Well, my old, old Epson 1280 gave up the ghost the other day, and since I have been having problems with it for a while anyway, I decided it was time for a new one. A photo store in downtown Toronto (Vistek) had the best prices, plus a $200 rebate on the model I thought I wanted.
The one, it turns out, that I really wanted, was the 3800, a big bruiser of a printer weighing 40-odd pounds, which can take a sheet up to 17 x 22 inches! Edge to edge! Basically, it is the descendant of the venerable old Epson 3000, a workhorse beloved of small graphics studios a few years back.
This one makes the 3000 seem like a piece of old machinery from the Soviet Union. Despite the fact that it can print on 17 x 22 stock (as did the 3000), it takes up a lot less space than the old beast, due to Epson's cleverly designing folding trays into it. The 3800 is also 7 inches narrower. Epson describes the 3800 as a "desktop" printer, but if you can afford the kind of desk this puppy requires, you probably have people to do the printing for you.
The bottom line is this: Print quality is fabulous! And its nine chunky ink cartridges won't be running out of ink every second day. Prints are almost a perfect match to what is on the screen. The prints it produces are exquisite and look at least as good as a photo print, but will last far longer.
Expensive? Yup, though not as expensive as big printers were ten years ago. If you are looking to do larger prints (or need a replacement for that clunky old Epson 3000), have a look at the Epson 3800.
Now, what do I do with the corpses of the old Epson 3000? Or the 1280?
The 3800 was 1,469.00 (CDN), minus a $200 rebate, real price = $1,269.00 At the same time, they had a paper deal going. If you bought one box of Exhibition Fiber Paper @ 13 x 19" plus one box @ letter size at the same time you bought an Epson 3800, you could get a mail in rebate for the entire price of both, which is over $200.00! The Exhibition Fiber Paper is fantastic stuff, by the way, very heavy and looks exactly like old unferrotyped glossy.
I guess Epson is getting better at colour control because their profiles are bang on for me right out of the box. While it might be more expensive than an online service, especially if you consider the initial cost of the printer, can an online service give you a good price on a 17 x 22 canvas print? Besides, if you are in the business of selling prints, an image printed by the artist/photographer has a greater cachet than one churned out at Bob's Drugstore. Part of the reason for that is that the artist has control of his own image when he or she prints it himself, but the artist loses control of the image when it is sent out and there's no guarantee that there are more than the stated 200 (for example) floating around out there. When a friend of mine brought his art in to have a giclee edition made of it, he found, much to his dismay, that the owner of the business liked his art so much, he ran off a few copies for himself!
Anyhoo, reasons for choosing the 3800: • them big, big prints • NINE inks, including • 4 blacks: glossy black, matte black, mid grey and light grey. • Those greys make for the best black and white prints I've ever seen from an inkjet. • Big chunky ink tanks, won't run out of ink after a couple of head cleans. • Fast; goes like blazes. A letter-size print in under a minute. • Ethernet and USB. I prefer to network my printers, so I dig the ethernet.
I've been buying printers for a long time, so I have the luxury of a long view. My first laser printer, which I bought in 1990, a letter-size printer with the bulk of a small fridge, cost me over $5,000.00. Black and white. The next printer was an HP Postcript printer, letter sized prints: $4,000. I've had six printers since then, four inkjets and two laser printers. The cheapest was the colour laser printer I bought just a few weeks ago: $250.00 The rest have ranged from $750.00 to $3,000. Thirteen hundred bucks doesn't look so bad to me.
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