880 error codes
  • Epson Stylus Pro 4880 review 29th April 2008Review of the Epson Stylus Pro 4880 17" A2+ Printer. Large desktop printer tested with a range of sheet and roll paper and fine-art and photo media types
  • PermaJet Eco-Flo inking system for the R2400 28th August 2007Review of the PermaJet Eco-Flo inking system for the R2400. A continuos ink system with external ink tanks and third party ink
  • Epson Stylus Pro 3800 review 29th June 2007Review of the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 printer. Desktop printer is 17 inch print width and takes A2 sheets, photo and fine art papers.

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  • Production Printers | Oct 29, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    It is not difficult to appreciate the merits of this information, it is very useful for me, thanks.

  • Keith | Apr 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Afraid not – I only get the printers for a few weeks to write the reviews, and with all the testing I’m doing, it’s very hard to get any reliable figures for a typical print.

    Apart from the general observation that print cost goes down with increasing cost of printer I’ve very few details. I only work out print costs very roughly for my own printing since, I do a lot of testing and have a very hefty markup on print sales ;-)

  • Simon | Apr 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Keith – have you worked out a rough cost per A2 print (including ink & paper)?

  • Keith | Mar 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    It will unofficially – but you need to experiment with media settings and profiling. I’ve seen many people put sheets of canvas through one – usually trimmed from a roll, and using a custom page size.

  • bernie yoksh sr | Mar 19, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    i bought a 3880
    would not take canvas-rear or front-epson said to live with it

  • Keith | Mar 16, 2012 at 9:54 am

    It does, but be careful with uncoated sheets, particularly if they shed fibres.

  • AJ | Mar 16, 2012 at 4:01 am

    I am looking to use a printer with a variety of papers, not just those produced just by Epson… eg. cotton, uncoated sheets, etc. Do you think the 3880 would do well with these types of papers?

  • Keith | Jul 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I’m in the process of doing a few more reviews of some books I’ve got, but I have to say that -personally- there is no substitute for testing with real prints. Even if you are just printing small samples of images. Probably the book I found most useful a few years ago was ‘Mastering Digital Printing’ by Harald Johnson – unfortunately from 2004, so in some respects a bit out of date – well worth a read if you find an old copy

  • daniel | Jul 8, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    thanks for the review, could you recommend any good books that would help in creating great digital prints? I have just purchased the 3880 and would much rather read a book than waste money on ink and paper learning more than i know already.

  • Keith | Jun 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    They were when I got one to look at – however that was direct from Epson for review…

    I’d check a printer forum at DPR or LL and ask if anyone who’s -recently- got one can confirm

  • Geoff Meadowcroft | Jun 24, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Keith, an excellent review. Thank you.
    I use an R2400, but am getting the dreaded “service required” message for a second time, so I plan to replace it.
    Can you confirm that the carts supplied with the 3880 are indeed full cartridges. I have been aware in the past of printers being supplied with part-full carts, but a full set of carts is a large effective discount on the price of the printer.

  • Keith | Apr 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Thanks Alan – it really is quite impressive.

    Given the ink costs I’d much prefer using one to the 2880 I looked at a while back (not that the 2880 wasn’t a good printer)

  • Alan Goldhammer | Apr 22, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Well done review. I’ve had the 3880 for two months now and find it a wonderful printer. I upgraded from the 2880 to take advantage of the bigger ink cartridges. Everyone who sees prints coming from this printer is taken aback that inkjet technology has progressed so far. I do a lot of B&W printing and the ABW driver is great. I rely on Eric Chan’s profiles for this driver rather than going the QTR route.

    thanks, Alan

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