The Good Class-leading black-and-white printing; lots of paper options; long-lived prints; large ink cartridges.
The Bad Expensive; large footprint; no roll feed.
The Bottom Line Epson's least expensive pro-series printer yet, the Stylus Pro 3800 is sure to dominate among pros, prosumers, and big-spending amateurs alike.
Epson Stylus Pro 3800
Epson separates its photo printers into groups, such as the snapshot-dedicated PictureMate line, the amateur-through-enthusiast Stylus Photo line, and the prosumer-through-professional Stylus Pro line. However, the company's latest high-end printer, the Stylus Pro 3800 does a lot to blur the line between enthusiast- and prosumer-level printers. For example, its list price is less than that of Canon's EOS 30D digital SLR, but Epson still includes the same print engine and ink set that grace its $2,000 Stylus Pro 4800, though the two use different physical ink cartridges.
Like its pricier sibling, the Stylus Pro 3800 accepts paper as large as 17 inches wide. In fact, the biggest appreciable difference between the two printers is the 3800's lack of a roll-feed option, which means that the largest photo you can print is 17x22 inches. Of course, that should be plenty large for most situations.
It's worth noting that the Stylus Pro 3800 isn't for everyone. Its wide tonal range, long-lasting prints, fantastic black-and-white printing, accurate color prints, and wide array of paper types make it wonderful for enthusiasts and professionals. But, if you don't plan on selling your prints, or you lean toward scrapbooking instead of fine art printing, you may be more economically served by something such as Epson's Stylus Photo R2400 or R1800, HP's Photosmart 8750 or Canon's i9900. Plus, any of these other printers will take up less desk space than the Stylus Pro 3800. However, if you're after the best print quality available for less than $1,300, this printer should definitely be toward the top of your list. And if you plan to use the printer for proofing, Epson offers a professional edition, which includes the same hardware but also ships with professional RIP software. Despite all the major improvements that have occurred in home photo printers in the last few years, big time prints still require a big printer. But, even though it's a lot larger than most home printers, Epson's Stylus Pro 3800 manages to fit the same print engine as that of the company's much revered Stylus Pro 4800 into a unit that can fit comfortably, if a bit snugly, into a home office.
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