Epson 3800: Printer FAQ

This page is maintained by Eric Chan

Last updated: November 8, 2009

The purpose of this page is to help photographers who are considering purchasing the Epson 3800 and also to help existing 3800 users get the most from this printer.

If you have tips to contribute or have questions not covered here, please let me know.

Abbreviations used on this page:

  • PK: the Photo Black ink (or papers that use the Photo Black ink)
  • MK: the Matte Black ink (or papers that use the Matte Black ink)
  • ABW: the Advanced B&W Photo mode
Click here to return to the resources / notes page.

Update History

October 8, 2007. Several updates (see below) including questions about a potential upgrade (3880?), centering with UltraSmooth Fine Art, Paper Thickness driver settings, the shelf life of the K3 inks, Vivid Magenta compatibility, 8-bit vs. 16-bit printing, rendering intent choices, and some maintenance/troubleshooting questions.

April 21, 2007. Robert Koopmans contributed another idea for avoiding head strikes. The idea is to use an extra 2 inches of paper than you actually need for the print. This trick is particularly handy when cutting sheets from a roll. See additional details in the FAQ here. Thanks Robert.

April 14, 2007. Network problem workaround found! Many users have been having trouble getting status information (ink levels, etc.) when printing on their 3800 printers using the network. They can print fine, but there is no status feedback. James Kay has found a workaround: install the Epson 2200 print driver and status monitor! Sounds a bit odd, maybe, but it seems to work! For details, see this question and its updated answer in the FAQ. Thanks James -- nice job!

March 17, 2007. New entries and updates:

March 11, 2007. New entries:

March 8, 2007.

March 7, 2007. Red River Paper will custom cut any of their papers. This is another way to get 17" x 25" cut sheets. Thanks to Bill Mathews for the tip.

Questions by Category

General Information

Media Handling and Margins


Print Quality

Papers, Profiles, and Calibration

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

General Information

When was the Epson 3800 announced?

Late September 2006, just before Photokina. It began shipping around November 2006.

Where can I find the Epson 3800 brochure and reference guide?

Download the brochure (PDF, 6 pages)

Download the reference guide (PDF, 41 pages)

Where can I find reviews, forums, and other articles about the Epson 3800?

Articles: Forums:

Is it easy to set up the Epson 3800?

Yes. The included Quick Start guide has easy-to-follow instructions and clear diagrams. My main suggestion is to make sure that you find and remove all of the strips of blue packaging tape on the printer. There are at least 45 pieces (I lost count after that).

I am currently writing a setup tutorial, but it's not ready yet. In the meantime, you can see these setup notes by Giorgio Trucco and also these notes by Vincent Olivier.

How big is the Epson 3800? Is it heavy?

When the covers are closed, the 3800 is 10.28 inches (257 mm) tall, 27.36 inches (684 mm) wide, and 14.88 inches (376 mm) deep.

When all of the covers are fully open and extended, the 3800 is 22.8 inches (579 mm) tall, 27.36 inches (684 mm) wide, and 37.87 inches (962 mm) deep.

The 3800 weighs 43.2 lbs (19.6 kg) with all cartridges installed. The user guide recommends that two people work together to lift and move the printer, but a strong person with a healthy back should be able to manage alone.

How much does the Epson 3800 cost?

That depends on where you buy it from. Pricing varies by dealer as well as by country. As of October 2007, most dealers in the US are selling the regular version for $1295 and the Professional Edition for $1495. If you shop around, however, you can find reputable dealers selling the 3800 for less and/or offering other incentives, such as free shipping. If you find an unrecognized dealer offering a suspiciously low price, however, it's a good idea to check Reseller Ratings -- just in case.

What are the Media Special, Portrait Edition, and Professional Edition?

Same printer, different packages.

The Media Special comes with the TUMI Printer Cover and 25 sheets of 17" x 22" Epson Ultra Premium Luster paper.

The Portrait Edition comes with the ExpressDigital Darkroom Core Edition software.

The Professional Edition comes with the ColorBurst RIP software.

Many prospective users wonder whether they should get the regular version or the Professional Edition with the ColorBurst RIP. The ColorBurst RIP is useful primarily for printing PostScript images. If you are only interested in printing standard color or black-and-white photographs (e.g., from Photoshop or another application), then you do not need the ColorBurst RIP.

Note that the ColorBurst RIP is not the same as ColorByte Software's ImagePrint RIP. It is easy to confuse the names ColorBurst and ColorByte, but they represent different companies with different products.

How does the Epson 3800 compare to the Epson R2400?

The two printers share the same ink set (Epson UltraChrome K3 inks) and therefore have similar print quality. The primary differences are:

  • The 3800 prints up to 17" wide; the R2400 prints up to 13" wide.
  • The 3800 does not support roll paper; the R2400 does.
  • The 3800 uses 80 mL ink cartridges; the R2400 uses much smaller ink cartridges. Epson doesn't state the capacity of an R2400 ink cartridge, but it seems to be around 15 mL. Given this assumption, the ink cost is about $0.56/mL for the 3800 and about $0.75/mL for the R2400 (USA prices as of October 2007).
  • The 3800 costs around $1295; the R2400 costs around $750 (USA prices as of October 2007).
  • The 3800 is bigger and heavier than the R2400.

How does the Epson 3800 compare to other 17" printers such as the Epson 4800 and Canon iPF5000?

See this comparison table at the excellent Canon iPF5000 wiki, created and maintained by John Hollenberg. There are other comparison tables posted on the web, but this is the most accurate, complete, and frankly unbiased one I've seen.

Here is my summary of the comparison between these three printers:

  • All three printers produce superb image quality. Therefore, if you are trying to decide which of these three printers to get, you really ought to examine the differences in features, not just print quality (see below).
  • The 3800 is by far the smallest and lightest printer of the three; good for situations when space is tight.
  • The 3800 doesn't support roll paper; the other two do. Depending on the type of images you print and your workload, this can be a very important difference.
  • Switching between the PK and MK inks on the 3800 is automatic (unlike with the 4800) and wastes much less ink. The iPF5000 can print directly from either PK or MK without any swapping at all (and therefore no ink waste).
  • The iPF5000 has a somewhat steeper learning curve compared to the 3800 and 4800. This is partly the fault of a poor user manual. However, the The Unofficial Canon IPF5000 Printer Wiki by John Hollenberg is a great resource for iPF5000 users and is frequently updated. Most iPF5000 seem to feel that once they've gotten over the initial hurdles, the iPF5000 is a great printer to use.
  • The iPF5000 is the fastest printer of the three. The comparison is a little tricky, however, because it's unclear how to compare print quality modes across the different printers.
  • According to the iPF5000 wiki, nobody has yet reported a nozzle clog on the iPF5000. This is amazing. In contrast, nozzle clogging is an issue for some (not all) 4800 users and for a few 3800 users. See here for more information on 3800 nozzle clogs.
There are many other points of comparison, such as the cost of ink, the ink usage per print, the cost of head cleanings (whether automatic or not), printing resolution, 9 inks vs. 12 inks, 8-bit driver vs. 16-bit driver, etc. However, I have chosen not to elaborate on these in the summary above because it's very difficult to be objective about most of these points. Even in cases where the facts are known (e.g., the Canon iPF5000 has a 16-bit plug-in for Photoshop), it's unclear whether there is a visible advantage compared to an Epson 3800 print because of it. The only recommendation I can offer is that you have to judge for yourself, using your own eyeballs.

My personal view of the 3800 is that I recommend it for people who want great output on an easy-going, low-volume schedule. The printer is very easy to set up and use. If you regularly handle massive print jobs or require unattended printing for thick matte papers, you're much better off going with one of the other two printers, which offer roll paper support.

Is nozzle clogging an issue with the Epson 3800?

Reports seem to indicate that most users have experienced few to no clogs so far, even if they haven't used the printer for a while (several days or even a couple of weeks). However, please keep the following notes in mind.
  • Epson claims to have improved the design of the capping system in the print head to help prevent the nozzles from clogging. However, Epson does not claim that clogging has been solved entirely in the 3800.
  • The 3800 is a new printer. It only began shipping in November 2006. Therefore, the user reports so far only cover the early life of the printer. Only time will tell whether nozzle clogs are more prone to happen as the print head ages.
  • Web forums, while wonderful places to learn and share information, are notoriously unreliable for gathering statistical data such as the frequency of nozzle clogs.
With these disclaimers out of the way, my personal recommendation is that if you have purchased a new 3800 and are experiencing constant nozzle clogging, it is possible that the print head in your 3800 is defective. Call Epson Support and ask for a replacement.

Also, see this question on tips for avoiding clogs.

How long does it take to power on and power off the Epson 3800?

When the 3800 is off and you press the Power button, the 3800 turns on immediately but it takes about 40 seconds for the Ready status message to appear.

When the 3800 is on and you press the Power button, the 3800 turns off in under 10 seconds.

What are the Epson 3800's connectivity options?

USB 2.0 and 10/100-BaseT Ethernet.

What are the available Color Modes for the Epson 3800?

In the printer driver settings you can choose from the following three Color Modes: Color, Advanced B&W Photo, and Black.

Color is for printing standard color photographs (though you can print black and white images this way, too).

Advanced B&W Photo (ABW) is a special driver mode optimized for printing black and white images. See here for a discussion of the pros and cons of the ABW mode.

Black is for printing text only (e.g., if you're printing a text file). Don't use it for printing your images.

Is the Epson 3800 supported under Windows Vista?

Yes, Epson does have Vista drivers available for the 3800 (see the Epson Support web site) but some users are running into significant issues. One problem is that when the print progress gets to about 96%, the printer ejects the unfinished print -- not good! Even Epson Support acknowledges that Epson is having difficulties with the Vista drivers at the moment. Consequently, it's probably wise to wait for a driver update before trying your 3800 on Vista.

If you're trying to use your 3800 on the network under Vista, some users recommend setting up the 3800 using the updated 1.6a version of the EpsonNet Config Utility (downloadable from the Epson Support site) instead of the older 1.4 version that ships with the printer. This advice is coming from users who have used version 1.6a to set up their 3800 successfully on the network under Vista -- with bidirectional communication working, complete prints, and no known issues.

(Note: other users report no problems at all with their 3800 under Vista. I still recommend waiting for a driver update.)

Is the Epson 3800 printer a good choice for black and white printing?

Yes, the 3800 produces excellent black and white prints in both color (RGB) mode and especially through its special Advanced B&W Photo (ABW) mode.

See here for more details on how to set up the ABW driver and printing B&W images.

Is the Epson 3800 a "serious" printer? Can it be used for professional work?

The 3800 is certainly capable of producing exhibition-quality prints. In fact, Pete Turner recently had a retrospective exhibit at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film; all of the images in this exhibit were printed with a 3800 on Premium Luster.

However, the 3800 may not be the ideal printer for volume work, for three reasons. First, large print jobs and unattended print jobs are much easier to handle using roll paper, but the 3800 lacks roll paper support. Second, even though the 3800's 80 mL cartridge size is respectable, for large print jobs it is better to use larger cartridges. The Epson 4800, for example, can take either 110 mL or 220 mL cartridges, and the Canon iPF5000 takes 130 mL cartridges (both also have roll paper support). Third, the 3800 takes time to swap between PK and MK inks (2 to 3 minutes), even though the swap is handled automatically. If you need to print in a busy environment using lots of different papers (including both PK and MK papers), then it may better to choose a printer that doesn't require an extra swapping step.

When will the Epson 3800 be upgraded? Will there be an Epson 3880?

Yes: Epson announced the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 on September 1, 2009.

I see rebates / incentives available. Does this mean Epson is going to replace the 3800 soon?

There have been rebates/incentives on the 3800 going as far back as mid-2007. Since these rebates/incentives have been going on for more than 2 years, I do not think there is much connection between the rebates/incentives and an impending update. It is clear that a successor will appear some day. As of May 2009 no official announcement has been made.

Media Handling and Margins

Does the Epson 3800 support roll paper?

No. The 3800 supports only cut sheet paper. If you need roll paper support, consider the Epson R2400, Epson 4800, or Canon iPF5000 instead.

What paper feed mechanisms does the Epson 3800 have?

There are three paper feeds for cut sheet paper: the Auto Sheet Feed, the Rear Feed, and the Front Feed. The Auto Sheet Feed is fed from the top and can hold multiple sheets. It is best suited to thin and normal photo papers (e.g., Epson Premium Luster) and matte papers (e.g., Epson Enhanced Matte). The Rear Feed is fed using an included adapter that slides into the top-back of the printer. The Front Feed is fed using a front tray built into the front of the printer. The Rear Feed and Front Feed can only accept 1 sheet at a time. They are designed to handle thicker media (e.g., Velvet Fine Art or Innova Smooth Cotton). The Front Feed in particular is intended for really thick media (up to 1.5 mm thick).

You can read here about the minimum and maximum paper sizes handled by the three paper feeds.

You can also read here about which borderless sizes are handled by the Auto Sheed Feed and Rear Feed. The Front Feed does not support borderless printing.

The 3800 does not have roll paper support.

What are the smallest paper margins I can use?

The Auto Sheet Feed and the Rear Feed print with 0.12 in (3 mm) margins all around. The Front Feed prints with 0.12 in (3 mm) left and right margins and 0.79 in (20 mm) top and bottom margins.

The 3800 also supports borderless printing, but only for the Auto Sheet Feed and Rear Feed, and only for specific paper sizes. See here for the list of supported sizes.

What is the thickest paper I can feed to the Epson 3800?

1.5 mm, according to the Epson manual. Some users have reported success working with even thicker media.

What is the longest print I can make with the Epson 3800?

37.4 in (95 cm), but only if you use the Auto Sheet Feed or the Rear Feed. If you are using the Front Feed, the maximum image length is 23.39 in (59.4 cm). See the next question for more details.

What are the smallest and biggest prints I can make with the Epson 3800?

The 3800 only takes sheet paper (no roll paper support). The minimum and maximum supported sheet sizes depend on which of the three paper feeds you are using. The following sizes are reported by Version 5.51 of the Epson 3800 driver on Windows XP:

  • Auto Sheet Feed:
    Minimum: 3.5" x 5.0" (8.9 cm x 12.7 cm)
    Maximum: 17.0" x 37.4" (43.18 cm x 95.0 cm)
  • Rear Feed:
    Minimum: 8.0" x 10.0" (20.32 cm x 25.4 cm)
    Maximum: 17.0" x 37.4" (43.18 cm x 95.0 cm)
  • Front Feed:
    Minimum: 8.27" x 11.0" (21.0 cm x 27.94 cm)
    Maximum: 16.54" x 23.39" (42.0 cm x 59.4 cm)

Can other programs such as QImage print longer than 37.4 inches?

Not currently. QImage relies on the Epson driver, and it appears to be the driver itself that is imposing the length limit of 37.4 inches.

How can I print longer than 37.4 inches on the Epson 3800?

Currently, a third-party RIP is needed.

ColorByte Software's ImagePrint RIP driver for the 3800 will print up to 327 inches (25.25 feet, 8.3 meters) long. However, an ImagePrint license for the 3800 is $895.00, so this should probably not be your only reason to invest in ImagePrint!

ColorBurst RIP for the 3800 will also print longer than 37.4 inches (I'm not sure of the exact maximum length, however).

In addition, Quad Tone RIP can print black-and-white images up to 128 inches (about 325 cm).

Is 8" x 10" really the smallest sheet paper I can feed to the Epson 3800 through the Rear Feed?

Not quite. You can feed in smaller sheets, but the trick is to set the page settings in your application to at least 8" x 10".

For example, I recently wanted to print a few test patches on a strip of Moab Entrada Fine Art Natural paper that was 3 inches wide and 11 inches long (this originally came from trimming an 11" x 17" sheet down to 11" x 14").

The actual image size in Photoshop was 2 inches wide and 4 inches long. So in Photoshop, I started with the 2" x 4" image and increased the canvas size to 3" x 5" while keeping the image centered and using a white background for the expanded canvas. This had the effect of placing a white border of half an inch all around the image.

Next, I expanded the canvas to 8" x 10" while keeping the image in the top-left corner. This effectively made an 8" x 10" image with the actual image content in the top-left region of the page. I had no problem feeding the 3" x 11" strip of paper into the Rear Feed (short end first) and the image came out fine. Since the 8" x 10" image was white everywhere except for the top-left corner, the 3800's print head only attempted to lay down ink on the narrow strip of paper.

Does the Epson 3800 support borderless printing?

Yes, but only at specific paper sizes and for certain Media Types. The list of supported paper sizes depends on whether you are using the Auto Sheet Feed or the Rear Feed (see table below). Note that the Epson driver does not support borderless printing from the Front Feed. If you want a borderless print and must use the Front Feed, you will need to print to larger paper and trim afterwards.

Paper Sizes Supporting Borderless Printing
Using the Auto Sheet Feed

US Sizes Metric Sizes
3.5 x 5 in 102 x 181 mm
4 x 6 in 210 x 297 mm (A4)
5 x 7 in 297 x 420 mm (A3)
8 x 10 in 329 x 483 mm (Super A3)
8.5 x 11 in (letter) 420 x 594 mm (A2)
10 x 12 in  
11 x 14 in  
11 x 17 in (US B)  
16 x 20 in  
17 x 22 in (US C)  

Paper Sizes Supporting Borderless Printing
Using the Rear Sheet Feed

US Sizes Metric Sizes
8 x 10 in 210 x 297 mm (A4)
8.5 x 11 in (letter) 297 x 420 mm (A3)
10 x 12 in 329 x 483 mm (Super A3)
11 x 14 in 420 x 594 mm (A2)
11 x 17 in (US B)  
16 x 20 in  
17 x 22 in (US C)  

Media Types Supporting Borderless Printing

Premium Luster Photo Paper
Premium Glossy Photo Paper
Premium Semigloss Photo Paper
Enhanced Matte Paper
Archival Matte Paper
Velvet Fine Art Paper
Ultrasmooth Fine Art Paper
Watercolor Paper - Radiant White


What are the available Media Types for the 3800?

The Media Types that use Photo Black (PK) ink are:
  • Premium Luster Photo Paper
  • Premium Glossy Photo Paper
  • Premium Semigloss Photo Paper
  • Proofing Paper Semimatte
  • Plain Paper - Photo Black
The Media Types that use Matte Black (MK) ink are:
  • Enhanced Matte Paper
  • Archival Matte Paper
  • Velvet Fine Art Paper
  • UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper
  • Watercolor Paper - Radiant White
  • Photo Quality Ink Jet Paper
  • Singleweight Matte Paper
  • Plain Paper - Matte Black
  • Singleweight Matte Paper - line drawing
Note that there is no Media Type for Epson Premium Semimatte (only Proofing Paper Semimatte).

Remember that the black ink type (PK or MK) is chosen automatically based on your selected Media Type.

Does the Epson 3800 support printing on canvas?

Not officially, but many users have printed on canvas successfully. The key is getting the canvas to feed reliably. The following post comes from the Epson Wide Format Yahoo newsgroup:

I used 3M (Scotch) ATG700 tape to stick on 1'' strip of 28lb bond paper on the back side of the canvas, then used the rear feed, and the printer grabbed the piece of paper to pull the canvas into the printer. I adjusted the canvas size in Photoshop and the paper size in the Epson driver to allow for the extra paper length so that the image prints in the proper place on the canvas. Worked great.

More details ...

I use Somerset Enhanced on an EX and experienced the same problems with feeding. The paper thickness is beyond what the machine can reliably pick up in the feed mechanism. After three hours of experimentation I have been able to get consistent feeding of the paper, but unfortunately one sheet at a time. The extra inconvenience of feeding one at a time is well worth effort with this wonderful new paper. I adjusted the canvas size in photoshop and the paper size in the Epson driver to allow for the extra paper length so that the image prints in the proper place on the canvas.

The method I finally decided on was to add a 1" leader projecting from the edge of the sheet of Somerset. I cut strips of 20lb. bond copy paper 1 1/2" wide and attach them to the back of the Somerset with small patches of double back tape. The 20 lb. overlaps the Somerset by 1/2" leaving a 1" leader which the printer grabs without any problem and pulls the rest of the sheet into the printer. Once into the feed mechanism the printer prints just fine, even on the thin paper setting. You have to adjust your canvas size in Photoshop and the paper size in the Epson driver to allow for the extra paper length so that your image prints in the proper place on the Somerset. I use a 3M (Scotch) ATG700 tape application gun to apply three 1/4" spots of tape to the back of the somerset. This gun is used in the picture framing industry and is relatively inexpensive (maybe $20.00). The tape is 3M product #924 and is 1/2" wide. Perfect to create a 1/2" overlap with the bond paper. The tape can be applied by hand if you don't want to invest in the applicator. It would simply take a few seconds longer.

The entire operation takes me no more than 20 - 30 seconds. You will need to use a sheet of paper behind the somerset in the feed tray to help keep the Somerset in the proper alignment for feeding.

This method works almost 100% on my printer. I have printed about 30 sheets this way with only one misfeed.

I am having trouble centering my images when using the UltraSmooth Fine Art Media Type. Any tips?

In terms of page layout, the UltraSmooth Fine Art (USFA) Media Type in the Epson driver works differently than the other media types. When USFA is selected for the Media Type, the Paper section of the Epson driver shows a new subsection called Printable Area. Within this subsection, there are two radio buttons (Standard and Maximum) and a checkbox titled Centered. By default, the Standard choice is selected, and the Centered checkbox is not checked. With these default settings, prints will have a smaller printable area than usual, and instead of being centered they will be shifted towards the top (i.e., leading) edge of the sheet. To resolve this issue, click the Maximum option and check the Centered box.

Note that other choices of Media Type (e.g., Velvet Fine Art) in the driver do not show this Printable Area section. I'm not sure why USFA behaves differently.

I am having trouble feeding sheets through the Auto Sheet Feed and/or Rear Feed. The 3800 tries to grab the sheets, but the sheet keeps slipping. What's wrong?

The top roller that grabs the paper may be coated with paper dust. This can happen if you print often with cotton rag papers. You can clean the rollers in a couple of ways.

Here's one method suggested by Tony Bonanno: Carefully swab the rollers with isopropyl alcohol. They should be able to pick up the sheets afterwards.

Here's another method proposed by Mathilde, which should help ensure that the alcohol doesn't cause the rubber roller to become too dry: Use a swab that has been moistened with normal tap water and a clean unused toothbrush. Swab the big rubber roll as far as you can reach, and gently brush the now-damp roller. Press the paper feed button and repeat the cleaning action.

Thanks, Tony and Mathilde!

I'm using a non-Epson paper. What Paper Thickness setting should I use in the driver?

Paper Thickness in the 3800 driver is specified in tenths of a millimeter. For example, a value of 3 means 0.3 mm.

Most paper specifications will list the thickness of the paper in either mils (i.e., thousanths of an inch) or mm. If the paper thickness is specified in mm (e.g., 0.27 mm), multiply by 10 and round up to the next integer (e.g., 0.27 x 10 = 2.7 -> 3). If the paper thickness is specified in mils (e.g., 19 mils), multiply by 0.254 and round up to the next higher integer (e.g., 19 x 0.254 = 4.826 -> 5). In general, thinner RC papers use a Paper Thickness of 3, thicker fine art matte papers use a Paper Thickness of 5, and the new F-type papers use a Paper Thickness of 4.


What kind of ink does the Epson 3800 use?

Epson UltraChrome K3 pigment inks. These inks are also used in the Epson Stylus Photo R2400, Epson Stylus Pro 4800, 7800, and 9800 printers. These are not to be confused with the older Epson UltraChrome inks, which are used in the Epson Stylus Photo 2200, Epson Stylus Pro 4000, 7600, and 9600 models.

There are nine different inks in the UltraChrome K3 set: Photo Black, Matte Black, Light Black, Light Light Black, Magenta, Light Magenta, Cyan, Light Cyan, and Yellow. The Epson 3800 holds all nine ink cartridges simultaneously.

How much ink does each cartridge hold?

The capacity of each cartridge is 80 mL. For comparison, the Epson R2400 has approximately 15 mL cartridges, the Epson 4800 can take either 110 mL or 220 mL cartridges, and the Canon iPF5000 uses 130 mL cartridges.

How much do the inks cost?

That depends on where you buy them from. As of October 2007, many dealers in the US are selling individual cartridges for around $45, or about $0.56/mL.

Practical ink costs are somewhat hard to measure because they depend on several things, such as printer maintenance tasks (nozzle checks, cleaning, head alignments, etc.), the size of the prints you make, the image content (warm colors vs. cool colors vs. black and white), etc.

How stable are the inks over time?

Very stable (supposedly). It's a complicated issue because many factors are involved, including the type of paper, exposure to (UV) light, storage and presentation conditions (behind glass, in a closed box, etc.), and environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, etc.). See Wilhelm Imaging Research for more information on print longevity.

Of course, the only way to know for sure is to wait a long time and see what happens to the prints. Can someone please volunteer to report back in 200 years or so? :-)

I read that the Epson 3800's ink cartridges are "pressurized". What does this mean?

The pressurized ink cartridge system delivers ink more quickly to the 3800's print head. This allows the 3800 to print faster. The system also ensures positive ink flow even when the printer is used at higher elevations or if the floor is not completely level.

Some people speculate that the pressurized system helps to prevent nozzle clogs. However, Epson has made no such claim.

I read that the Epson 3800's inks only last for 6 months. Is this true?

Once you install an ink cartridge, Epson recommends that you use it up within 6 months. This is to ensure consistency and color accuracy. However, owners of other Epson UltraChrome K3 printers (e.g., the R2400, 4800, 7800, and 9800) have found through experience that it is fine to continue to use ink cartridges much longer than the recommended 6-month period. Many users have reported using a single ink cartridge for considerably longer than a year with no perceived decrease in print quality or other ill effects.

How should I store extra, unopened ink carts?

Preferably in a dark, cool place, away from direct heat sources. Don't refrigerate the ink carts.

How many nozzles does the Epson 3800's print head have?

The 3800's print head consists of 8 nozzle columns (one for each color) and each column has 180 nozzles. There are 8 nozzle columns, not 9, because the PK and MK inks share the same set of nozzles.

What is the Epson 3800's minimum ink droplet size?

3.5 picoliters.

What is the Epson 3800's maximum print resolution?

2880 x 1440 dots per square inch (2880 dpi horizontal, 1440 dpi vertical). These numbers are not to be confused with the native input resolution to the printer driver.

What is the difference between Photo Black ink and Matte Black ink?

Photo Black is designed for printing on glossy, luster, or semigloss papers. It is also used for printing on the relatively new fiber-based papers such as Crane Museo Silver Rag and Innova F-Type White Gloss. In contrast, Matte Black is designed for printing on non-reflective matte papers. Using Photo Black on matte papers will result in significantly weaker blacks and prints with lower contrast.

Can I use Photo Black ink on matte papers or use Matte Black ink on glossy/luster/semigloss paper?

Technically, yes you can, but I strongly recommend against doing so. Using PK on matte papers will result in significantly weaker blacks, lower contrast, and lower color saturation. Using MK on glossy, luster, or semigloss papers will usually lead to severe scuffing problems (i.e., the ink does not adhere to the paper surface and easily comes off with rubbing) unless the print is carefully sprayed afterwards.

This question is commonly asked by users who wish to avoid the cost and time of switching between the PK and MK inks. Keep in mind, however, that (1) the 3800 handles the black ink swap automatically, (2) the 3800 uses relatively little ink to perform this swap, and (3) this swap takes only 2 to 3 minutes. You can minimize ink swaps by batching your MK prints together and similarly batching your PK prints together.

Can the Epson 3800 hold the Photo Black and Matte Black ink cartridges at the same time?

Yes. This is different from the Epson 4800, 7800, and 9800 printers.

However, the black ink print head on the 3800 is shared between the PK and MK inks, so whenever you switch between using the PK and MK inks, the 3800 will need to flush some ink. See here for details.

How do I switch between using the Photo Black and Matte Black inks?

You can swap the two inks directly by using the printer panel. The option to switch the black inks is available from the menus under the Maintenance section. The printer then does the rest; since the 3800 holds both PK and MK inks at the same time, you do not need to take one out to insert the other.

You can also let the printer driver software handle the change automatically based on the selected Media Type. The Media Type list is divided into two categories, Photo Black (the top half) and Matte Black (the bottom half). See here for a list of available Media Types. If you select a Media Type from the PK section (e.g., Premium Luster), then the 3800 will print with PK. Similarly, if you select a Media Type from the MK section (e.g., Velvet Fine Art), then the 3800 will print with MK.

Note that switching PK and MK inks does take some time (2 to 3 minutes) and wastes some ink (1.5 to 4 mL). See here for more details.

For this reason, it is generally better to group your prints by black ink type. For example, if you want to print a set of 10 images on Premium Luster (which uses PK) and a set of 10 images on Velvet Fine Art (which uses MK), then you're better off printing all of the Premium Luster images first followed by all of the Velvet Fine Art images (or the other way around) instead of alternating between the two types of paper. The first way means that you only need to swap the black inks once.

What is the cost of switching from Photo Black to Matte Black (and vice versa), and how much time does it take?

Epson claims that switching from PK to MK uses 1.52 mL of ink and that switching from MK to PK uses 4 mL of ink.

Here are the results from my own testing.

Switching from PK to MK takes 2:04 minutes. According to the printer panel, 2% of MK ink is used in the process. 2% of 80 mL is 1.6 mL of ink, so this is comparable to Epson's claim of 1.52 mL. No other inks are consumed during the switch. As of October 2007, ink costs around $0.56/mL, so the cost of switching from PK to MK is about 85 cents.

Switching from MK to PK takes 3:07 minutes. According to the printer panel, 5% of PK ink is used in the process. 5% of 80 mL is 4 mL of ink, so this matches Epson's claim. No other inks are consumed during the switch. As of October 2007, ink costs around $0.56/mL, so the cost of switching from MK to PK is about $2.25.

Does the Epson 3800 use ink from all the cartridges when swapping between the two blacks?

No. According to Epson, the 3800's new ink valve design enables it to use only black ink during the ink change operation.

I tested this claim by jotting down the ink levels (as reported by the 3800's control panel) before and after the ink swap. There appears to be no change in ink levels for any of the other inks (i.e., only the PK or MK inks is affected). Assuming the printer's ink level report is accurate, these results are consistent with Epson's claim.

Why does changing the ink from Matte Black ink to Photo Black ink take more time and use more ink than changing it from Photo Black to Matte Black?

When switching from MK to PK, the 3800 must flush all the MK ink from the 3800's ink damper and print head so that the PK ink will appear consistent and uniform when you print on glossy or semi-gloss media. The printer does not need to flush as much PK ink when changing from PK to MK.

If my workflow never requires a black ink swap (i.e., I use either Photo Black all of the time or Matte Black all of the time) will the black ink that I don't use dry out or clog the nozzles?

No. According to Epson, the 3800 monitors ink changes (i.e., the 3800 remembers when you swap PK and MK inks), and if a swap isn't done within 6 months, the 3800 automatically performs a swap to keep the ink flowing properly.

How much ink does the Epson 3800 use?

According to early tests, about 2 mL of ink per square foot when printing at 1440 dpi and about 2.2 mL of ink per square foot when printing at 2880 dpi. Printing at 2880 dpi uses roughly 10% more ink than printing at 1440 dpi (not twice as much, as incorrectly suggested elsewhere on the web).

The numbers are above are total ink consumption over all cartridges (e.g., 2 mL overall, not 2 mL per cartridge).

Keep in mind that these numbers only cover the amount of ink used for the print itself. (This is what the printer and driver report.) Note that ink is also used for other tasks, such as nozzle checks, head alignment, nozzle cleaning, etc.

Mark D. Segal has written an article about 3800 ink costs. Mark finds that ink overhead (i.e., ink used for maintenance and other non-printing tasks) is about 20% of ink used for prints. To quote directly from the article, "Hence on average, the cost of ink for a print should be multiplied by about 1.2 to take account of losses."

Which inks does the Epson 3800 use when printing in the Advanced B&W Photo mode?

  • Photo Black / Matte Black
  • Light Black
  • Light Light Black
  • Light Cyan
  • Light Magenta
  • Yellow
The Cyan and Magenta inks are not used.

How many prints can I expect to make before I have to change an ink cartridge?

This question is difficult to answer because there are so many variables involved. It depends on the image size, the printer driver settings, color vs. black and white, and the image content (warm colors vs. cool colors, pastel colors vs. deep saturated colors, etc.).

I can only offer a rough estimate based on my own (limited) print history, which is reported by the printer driver.

I printed a set of 12 letter-sized (8.5" x 11") borderless calendar images on Moab Kokopelli Studio Semigloss paper at 2880 dpi with a Color Density setting of +10. These are nature images with lots of blues, greens, and blacks, and not many warm tones. For each ink cartridge, I averaged the amount of ink consumed over all twelve prints. In practice, there is also some ink used performing maintenance tasks, such as nozzle checks, head cleaning, head alignment, etc. I have no idea what the overhead is, so I'm taking a stab in the dark and guessing 50%. Assuming we start from a full set of 80 mL cartridges, I estimate that I can print about 160 borderless letter-sized prints before Light Light Black runs out, about 500 such prints before Photo Black runs out, and about 1000 prints before Cyan runs out. Since I print infrequently, it'll be a while before I make 1000 prints!

Here is the list of ink cartridges, arranged in order from most used to least used for these twelve prints, along with the average consumption per print:

Borderless 8.5" x 11"
Moab Kokopelli Studio Semi-Gloss
Premium Luster Media Type
2880 dpi, Color Density +10
Ink Cartridge Average Amount Used (mL)
Light Light Black 0.50
Light Black 0.44
Light Magenta 0.38
Light Cyan 0.33
Photo Black 0.15
Yellow 0.09
Magenta 0.07
Cyan 0.07

As you can see, the Light Light Black and Light Black are by far the highest consumers (in a ratio of about 6:1 compared to Cyan). Next are Light Magenta and Light Cyan (in a ratio of about 5:1 compared to Cyan). The PK/MK inks and Yellow inks are far behind (in ratios of about 2:1 compared to Cyan).

Just to show you how different these numbers can be for a different setup, consider this autumn color image, which I printed at an image size of 12" x 18" on Epson Velvet Fine Art paper. Here is the table showing the amount of ink used, and notice how different it is from the table above.

12" x 18"
Epson Velvet Fine Art
Velvet Fine Art Media Type, 1440 dpi
Ink Cartridge Amount Used (mL)
Yellow 0.99
Light Black 0.75
Light Magenta 0.62
Light Cyan 0.16
Matte Black 0.14
Magenta 0.12
Light Light Black 0.10
Cyan 0.05

Notice that Light Light Black is barely used (second from the bottom) whereas Yellow is used much more heavily.

In summary, ink usage and the number of prints you can expect per cartridge depends on image content and many other factors.

Will the new Vivid Magenta inks used in the 4880/7800/9800/11880 be compatible with the 3800?

No. Supposedly, Epson had to make changes to the print head design of the 4880, 7880, 9880, and 11880 to use the Vivid Magenta ink set. Using the Vivid Magenta ink set with the older print head designs can lead to significant problems (i.e., damage) over time to the print head.

Print Quality

What is the native resolution of the Epson 3800?
At what resolution should I send my files to the Epson 3800?

Executive summary: If the "Finest Detail" driver setting is unchecked, the 3800's native resolution is 360 pixels per inch (ppi). If the "Finest Detail" driver setting is checked, the 3800's native resolution is 720 ppi. For most photographs, I recommend unchecking (disabling) the "Finest Detail" driver setting and preparing your final images at 360 ppi.

A more detailed explanation follows...

When you uncheck/disable the "Finest Detail" driver setting, the 3800's native input resolution is 360 pixels per inch (ppi). If you submit an image that has a different resolution (e.g., 180, 240, 300, 400, 600, or 720 ppi) the driver will interpolate the image to 360 ppi before printing. To prevent any interpolation from being done by the driver when "Finest Detail" is unchecked, prepare and print your final images at 360 ppi.

When you check/enable the "Finest Detail" driver setting, the 3800's native input resolution is 720 ppi. If you submit an image that has a different resolution (e.g., 180, 240, 300, 360, 600, or 1200 ppi) the driver will interpolate the image to 720 ppi before printing. To prevent any interpolation from being done by the driver when "Finest Detail" is checked, prepare and print your final images at 720 ppi.

The 360/720 numbers and their relationship to the "Finest Detail" driver setting have been verified by Mike Chaney, author of QImage, by querying the 3800 printer driver. Thanks Mike.

The natural question here is: which should you use? 360 ppi with "Finest Detail" off or 720 dpi with "Finest Detail" on?

According to the Epson manual, the "Finest Detail" setting is "for sharper edges on vector-based data including text, graphics, and line art." This makes sense, since text and illustrations usually have sharp clean edges (e.g., black text on white paper) which will look jagged at lower resolutions such as 360 ppi. This is one reason why office laser printers (which are mostly used for printing text documents) rasterize at much higher resolutions. Text and vector-based illustrations (e.g., created in Adobe Illustrator) will have cleaner edges with fewer artifacts when rasterized and printed at 720 ppi compared to at 360 ppi.

Photographs, however, are very different from text and line drawings and may not benefit much (if at all) from printing at 720 ppi vs. 360 ppi. I have not performed any tests myself, but I suspect that the difference at most will be very slight. Therefore, I have two recommendations.

First, since everybody's eyes and technical standards are different, you really have to make the comparisons tests and judgments for yourself. Not helpful or conclusive, I know, but that's my honest opinion. Second, if your native image resolution is less than 360 ppi when printed at the output size without resampling, then you are very unlikely to gain any benefit from going up to 720 ppi. For example, if your original image resolution is 4368 x 2912 pixels (an uncropped Canon EOS 5D image, for example), and you want to make a 15" x 10" print, then the image resolution without resampling is 291.2 ppi (4368 pixels / 15 inches = 291.2 ppi). Since this is already less than 360 ppi, it's highly unlikely that you will gain anything by resampling your image any higher than 360 ppi.

It is very important to set your final output image resolution and the "Finest Detail" driver setting consistently. That is, don't prepare your images at 720 ppi and uncheck "Finest Detail". Similarly, don't prepare your images at 360 ppi and check "Finest Detail". In both cases, the driver will resample your images behind your back before printing (down to 360 ppi in the first case, and up to 720 ppi in the second case).

Now that we've gotten the technical mumbo jumbo out of the way, let's turn to a practical real-world example.

Example: let's say you want to print a 16" x 20" image, you don't want the driver to perform any interpolation, and 360 ppi is fine by you. In this case, you need to print using an image whose dimensions are 5760 pixels by 7200 pixels (16" x 360 ppi = 5760 pixels, and 20" x 360 ppi = 7200 pixels) and uncheck the "Finest Detail" box.

In most cases, the original dimensions of your image (in pixels) may be greater or less than the target output dimensions. You will need to interpolate your image to get it to the target output size.

There seem to be as many ways of interpolating as there are photographers (and then some)! As for me, when downsampling an image (i.e., the output image size is smaller than the original image size), I use Photoshop's Bicubic resampling method. When upsampling an image (i.e., the output image size is larger than the original image size), I use Photoshop's Bicubic Smoother resampling method.

What is the difference between printing at 1440 dpi and 2880 dpi?

When you print at 1440 dpi, the 3800 lays down ink using two different ink droplet sizes, leading to a dot pattern containing both large dots and small dots. When you print at 2880 dpi, the 3800 uses only the small ink droplets.

Printing at 2880 dpi takes about 1.9x as much time as printing at 1440 dpi. For example, an image that takes 3 minutes to print at 1440 dpi will take about 5:40 minutes to print at 2880 dpi.

Printing at 2880 dpi uses roughly 10% more ink than printing at 1440 dpi (not twice as much, as incorrectly suggested elsewhere on the web).

The differences in print quality between 1440 dpi printing vs. 2880 dpi may or may not be visible, depending on several factors, including the paper surface, the lighting and viewing conditions, and the eyeballs of the person in question. See this question for more details.

What does the "Media Type" driver setting do? Only Epson papers are listed here. Does this mean I can only use Epson papers?

The Media Type setting controls the driver's ink strategy during printing. This includes details such as how much ink to put down for a given RGB value, how to mix the inks, etc. Different Media Types are appropriate for different kinds of paper.

It is very important to understand that the Media Type isn't directly tied to the actual paper that you print on. Even if you select the Premium Luster Media Type, for example, the 3800 doesn't know whether you're really using Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper or whether you've actually fed some other type of paper (such as Ilford Smooth Pearl or Innova Smooth Cotton). All the printer driver does is carry out the ink strategy associated with the Premium Luster Media Type, regardless of which paper you're using.

Naturally, the ink strategy for each Media Type is optimized by Epson to work on the corresponding Epson paper. For example, the Enhanced Matte Media Type is designed to work well for Epson Enhanced Matte paper, and the Premium Glossy Media Type is optimized for Epson Premium Glossy.

You can certainly use third-party papers with the 3800. When you download color profiles for the paper (usually from the paper manufacturer's web site), there are usually instructions telling you which Media Type to choose in the driver settings. If you are creating custom profiles for your paper, the key is to choose a Media Type for the Epson paper that is most similar to the paper you're trying to profile. For instance, if you're interested in creating a profile for Ilford Smooth Gloss, you probably want to use the Premium Glossy Media Type.

What does the "Finest Detail" driver setting do? Should I have it on or off?

The Finest Detail option is for optimizing the appearance of text and other vector-based data (such as drawings from Adobe Illustrator). See this question for more details.

What does the "Edge Smoothing" driver setting do? Should I have it on or off?

The Edge Smoothing option is for optimizing the appearance of low-resolution images by smoothing jagged edges and lines. For best image quality, you should turn this feature off and instead prepare your final output images at 360 ppi or 720 ppi as described here.

What do the Color Density and Drying Time driver settings do?

You probably won't need to change these driver settings if you print with Epson papers. But they can come in handy with third-party papers.

Note that the Color Density setting only affects printing in Color mode. It does not appear to have any effect when printing in ABW mode (i.e., the Color Density slider seems to be ignored by the ABW driver).

Color Density lets you decrease or increase the ink load. Decreasing Color Density (i.e., setting the slider to a negative value) can be useful if you find that the driver is putting down too much ink on your paper. Common symptoms of too much ink include ink smearing, pooling of ink (or banding) in the black or dark regions of the image, and excessive paper warping. Increasing the Color Density can sometimes lead to increased saturation and deeper blacks, especially on some PK papers.

Drying Time lets you specify additional time (in tenths of a second) between successive print head passes. This can be useful if you find that the ink is smearing on the paper. Increasing the Drying Time will let the ink dry before the next print head pass and may alleviate the smearing problem, but it will also increase overall printing times.

What does the "High Speed" setting do? Should I have it on or off?

When High Speed is enabled, the 3800 uses bidirectional printing. This means that the print head applies ink while sweeping across the sheet of paper in both directions (left to right, and right to left). In contrast, when High Speed is disabled, the 3800 uses unidirectional printing: the print head applies ink while traveling in one direction only.

The primary advantage of bidirectional printing is its speed (hence the name "High Speed"): it is roughly twice as fast as unidirectional printing.

However, there are three disadvantages of bidirectional printing.

First, you have to be sure that the print head is aligned properly; otherwise, tiny (but noticeable) bands may appear in the print. A properly aligned head is desirable in general, but it is more critical with bidirectional printing than with unidirectional printing.

Second, bidirectional printing allows less time for inks to dry before the next printing pass occurs. This can lead to smeared ink in some cases, especially for areas of the print with heavier ink coverage. One solution is to increase the Drying Time between printing passes, but then you might as well switch to unidirectional printing instead.

Third, bidirectional printing uses a rougher halftoning algorithm than unidirectional printing. The practical effect on print quality depends on several factors, including the paper surface, the lighting and viewing conditions, and the eyeballs of the viewer. See this question for more details.

Will I see any differences in print quality between 1440 vs. 2880 dpi and bidirectional vs. unidirectional printing?

That depends on many factors, including the paper surface, the lighting and viewing conditions, and of course, your eyeballs!

There are four combinations here:

  • 1440 dpi, bidirectional (fastest printing)
  • 1440 dpi, unidirectional
  • 2880 dpi, bidirectional
  • 2880 dpi, unidirectional (slowest printing)

Some users have reported that they cannot see ANY differences whatsoever in print quality between the four printing modes, even on close inspection. Giorgio Trucco reports that he cannot see any differences in his synthetic tests, but in real-world images he can see very slight differences on close inspection.

My personal experience is somewhat different.

I can clearly see the differences between bidirectional vs. unidirectional printing on most papers; the rougher halftoning algorithm of the bidirectional printing leads to rougher tonal transitions and more edge artifacts. Furthermore, I have found that bidirectional printing leads to some dark bands in areas of the print with heavier ink coverage. One solution is to increase the Drying Time, but then again, unidirectional printing effectively accomplishes the same thing.

I find that the differences in print quality between 1440 dpi and 2880 dpi are highly paper-dependent. On some papers, such as Epson Premium Luster, I find the differences to be extremely minimal, even on close inspection. There are differences, but they are so slight as to be meaningless -- hard to put into words. On other papers such as Moab Kokopelli Studio Semi-Gloss, I can easily see the differences between 1440 dpi and 2880 dpi, even at a viewing distance of over 12"; 2880 dpi is noticeably smoother and shows a much finer dot pattern.

Ink tends to "bleed" more on MK papers (such as Epson Velvet Fine Art) than on PK papers such as the previous two papers mentioned, so I find it very difficult to distinguish between 1440 dpi and 2880 dpi printing on MK papers.

Based on my own tests, I personally print my images at 2880 dpi unidirectional on PK papers and at 1440 dpi unidirectional on MK papers. I have a low-volume, easy-going printing schedule, so the slower printing time is not an issue. Also, 2880 dpi printing appears to use only 10% more ink than 1440 dpi printing.

My view on the matter is that differences between these four printing modes may exist, but it depends on a lot of things. There's really no substitute for judging the results for yourself with your own eyeballs!

Should I print black and white images using the Color (RGB) mode or in the Advanced B&W Photo (ABW) mode?

Either is fine. Many users have found that they can print black and white images through the standard ICC color-managed workflow using RGB printer profiles and get excellent results. One of the primary reasons they often cite for using this method is to be able to soft proof the image (e.g., in Photoshop).

However, in most cases I recommended using the ABW mode. Here's why.

  • Blacks are deeper when printing with ABW, so the prints have greater dynamic range. For example, on Moab Kokopelli Studio Semi-Gloss (a PK paper), I can achieve a minimum L* = 4.4 (d-max = 2.3) in Color mode and a minimum L* = 3.2 (d-max = 2.45) in ABW mode. On Epson Velvet Fine Art (a MK paper), I can achieve a minimum L* = 15.5 (d-max = 1.68) in Color mode and a minimum L* = 13.8 (d-max = 1.77) in ABW mode. In both cases -- especially the latter case -- the differences are not just measurable but the results look visibly better with ABW.
  • The ABW driver produces a more perceptually linear response than the Color driver. A good custom color profile will correct for this, but it is preferable to start with a driver that is close to linear.
  • Print longevity is higher in ABW mode, partly because the yellow ink (which is the most suspectible to fading) is used significantly less.

The disadvantages of the ABW mode are that it doesn't support split-toning (see here) and there isn't a built-in way to soft proof the results. If you have a spectrophotometer, however, you can build your own black and white profiles (or gray curves as described here) to use with the ABW driver. See here for details.

Any tips for printing black and white images using the Advanced B&W Photo mode?

I would first check this page to see if I've already built an ABW profile for the paper you wish to use. If there's no profile available, I would recommend following these steps.

How do I print split-toned images using the Advanced B&W Photo mode?

The ABW mode doesn't support split-toning. You need to print split-toned images as RGB color images using the standard ICC color-managed path (i.e., with an ICC printer profile).

Is there a way to soft proof black and white images when using the ABW mode?

Yes, but there isn't a built-in way to do it. You need a spectrophotometer such as an Eye-One Pro to build a grayscale profile or a set of output curves. See here for details.

If you don't have a spectrophotometer, you can still get very close screen-to-print matches for neutral black and white images as long as you follow the steps listed here.

Should I print my images in 8-bit mode or 16-bit mode?

Executive summary: Use 16 bits throughout the entire workflow from beginning to end, including printing.

For the Epson 3800, the print quality differences between printing directly from an 8-bit image versus a 16-bit image are negligible. The Epson 3800 driver processes only 8-bit image data and hence does not make use of the full 16-bit image data. A full 16-bit driver could offer significantly more halftone steps than an 8-bit driver, leading to smoother color gradations and tonal transitions. As of October 1, 2007, Epson has announced their plans to release a 16-bit driver for Mac OS X for the new 4880, 7880, 9880, and 11880 printers. However, Epson has not announced any plans to release a 16-bit driver for the 3800.

In principle, one advantage of printing from a 16-bit image data in Photoshop (even today) is that the final color space conversion from your RGB working space (e.g., ProPhoto RGB) to the printer driver's color space will be performed with at least 16 bits of precision. This will minimize the chances of artifacts being introduced during this color transformation. (Note that this benefit can only be realized with 16-bit ICC profiles.)

In summary, I always recommend editing your image in 16-bit mode, but for printing to the 3800 it doesn't really matter if you print from an 8-bit image or a 16-bit image. To simplify things, I suggest that you stay with 16-bit editing throughout the entire workflow from beginning to end.

What do the terms "bronzing", "gloss differential", and "metamerism" mean? Does the Epson 3800 have these issues?

Bronzing is a phenomenon where certain colors in the print appear to undergo a color shift, depending on the viewing angle and the lighting angle (i.e., the angle at which the light strikes the surfaces of the paper). The exact nature of the phenomenon depends both on the ink formulation as well as on the reflective properties of the paper surface. Bronzing occurs only in PK papers (e.g., glossy, luster, semigloss surfaces). Matte papers, which are almost perfectly diffuse, are not affected. On the 3800 with the K3 inks, bronzing is very well controlled. It is not totally eliminated, but it does not appear to be objectionable.

Gloss differential is a phenomenon where the amount of light reflected off of the surface of the print seems to vary across the image. This gives the impression that some parts of the image are "shinier" or "glossier" than others. It is noticeable mostly in highlight regions which receive little or no ink. When the print is viewed at certain angles, it becomes clear that the parts of the paper that receive little or no ink seem to reflect light differently than the parts of the paper that receive heavier ink coverage. It occurs only with PK papers (e.g., glossy, luster, semigloss surfaces). This issue does exist on the 3800 with the K3 inks, but only to a limited degree. It can be treated partially by toning down the highlights (e.g., setting the brightest parts of the image to values of 252 to 253 instead of 255) at the cost of a slight reduction in the dynamic range of the print.

Metamerism is a phenomenon in which two colors that appear to be the same under one light source (e.g., daylight) may appear different under another (e.g., office fluorescent bulbs). This is problematic because, for example, a print whose colors look fine under daylight may assume a noticeable purple cast when hung on the wall in an office that uses fluorescent lighting. Metamerism is particularly undesirable for black and white prints, because it can spoil the neutrality (or subtle toning) of the image. Prints on both PK and MK papers can be affected. Fortunately, problems involving metamerism appear very well controlled on the 3800 with the K3 inks, for both color and black and white images. There haven't been any reports of nasty color shifts when viewing the same prints under different types of illumination, and I haven't noticed any myself.

What is the deepest black I can expect with Photo Black (PK) papers?

In Color mode, I have measured L* = 4.0 (d-max = 2.35) on Ilford Smooth Pearl. In ABW mode, I have measured L* = 2.9 (d-max = 2.49) on the same paper. This is getting close to the performance of dye-based inks -- impressive! It may be possible to get deeper blacks on other papers or with different driver settings.

What is the deepest black I can expect with Matte Black (MK) papers?

In Color mode, I have measured L* = 16.0 (d-max = 1.68) on Epson Velvet Fine Art paper. In ABW mode, I have measured L* = 13.8 (d-max = 1.77) on the same paper. It may be possible to get deeper blacks on other papers or with different driver settings.

What is ImagePrint? What are the advantages of using ImagePrint over the standard Epson driver on the Epson 3800?

ImagePrint is a Raster Image Processor software made by ColorByte Software. Note that ImagePrint is not the same as the ColorBurst RIP that ships with the Epson 3800 Professional Edition.

So far, there aren't many user reports for ImagePrint on the 3800. This may be because the 3800's output using the standard Epson driver is already considered excellent for both color and black and white images.

Users who do have an ImagePrint license for the 3800 report that ImagePrint's dot pattern is subtly better than the dot pattern of the standard Epson driver, leading to slightly sharper output. Other comments on quality improvement include better tonal resolution (separation) and better color. However, these last two items are hard to pin down because they depend heavily on the quality of the profiles involved.

Given that the output quality improvements are subtle, it's natural to ask whether ImagePrint has other advantages over the standard Epson driver. In my view, here are two (potential) advantages of ImagePrint.

First, ImagePrint comes with a large library of frequently-updated profiles, not just for Epson papers, but also for several third-party papers. They have both color profiles and "gray" profiles designed specifically for black and white printing. There are several versions of each color profile, for different lighting conditions (e.g., tungsten, daylight, fluorescent, mixed lighting). My experience using ImagePrint for my previous printer, the Epson 2200, is that their profiles are very good, but results are still better with a custom profile (not surprisingly). The profile library may be useful if you like to print with many different types of papers and don't want to invest in a custom profile for each one.

Second, ImagePrint offers workflow advantages in terms of page layout, recalling and restarting print jobs (logged in the job history), and batch printing. Also, once you learn to use ImagePrint's interface, printing with ImagePrint is usually easier and requires fewer steps than with the Epson driver. In most cases, just drag your image onto the page layout area, (optionally) center it, and hit the Print button. This works better than wading through both Photoshop's Print With Preview box and the Epson driver settings box just to make sure you've set everything up consistently.

Since an ImagePrint license is expensive, I suggest trying a demo version of ImagePrint to see if it meets your needs. (Unfortunately, the demo version for Windows will not allow you to print. I am not sure why ColorByte allows the Mac demo version to print, but not the Windows version.)

As for myself, even though I relied heavily on ImagePrint when printing with my old Epson 2200, I find that the Epson 3800 with the standard Epson driver meets my needs. I build my own color profiles and black and white profiles and love the results. I do miss the easier setup and printing workflow of ImagePrint, but then again, I print infrequently and have an easy-going schedule.

Note that ImagePrint will allow you to print longer than the Epson driver's limit of 37.4 inches. See here for details.

What is Epson's Advanced Meniscus Control (AMC)?

According to Epson, the 3800's print head uses this method to control the curvature of every ink droplet within each nozzle before releasing it onto the media. This leads to very accurate ink droplet placement and improved image quality.

Papers, Profiles, and Calibration

What are the best papers to use with the Epson 3800?

The UltraChrome K3 inks work well across a wide range of media. For third party papers, you should check the product description to see if it's compatible with pigment inks.

Paper selection boils down to personal preference. Qualities to consider include contrast (miaxmum black), color range (gamut), paper color (warm vs. cool), surface type (reflective vs. matte), surface texture (smooth vs. textured), single-sided vs. double-sided, paper weight and paper thickness, surface delicacy (tendencies to flake and scuff), longevity, outgassing characteristics, sheet size and roll offerings, and cost.

Pick the qualities that matter to you and then look for papers that have them. If you're just starting out, I suggest trying a sampler pack. Many places sell sampler packs that include a couple of sheets each of several different papers. It's a good way to figure out what suits your tastes.

Where can I get 17" x 25" sheets of paper?

Many Epson 3800 users have expressed interest in obtaining cut sheet sizes of 17" x 25". The common sheet size of 17" x 22" allows printing a 16" x 20" with a half-inch border on two edges and a one-inch border on the other two edges. A 16" x 20" is a 4:5 aspect ratio. Many popular digital SLR cameras today have an aspect ratio of 2:3. A 17" x 25" sheet allows printing a 16" x 24" with a half-inch border all around.

Some inkjet paper manufacturers are starting to respond to this demand by offering their most popular papers in the 17" x 25" cut sheet size. These are:


Hawk Mountain Papers: Red River Paper is beginning to offer 17" x 25" sheets of four of their popular papers. They will also custom cut any of their papers for a reasonable fee.

Harman Gloss FB Al is also available in 17" x 25" cut sheets.

If you come across others not listed here, please let me know.

Where do I get paper profiles for the Epson 3800?

The driver installation for the 3800 installs the 3800 profiles for the Epson papers. For third-party papers, you can usually download canned profiles from the manufacturer's web page for free. If you are using ImagePrint, go to ColorByte Software's FTP site to download their profiles (these profiles will only work properly with ImagePrint, not the Epson driver). You can also purchase custom profiles from a variety of profiling services (see here for details).

What are the names of the Epson 3800 profiles?

The profile names are a little cryptic. Here they are and the papers they correspond to.

Profile Name Paper Name / Media Type
Pro38 ARMP.icm Epson Archival Matte Paper
Pro38 EMP.icm Epson Enhanced Matte Paper
Pro38 PGPP.icm Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper
Pro38 PLPP.icm Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper
Pro38 PPSmC.icm Epson Proofing Semimatte Paper
Pro38 PQIJP_MK.icm Epson Photo Quality Inkjet Paper
Pro38 PSPP.icm Epson Premium Semigloss Photo Paper
Pro38 SWMP.icm Epson Singleweight Matte Paper
Pro38 SWMP_LD.icm Epson Singleweight Matte Paper - Line Drawing
Pro38 USFAP.icm Epson UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper
Pro38 VFAP.icm Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper
Pro38 WCRW.icm Epson Watercolor Radiant White Paper

Are the canned Epson 3800 profiles any good? Do I need custom profiles?

User reports seem to indicate that the canned (generic) Epson 3800 profiles are very good, especially for PK papers. If you're unsure whether or not to invest in custom profiles, I usually recommend trying the canned profiles first. If you're pleased with the results, then there's probably no need for a custom profile. If you notice clipped shadow detail or muddy colors, you might want to consider investing in a custom profile.

Can I use color profiles for similar printers like the Epson 4800 with my Epson 3800?

Yes, but you may not (probably won't) get accurate color. The 3800 uses a different print head design, a different software driver, and a different screening algorithm than the 4800, all of which can lead to different color output. It's best to use the Epson-supplied profiles for the 3800 or to obtain custom profiles.

Can I use Bill Atkinson's color profiles with my Epson 3800?

Yes, but you may not get accurate color, for the same reasons noted above. Bill's profiles are for the Epson 7800 and 9800 printers and will also work well with an Epson 4800 that has been calibrated using Epson ColorBase.

Can I use the same color profile for both 1440 dpi and 2880 dpi printing?

Yes. Epson claims that the 3800 compensates for varying ink densities across resolutions, so you can use a single ICC profile for both 1440 dpi and 2880 dpi printing and get the same color in both cases. Giorgio Trucco has performed tests that support this.

Where can I get good custom profiles for the Epson 3800?

There are several good profiling services available. Some of the well-known ones include Cathy's Profiles, Chromix, and the Digital Dog. I also provide a custom profiling service.

What is the best way to make custom color profiles for the Epson 3800?

That all depends...

If you are new to creating custom profiles, I suggest taking a look at Bill Atkinson's color downloads page. Bill has made his excellent profiling targets available for free. Download the Targets FAQ and read through it carefully -- it has lots of good advice.

I personally use the RGB 4096 Eye-One target (printed on three 11" x 17" sheets) for PK papers and the RGB 1728 Eye-One target (printed on one 13" x 19" sheet) for MK papers.

How can I build custom profiles for black and white printing for the Epson 3800?

If you are printing your black and white images in Color mode using the standard ICC color-managed workflow, then you can build a custom profile the same way you would for a color profile. Many users report that they get excellent results when printing black and white images using their custom RGB color profiles.

If you are printing in ABW mode, and you have a spectrophotometer like an Eye-One Pro, you can use QuadToneRIP to build a grayscale ICC profile by printing a target in ABW mode and then measuring it. You can use this profile for both soft proofing as well as printing. Giorgio Trucco describes the steps here in more detail.

A more flexible way to build black and white profiles for the ABW driver is to measure a grayscale stepwedge target and then use the measurements to build output curves in Photoshop (instead of using an ICC profile). This method also allows you to soft proof the image (including color toning). One advantage of this approach is that it's easy to make small tweaks to the curves to fine-tune the results (e.g., open up or compress shadow detail). It's like having a simplified profile editor right in Photoshop.

I've written a custom software program to generate Photoshop curves automatically from a set of LAB measurements and am considering releasing it to the public.

What are the best printer driver settings to use for making profiles for paper X?

I am starting to put together a list of recommended driver settings for papers I use. Please contribute if you have experience building profiles for papers not listed!

Which rendering intent should I use when printing my photographs?

There's no general single best choice. For most photographs, at least one of the Perceptual or Relative Colorimetric intents will do a fine job. You can use the soft proof to help you decide which rendering intent to use on a per-image basis.

I've read that some printers can calibrate themselves to the factory standard. Can the Epson 3800 do this?

Not automatically. To calibrate your 3800, you will need to use Epson ColorBase software as described on this page. You will also need a supported spectrophotometer (or know someone who does and is willing to measure the calibration targets for you).

What is the Epson ColorBase software?

See this page.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Should I turn off my Epson 3800 when not using it or leave it on?

Should I turn off my Epson 3800 when not using it or leave it on? Executive summary: If you print daily (i.e., the longest time elapsed between two successive prints is at most a day), then leave your 3800 on. Otherwise, turn it off.

The following more detailed explanation is summarized and paraphrased from a thread on the Epson Wide Format Yahoo newsgroup, where the original poster spoke on the phone with an Epson engineer in the wide format printer product group.

According to the engineer, assuming a properly functioning printer, there is no difference in the parked position of the print head, whether the printer is on and the head is parked or if the printer is shut off. The engineer recommends that if printers are used very frequently (hourly to daily at the longest) then it is fine to let the printer stay on because there isn't enough time between prints to let the print head dry out.

To avoid problems with print quality, you want to avoid the situation where ink dries in the print head. In other words, dried ink is the enemy: it can cause clogs, and because it doesn't seal nozzles as well as liquid ink does, dry ink can contribute to air bubbles. If the printer is not used at least daily, then it should be shut off between print runs. The reason is that when the printer is turned back on, it goes through a special type of head cleaning (using a supposedly "minimal" amount of ink) to clear off the dried particles, get rid of air bubbles, and get the liquid ink going again.

The frequency of this special cleaning mode is controlled by the printer itself. It will be done occasionally even if the printer is left on; however, it is not done frequently enough if the printer is simply left idling while powered on and not being used. Hence, the Epson engineer's recommendation is to turn the printer off when the time between two successive print runs is longer than a day.

I can't get thick papers to feed reliably using the Rear Feed! What's wrong?

There are two common issues when using the Rear Feed. One is that the printer refuses to pick up the paper at all. The other is that the printer picks up the paper and pulls it in, but then gives an error (e.g., Paper Skew).

If you are having trouble with the former issue, make sure that (1) you have placed the sheet flush against the right edge of the Rear Feed guide, (2) you are inserting the paper straight (instead of at an angle), and (3) that you are pushing down firmly and consistently across the top edge of the paper as you insert it. The last point is particularly important. You must apply constant downward pressure, even after you feel the paper sheet encountering resistance inside the printer. It takes the 3800 about 1 or 2 seconds before it takes over and attempts to pull the sheet in. Once the 3800 picks up the sheet, you can let go -- but not before then!

If you are having trouble with the latter issue, it's possible that the leading edge of the sheet isn't straight. This mistake happens sometimes when sheets are cut during the manufacturing process; it can also occur if you cut the sheets yourself (e.g., using a Rotatrim). To see whether this is the case, try multiple paper types and see if the problem is isolated to a single paper. If the problem persists, try turning off the Paper Size Check option from the printer panel.

Should I make custom paper configurations using the printer panel or using the software driver?

It's easier and faster to make custom paper configurations (e.g., Media Type, paper thickness, color density, etc.) using the software driver. You can also save your choices as a preset so that you can recall them quickly in the future.

I have not found it necessary to use the printer panel to set the paper configuration.

I haven't used my Epson 3800 in a while. Do I need to do anything special before I can use it again?

Usually not. It's a good idea to run a nozzle check just to be sure the nozzles are clean. You might also want to run an automatic head alignment.

If you haven't used your 3800 for more than two weeks, Epson recommends shaking the ink cartridges gently. That's right -- remove each ink cartridge and shake it gently four or five times and put it back in. I'm guessing that this somehow redistributes the ink in a way that leads to better print quality.

How can I prevent nozzle clogs on the Epson 3800?

There doesn't appear to be a silver bullet for preventing clogs altogether, but there are some simple steps you can take to help avoid clogs on the 3800. Some of these steps may help with other Epson printers as well.

  • According to user reports, clogs seem to happen more often in very dry climates than in more humid climates. In other words, moderate humidity appears to help prevent clogs. If you live in a very dry climate, consider putting a humidifier in the room with the printer. Some users suggest leaving a cup of water near the print head. (Don't spill the water!!)
  • Try to keep the printer away from dust, debris, and other gremlins. I personally keep my 3800 covered with a thick sheet and old towel when turned off and not in use. (Otherwise, the printer would be infested with hair from my two cats, who seem to think the 3800 is another piece of furniture.)
  • There is some debate as to whether it's best to leave the 3800 on all of the time or to turn it off when not in use. Epson's recommendation is to turn if off if the time between two prints will be more than a day (see this question for details).
  • Some Windows users have found that the Epson Printer Watcher software seems to cause nozzle clogs, so they recommend disabling this software. The Printer Watcher is part of the LFP Remote Panel software which is usually installed during initial printer setup (along with the driver, profiles, etc.). Update: this issue is fixed with firmware revision o00573.

Should I perform print head alignments using the printer software or directly from the printer panel?

From page 87 of the Epson manual: "Although you can align the print head using the printer utility software, it's best to align from the printer's control panel. This will do the most thorough job in the shortest time, and it's all automatic."

What is a head strike? How do I prevent head strikes?

A head strike occurs when the print head collides with the edge of the paper (instead of passing freely over it). The usual result is that the edge of the paper gets smeared with ink -- not pretty. In severe cases, a head strike can damage the print head.

Why does it happen? One possibility is that you are printing on thick paper (such as fine art matte media) and the Platen Gap isn't wide enough. The Platen Gap is a printer setting (accessible via the printer driver or from the printer panel itself) that determines the distance between the print head and the paper during printing. The wider a setting you use, the greater the distance, and the less likely a head strike will occur. However, if you are printing on thin media and set the Platen Gap too wide, then prints may look faint.

Even when using an appropriate Platen Gap settings, head strikes can occasionally occur. One reason for this is that the Epson 3800 does not have a vaccuum system to keep the paper flat as it is fed during printing. Normally the paper is sandwiched between two sets of rollers, so this isn't an issue. The problem typically occurs near the end of the print, especially if you are printing close to the edge (e.g., less than an inch for the bottom margin) When the edge of the paper leaves the first set of rollers, it can lift up a bit and get in the path of the print head. Giorgio Trucco gives the details here.

One solution to the problem is to override the Platen Gap setting and change it from Auto to Wide (or Wider). This does not appear to affect print quality in most cases.

Some users have reported that even adjusting the Platen Gap doesn't solve the problem: they either continue to get head strikes or they see ink smearing in other parts of the prints. The only solution in this case seems to be to call Epson support and ask for a replacement printer.

One trick I've found that helps to avoid head strikes is to curl the paper slightly before feeding it to the printer. The idea is to curl the paper "downwards" (i.e., bend the edges of the paper towards the paper tray) so that the bottom edge of the print is less likely to pop up as it leaves the first set of rollers. Combining this technique with setting the Platen Gap to Wide has worked so far for me.

Here is another trick contributed by Robert Koopmans. If you are printing on sheets cut from roll paper, the paper has a tendency to curl. This can exacerbate the head strike issue. One trick is to cut your sheet so that it's two inches longer than what you actually need. The extra two inches prevent the end of the paper from popping up and causing a head strike while the printer is finishing up the print. For example, let's say you want to print a 16" x 24" image that is centered on 17" x 25" paper cut from a 17" roll. Instead of cutting a 17" x 25" sheet, cut a 17" x 27" sheet. Tell the driver that you're using a 17" x 25" sheet (using the User Defined paper size setting). When you print the image, the printer will stop laying down ink 24.5 inches from the front of the sheet, and the remaining 2.5 inches of paper will prevent a head strike from occurring because they still lie under the rollers. Once the print comes out, trim off the last (blank) 2 inches, and you're done! (Or, if you're planning to mat and frame the print, it's probably not even necessary to trim off the last 2 inches, since they'll be concealed by the mat anyways.)

How does the Platen Gap setting relate to the actual physical distance between the print head and the paper?

Narrow0.9 mm
Standard 1.2 mm
Wide 1.5 mm
Wider 2.1 mm
Widest 3.5 mm

I'm seeing little dimple marks on my prints running along the direction of the paper movement. What are these?

These are "pizza wheel marks" caused by the little spoked wheels attached to the ejection rollers of the 3800. This ejection roller system is active when the Auto Sheet Feed or Rear Feed is used, but not when the Front Feed is used. The two main purposes of the pizza wheels are (1) to allow borderless printing at the bottom (i.e., trailing) edge of the print, and (2) to cause multiple prints to emerge neatly stacked when using the Auto Sheet Feed.

The problem is that the pizza wheels dig into the printing side of the paper surface as the sheet emerges from the printer. This leaves little marks running up and down the surface of the print, perpendicular to the direction of the print head movement. Papers with softer surfaces (e.g., the Innova FibaPrint papers) are more susceptible to this problem.

Are the marks really noticeable in practice? That depends. First of all, I've only ever seen the marks on PK papers, not MK papers. So I don't worry about it at all when printing on MK papers (which is most of the time). For PK papers, the marks are only visible when (1) the light is fairly strong and directional, and (2) the viewer is examining the print at a downward angle. For example, if a PK print was mounted and hung on a gallery wall, the only way to see the marks would be to stand on a chair or ladder and look down at the print from above -- not a likely scenario. Prints that are designed to be viewed while held in the hand (e.g., boxed porfolio prints) are a different matter. The marks are more likely to show up in this case.

There is a way to avoid pizza wheel marks on PK papers entirely. The idea is to use the Front Feed, which bypasses the pizza wheel ejection mechanism entirely. However, simply using the Front Feed doesn't work perfectly, because the Front Feed is designed to be used with very thick papers (1 mm to 1.5 mm). If you use the Front Feed with regular papers, the print head winds up too far away from the paper surface, leading to dot misregistration and ghosting (i.e., a fuzzy print). The trick to getting around this problem is to use a thick backing sheet that is the same size as the sheet of paper (2-ply mat board works perfectly). For example, when printing on 11" x 17" paper, place the sheet on a 2-ply mat board that is cut to exactly 11" x 17". It is not necessary to tape the sheet to the board. Align the two carefully, insert the combination into the Front Feed, and print normally. Voila -- perfect prints, no marks.

Note that you cannot make borderless when using the Front Feed.

What do the Epson 3800 firmware numbers like o02468 or o02269 mean?
Which one is newer?

Epson has a funny (but consistent) version numbering scheme for their firmware. For the Epson 3800, firmware numbers have the pattern o0XXYZ. o0 is a code representing the printer model, in this case the Epson 3800. XX is the day of the month (e.g., 24). Y is the last digit of the year (e.g., 6, meaning 2006). Z is the month of the year (e.g., 8, meaning August). Note that Z is in hexadecimal, not decimal. This means that October (month 10) is represented by "A", November (month 11) is represented by "B", and December (month 12) is represented by "C".

Example #1. When my 3800 first arrived, it had firmware number o02468-1.00 800E. This means the firmware is for the Epson 3800 (o0) and was released August 24, 2006.

Example #2. I then went to the Epson (USA) Support site to check for the latest firmware version. I found that the site listed firmware number o02269-1.00 800E. Decoding the initial sequence of letters and numbers, this Epson 3800 firmware was released September 22, 2006.

This is slightly misleading since o02269 appears to be a smaller or lower number than o02468, yet o02269 is actually the newer version.

You can update your 3800's firmware using the LFP Remote Panel. The firmware update utility software will tell you whether the firmware you plan to install is newer, older, or the same as your current firmware.

You can also determine your 3800's current firmware number by using the LFP Remote Panel, or by using the panel on the front of the 3800 itself.

My Epson 3800 prints fine over the network, but my computer can't receive status information (like ink status, progress, etc.) from the printer. What's wrong?

This issue has popped up quite a bit. Basically, communication from the computer to the 3800 is fine, but communication in the other direction is not.

James Kay (a 3800 user) has spent a lot of time working on this problem and has finally found a workaround. Essentially, the workaround consists of installing the Epson 2200 driver and the latest version of the Epson 2200 Status Monitor. Sounds odd, but it works! This workaround seems to work fine in Windows XP.

The following specific information is paraphrased from James's original posts online:

OK, I have spent a lot of time trying to resolve this issue. I have tried Network traces, stack analysis, port scanning and every other thing I could think of.

I was testing out my old Epson 2200 printer, and realized I uninstalled the driver while I was troubleshooting the 3800 Status Monitor. I reinstalled the 2200 driver. I noticed the Status Monitor for the 2200 was not working. I downloaded the latest 2200 Status Monitor from the Epson US site and then saw the ink level on my 2200. I also noticed that the Status monitor was also Version 3. I decided to try the 3800 status monitor again. VOILA! Now my 3800 Status monitor is working over Ethernet only! All I did was install the 2200 driver and Status Monitor. Go figure! I would be curious to know if this works for anyone else...

OK, I got the Status Monitor working for 3 of my 4 machines. I have not attempted to try the 4th one yet (Vista), but so far so good.

In all three cases, all I did was install the Epson 2200 driver and 2200 Status Monitor. I selected the port for my 3800 using "Manual" when installing the driver, since the printer is not attached to my other machines. Here are the files I used for the update:

2200 Driver: epson12230.exe
2200 Status Monitor: epson11276.exe

I downloaded these from the Epson US site.

I also noticed that I must have NetBIOS enabled on my network card. You can check this at Start/Setting/Network Connections. Right click your active NIC and select properties. Then select "Internet Protocol TCP/IP" and select "Properties". Select "Advanced" then the "WINS" tab. Verify "NetBIOS over TCP/IP" is "Enabled". "Default" should work too.

You should be able to "ping" your printer by the name on page 2 of the Network Status sheet printed from the printer panel. I hope this helps...

Thanks James. This is a big help to many 3800 users!

After setting up my Epson 3800, the printer is reporting that the maintenance cartridge life is at only 60%. Is this normal?

Yes, this is normal. The maintenance cartridge life is typically at around 60% to 65% after initial setup and the number decreases slowly with use.

I'm having trouble on Mac OS X with custom print sizes. Only a small slice of the image gets printed. What's wrong?

This is actually an issue with the Mac OS X printer driver, not the Epson printer driver. Fortunately, there is a way to work around it. The following information is paraphrased from a post on DPReview's printer and printing forum, in which the original poster was trying to print a 16" x 20" image on 17" x 21" paper and was only seeing a 6" strip of image come out:

First, make sure that your system software is set up in the same measurement units as you are using in Photoshop. Go to System Preferences/International/Formats/Measurement Units. If you are setting up your custom paper size in inches make sure that the system is using U.S. measurements; if in centimeters then make sure it is set up in metric units.

In Photoshop's Print With Preview dialog box, choose Page Setup and then Manage Custom Sizes. Create a New Custom size of 17x21 (or whatever your desired custom size is). The critical thing here is that you use the same measurement units as your system software is using You then have an option for margin sizes; I just checked the box for the standard 3800 printer margins. Save it.

Now when you go to print preview with your 16x20 image you should see the image centered with 1/2 margins all around. It should print fine now.

What is the recommended environment for the Epson 3800?

According to the Epson manual: temperature 59 to 77 F (15 to 25 C) and relative humidity 35% to 45%.

I see the message Service Error 1127 on my Epson 3800's control panel when I turn the printer on. What's wrong?

According to Epson, this error indicates that the printer's carriage cannot lock. Contact Epson for help.

I see the message Service Error 1134 on my Epson 3800's control panel when I turn the printer on. What's wrong?

Make sure there is no obstruction in the path of the printer's carriage. If this does not fix the problem, contact Epson for help.

I see the message Service Error 1404 on my Epson 3800's control panel when I turn the printer on. What's wrong?

This error indicates that the air pressure for an ink cartridge is not correct, which is usually caused by a defective ink cartridge. If you recently replaced an ink cartridge, try replacing it with a new one. If the error still appears, contact Epson for help.

Is it necessary to install the EpsonNet Config and/or AddNet software?

No, it is not necessary. You can set up, use, and configure the 3800 (including over the network) without installing either software.

My 3800 makes a lot of noise while printing. Is this normal?

Some amount of noise is normal. However, if you hear loud screeching noises and/or banging sounds, it's worth checking a couple of things.

First, if you just set up a new printer, check that you've removed all pieces of blue packing tape (and packing foam) from inside the printer. There are roughly 50 pieces of tape in all, and some of them are tucked away and hard to see inside. Use a flashlight to look inside.

Second, while making a print, lift up the top panel of the printer (it lies just in front of the Auto Sheet Feed) and make sure that the print head isn't crashing into the side of the printer as it moves from side to side. If it seems to be hitting the side of the printer (and this seems to be the cause of a banging or crashing sound), stop printing and call Epson Support. Your printer probably needs to be serviced or replaced.

I just started to see a strong color cast on my prints. Previously my prints were fine. What happened?

First, run a nozzle check and make sure that all nozzles are firing properly. A blocked/clogged nozzle could be the cause of a color cast. Perform a head cleaning if necessary to clear the nozzles.

Next, check to make sure that your application (e.g., Photoshop) settings and printer driver settings haven't changed. Refer to my suggested printing workflow guide if necessary. In particular, make sure that (1) you are selecting the correct printer profile, and (2) you are not double-profiling (i.e., performing two color conversions).

If you just changed an ink cartridge, a possible (but less common) cause of a color cast is a defective ink cart.