EPSON EXPRESSION PHOTO HD XP-15000
the photo printer market has changed out of all recognition from when we first introduced this award category. As the technology has matured, the life cycles of models have steadily increased and the imperative to upgrade on a regular basis has steadily diminished. Any breakthroughs are incremental (although Epson’s ‘EcoTank’ concept was definitely a big bang) and it’s now more likely that your photo printer will break mechanically before you’ll find any technological or performancerelated reasons to replace it.
It’s now more about tweaking the combination of capabilities, performance, economies and pricing, which is exactly what Epson has done with the Expression Photo HD XP-15000. It’s a dedicated A3+ photo printer and it uses Epson’s Claria dye-based inks rather than the more trendy pigments. Contrary to popular belief, there are some sound reasons for printing photographs with dyes, including longevity (up to 200 years in dark storage for the Claria dyes) and the absence of the gloss differential and bronzing effects associated with using pigment inks. The XP-15000 is both more compact and lighter weight than its predecessor, plus it embodies some small but nonetheless important updates such as a much more efficient print head, which uses less ink without compromising image quality. It also has a pre-installed maintenance tank (actually a first in an A3+ photo printer), a motorised output tray, a tilt-adjustable 6.1 cm colour LCD control screen (which enables easier print set-up), and automatic two-sided document printing. It may only use as six-colour inkset, but what it does with them is very impressive in terms of the image quality, and the extra brightness of the dyes helps give colour prints some extra dynamism and depth. The colour gamut may not quite match that of a pigmented-ink printer using as many as 12 colours, but it’s still commendably wide – and on all surface types – with nicely smooth tonal gradations. And the excellent longevity means that they can be admired and enjoyed for a very long time.