Epson 3800 vs 4880 - cost per print comparison?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by crowdspotting, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. I've read the forums while looking for comparison information about the Epson
    3800 printer and the 4880, and haven't found much talk about the cost to use
    these printers.

    I've done side-by-side comparisons of each model's spec sheet and understand
    the basic functional differences, and one of the most important, I think, is
    the huge difference in their ink capacities.

    My question is: since the 4880 can utilize 220ml cartridges and the 3800 can
    only use cartridges of 80ml capacity, this must have some bearing on the cost
    per print.

    I can't find any cartridge yield information from the manufacturer, so in
    practice, does ayone have any idea what this cost difference is?

    I realize that ink usage depends on the settings you choose, media type, how
    much of each color is present in the image you are printing, etc... I am just
    trying to get a rough idea of the difference in cost.


  2. I've done some preliminary searching. Check this out:

    The 4880 has nine cartridges, and each 220ml cartridge costs $112 EACH to replace.

    To replace the entire inkset on the 4880, it costs US$1,008.00.

    That's $.51 per ml.

    The 3800 ink cartridges only hold 80ml, and each cartridge costs $60. Total cost to replace the inkset is US$540.00.

    That's about $.75 per ml. It would probably be a little less than that, because on the 3800 I think you are only using one black cartridge at a time, not both.

    So, the cost of ink when printing with the 3800 is roughly 50% higher than printing using the 4880, making some bold assumptions that the printers consume similar amounts of ink when printing, etc.

    I still don't know how many prints per inkset can be expected, which is what I need to determine the average cost per print.

  3. Assuming that the ink usage is the same, the difference in printing costs would be the difference in the cost per ml of ink. Now, to really calculate the actual difference, you'd naturally have to know the average ink consumption per print, and the number of prints you can expect to print in the lifetime of the printer. <p>
    The cost of the printer has to be divided among the number of prints and added to the cost per print to get the true number, and since the price of the 4880 is higher than the 3800, you'd have to do a bit of printing before the cost per print gets cheaper with the 4880 than on the 3800.<p>
    3800 cartridge = $60 - cost per ml: $0.75<br>
    4880 cartridge = $112 - cost per ml: $0.51<br>
    3800 printer = $1.495<br>
    4880 printer = $1.995<p>
    So, when the ink usage price difference equals the printer price difference, the cost per print will be the same, and after that, the 4880 will come out cheaper.<p>
    500/0.24 = 2083ml<p>
    I've heard the ink consumption of at least one user was about 4.5ml of ink per print on his 3800, so, assuming, for instance, that a print uses that, it will take 2083/4.5 = 463 prints to get to equal cost. It's possible that the break-even point is a slightly lower number since the cartridges will still hold some ink when the printer drive says they need replacing, in order to avoid dried out ink clotting the print heads, and this amount should theoretically be about the same regardless of ink cartridge size, meaning a smaller percentage wasted the larger the ink cartridge.<p>
    Basically, it's all down to printing volume which printer is most economical. If you average a few A2 prints per week, meaning you won't get near the break even point until a few years have passed, you might be better off with a 3800, but in the long run, and for those who do daily printing, you'd not have to do really high volumes before the 4880 is the best value for money.
  4. Just an FYI, actual costs of ink are less. For example, at Atlex, 4800 220 ml tanks are $80,
    and 3800 80ml tanks are $48. Also, if one prints from rolls, the 4800 is needed.
  5. Hakon, thanks for your reply. I can't follow your mathematics though. Would you mind elaborating?
    The cost of the printer has to be divided among the number of prints and added to the cost per print to get the true number, and since the price of the 4880 is higher than the 3800, you'd have to do a bit of printing before the cost per print gets cheaper with the 4880 than on the 3800.
    What is the "number of prints" you are using as a variable? Number of prints possible per inkset, on a broad average? This is one of the mystery numbers that I would like to find.
    500/0.24 = 2083ml
    I've heard the ink consumption of at least one user was about 4.5ml of ink per print on his 3800, so, assuming, for instance, that a print uses that, it will take 2083/4.5 = 463 prints to get to equal cost.

    I understand that you are using 500 as the cost difference between the two printer models. What is the significance value .24 and 2083?
    Lastly, over time, how can the can there be a point where the cost is equal, when a set of cartridges for the 3800 will always be more expensive than a set for the 4880?
  6. A fine art photog that I know, who uses the 3800, says that his ink costs run from $7 to $20
    per image. That's a wide variance, but, I doubt if one can nail it down exactly, without some
    personal experience, due to variances both image and print size.

    As strange as this might sound, Epson just might be a good resource for this info. I'd ask
    them. :eek:)
  7. Carl, 7 to 20 dollars per image? Are you sure that is correct?
  8. That's what he said, but I didn't ask him about the sizes, and some images will use more ink
    than others at a given size.
  9. >>> 7 to 20 dollars per image?

    Not knowing print size, or what was paid for the cartridges (a wide range possible) pretty
    much makes those numbers useless.

    I recently paid $18.90 for a book. Is that a good price?
  10. To expand a tad, the choice of papers also bears on the cost of a print. Using the most
    expensive papers in these printers will yield a 13x19 for less than $20, using regular
    Epson paper and about 85% coverage, a 13X19 can be made for $4. This according to the
    guy that I was talking about. Don't forget, these particular printers will do much larger
    prints with a 17" width, so prices can go up significantly. If one is making his living with
    these prints, and wants the quality that they're capable of, then it's nothing more than a
    cost of doing business.

    Additionally, "professional inks (or at least the Epson K3 pro inks) are designed to be used
    in under a year (they say 6 months) once they are opened." That said, these are not casual
    printers for most home users, they're designed to make prints and use up the ink before it
    dries up, IOW a production environment. This info from the same pro.
  11. In professional printing; ALOT of waste/cost is because customers choose oddball sizes. One might have 24, 36, and 54 inch wide printers; artsy experts often have a knack at wanting prints a grunt larger than a standard roll. If they built a house; they would use oddball stud spacings; and require plywood larger than 4x8 sheets.:) . For small jobs its not worth swapping out a 54inch roll for a 42; when a customer has a 36.5 Inch square image. Thus alot of waste is just due to trimming. If its cheapie paper then its doesnt matter; if its fine art linen, the scrap costs are not trivial. Jumping around and switching media types and recalibrating has a cost; letting the printer(s) set idle has a cost ie clogging; .
  12. True, Kelly, but my guy says that at least some of the clogging issue has been addressed on
    models from the 3800 and up. I'm sure that it will eventually work it's way down to lower
    priced models, although exactly when is hard to say. Moreover, I'm not at all sure how much
    benefit it will be to those who let their printer set idle for extended periods. IOW, just how
    good is that new fix, and is it a cure all for everyone? Pigmented inks have their downside in
    spite of their better performance, but technology marches on. ;o)
  13. Hakons point was that you have to amortize the price of the printer as well as the costs of the
    inks and the paper. We won't try to calculate electricity usage though. Overall, I suspect it is
    pretty much a wash, get the printer that does what you need. I got the 4800 because I
    needed roll feed paper, the larger ink tanks are a bonus, but if you don't print much, you
    have to add in the costs of keeping the heads clear as well.
  14. Street prices for the 220ml cartridges for the 4880 puts the cost at $0.36/ml which is considerably less than th $0.45/ml for the 110ml cartridges or the $0.60/ml for the 80ml cartridges supplied with the 3800 printer.
  15. The price of the 3800 is lower than $1495 now. I've found it online for as low as $1150. Epson says the 4880 msrp is $1999.
    On my 7600 an 8x10 will use about 1.3 mL of ink. (that's using 7 inks, not 8)
  16. Hi. I've got Epson 4880 and had it for about 2 months. I got it with $480 Epson rebate - Filnal cost after rebate -$ 1415 - Great
    It's very nice. Fast, efficient, 17in prints A pro. Big and heavy - con.
    But I could not find cost per sheet ( I print a lot of 8x10s and smaller. in tima I had it I printed over 1000 sheets)
    This printr has Usage counter for usage of all inks in its panel settings - they are estimate but its better than nothing.
    Since I use 220ml cadriges that cost $84.99 per cadridge -Cost per ml is $0.386
    Since I use a lot of cut 8.5x11 sheets of Epson Premium Luster paper - I buy by 250 sheets at once for $122. It's exactly $0.488 per sheet.
    After taking down usage of ink for 184 sheets of various 8x10s, 5x7s, 4x6s 2.5x3.5s filling the sheet. Many different portrait sessions (Minimum of 18).
    Usage of ink total was: 127.1ml
    So it comes down to 0.69ml per sheet with cost of $0.266 per page
    Cost of ink + paper equals to $0.754
    Also price per 11x14 print on 16in roll is: $1.30
    And 16x20 on 16in roll is: $3.22
    Hope this will help anybody.
    All The Best

Share This Page