There comes a point for every illustrator, when you will need to print out your latest commission and hand it over to your client …so what are your options?
You could always send a hi-res file to one of the many specialist online print companies and have them print and mail back a high quality print. But soon the costs are going to mount up. So why not invest in your very own printer?
When it comes to fine art (and photography) printing, there is one company that always comes to mind – EPSON. Not only do they produce some impressive large format inkjet printers, but they also produce the premium grade ink (and paper) that you are going to need for your projects.
Since its launch in 2011, the Epson Photo Stylus R3000 printer has set a high standard in affordable printing of exhibition quality artwork and photography.
Its use of Epson UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta pigment ink, combined with Epson’s innovative MicroPiezo AMC print head, enables the R3000 to produce gallery-quality black-and-white output, plus vivid color prints with breathtaking blues and violets.
Fig 1.0 – The Epson Photo Stylus R3000
The R3000 is in theory a replacement for the older Epson 2880, although Epson continues to sell the popular R2880. Feature wise the R3000 is a 13″ version of the larger 17″ Epson Stylus Pro 3880 colour inkjet printer.
It has a max. resolution of 5760 x 1440, uses Epson’s 4th generation 9 color UltraChrome K3 Vivid Magenta ink set and weighs 35lbs.
Unlike the previous R2880, the R3000 has:
- Networking capabilities (Wireless 802.11n and 100 Mbit Ethernet)
- Is 20% faster
- Produces 2dB less noise
- Uses 25.9ml instead of 11.4ml ink cartridges
- Smoother color transitions and outstanding highlight and shadow detail with AccuPhoto HD2 imaging technology
- Has a 2.0 picoliter minimum drop size to deliver the ink – the R2880 uses a 3.0 picoliter minimum drop size.
- One-inch wide print head with ink-repelling coating for more accurate dot placement and reduced maintenance
- Front media path for thicker paper up to 1.3mm e,g Fine Art papers
One much complained about feature of the R2880 was having only a single compartment for the Photo Black and Matte Black ink cartridges. This meant when you needed to use either cartridge, and the other cartridge was in place, you physically had to remove it and swap them.
In the image below you will see that the R3000 now has a compartment for each cartridge it uses. It looks good at first sight, but looks can be deceiving as there are only 8 physical channels for the ink flow to the print head. That means both the Photo Black and Matte Black ink cartridges share a channel.
In practice this means that whilst you do not have to physically swap the Photo Black and Matte Black ink cartridges anymore, the print driver does have to flush the shared channel when swapping between the Photo Black and Matte Black ink cartridges. This does waste ink! However if you predominately use either the Photo Black or Matte Black then this may not be of such an issue to you as you will seldom be “flushing” the channel through…
Fig 1.1 – The 9 Epson R3000 Ink Chambers
R3000 Operating Systems:
– Windows 8 (32-bit, 64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit), Windows Vista® (32-bit, 64-bit), Windows XP, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
– Mac OS 10.5.x, 10.6.x, 10.7.x, 10.8.x
R3000 Media Options:
– Main top-loading feeder – Up to 13″ x 19″ in size / Up to 120 sheets plain and 30 photo
– Roll paper – 13″ roll
– Front media path – Up to 13″ x 19″ in size / Single sheet manual feeder, designed for fine art paper and media up to 1.3 mm thick. 1 CD/DVD (using included tray)
– Borderless Sizes – 3.5″ x 5″, 4″ x 6″, 5″ x 7″, 8″ x 10″, A4 (8.3″ x 11.7″), letter (8.5″ x 11″), 11″ x 14″, 12″ x 12″, B (11″ x 17″), A3 (11.7″ x 16.5″) and Super B (13″ x 19″) sizes
Epson R3000 Inks:
Epson has designed the Photo Stylus R3000 printer to take advantage of their UltraChrome K3 Vivid Magenta Ink, as it has been designed for both photography and fine art productions (along with pre-press proofing too).
The Epson UltraChrome K3 ink ensures reduced metamerism – a phenomenon that occurs when colors change when viewed in different light sources. The ink also reduces gloss differential and so your photos will take on far less of a “shimmering feel”.
Two further benefits of using UltraChrome K3 ink are the much improved scratch resistance and permanence rating – the years before noticeable fading and/or changes in colour balance occur.
This makes this particular ink very suitable for high quality prints worthy of resale or gallery exhibitions etc.
There are some cheaper 3rd party inks available for the R3000 printer but they have not been designed specifically with the above properties in mind, so I would advise caution when looking to save costs on your ink bill! There really is no substitute for using UltraChrome K3 ink if you are looking to sell or exhibit your work in my opinion.
One thing to watch out for when un-boxing your new Epson R3000 is that the the initial ink supplied with the printer will be reduced following the setup initialisation process…
Fig 1.2 – The Epson Turtle Inks
Epson Paper for the R3000:
Epson has created a range of quality paper especially for fine art and photographic prints. These include:
- Premium Luster Photo Paper
- Premium Semimatte Photo Paper
- Premium Glossy Photo Paper
- Traditional Photo Paper
- UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper
- Velvet Fine Art Paper
- Enhanced Matte Paper (Archival Matte Paper)
- Premium Canvas (Satin)
- Exhibition Fiber Paper
- Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte
As an illustrator you will be interested in the Epson Enhanced Matte Paper (recently name changed from Archival Matte Paper) for producing your illustrations as a high quality print that can be framed and wall mounted etc.
It is a “medium weight” paper at 192gsm so it causes no problems in loading on the R3000. The paper has been designed exclusively to be used with pigment ink such as Epson’s UltraChrome inks – owners of dye based ink printers should buy the ordinary heavyweight matte paper.
Its 1440dpi printer compatibility ensures high resolution output, its bright white base accentuates highlights and its high color gamut yields remarkable color reproduction. So you know that your images will be around, without loss of colour or sharpness, for many decades.
Epson officially state: Enhanced Matte Paper – Colour: 82 years Black and White: >110 years
At 192 gsm it also has enough weight to make a viable print without people saying “this paper is too thin”. Finally, it is a great medium for black and white photos if your printer handles monochrome well which the R3000 does.
Epson Enhanced Matte Paper Sizes:
C13S041718 – A4, 192gsm, 250 Sheets
C13S041719 – A3+, 192gsm, 100 Sheets
C13S042095 – A2, 192gsm, 50 sheets
For other projects you might also like to use the Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte – great for highly saturated images, while maintaining excellent highlight and shadow detail. Also designed for use with UltraChrome K3 ink.
Fig 1.4 – Epson Enhanced Matte Paper (Archival Matte Paper)
What’s In The Box:
- Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Photo Printer
- Power cable
- Photo Black UltraChrome K3 ink cartridge (T157120)
- Cyan UltraChrome K3 ink cartridge (T157220)
- Vivid Magenta UltraChrome K3 ink cartridge (T157320)
- Yellow UltraChrome K3 ink cartridge (T157420)
- Light Cyan UltraChrome K3 ink cartridge (T157520)
- Vivid Light Magenta UltraChrome K3 ink cartridge (T157620)
- Light Black UltraChrome K3i nk cartridge (T157720)
- Matte Black UltraChrome K3 ink cartridge (T157820)
- Light Light Black UltraChrome K3 ink cartridge (T157920)
- Roll paper holders
- CD print tray and software
- Roll paper holder accessory
- Accessory box
- USB and Ethernet cables not included
- Printer documentation
- CD-ROM containing printer drivers and software
The Epson R3000 is an improvement over its predecessor the Epson 2880, however it is not particularly cheap to purchase or run. That said you will not be using the R3000 for every day printing so If you desire the exhibition quality prints that this unit can deliver I highly recommended it. (My only caveat here would be to use the R3000 in conjunction with the original Epson ink and Epson paper.) This truly is a great printer for an illustrator…
Click here for the Epson R3000 product guide.
If you have used the Epson Photo Stylus R3000 printer, why not share your views below in the comments section!