If the numbers of ink colours manufacturers build into their high-end photo printers goes on increasing, there’ll be one for every conceivable colour before long. If you don't believe us, witness the Epson Stylus Photo R2880 and its new UltraChrome K3 ink system. It uses a mammoth eight colours, including a 'vivid' magenta, two grey inks and a choice of blacks, making it ideal semi-professional and professional photo printing.
This is an A3+ printer and given the maximum paper width of 13-inch, it’s not an unduly wide machine. With all its trays open, it’s 415mm deep, so you’ll need a fair sized desk, but if you only occasionally print on large sheets, you can keep the three-stage telescopic feed and output trays partly closed and still print.
The control panel is simple, with four buttons and three indicators. One of the buttons is for feeding paper from a roll – roll holders are provided as standard. Paper can also be fed from the rear feed tray or from front or rear manual trays, where the paper path is flat. Epson supplies a CD/DVD carrier, too, for direct printing on coated discs.
There’s a PictBridge socket at the bottom of the front panel and, uniquely in our experience, twin USB sockets at the rear, so both a PC and Mac can be connected simultaneously. Should the printer receive data through both ports at the same time it handles the queuing, so you won't lose print jobs because of this feature.
There are eight cartridges to plug into the head on this printer, with the standard cyan, magenta and yellow supplemented by light cyan and light magenta. There are also two greys – or as Epson quaintly calls then, light black and light, light black – designed to improve the quality of greyscale prints.
Magenta and light magenta inks are described as 'vivid' and can intensify flesh tones and a range of other shades. Also available are one of two, full black inks, described as matte and photo black. The matte ink is designed to give the best black text print on plain paper, while the photo black is the better bet when printing colour or black and white photos.
You can swap black inks whenever you want, though the printer does waste some ink, through cleaning, on each change. You don’t need a special holder for the cartridge, as there’s a valve within it to stop it drying out.