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:
Click here to return to the resources / notes 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
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
Media Handling and Margins
Papers, Profiles, and Calibration
Maintenance and Troubleshooting
Late September 2006, just before Photokina. It began shipping around
the brochure (PDF, 6 pages)
the reference guide (PDF, 41 pages)
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.
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.
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.
Same printer, different packages.
The Media Special comes with the
TUMI Printer Cover and 25 sheets of 17" x 22" Epson Ultra Premium
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.
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"
- 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.
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:
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.
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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.
- 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 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.
Also, see this question on tips for avoiding
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.
USB 2.0 and 10/100-BaseT Ethernet.
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.
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.)
Yes, the 3800 produces excellent black and white prints in both color
(RGB) mode and especially through its special Advanced B&W Photo (ABW)
See here for more details on how to set up the ABW driver and printing
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
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
Yes: Epson announced the Epson Stylus
Pro 3880 on September 1, 2009.
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
No. The 3800 supports only cut sheet paper. If you need roll paper
support, consider the Epson R2400, Epson 4800, or Canon iPF5000
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.
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.
1.5 mm, according to the Epson manual. Some users have reported
success working with even thicker media.
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.
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
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
Maximum: 17.0" x 37.4" (43.18 cm x 95.0
- Front Feed:
Minimum: 8.27" x 11.0" (21.0 cm x 27.94
Maximum: 16.54" x 23.39" (42.0 cm x 59.4 cm)
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.
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).
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
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.
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
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
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
The Media Types that use Photo Black (PK) ink are:
The Media Types that use Matte Black (MK) ink are:
- Premium Luster Photo Paper
- Premium Glossy Photo Paper
- Premium Semigloss Photo Paper
- Proofing Paper Semimatte
- Plain Paper - Photo Black
Note that there is no Media Type for Epson Premium Semimatte (only
Proofing Paper Semimatte).
- 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
Remember that the black ink type (PK or MK) is chosen automatically based on your selected
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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
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
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.
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? :-)
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.
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.
Preferably in a dark, cool place, away from direct heat
sources. Don't refrigerate the ink carts.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
The Cyan and Magenta inks are not used.
- Photo Black / Matte Black
- Light Black
- Light Light Black
- Light Cyan
- Light Magenta
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,
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
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
Average Amount Used (mL)
Light Light Black
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
Amount Used (mL)
Light Light Black
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
The primary advantage of bidirectional printing is its speed (hence
the name "High Speed"): it is roughly twice as fast as unidirectional
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Gloss FB Al is also available in 17" x 25" cut sheets.
If you come across others not listed here, please let me know.
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).
The profile names are a little cryptic. Here they are and the
papers they correspond to.
Paper Name / Media Type
Epson Archival Matte Paper
Epson Enhanced Matte Paper
Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper
Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper
Epson Proofing Semimatte Paper
Epson Photo Quality Inkjet Paper
Epson Premium Semigloss Photo Paper
Epson Singleweight Matte Paper
Epson Singleweight Matte Paper - Line Drawing
Epson UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper
Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper
Epson Watercolor Radiant White Paper
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.
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.
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
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.
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
custom profiling service.
That all depends...
If you are new to creating custom profiles, I suggest taking a look at
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
See this page.
Maintenance and Troubleshooting
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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."
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
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.)
|Narrow||0.9 mm |
|Standard|| 1.2 mm|
|Wide|| 1.5 mm|
|Wider|| 2.1 mm|
|Widest|| 3.5 mm|
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.
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
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
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
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
Thanks James. This is a big help to many 3800 users!
Yes, this is normal. The maintenance cartridge life is typically at
around 60% to 65% after initial setup and the number decreases slowly
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
According to the Epson manual: temperature 59 to 77 F (15 to 25 C) and
relative humidity 35% to 45%.
According to Epson, this error indicates that the printer's carriage
cannot lock. Contact Epson for help.
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.
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.
No, it is not necessary. You can set up, use, and configure
the 3800 (including over the network) without installing either software.
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.
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.