ABP MVP: Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Printer

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What: Epson Sylus Pro 3880 Printer

Why: I’m going to do my best to answer this in a fairly succinct package here. Full disclaimer: this is not an in-depth printer review. Why not? Simply put–I’m a photographer, not a master printmaker. There is a stark difference. I, like you, don’t have time to mess around with this, that or the other when it comes to churning out legit prints. Yes, I want it all. No I don’t want to spend hours on end and a bucket of ink trying to dial things in for a stunning, accurate print. Can you relate? I thought so.

Judging from the subconscious nod of agreement, I’m going to assume you aren’t a master printmaker either, which means you’re going to love my quick overview. It answers the basic questions that most of us photographer types want to know and leaves all the uber scientific data/proof/testimonials to the ones that actually know how to decipher that action. You want that goodness? It’s out there for sure. Get on the Google and bury yourself in minute comparisons, data analytics and everything else the printer geek in you could ever want. There’s no question this printer will pass with flying colors. For those wanting a no frills, to-the-point approach, you’ve come to the right place.

The down and dirty is that this printer prints the way you want it to print right out of the box, and it does it all exceptionally well. How do you want it to print? Well, you (and I) want it to print quietly, quickly and, most importantly,  accurately. Right? Right.  The simplest understanding of monitor calibration and printer profiles for the different papers you choose will leave you with wall-worthy, archival (dependent upon paper) prints that will have family, friends and clients smitten with satisfaction.

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Why am I such a fan of this printer? Firstly, it prints juuuust big enough for what I want to be printing myself. I don’t print enough to justify the expense of printer, ink and paper for anything larger than 13 x 19. I do get plenty of orders for larger prints, and I happily pass them along to my local lab, where my buddy Heath does an exceptional job. I use the 3880 for smaller print orders, personal projects, marketing materials and a host of other smaller jobs.

Secondly, this printer offers pro quality prints at a pro-sumer price. At a cost of $1,295.00, it doesn’t break the bank. Depending on how much you spend on camera gear, you’re either pulling your hair out in disgust, or giving me a virtual high five. Trust me when I tell you that $1,300 is peanuts compared against the time you’ll spend trying to get a lesser machine to do what you want it to do, right out of the box. Time is money, and yes–you do get what you pay for. Looks like there’s even a $200 rebate going on through August 31, 2014.

Thirdly–for the space-conscious, this printer won’t require a new addition to your cozy abode. It measures 27″x 15″ x 10″, and it sits on my desk along with my hard drive(s) and computer.

Fourthly–one of the cooler features of this printer is that it will automatically switch between matte or photo black ink depending on the paper profile you choose. I don’t print a whole lot on glossy papers, but it’s a nice option to have, especially knowing I don’t have to switch out the cartridge myself.

Finally, and I’m rehashing a bit here, but I’m amazed at the print quality that this relatively little machine churns out. My favorite papers are thick and meaty (recent favorite is Epson’s Cold Press Bright) , yielding exceptional texture, tonality, color and detail. With past printers, I have struggled with thicker papers, throwing away sheet after sheet of expensive paper due to a botched print for one reason or another. Knock on wood, but after nearly 24 mos. with this printer, I’ve yet to toss a print in the trash. Furthermore, I’ve yet to replace an ink cartridge after many, many prints. CAN I GET AN AMEN!?!?

So there you have it. The 3880 is a photographer’s printer. It has plug and play ease, all the while producing lab worthy prints from the comfort of your own desktop.

Where: I buy all my gear from Pictureline.com. You should too!

 

Zion National Park: Pretty, and then some…

I recently had the opportunity to travel down to Zion National Park with fellow photog Kevin Winzeler to check out the fall foliage at its peak. The Box Elder and Cottonwood trees were going off, making for beautiful yellows, contrasting against the red rock. Unfortunately, an unusual cold spell had pretty much stripped the maples of their red leaves, leaving the color palette somewhat one-dimensional.

Fall foliage at Temple of Sinawava in Zion National Park

Fall foliage at Temple of Sinawava in Zion National Park

I’m a bit embarrassed to say this was my first time down to Zion. It didn’t disappoint, but it did overwhelm to a certain degree. Much like any other iconic photo location, Zion presents a challenge in finding original identifiable images. Identifiable is the key word there, as there are photo ops around literally every corner in this impressive national park. The majority of people, however, enjoy seeing images of something they recognize. As a photographer, you must answer the question as to whether you want to shoot something a little more common that sells, or something a little more obscure that may give you a greater satisfaction in creating. A little bit of both was the order of this trip, and I tried to balance my shooting time between the customary and the innovative.

A different take on Temple of the Virgin at Zion National Park, UT

A different take on Temple of the Virgin at Zion National Park, UT

The one thought I had while shooting in Zion over a short 3-day period is that you really must put in your time not only to research the locations, but, more than anything, to hopefully luck out with some dramatic weather. We were stuck with clear skies whether we liked it or not, which made for good bounce light in the Narrows, but uninteresting sunrise and sunset shoots otherwise. You see so many shots from places like Zion, that you really must score unusual weather conditions if you hope to come away with something unique and memorable. My suggestion is to try and get down there for a couple weeks at a time, but it just wasn’t in the cards for this father of two this time around.

Countless photo opportunties abound in the Narrows of Zion National Park, UT

Countless photo opportunties abound in the Narrows of Zion National Park, UT

An intense, warm glow is the result of reflected light bouncing off canyon walls high above in the Narrows, Zion National Park, UT

An intense, warm glow is the result of reflected light bouncing off canyon walls high above in the Narrows, Zion National Park, UT

One of the shooting opportunities most unique to Zion is found in the Narrows. Carved over time by nothing more than rushing water, this deep slot canyon harbors a plethora of otherworldly images just waiting to be captured. It’s not too common to see direct sunlight in the Narrows, but high canyon walls serve as perfect natural reflectors, sending bounce light to and fro, creating colorful glows in unusual places. Should you decide to venture this way, be prepared to wade through ankle to thigh deep (and sometimes deeper) water the entirety of the canyon. Bring a sturdy tripod, and don’t forget your polarizing filter.

Fall foliage and red rock in the Narrows of Zion National Park, UT

Fall foliage and red rock in the Narrows of Zion National Park, UT

The Narrows, Zion National Park, UT

The Narrows, Zion National Park, UT

One particularly helpful tool I had with me on this trip was my Singh Ray LB Colorcombo filter. Combining a polarizer and color intensifier filter, there’s no better way to bring out the color in the leaves and red rock walls, all the while taking the glare off the water for a complete image.

Fall color and emerald water from the Virgin river shot with a Singh Ray LB Colorcombo filter. Temple of Sinawava, Zion National Park, UT

Fall color and emerald water from the Virgin river shot with a Singh Ray LB Colorcombo filter. Temple of Sinawava, Zion National Park, UT

Although not surprising, I was a bit shocked at the sheer number of photographers down in Zion during the display of fall color. Iconic locations like Temple of the Virgin and The Watchman were extremely crowded at sunrise and sunset. It is a bit unnerving to have so many other photogs around, but we all have our own creative vision, and really, in the end, it’s great to see so many people passionate about photography and its ability to tell a story. Be prepared to arrive very early to your iconic locations if you want to have the pick of the litter for your tripod spot.

Photographers line up to shoot The Watchman as sunset approaches in Zion National Park, UT

Photographers line up to shoot The Watchman as sunset approaches in Zion National Park, UT

While I had hoped for a bit more drama in the weather, it’s tough to complain about a place as beautiful as Zion. Just like so many of our National Parks, it truly is a treasure.

Utah landscape photographer Adam Barker shooting in the Narrows, Zion National Park, UT p: Kevin Winzeler

Utah landscape photographer Adam Barker shooting in the Narrows, Zion National Park, UT p: Kevin Winzeler