Serious Users Need Apply
These days, it’s a pretty easy task when it comes to shopping for a pro-level, dedicated desktop photo printer; ask any serious photographer or art student who does his own printing, and chances are, he’d be enthusing about either the Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mark II or the Epson Stylus Photo R2880. Both are A3+ printers (anything bigger is typically classified as large format), and have been in the market for seemingly ages. At the time of writing, the Pro9500 Mark II is already 2.5 years old. Epson however did announce a new flagship A3+ photo printer - the R3000 - in May this year, and it has recently reached local shores. While the R3000 offers several improvements over the aging R2880, it’s not a direct replacement; both will continue to sell in the market.
So what makes this 1.5-grand photo printer tick? For one, it uses Epson’s Micro Piezo print head for a top resolution of 5760 x 1440 optimized dpi and boosts a 2-picoliter minimum ink droplet size. Put another way, the printer is capable of squirting every square inch of the paper with tons of super fine ink dots, and does so with great precision. These should result in accurate depiction of even the smallest of details and smooth-looking gradations.
In the ink department, the R3000 uses Epson's pigment-based UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta ink set. There are nine inks involved: Photo Black, Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, Vivid Light Magenta, Light Black, Light Light Black (no, this isn’t a typo), and Matte Black. A tidbit of information: while the R3000 has nine cartridge bays for each of these colors, it uses eight ink channels as the Photo Black and Matte Black inks share the same channel. The printer purges and swaps between the two black inks automatically depending on what you’re printing on. Versus the R2880, each ink tank also packs more ink (25.9ml versus 11.4ml); since the cartridges take a longer time to empty, replacements should happen less frequently.
Media is loaded in several ways: for the most part, you use the top-loading automatic sheet feeder toward the rear of the printer. Thicker paper such as fine art paper can now be fed from the front; on the R2880, you load it from the rear and a guide is needed. A roll paper feed support is included as well, along with a caddy for CD/DVD printing.
Besides Ethernet connectivity, the R3000 supports Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n. Going wireless allows you to place the printer literally anywhere; okay, it still needs to be near a power point, but it doesn’t need to be on your cluttered work desk, or near the router.
According to Epson, it takes about 3.5 minutes when converting from Matte to Photo Black ink, and about 2 minutes when converting from Photo to Matte Black ink. The amount of ink used during the conversion is 3ml and 1ml respectively.
|Photo Black||25.9ml (each)||2 years from printed production date or 6 months after opened||
|Vivid Light Magenta|
|Light Light Black|
*Update (21st October 2013) - Ink Cartridge Price Update
Yup, you read right - two years after the printer debuted, this printer is still going strong and Epson just dropped us a note that the ink cartridge prices are are now S$56 per color, which is a notable price cut from the former S$72 price.