The Epson R3000 produces excellent results on both colour and monochrome prints, delivering rich contrasts and beautifully natural colours.
The R3000 is the follow-up to Epson's highly-rated R2800 large-format printer. It can handle big sheets of up to A3+ in size and uses a total of nine ink cartridges to deliver more professional quality prints.
All this technology doesn't come cheap. To get your mitts on this beast you're going to have to shell out around £550.
The R3000 isn't aimed at amateurs who want to run off a few snaps. It's targeted at serious photo enthusiasts and designers who want to produce top quality printouts of their work on paper sizes up to A3+.
The bigger paper that this model can handle requires a large chassis, measuring 616mm wide, so it's likely to need a dedicated desk. The design is utilitarian, with the only flourishes being rounded edges on the top and bottom and a sliver band around the front.
There was no screen on the older R2800 model, but Epson has added one this time around, along with large cursor buttons to help you move through the menus. The screen displays animated instructions for loading various paper and media types, saving you having to dig out the manual.
The R3000 can handle a range of papers. As well as A4 and A3 sheets, this model can print to paper on a roll or onto card. There's also a CD/DVD mounting tray provided so you can print directly to the surface of discs.
Standard A4 and A3 paper is loaded into a vertical tray at the back and this gets fed into a pull-out tray at the front. You can also load card of up to 1.3mm in thickness one sheet at a time into the printer's single-sheet feeder at the front. This slot is used for printing CDs or DVDs. The machine comes with an adaptor for attaching a roll to the back, while the printed results are fed out the front.
The R3000 uses a lot of cartridges -- nine in total, including three black cartridges to help it produce more natural-looking monochrome images. Epson has upped the cartridge size too, so they're now more than twice as large as its predecessor. Of course, this means you won't have to change them as frequently but it hasn't had a huge impact on the overall ink costs.
Obviously, because of the number of cartridges, it takes slightly longer to set up. Also, unlike the older model, this one has a full nine ink bays, so you don't have to manually swap out the photo black and matte black cartridges when you change print jobs.
Once you've got the cartridges slotted into their bays, you can then load the software onto your computer. Connection to your PC can be made directly via USB or over your network using either Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Whichever method you choose, installation is quick and hassle-free.
Once this model has pulled in the paper, its print engine is very quiet, which will be a relief for designers who work in small offices. Naturally, this model isn't designed for use as a general-purpose printer. This is reflected in the slow print speeds for documents.
My 10-page text document took 12 minutes 18 seconds to print, while my business presentation came in at 5 minutes 2 seconds. A 10-page A4 graphics test took 17 minutes 46 seconds. It's not massively fast at producing A3 photo prints either. At the maximum quality setting it took 17 minutes 46 seconds to produce an A3 picture.
What does matters with this type of printer is the quality of its output and the accuracy of its colours. On both of these fronts the R3000 scores very, very highly. The extra black cartridges mean that it doesn't have to mix colours when printing monochrome photos, giving black and white prints a richer and moodier look.
Colour photos also look superb, with hues that very closely match the original image and skin tones that are beautifully natural. There's no banding on large blocks of colour and detail levels are extremely high.
Epson doesn't seem to publish page yield figures for this model, so we can't give you comparable pricing per page. However, cartridges cost £23.98 each from the company's website, so replacing all nine will set you back £215.82, which isn't cheap. Nevertheless, compared to ordering A3 prints of your photos online, creating them on this printer is still likely to be cheaper.
It could be a tad faster and I wish the higher-capacity cartridges had brought more of a saving on ink costs. Neverthless, this larger format printer produces really excellent results, delivering photos with rich contrasts, stunning detail levels and beautifully vibrant colours.