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Photo R2880
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The Epson Stylus Photo R2880 A3 review

It's now six years to the day that we launched photo-i with an exclusive review of the Epson Stylus SP2100 pigment ink printer (2200 for North America). At the time the SP2100 was a giant leap forward for digital photo printing, at long last photographers now a printer that could produce a print that looked like a traditional wet chemistry photograph and as a bonus the print would last for up to 200 years.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since 2002, today's printers are delivering stunning quality at every level, even a sub £100 printer can produce high quality photographs, assuming of course you are using good quality photo media. So with the plethora of fine printers currently available which one is the flavour of the day?


Today Epson announces the Epson Stylus Photo R2880 A3+ printer, a direct replacement for the much loved R2400. The R2880 is aimed at the (Semi) - Pro and Advanced Amateur who doesn't need a high volume output printer, but still wants to use a wide variety of media types and produce high quality B/W prints The R2880 boasts an impressive list of new features and specifications, that should satisfy a broad user base the new features include:

  • UltraChrome K3 ink set with Vivid Magenta
  • Epson new LUT technology (Look Up Table) for ultra smooth gradations
  • Roll and Fine Art media support
  • Front feed for specialist rigid media (up to 1.3mm thick)
  • CD/DVD printing (using inkjet printable discs)
  • Dual USB 2.0 ports (connect 2 computer to the printer)
  • Front PictBridge port for direct printing from a digital camera or photo viewer

Are the new features enough to convince the R2400 owner that is time to upgrade and does the R2880 deliver a better print? How does the R2880 compare with printers produced by Epson's competitors models (HP & Canon). We have the R2880 printer here and are pleased to bring you the first review of this impressive new printer.


Generally I publish a what's in the box shot here, but as this is not an off the line production unit I have skipped this shot and will get straight on with the installation. Parts will be covered later in the review.

The first stage is to connect the printer up to the mains and turn the printer On. The power cable is a simple two pin plug which supplies the power direct, no bulky in-line transformers with this printer. Next open the top cover and insert the eight inks. As with previous Epson printers, each cartridge has to be shaken first (not stirred). This is just to get the pigment ink into circulation rather that it sitting at the bottom of the cartridge.

Shake each ink before fitting
The complete set of inks

Although there are nine inks in the UltraChrome K3 ink set, only eight inks are loaded at any one time. You change the Photo Black (for glossy media) with the Matte Black (for matte media). Each time you swap the cartridges the printer purges the inks from the print head., To clean the heads effectively all the inks (colours too) have to be sucked through the nozzles. This cleaning process is very wasteful of your inks and not an ideal way to change media types. Epson should have developed a better solution by now, I am sure this is going to annoy many existing users who may be thinking of a new printer. Whilst we are on a negative point, I am also surprised that the cartridges are not a higher capacity, each one contains approx 11ml of ink, which is OK for an A4 printer, but not on an A3+ unit.

The inks are as follows;

  • Light Light Black,
  • Vivid Light Magenta,
  • Light Cyan,
  • Light Black,
  • Matte Black,
  • Photo Black,
  • Cyan,
  • Vivid Magenta and
  • Yellow

I will look at the new inks and LUT in detail later in this review.


23 May 2008

© Vincent Oliver 2008
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