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Epson Stylus Photo R3000 A3+ Printer Review

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 A3+ Printer Review - We have the Epson Stylus Photo R3000 A3+ printer in for review, who better to review it than someone who sells prints?

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Category : Inkjet Printers
Product : Epson Stylus Photo R3000
Price : £549
Rating :
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Printer

The Epson Stylus Photo R3000 is a desktop A3+ printer aimed at anyone who wants to make professional quality prints. The R3000 has 9 inkjet cartridges with an increased 25.9ml capacity compared to the previous model, the R2880, and includes a separate photo and matt black, for true black and white prints. It also features a front loading tray and a rear roll feed to support a huge range of media. The review is written by ePHOTOzine member, Brian Wadie who has used A3+ printers for printing high quality photos to sell. ePHOTOzine first had a look at the Epson Stylus Photo R3000 at Focus on Imaging.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Features:


The R3000 is able to connect via Ethernet LAN, USB and Wirelessly. I used the LAN connection for this review. It contains 9 cartridges of Epson UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta pigment inks loading both the photo and matt blacks at the same time (there are however still only 8 printer heads, necessitating head and line flushing when changing from gloss to matt printing) The cartridges are of a higher capacity than previous Epson printers in this class, 25.9ml vs. 11.4 before.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Inks

There is a new LCD control panel on the front which gives clear indications on printer status and also very concise operating instructions

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Screen

Photo papers are fed via the conventional top load feed tray which can handle up to 30 sheets of photo paper or 120 sheets of “conventional” paper.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Printing

Fine Art papers and photo board (to 1.3mm thickness) are loaded via a front feeder (as is the CD/DVD printing tray) and the process used varies slightly with the specific medium type. In all cases it is necessary to press and release a spring-loaded catch which drops the front loading tray

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Rear Load Tray

For Fine Art papers the rear loading tray must also be opened and extended.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Front Loading Tray Open

But for loading board or the CD printing tray the rear loading tray is kept closed.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Loading Tray Shut

Once loaded the machine pulls the medium into the machine it displays the message that the front loading tray must be closed, which involves pushing on the front of the tray against the spring until it latches shut.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Handling

This is a solid looking machine with dimensions very similar to my existing printer but a little lighter, which was a good thing as I had to move both machines in and out of my limited work space during the review.

Construction seemed very robust and I was able to replace the missing front cover without fear of breaking the fixing lugs.

Epson Sylus Photo R3000 CD/DVD Loading Tray

The construction of the front loading tray does give me slight cause for concern however, a few times this failed to latch properly the first time, which prevented the printer from working, although there could be a knack to using just the right amount of pressure. I presume that Epson will have carried out exhaustive tests on the reliability of this but I was mindful of the reported problems with the latch on the front cover of some of their previous A3+ printers.

Setting up using the Ethernet LAN with my Win7 64 bit PC was straight forward (once I had located and downloaded the correct drivers) - only the 32 bit version was supplied. As this was a test machine which had clearly been used and several pieces of the content were missing, and the Windows 7 32/64bit drivers come as standard normally.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Nozzle Check

Noting that some of the inks were close to depletion I tried to carry out a nozzle check but was thwarted by repeated paper jams using the top sheet feeder with 98gsm inkjet. This did at least give me a chance to appreciate just how good the front LCD screen on the printer is and how clear the operating instructions shown there are. Mind you, although it told me how to clear the jam it didn’t explain what had caused it!

I reset everything back to default, reloaded the drivers onto my PC and remade the connection and went straight into my first test print using a sheet of A4 HP Advanced Gloss (all I had in the smaller size). The first print was dire with clear signs of head blocking. (As an aside, I have never had a blocked head on my 9180 in over 5 years of use). It took two complete cleaning cycles (around 10 minutes total) before the prints looked acceptable and whilst running some more A4 papers through I spotted that the leading edge was catching and buckling somewhere in the outlet from the machine.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Performance

I was supplied with 3 papers: Epson Premium Glossy, Epson Traditional Photo, and Cold Press Bright White

In addition I was able to carry out limited tests using Permajet Oyster 271 lustre, Papermill Direct Fine Art board (1.3mm thick), Innova Smooth Cotton High White, Roll fed Breathing Colour canvas and HP 6x4 inch Advanced Gloss.

Premium Glossy Photo Paper fed via the top loading tray performed flawlessly giving excellent quality gloss prints (judged by me and my wife as having a much higher and more consistent gloss than I can achieve with my current HP9180 printer + richer colours with stronger contrast). It produced borderless prints without difficulty. One small point was that I found it difficult to use the top feeder to produce skew free prints. With care this could be reduced to a minimum but I was never totally confident that the borders would be symmetric and even)

Epson Traditional Photo Paper produced quite stunning prints with the Black & White being exceptional - I have never produced anything of this standard before. I tried loading it via the top loading tray and the front loading tray (which has to be fed one sheet at a time). Both worked well for prints with larger borders (15”x10” prints on a 19”x13”A3+ sheet) but gave serious head-strike problems when trying to print borderless. I tried every adjustment I could find, both in Epson’s support site + from the wider web, slower printing speeds, setting the platen gap to wide, setting paper thickness to maximum and so on but always saw severe head strikes in the last inch or so of the print. Looking closely at the prints without head strike damage I noticed a pair of faint “tramlines” impressed into the surface of the ink about 1inch apart and running the length of the print from top to bottom. These were present on all the prints produced with this paper, whatever the settings I tried. It may be that these problems are related to my earlier comments about this machine having been used before (presumably in other reviews or demonstrations) - I hope so as it was a serious set-back.

Update on the head strike and tram lining issue: (see footnote)

I decided to print out some A4 sheets to scan into this review using a border of around 1.2 inches. During printing I again heard the beginnings of Head Strike toward the end of the print and found that lifting and supporting the paper leaving the throat of the machine (using a book about 1.5 inches thick, placed on the output tray, see below) resolved the issue. The tramlines are clearly associated with something in the centre of the printer as they now occurred toward the edge of the paper nearest the centre line of the printer.

The ink felt very slightly tacky immediately after leaving the printer but was dry to handle safely within a very short space of time.

As an experiment, I tried this paper printing BW images using my HP9180 and also got superb results - this is a remarkable product!

Epson R3000 - Cold press HP Photosmart Pro 9180 - Cold press

Cold Press Bright paper is lovely to handle with a slight surface texture and solid feel. It does have warnings about the need to handle it with extreme care both before and after printing + it is said to need at least 24 hours to dry completely and for the true colours to develop. Loaded via the front loading tray it produced very high quality prints in both colour and black & white, lacking a little of the “Punch” of prints on the Traditional Photo paper but having a richness and subtlety of colour and texture which would sell well to my local customer base. Borderless prints were produced without problem.

With roll feed Head strike cured
Roller feed Head solution

Using the Roll carrier proved to be straightforward (the instructions on the front LCD made all these operations simple to carry out) and the process worked without a hitch. One nice point was that the printer gives you the option to have a cutting line printed onto the paper before it is ejected - very helpful. The paper is then ejected far enough for the print to be cut off and it then rewinds the paper back into the machine, either in preparation for the next print or totally for removal of the roll. This highlighted one small point, as the roller is not driven, the excess paper has to be manually rolled back onto the roller, which can be a bit fiddly and is best done wearing cotton gloves to keep the paper surface clean.

Prints from the other surfaces all performed well and the machine handled the 6x4 prints without problem.

Ink swaps were handled automatically when changing from gloss to matt and back again, taking around 1.5 - 2 minutes from gloss to matt and around 4 minutes when going from matt to gloss. According to Epson’s own information the former change uses about 1mm but the latter takes 3mm (that’s about 12%!) I watched the ink level bar fall three notches during the matt to gloss swap , not a comforting sight.

Additional information from Epson regarding ink switching: Within the Epson Stylus Photo R3000, the ink switching functionality takes place on-carriage so that the smallest amount of ink possible is used during the switching process. The R3000 features two ‘modes’ for switching the black inks, a ‘Standard' and an 'Economy’ mode. The Economy mode uses less ink than the standard mode when switching from Matte Black to Photo Black.
 
Ink volumes when switching:
Economy mode: Photo black to Matte Black - 1g, Matte Black to Photo Black 1g
Standard mode: Photo Black to Matte Black - 1g, Matte Black to Photo Black - 3.2g

This printer is very quiet and refined in operation and seems very robust and well put together (a nice change after the clattering and banging of my HP 9180).

Example pictures, Skin Tones and fine detail:

Skin Tones + fine detail digital file Epson Premier Glossy
Epson Traditional Photo Epson Cold Press Bright

Black and White Marina:

B&W Marina digital file Epson Premier Glossy
Epson Traditional Photo Epson Cold Press Bright

Saturated and Contrasty Colours:

Saturated & Contrasty Colours digital file Epson Premier Glossy
Epson Traditional Photo Epson Cold Press Bright

Subtle Colour Tones:

Subtle colours digital file Epson Premier Glossy Epson Traditional Photo Epson Cold Press Bright

Because of the need to scan the prints it's always difficult to show the comparison between printed images and their source files in this way but suffice to say that in all cases there was a close match between them (my monitor is calibrated using Spyder Pro 2).

I found that for colour I got the best results letting the Printer Manage colour using ICM with Quality or Max setting. Quality was used for for B&W but on whiter papers Cool gave the best results whereas Neutral worked best on the more natural coloured papers.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Verdict:

The Epson Stylus Photo R3000 A3+ printer is capable of stunningly high print quality for both black and white and colour prints, and once setup correctly, the printer performs admirably. It's well specified for its target market place and capable of handling a wide range of different media. Would I buy it myself or recommend it to a friend? I think I would need reassurance that the test machine was faulty and the problems I experienced were not typical, I love the output but not the problems (real and potential).

Based on the stunning output quality of prints available, the Epson Stylus Photo R3000 is Highly Recommended!

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Pros:
This printer is capable of stunning output and on the B&W output alone I would be tempted to buy it as a replacement for my existing machine when it finally fails.
Printing is very quiet and if using the normal photo-papers very fast.
Gloss prints are very good for a pigment printer, excellent on the Cold Press Bright and stunning on the Traditional Photo paper.
The larger capacity ink cartridges should help reduce cost per print but see below. (they are cheaper than my 9180 cartridges of a similar size but I don’t have the ink losses from head & line flushing on black swaps).

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Cons:
Head strikes and tramlines when using Traditional Photo Paper with borderless prints are unacceptable
Ink consumption during black cartridge swap seems very high (but I believe in line with earlier Epson A3+ printers, so would probably not be a concern for existing Epson users).
I have some concerns about the latch mechanism for the front-loading path (but have no evidence to support this concern, it just seems unnecessarily complex for such a critical process when the consequence of failure would be to stop the printer working).

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE*
VALUE FOR MONEY
OVERALL

*assuming my machine is not typical - see footnote.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Specifications 

Price £599
Contact www.epson.co.uk
Size Closed: 616 x 369 x 228mm, Open: 616 x 814 x 424mm
Weight Approx. 15kg (without ink cartridge)
In the box Epson Stylus Photo R3000, warranty card, AC cable, 'start here' guide, software
Printing  
Max document size Cut Sheet : 89 to 329mm (3.5 - 13 inches)
Ink system/type Epson Claria Photographic Ink, On-demand inkjet (Piezo electric, Variable-sized Droplet Technology, 180 nozzles for each black ink, 180 nozzles for each colour ink
Quantity of inks 9
Monitor 6.3cm colour with smart-navigation touch-panel?
Print speed - photo High-quality A3+ photo takes around 195s
Resolution 5760x1440dpi
Pictbridge Yes
Roll media Yes - Width = 329mm only, 2-inch core
CD/DVD printing Yes
Connectivity Hi-Speed USB, 10BASE-T/100BASE-TX, Wi-Fi
Software Epson Web Support, Epson Easy Photo Print, Epson Print CD, EpsonNet setup, Online guide, Network guide, CD installer

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Comments


brian1208 e2
11 10.2k 12 United Kingdom
20 May 2011 5:10PM
A footnote, I never managed to resolve the "Tramlining" problem with the Epson Traditional Paper (there was no sign of it with any of the other papers I tested) despite trying a wide range of platen gaps, paper thickness setting, print quality settings etc. I have to presume it was a function of this particular printer as I have not seen any comments on the web from other users of the R3000 about this

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samosa 7 3 United Kingdom
20 May 2011 8:18PM
How ridiculous that you should have to waste 12% of ink just to change from Matte Black to Photo Black. Epson are charging nearly 1000 per litre for this ink in its tiny cartridges - so that's over 2.50 down the drain even before you start printing because you fancy using a different paper. Rip off.

I'll avoid Epson printers until they sort this issue out.
brian1208 e2
11 10.2k 12 United Kingdom
21 May 2011 6:54AM
shortly after this review was put up here I heard from Josh Waller (Tech Ed) that Epson had confirmed the printer had been damaged in transit "as the metal frame above the front paper feed is bent and that this could have caused the problems with the paper".
9 Aug 2011 1:59PM
Smile I had the same issue with Epson glossy paper no matter what I tried. I no longer use Epson glossy paper. Epson support is useless! They had NO Interest in helping me all they did was hassle me for serial numbers and obfuscate - which was completely silly as I had registered the printer with them. Really pathetic! Now, I use Ilford Pearl or Gloss. The contrast and even sharpness appears better with Ilford papers. Otherwise the printer is an excellent product producing outstanding images at a reasonable cost. The message is avoid Epson paper where you can! For Epson to develop a decent attitude to customer support they need to rethink their whole approach! I found Epson Australia completely useless!
brian1208 e2
11 10.2k 12 United Kingdom
21 Oct 2011 3:32PM
I've put my money where my mouth was and have purchased one of these for my own use.

Should get it tomorrow and will then have a concentrated printing period in the run up to exhibition and craft-fair season.

This will give me a chance to check out the conclusions from my initial evaluation
brian1208 e2
11 10.2k 12 United Kingdom
3 Nov 2011 2:23PM
I've now had the chance to give the printer a real work-out and I am pleased to report that it maintains all the good aspects I noted in my review with none of the problems I encountered (phew! Grin )

I can confirm my high scores for this printer

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