Review – Epson R2880 Printer

A few weeks ago I got an Epson R2880 printer. Ever since, learning to operate this fascinating piece of equipment has ensued…

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Set Up

After a false start first using *metal saw horses to make a table with, I purchased a folding plastic/metal table from Canadian Tire for $39.95. If you buy this printer you will need a dedicated space just for the printer and print-outs it produces. And as the ink takes 48 hours to cure you will need a place to lay the prints flat on or to hang them dry from.

The Epson R2880 does not arrive packaged with a USB cord. I purchased a 16 foot USB 2 Gold cord from Staples at $39.95. That same day at Staples I bought a larger 18×24 inch cutting mat for $26.95.

Installing Ink

Remember to shake each ink cartridge first before installing it and don’t touch the little green sensor on the cartridge’s side or it will blow up (jk). Shake it while it’s still in the package as touching it could cause colour misreadings. You need to choose whether you want to install Matte Black (MK) or Gloss Black (GK). I chose Gloss Black first. You can not install them both at the same time. There is room for 8 ink cartridges only. Ninety-five percent of the time I will be printing on matte media so the gloss will not get used much and therefore less ink waste when changing from gloss to matte and vice versa. I use an acid free resealable plastic sleeve to store the unused Black cartridge in and thumbtack it to the wall.

It takes about 2.5 minutes for the ink to charge after switching Blacks. You must go into the applications folder and open the Espon Printer Utility to update the status of the printer to tell your computer that you have switched blacks. This will prompt the print menu to show either Matte or Gloss media types when printing. Hence, do NOT touch the green sensor when shaking.

Testing 101

printing-epson-r2880-sassy-sea-urchin-jessica-doyle

I opened my favorite illustration, adjusted the resolution in Adobe Photoshop and was thankful I had the foresight to scan and create it in larger than 8.5×11 inch size/400dpi format. I tested the Sassy Sea Urchin on 13×19 inch/400dpi first and it printed overly dark and too green/yellow yet it popped off the freaking page as you can see in the pic above while it was printing out!

All my reproductions are printed from pdf files using Preview on a Titanium Powerbook G4, 1Ghz, OSX 10.3.9. There is a small glitch after choosing 13×19 inch size in Page Setup. When you next choose Print a warning pops up forcing you to it choose cancel, crop or scale. I chose crop in hopes that it would print properly and it did. It only does this with 13×19 inch size.

I printed the Sassy Sea Urchin umpteen times using different settings, values and papers. Epson Standard and Gamma 2.2 produced an over-saturated print all of the time on all papers that I tried (see above printer pic). Color Sync produced an image that was much closer to what I was seeing on screen yet appeared greyer and less vivid (below right).

Adobe rgb combined with Gamma 1.8 produced the desired results. I did need to adjust the yellow back by 5 within Photoshop on the original file to rid the Sassy Sea Urchin of the green cast. I achieved a perfect print this way after switching to Matte paper (below left).

Left, Epson R2880 - Right, Hp Photomsart 7260

Honestly folks open your files and check the CMYK values. The Sassy Sea Urchin’s original file is more green in the background than it is blue yet it prints blue on my HP Photosmart 7260.

I printed the Whimsical Windmill on Epson Premium Semi-Gloss paper and it printed very dark appearing posterized.

whimsical-windmill-jessicadoyle-epson

Don’t Blame the Printer

Becoming frustrated and wondering why each print was printing overly saturated and off colour but looked incredible I did some research and realized two things; images appear bluer and with less contrast on my monitor. I did something I had not done before; I tilted the monitor back just a bit so that in essence my line of vision was looking more downward. THAT my friends, was the root of many of the issues I was experiencing, and I suspect that many mac and laptop users are having the same problems from a brief QA period I conducted on Twitter. Eighty percent of you see more blue when in actual fact you should be seeing warmer greens and yellow hues.

To add to the over saturation mystery I had manually increased saturation on each of my original scans for printing on the HP Photomsart 7260 as that printer prints light (it only has one black ink cartridge) and more blue hued. No wonder the Epson R2880 was printing to dark (below left). To test this theory I opened the original scan of Grace, saved it as a pdf and printed it out on the Epson. It printed true to life (below right).

grace-jessicadoyle

After being in the design and illustration industry for over 10 years you learn one thing very fast and that is this; always save your original scans separately and do not save over them with adjustments. Duplicate the scan and work form that. Then when the time comes that you need the original file it will be there.

Day Dreaming

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I opened Day Dreams, a digitally colored ink drawing to test the single sheet feeder using Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper. First, I printed Day Dreams on Staples Photo Supreme Double-Sided Matte Paper on the HP Photosmart 7260 then using the same paper, printed it out on the Epson R2880. Next, I printed Day Dreams on Epson Ultra Premium Matte Paper. And finally printed it on Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper using the single sheet feeder attachment.

day-dreams-epson-velvet fine art paper - jessica doyle

This is when I first noticed how vivid the magenta ink really is and fell in love with Velvet. The texture on this paper is akin to Arches Watercolour paper. It’s lovely! And you can leave the single sheet feeder in place in behind the regular sheet feeder as long as you are not printing using a roll then it can stay in place.

Printer Specs

  • Prints up to 13 by 44 inch Exhibition quality prints on both paper, fine art stock and canvas in sheet and in some cases roll format
  • Uses 8-colour UltraChrome K3 ink with Vivid Magenta Technology
  • Individual Ink cartridge cost – $14 to $15
  • Prints will last up to 205 years under glass and 300 years in an album!
  • This printer prints fast and very quietly I might add
  • Prints on printable CD/DVD
  • Price – $799.00
  • It has a mist collection system with a 3 picolitre ink droplet size
  • Prints produced are water resistant
  • Borderless printing in many popular sizes
  • Maximum DPI – 1560 x 144dpi
  • What does it all mean?

    This means that many of the hundreds of files I’ve created over the years will need to be opened, tested on the Epson first and then optimized if necessary, for printing on the Epson.

    I keep my laptop at an angle of 20º or more now rather than 10º. Another factor was this was the first time I ever printed my art on Lustre or Glossy stock which does have a tendency to saturate colour more.

    I’m hoping to test out the canvas roll later this week. And I can’t wait to print a few ink drawings on the Velvet paper to hand colour individually as the prints the Espon R2880 produces are water resistant. I’m also on the hunt for some vinyl to test print on.

    This is the first time in my life that I have had the ability to print larger than 8.5×11 inch size and on thick media. The Epson R2880 can handle up to 1.3mm thickness. I’m blown away by this printer. It really is easy to use once you take the time to learn how to use it efficiently. I stepped away from it at times as I did become angry at the over-saturation issues mentioned above. Take the time to find the solutions that work for you. I did and feel all the more knowledgeable because of it.

    How much ink does it use?

    And these are the remaining ink levels left after printing five 13×19 prints and nineteen 8.5×11 inch prints; 20 of which are highly saturated remember.

    ink-levels-epson-r28801

    *The metal saw horse legs will be going to my brother for Christmas

    In the interest of full disclosure, I received this printer and supplies (ink and paper) from Epson to test. If I liked it, I got to keep it and the supplies. I was not asked to write either a positive or negative review; only an honest review using my own words which I believe I did. In the end, I did decide to keep the printer and supplies .

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    36 thoughts on “Review – Epson R2880 Printer

    1. I have been following you site for about a year now. It is my daily routine, but I don’t think I have ever commented, but my nerdy artist side got me brave enough to comment. I love what this printer can do and I am seriously thinking of investing. I am starting my own business up as an artist and want good quality products. This gives me inspiration. Let us know more about the tips to using your technological devices as an artist. I find it fascinating and really helpful to hear this stuff from other tech-savy artists.

    2. Fantastic review, and one I shall bookmark for the future. A few months ago I did a lot of reading up on this printer, and the reviews were all good. The only downside was how quickly the printer uses up inks, and some people struggled to set it up. Sadly my husband felt the cost of the printer was too prohibitive, given that it’s only recently that I have decided to try and sell my illutrations as prints. In fact, it’s only in the last year that after a 20 year hiatus I have started selling my art again.

      Anyway, point is. I have not given up on the idea of ultimately printing my own work, and as I said..I shall be faving this as a future reference.

      Thanks
      Lorrie
      x

    3. Hi Renee

      Thanks for saying hi and nice to meet you :)

      I showed a close friend two print outs of the Sassy Sea Urchin the other day; one from the HP Photosmart 7260 and one from the Epson R2880 and she said it perfectly to quote her:

      It’s like HDTV verses regular Cable.

      Good luck with starting your business!

      Cheers!

    4. Hi Lorrie

      It did take some time to set up and make room for. I read the manuals thoroughly. They are full of good information and helped me a lot for reference.

      I’ll be writing more as I test more. I’m hoping to test out the canvas roll next week.

      How exciting that you are selling your art again. Art needs to be seen to be appreciated. Good luck with your endeavors and decision.

      :)

    5. You know what’s hilarious kreativlink last year I wrote a little jingle wishing for an Epson Stylus printer from Santa for Christmas on December 14th last year…

      It can be read here

      😉

    6. I understood only about 10% of what you were talking about in this excellent review. I wish I could send you my art to scan, fix & print for me because I’m truly clueless on how to monetize my art, or even if I should.

    7. Wonderful review. All the pertinent facts covered. I hesitate to upgrade to such a ink-hungry printer but may have to. I am looking for a straight-path printer so that I can print on thicker stock and fabric. I have read reviews of this and other printers in my search, but mostly from the tech-afraid and those tend towards being negative reviews.
      Thanks for the effort devoted to the experimentation and discussion of the results. I will try that trick with the monitor tilt, I have varying results with my stock printer in getting colors correct. I end up manipulating them in CS so that they may look garish on the monitor but come out closer to true on paper.

    8. Great review. I was looking for good information on which USB cord to use on my R2880 and Google hit your review in the top ten (third search). I went to Stable’s and ordered the gold USB 2.0 cable. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. Your site has become a favorite for me.

    9. Hi Linda

      I’m getting accurate results from monitor to printer now. Something to keep in mind is that computer monitors “do” tend to be brighter than what prints out on paper.

      I’ll be posting more in January when I begin experimenting on canvas. Glad you found the review helpful.

    10. David, The cable works quite well. I don’t notice a depreciation in speed even though the cable is 16 feet long.

      Well, that’s neat about Google! Thanks for sharing that.

      Cheers!

    11. Oh Jess, I love it when you’re inner geek appears. Congrats to you on getting the super cool printer. I wish I lived closer to you so you could show me more of your tricks.

    12. Wow! What a plethora of info! I am envious of your printer. I have an Epson R280. Looks like yours is better by 800 points, haha. I’ve always admired your work; you’ve been a favorite of mine since I was first on Etsy!

    13. hi, i agree, great printer!
      BUT… i cannot find anywhere what they mean by “thick paper” – which has to be loaded singly, from the front. Does anyone have a clue about epson’s definition of “thick” in gsm or mm? i’d be very greatful to know, as i don’t want to load paper which is too thick into the rear paper-feed!
      regards & thanks for you reviews.

    14. Hi Paula – You load single sheets of thicker media from the back using the single sheet feeder attachment. Simply feed your sheet in until it is grabbed by the printer. Then send your document/artwork/photograph to print and choose the proper print settings.

      I print on 260 gsm Epson Velvet fine art paper. I have not tried anything thicker than that though. they do say you can print on up to 1.3mm thick paper. Read your paper box and it will say what the thickness or gsm is. If you are in the US check with the Epson US site as your weight measurements would be in lbs.

      Hope this helps :)

    15. Hi Jessica,
      I just took advantage of the $200 rebate Epson had this month on this printer and took the plunge. I’m still a little scared of it… It’s a shame your photos are no longer there, but you had some very interesting things to say. Thanks for posting that.
      I have a resolution question. Do you really have to print at 400 dpi? On my little HP printer, I found 150 dpi was fine and a higher res did not make any dfference; after all, this is not offset printing… I was wondering if the R2880 was any different in that regard. I haven’t seen anything on the Epson site regarding optimum resolution.

    16. Hi Muriel!
      Congrats on getting a printer! :)

      Some one once told me that 180dpi was all one needed to print at for optimal output… However, I still prefer to print at 400dpi just in case.

      Perhaps I should test the 150dpi against a 400dpi print and use a magnifying glass and see if there really is a difference as I honestly do not know the answer to your question.

      Have you tried printing at different resolutions yourself? I did not see anything on the Epson website eigther.

    17. Great review- just what I was looking for. Thanks for the insight, it makes me think how there are so many variables in printing!

    18. Hi Chrissy! It’s all about trial and error and finding what works for you for sure. Thank you about my review :)

    19. I very much appreciate your taking the time and effort to share your experience with us! I was hoping to find a review of a newer Epson printer, and the 2880 is apparently more recent than the R1800.
      Is this true? Do you know when it was introduced?

      Thanks so much,

      Carla

    20. Hi Carla – The Epson R2880 was introduced last year to replace the Epson R2400. It is a newer printer than the 1800 as far as a I know and uses Ultrachrome ink with vivid magenta. It’s a great printer! I have no complaints!

    21. Hi, I came across your review as looking to buy one, nice review jessica :)
      I noted your comments of the mac screen being too blue – So thought Id give my experience of this (albeit a bit late!) yes they mostly are, and it will be set to 1.8 gamma so everything you look at will be lighter less contrasty than standard 2.2.
      Unfortunately 1.8 looks better and most mac users have been used to that and when images are printed they always go darker, so setting the monitor gamma to 2.2 balances this out. But most printers (home and professioanl labs alike) work to 2.2 and now macs have changed the default to 2.2 to help sync to everyone else.
      One thing I have found essential is to calibrate your screens, best thing is the Spyder Pro and you will see such a diference. Now you have a calibrated benchmark to compare the prints to. It should be easier with digital photographs that were shot in daylight with auto white balance. this should give you prob most accurate original to screen to print combination.
      As i think you were printing scans of your artwork that you had tweaked colour and saturation to look good on your (incorrect) screen then tweak again for printing, and scanners are also bad for colour accuracy unless they are very high end calibrated ones!
      So start your workflow with a calibrated mac and screen profile then you can tweak the printer settings – and you should prob be using photoshop to print as will have more printer adjustment settings that you can control. instead of then tweaking the scan/ image to print better is the wrong way, as every printer will be slightly different and need a bit of manual adjusting in the advanced printer dialogue box.
      Also pdfs can change the colour quite dramatically depending on the setting used for saving.
      Phew .. sounds like a lot but its not really and hope I wasnt tellng you how to suck eggs lol.

      best luck :)

    22. Jessica,

      Any new findings on the canvas roll waste? We recently invested in this printer for our business and are planning to use it for fine art giclees, but your review has given me pause… Perhaps sheet-fed canvas is the way to go for most applications?

      Fr Jonah

    23. I am not proceeding much these days with using the canvas roll for printing as i mainly use paper. However, a solution that a friend found was to print the whole roll at once by creating a document with all images you want printed on it.

      It uses a lot of ink but may in the end save you money in the end. Good luck!

    24. Thanks so much for the info. I actually find that each and every time there is an update from Mac or Epson I need to readjust my print settings slightly.

      I am now using a new 27″ iMac and much of the issues that I was experiencing on my old laptop are not apparent any longer.

    25. Just a quick update… not sure if it’s peculiar to the Mac driver, but there is an option called “Roll Saving” under the layout menu (click Print first, one of the sub-menus)… this really cuts down on the waste. I’m getting right at 1″ between continuous prints.

      The trick to saving canvas after printing is to remove the canvas from the printer, cut it straight and re-feed it for the next print.

      I’m very happy with my r2880 for canvas prints… the only tricky part is color matching, but you can get most of the way there with a calibrated monitor and the r2880 downloadable ICC color profiles.

      Also, I much prefer the matte canvas to the more expensive luster “satin” canvas… I also get much better color results with the matte.

      The one thing that is quite weak about canvas printing with the r2880 is the roll holders… they are molded plastic and there is not much to the mechanism that holds them in place. I’m sure they’ll eventually break with use, which has me a bit nervous.

      I wouldn’t call the r2880 a perfect printer for giclee/canvas, but it gets the job done at a reasonable price.

    26. Hi Jonah – Thanks for the tip about the Rolla Saving. Next time I print on a roll I’ll look for that setting. I too, prefer the matte canvas to the satin finish.

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