Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Review

November 6, 2009 | Jon Canfield | Printer Reviews | |


When you have the most popular C Size (17") printer on the market, it might not seem that there's a good reason to update it. For the past three years, the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 has held this status. With a good combination of price and size, this C sized printer has filled the needs of photographers looking for the ability to print 17x22 on a variety of media without the bulk or expense of a large format printer.

Since the 3800 was released, Epson has made two major changes in their pigment ink photo printers. The first is the second generation of UltraChrome K3, which replaced the original magenta and light magenta inks with a new Vivid versions to increase the color range, particularly in the deep blues. The other change is more recent, and so far seen in only two printers – the 7900 and 9900 – with UltraChrome HDR, adding green and orange to the mix to give skin tones a more accurate appearance as well as fit the needs of graphic designers in addition to photographers.

Because the HDR inkset has been out for a while now, you would probably expect a new printer from Epson to adopt this version. With the new Stylus Pro 3880 though, Epson has taken one step forward rather than skipping directly to UltraChrome HDR. Since the 4880, 7880, and 9880 are still current models, this isn't as odd as it might seem. Both the 3880 and the 3800 it replaces use the same case and controls. Other than the UltraChrome K3 label (Figure 1) adding the Vivid Magenta, the printers look visually identical. In fact, even opening up the ink compartments you'll see only a Vivid label on the magenta cartridges to tell you this is a different printer. It's behind the scenes where the real changes are occurring though. Combined with the new ink, Epson has added AccuPhoto HD2 screening to improve the accuracy of ink placement on the page, giving the images a smoother color and tonal gradation as well as reducing ink use. The print head has been improved as well with more accurate placement and an ink repellent coating to reduce clogging and maintenance requirements.

Epson Stylus Pro 3880
Figure 1

Ease of Use

Unlike most printers in this size category, you can actually setup the 3880 by yourself. While the 4880 that ships on a palette, the 3880 is much more compact, weighing only about 43 lbs. (the 4880 by contrast tips the scales at 89 lbs). Size wise, the 3880 is only 1" wider than the 13" Canon Pro 9500, and the same width as the HP B9180.

Going from unpacking to using the printer takes less than an hour, even if you're the type that reads manuals. After unpacking the printer and plugging it in, you'll be prompted to insert the ink cartridges to charge the system. Although the 3880 holds nine inks, (Figure 2) the Photo Black and Matte Black inks share a line, meaning they can only be used exclusively. The printer driver will make the switch for you when you select the appropriate paper type – matte papers use the Matte Black, while coated papers like Ultra Premium Luster use the Photo Black. This ink swap does take a bit of time and uses up a small amount of ink with each swap, so you'd be well served to cue similar print jobs together to avoid constant switching back and forth. According to Epson, the swap from Photo to Matte Black uses about 1.6ml of ink, while going the other direction uses about 4.6ml.

Epson Stylus Pro 3880
Figure 2

Along with larger print sizes, one of the reasons many move to a larger printer is the reduced cost of supplies. Cost wise, you're paying about $.75 per ml with the 3880 and the 80ml cartridges compared to about $1.10 with the 2880 and its 12ml cartridges.

On the back of the printer are USB and Ethernet ports. I set the 3880 up connected to my router for sharing across a mixed Mac and PC network. Network connections were easily done on both platforms with the EpsonNet Network utility.

Not much has changed in the printer driver interface – if you've used Epson printers in the past, you'll feel right at home here. Both Windows (Figure 3) and Macintosh (Figure 4) drivers are functionally similar although the Macintosh driver supports 16-bit output for better color fidelity and smoother tones.

Epson Stylus Pro 3880
Figure 3

Epson Stylus Pro 3880
Figure 4

As with the previous model, it's hard to visually see any quality difference between the 1440 and 2880 quality mode settings. A 16x20 at the highest quality setting takes about 9 minutes compared to 6.25 minutes in SuperFine, or best mode.

The new screening technology, AccuPhoto HD2, is very impressive. The results from the 3880 are among the best I've seen, surpassed only by Epson's 7900 and 9900 large format printers. Comparing skin tones on a portrait, the dithering pattern is extremely smooth in appearance. Printing the same images on a 3800 and 3880 shows a pretty clear difference, although unless you look in detail like I've done here, the differences aren't dramatic.

Epson Stylus Pro 3880
Figure 5

Epson Stylus Pro 3880
Figure 6

Epson Stylus Pro 3880
Figure 7

Epson's Advanced Black & White mode output (Figure 8) is excellent. The driver gives you the ability to customize the output while generating a neutral print that minimizes the amount of color inks used during printing, virtually eliminating color shift, or metamerism, when viewing under different light sources.

Epson Stylus Pro 3880
Figure 8

Entry Tags

printer, epson, 17 inch, stylus pro, 3880, ultrachrome, epson 3880 review, C, Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Review

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#1 Mens Health

Mixture with the rest of the range inkjet Epson again on top of the Stylus Photo P50 is glossy black with a texture of points per minute. The tray folds back and extends to provide a paper support

8:09 am - Saturday, November 7, 2009

#2 Joe


I knew of at least one paper company making 17x25 sheets, and Epson’s User Manual details a Custom Size procedure to create your own size and type from cutting down larger sheets or cut from rolls.  I believe the Custom Size procedure is common to all of Epson’s printer line.  Thank you for this review and details.  It might be time for me to replace my old 2200!

2:34 pm - Saturday, November 7, 2009

#3 Milad Hussain

i am looking to buy a new printer and considering to purchasing the epson 3880. Has anyone actual used one that could provide feedback on its quality and performance.


3:34 am - Sunday, November 8, 2009

#4 Bill Tanner

I ordered a 3880 from Design Supply Limited on 19th. October, and it was delivered on 10th. November, but the price of £445.00 is fictitious!.I paid £973.93, and that was the best price I could find.
However, I have been unable to use the printer yet, because most of the contents were missing from the inside of the box. I had the 3880, the 9 ink cartridges, and a Declaration of Conformity notice. Nothing else!
Having immediately chased Design Supply for the missing items, today (12th. November) I received a power cable, a software CD, and an Epson Commercial Warranty Document via Royal Mail Recorded Delivery. I assume these were sent by Epson UK, but there was nothing to indicate this - not even a compliments slip!
Having recently purchased an Epson Perfection V750 Pro Scanner, which came complete with set-up and basic operation guides, it seemed to me that some items were still missing , and so I visited Epson’s website to see the 3880’s “What’s In The Box” details.
Consequently, I discovered that 3 items were still missing - Basic operation guide, Network set-up guide, and ‘Start here’ guide.
I e-mailed the MD of Design Supply over 4 hours ago, but have received no response back yet!
In the meantime I am still unable to use the 3880!
A copy of my e-mail is below:
f.a.o. John

Hello John,

Further to our two telephone conversations of Tuesday afternoon, I have today received a Mail Lite envelope via Royal Mail Recorded Deliveryl. I assume this has been sent by Epson UK, but there is nothing to indicate this - not even a compliments slip.

The envelope contains 3 items - a power cable, a software CD, and an Epson Commercial Warranty document.

Having recently purchased an Epson Perfection V750 Pro scanner, which came complete with set-up and basic operation guides, it seemed to me that some items were still missing, and so I visited Epson’s website. The list below details what should have been included inside the box

• Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer • 9 individual ink cartridges • Software CD • Basic operation guide
• Network set-up guide • ‘Start here’ guide • Warranty document • Power cable

As you can see, I still require 3 more items before my order can be considered to have been completed.

These are:  (1)  Basic operation guide
        (2)  Network set-up guide
        (3)  ‘Start here’ guide

In my opinion Epson should have been aware of what was required, and I should have been sent a complete pack. Instead it appears that they decided to “scrape the barrel”, and that they sent me only those items which they could easily put their hands upon!

Until this purchase I have had no occasion to fault Epson’s service, but their reputation is now somewhat tarnished as far as I am concerned.

I consider it to be bad enough that the 3880 was sent out in the first place without everything that should have been in the box, but that they should have attempted to resolve the matter in such a piecemeal manner is beyond my comprehension.

As the 3880 bears a manufacture date of 2009.08.07, and as supplies have only just become available in the UK, Epson had 3 or 4 months, depending upon whether the date shown in reverse is based on the American or British system, to ensure that everything was 100% OK in that interim period.

Please relay my dissatisfaction to the appropriate authority at Epson UK, and arrange for this matter to be resolved to my satisfaction without any further delay upon Epson’s part.

Many thanks,


Does anybody know whom I should contact at Epson to try and expedite this matter to a satisfactory conclusion?

4:15 pm - Thursday, November 12, 2009

#5 Serge

Anybody bought it in Canada?

6:03 pm - Tuesday, November 24, 2009

#6 Josh

Well I bought mine for only $1199 !! Here at Met them at the USA Imaging Show in Tenessee but their company is based in Southern California.

10:51 pm - Friday, January 22, 2010

#7 16gb sd card

prints well on matte paper when it works,Excellent color photo printing; big enough for scrapbookers; roll feed capable; long-lived prints; CD- and DVD-label printing; many paper options; new ink set enhances skin tones.

12:56 pm - Saturday, January 23, 2010

#8 David

I just bought the Epson 3880 here in USA. I’m a bit unclear about the inks. Is it true that this printer uses the same ink cartridges as the 3800, except for the two magenta inks, which are now vivid magenta?

Regards, David.

PS - note to Bill, above: I would have been really anger at getting a new product that had been tampered with, and would have demanded a new one, unopened.

2:23 pm - Saturday, January 23, 2010

#9 Bill Tanner

Hi David,

Yes, the inks are the same apart from the two magentas which are now vivid.

The carton my 3880 came in was sealed and unopened. It was just that some items had never been put in the carton. The 3880 itself had all its transit tape intact, and had obviously never been opened

Although I was not happy with Epson’s customer service regarding this matter, the product itself is superb. Print quality is fantastic. Far superior to photo lab prints.

I am not sure why “16gb sd card” says it is roll feed capable, because most definitely it is a sheet feed only printer. The roll feed printers start with the 4880 (same print size as 3880), and are then available in larger formats.  Also, CD and DVD label printing? Are we talking about the same printer?

Regards, Bill

6:07 pm - Saturday, January 23, 2010

#10 compact flash

Epson has two lines of photo printers; the Stylus Photo and the Stylus Pro. One of the main differences between the two being that the Pro printers are individually calibrated during the manufacturing process. Epson’s PR blurb on this states “...unique production technology to ensure printer-to-printer colour consistency. Colourimetric calibration is performed during the manufacturing process. This process automatically evaluates and adjusts the colour performance of each printer produced.”

7:37 am - Thursday, March 4, 2010

#11 seo

The 3880 is getting the eight-color Ultra Chrome K3 Vivid Magenta ink set that’s already been incorporated in most of Epson’s other pro graphics printers, plus the same ink-repellent coating on the print head to minimize nozzle blockages. With this model, Epson introduces Accuphoto HD2, an update to its screening technology with look-up tables (LUTs) co-developed with RIT; the new LUTs go a step beyond choosing the appropriate color for any given dot to selecting the appropriate color with the lowest metameric index (that is, the least likely to change appearance under different lighting conditions).

10:31 am - Monday, March 8, 2010

#12 gas bbq

Beginning of the beginning is always sweet
Later there will be a tired, used, abandoned, lonely, desperate and sneer
Was eager to work with a person fated, then, how glad that they left
Once upon a time, in a short period of time where
We thought he was a man deeply in love.
Later, we learned
That is not love, it is just lying to yourself.

4:55 am - Thursday, June 10, 2010

#13 Credit Card Debt

I think it is bad enough that 3880 was sent first, without all that should have been in the area, but they should have tried to resolve the matter in such a piecemeal fashion is beyond me.

4:55 am - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#14 Joe

We received out 3880 today .It took 10 minutes to set up and make a test print. The packing was top notch, making the set up easy.
The printer is extremely quiet with little vibration . The quality and color of the test print was amassing . We moved up from the 2200
epson. I would highly recommend the 3880 printer for high quality photo reproduction.

11:29 pm - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#15 Nicklas Gaskell

I bought my printer in May, and aside from a few test prints in colour on glossy and photo lustre (the quality of which were superb, I have not had a chance to really run it through it’s paces until recently; due to scanning my back catalogue of 6 x 6 films (This takes bloody ages!)  However, after printing out on to fine art media all I can say is Wow!  I never realised how bad my local lab was until I bought this printer, I cannot praise the quality of it’s output highly enough.

5:11 pm - Wednesday, July 7, 2010

#16 ephraim Imperio

I want to post a question.  Are the ink cartridges bigger than the ones used in the 2400 printers.  Do they last longer than the ones used in the 2400?  Each 3880 ink cartridge cost at least $59.95 so I hope it will last longer than the ones I used on the 2400.

3:50 pm - Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#17 Bill Tanner

Hi Ephraim,

Yes, the cartridges are much larger.  The ones for the R2400 are 13ml, whereas those for the 3880 are 80ml, and so, despite their substantially higher cost, overall they are much better value for money.

In fact I had originally intended to buy an Epson R2880, but I calculated that the extra cost for the 3880 was more than compensated for because it included 9 x 80ml ink cartridges.  Plus I was getting a better printer, which can print up to A2 size, instead of only A3+.

Having had the 3880 for 9 months now, I can emphatically state that it is a superb printer, and I am 100% satisfied with my purchase.



4:17 pm - Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#18 Mark Beech

Has anyone used this printer for CAD (architectural) drawings? If so, with what results?

5:10 pm - Sunday, August 22, 2010

#19 bobhell

Can I print on Canvas sheets with this printer?  If so what are the results like?

1:23 am - Thursday, August 26, 2010

#20 Lisa

I too am interested printing solely on Canvas sheets!
Need input before spending the dollars.

4:09 am - Sunday, September 26, 2010

#21 Maria

I am also looking to buy a printer to make art prints; particularly on canvas.  I would really like to hear from anyone who has used this printer to print on canvas.  And also if I can use artist quality canvas for my inkjet printer?

9:12 am - Tuesday, October 5, 2010

#22 AC

I loved this printer at first, but it went south very quickly. As per industry standards, I recently upgraded to the 3880, and so far so good, but my expectations for longevity aren’t that high. All in all, it’s been a disappointing product in terms of toughness. Yes, the prints are lovely, but the drama involved in getting the machine fixed by Epson is nothing short of an enormous headache.

6:08 pm - Monday, November 29, 2010

#23 new print head

Thanks fo r sharing with us about this printer. Its prints are good. Thanks.

7:52 am - Thursday, February 10, 2011

#24 April

I’m considering buying the 3880 but would like to know the average coverage amount for prints. Ex. how many 8 x 10, 5 x 7 or 4 x6 can I print with 80ml? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

2:05 am - Wednesday, March 2, 2011

#25 r 4

Does this camera take SD or Micro SD card?

12:34 am - Friday, April 15, 2011

#26 Joe Nowak

I had a question for Epson tecnhical support. I wondered how long the cartridges remain good for printing.  I just installed new cartridges on my 3880 printer and noticed that they have an “expiration date” of July 2011, a little over two months from now.  They told me that, since I never opened the blue plastic pouches the cartridges are shipped in, they will be good at least a year beyond the expiration date.  Just an FYI for all.

11:42 pm - Friday, April 29, 2011

#27 Amrit

Pro 3880. Seen nothing like it. Absolute pleasure using it.

3:52 pm - Thursday, June 9, 2011

#28 Bill Tanner

Re the longevity of the ink cartridges, I am still using the original ones which I installed 19 months ago, and the print quality and colour reproduction is still perfect.

4:14 pm - Thursday, June 9, 2011

#29 Rosalie

Hi, I am considering buying the Epson 3880 for producing giclee art prints.
What is the thickest weight of paper you can feed through it ?
Will it take up to 310 gsm ?

11:00 am - Saturday, June 11, 2011

#30 LouisB

Regarding ink life. After a year of 3880 ownership I’ve still got my original cartridges.  Every three months I lift the ink side of the printer from my desk about nine inches and swiftly move the printer up and down rapidly half a dozen times to ensure the pigment remains ditributed evenly. Still prints sublimely.

7:16 pm - Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Dear Sir,

I purchesed CX 5500 CLOUR PRINTER EPSON printer.
The ink catridges are very costly. and the same are not available easily in the market. I photography enthusiast. Please calarify I am serious about buying a new one.

——- SESHU.

12:01 am - Thursday, August 4, 2011

#32 les wollam

we all know how expensive epson inks are. have you thought about doing a rewiew on Continuous Ink Supply systems, and inks for them?

5:50 pm - Saturday, August 27, 2011

#33 LouisB

@ Les Wollam.

Very good idea. There are a couple on the market so let’s see how they fare.

8:43 pm - Saturday, August 27, 2011



I am thankful to you for the reply given to my querry. I have just seen such advertisement as stated by you. I have to think once and again wheter it suits to my photography prints.

I, remain.
Thanking you.


6:14 am - Sunday, August 28, 2011

#35 bernie yoksh sr

i bought the 3880 to print on canvas

could not get it to take the canvas

took it back


3:58 pm - Thursday, March 22, 2012

#36 JeffN

Do not expect any quality service / support from Epson. They are hard nosed and could care less about your situation. Here’s my experience with two printers; a 3800 and a 3880 is they have a short life span. I purchased a 3800 (new) and paid for the extra 3yr extended warranty. It was a $1200 printer so I thought it was worth the extra for the extended warranty. After 3yrs and 8 months the printer started dumping 1 inch long by 1/8 in wide black ink blobs, and the Photo Black cart on the LCD read 90% full when the cart was actually empty. Epson support said it needed a new printer head. The cost was the same price a new printer. Because it was now past the extended warranty they would do nothing else for me. (Shouldn’t a pro printer at $1200 last more than 3.75 years of moderate use?), I guess not. I then purchased a new 3880, but did not get the extended warranty. After 2 yrs and 2 months, this 3880 started doing the exact same problems as the 3800: dumping 1 inch by 1/8 inch wide black ink blobs and the LCD showed the Photo Black cart at 90% full, when it actually was empty. I spoke with Epson support as well as next person up the line. Epson response: “Because it is out of warranty we will do nothing for you”. Despite the fact that this is the 2nd 38xx series printer that had the same problems. Note that Epson will only warranty this printer for a maximum of 3 years - if you purchase the extended warranty, costing several hundred dollars - not cheap. You can not extend the warranty past the 3 years. Given that short time frame you can see that Epson does not expect the 3880 (3800) to last much more than 3 years. If it does, you were lucky. If not, buy a new one or… change to another brand. Given the fact that I had this same problem on two different professional printers - 3800 & 3880. Knowing that these are not $100 disposable printers, but $1200 pro printers; and as a professional customer that had already given Epson several thousand dollars for their printers, and thousands more buying their ink; I had expected Epson Professional division to provide better support and work with me to fix the problems. I had been told that Epson customer support really sucks. Now I must agree with that statement. If you can risk dumping $1200-$1500 every 2 - 3 years on an Epson Pro printer, then you may be happy with the 3880. If you can’t, then look at anther brand. I’ve heard that Canon makes a good pro printer.

4:20 pm - Tuesday, May 21, 2013

#37 Victoria -

Epson has become one of the famous printer companies around the world from time. Epson Stylus Pro 3800 is one of the best product ever. There are so many advantages that can be enjoyed by consumers significantly. Replacement ink along with the advancement of technology is a good thing considering the color is an important item that must be considered with care. There is so much ink used so that the images can be printed according to its original color.

8:22 am - Tuesday, July 23, 2013

#38 okphotography

Thinking about getting one as all i have is a laser printer, and the print that comes off is not good for my photos just need to way up the cost.

9:40 pm - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

#39 Toronto Wedding Photography

The accomplished camera person will concentrate on the principle subject of the occasion and that is the wedding couple. In any case, they will additionally examine the room and search for potential response shots while they zoom into catch the subtle elements of the unfolding activity and responses in the room.

8:49 am - Thursday, May 22, 2014

#40 Rufus Mc D

Epson ink is good but this is the ONLY thing good about Epson. The printer mechanisms sucks, it is unreliable and will fail in weeks. Color management has to be done manually. Customer service really sucks - they are complete muppets. And the drivers really really really suck. GO CANON.

9:14 am - Monday, March 23, 2015

#41 Dave Shaw

Hello All
I have had both the 3800 and 3880 printers and as much as i enjoyed working with them and the quality they produced they have a limited lifespan. Always by coincidence it starts to have problems just as Epson are about to introduce a newer model.
In both instances I was getting severe bleeding of black ink onto the prints initially it was a random smattering then became so consistent I was forced to shut them down. Not sure now if I will purchase another Epson as they are on a short timeline to perform consistently. Very Disappointed , again

11:27 pm - Friday, December 4, 2015

#42 Kevin Howes

I am looking to maybe buy an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Printer

I am wanting it to print A3-A2 photography and graphics, but then also need it for day to day A4 prints (such as normal documents like quotes, internet info print outs etc) on normal A4 paper - not photographic

Does this printer work for both or would you just use this printer for the large format stuff then get a small printer for the everyday stuff?

Thanks in advance

5:25 pm - Monday, March 14, 2016