Reviewing 17 inch Epson Stylus Pro 3800 UltraChrome K3 ink
This new Epson Stylus Pro 3800 printer is Epson reacting to Canon's iPF 5000. The Epson 3800 is out just in time to react to HP's new HP Designjet Z2100, which is 8 ink lines. However in the meantime HP also has a 12-ink printer, the HP Designjet Z3100 photo, comparable to the 12-ink printer of Canon. Epson offers just 9 ink lines with 8 inks being used at any one time. The 9th channel is for auto-switching from Photo Black to Matte Black.
People using Epson for a second-business, retirement business, or other use at home will tend to stick with Epson. It's like using a Mac, you just stick with Mac no matter what (all FLAAR Reports are written on a Mac 17" Titanium or a Mac desktop computer with Cinema Display monitor). But we do most of our other work with Dell PCs.
But people who try various brands in person, are using the HP 8750, HP B9180, or even the earlier HP 130. Indeed the person who invented the word giclee is using several HP printers, and two Iris giclee printers.
So far, e-mails coming in every hour asking FLAAR its opinion and suggestion
From Monaco , Istanbul , and across the US e-mails come in asking me my opinion about the three printer brands. There are many issues: price comparisons, cost for ROI, endurance, and ink costs.
People vote with their wallet. Gary Kerr, an Epson-only giclee atelier, said he needed a printer that would hold up to production needs. He will receive his Canon imagePROGRAF iPF9000 this week. I saw the Canon iPF8000 on autumn 2006; the Canon iPF6000 should be at the next show (in 2007).
The Giclee, Décor, and Fine Art Photography Inkjet Printer Markets are shifting rapidly
Each inkjet manufacturer has their own beliefs in their market position. They also have optimistic views of their own market share and how they will survive in the future.
But FLAAR receives statistics on giclee, décor and fine art photography inkjet printer sales on almost an hourly basis (from our Survey Form). We are also not blind at trade shows such as Photokina in Germany and PhotoPlus Expo recently. The Epson booth was popular at Photokina; the other printer booths need serious help from an outside consultant to help them understand the culture of their buyers. This is where FLAAR is helpful; Dr Hellmuth's background is in anthropology (the study of cultures). Giclee is a culture, décor is a sub-culture, fine art photography differs from commercial photography. We are immersed in all of these.
At PhotoPlus the Epson booth was clearly less busy than in past years. There was corresponding more people in the Canon and in the HP booths. This is why FLAAR is a consultant to both manufacturers and end-users and distributors. We understand the culture of manufacturers, of distributors, and of end-users.
We are neutral, indeed the more competition the better (it creates a need for an independent outside evaluation capability such as that of the FLAAR Reports).
Presently we are gathering material on the HP Z2100 and Z3100 because the key people who developed this printer are kindly making the effort to meet with Dr Hellmuth one by one, team by team, to answer his questions and essentially "take him inside" the printer. The next step is to evaluate the printers ourselves, independently.
Since there are so many new printers (such as the Epson Stylus Pro 11880), we tend to work first when access is readily available.
Every several years there is either a new Canon iPF printer or a new Epson or a new HP water-based printer that is made for giclee, decor, or fine art photography. It is hard to keep track of the advances in improved inks and color management features. FLAAR is keeping track by visiting giclee ateliers around the world that have these various brands. Each brand has its good points and a few issues and an occasional deficiency.
Since FLAAR itself does not sell printers, for you to find out information on prices and availability of each model that can print fine art giclee well, we suggest you contact a company that offers all three brands: Canon, HP, and Epson. This way they are not going to push just one brand because they offer all three. Plus you need a company that has plenty of experience with fine art photographs, photo labs, and giclee atelier.
The advantage of a place that offers both Epson, HP, and Epson is that they can provide some tips on the differences. If a store sells only one brand or the other, they will understandably push the brand they sell.
Most recently updated August 6, 2012. First posted September July 25, 2007, 26, 2006. Updated Nov. 13, 2006.
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