Epson’s XP-15000 is superb for printing high-quality photos all the way up to A3+
- Print wirelessly
- Sensational performance on photo paper
- No memory card slots
- Not cheap to run
These days, plenty of web services can turn your digital photos into glossy prints, but keen photographers will know that there’s nothing like a high-quality printer for getting an image just so. Epson’s awkwardly named Expression Photo HD XP-15000 could be ideal for amateur photographers or professionals on a tight budget. Costing less than £300, it can print without borders on paper sizes up to A3+, and can even print labels directly on to CDs and DVDs.
Epson says this is its smallest A3+ printer, and it’s certainly pretty compact; only about 10cm wider than the equivalent A4 device, the Expression Photo XP-760. Epson has clearly tried hard to shrink this printer, even rotating the ink carrier by 90 degrees so that the six cartridges stack front to back, rather than the typical left to right. The XP-15000 uses a conventional black, cyan, magenta and yellow setup, supplemented by red and grey. The former gives an improved gamut across plain and photo paper, while the latter provides fine shade control on photos.
Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 review: Paper tray
Despite its photo focus, the XP-15000 has most of the basics covered. In the base, there’s a 200-sheet tray for paper sizes up to A4, while the rear feed can handle anything from 6 x 4in to A3+ media. There are no memory card slots, but you can connect wirelessly from a smartphone or other device. Direct control is via a small 6.1cm colour screen paired with direction and selection buttons.
Send a print job and the XP-15000 motors out its paper output tray and gets quietly on with it. On plain paper, it’s not especially quick, reaching only 9.3 pages per minute (ppm) on our black letter test, but on our complex colour graphics test its 4.9ppm was more competitive. The XP-15000 is more impressive on photo paper, delivering our six postcard-sized photos at about 90 seconds each, and our two 10 x 8in photos in five minutes. We timed a borderless A4 photo at a reasonable 3mins 37secs, and an A3 photo at 5mins 46secs, which is fast at this price.
Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 review: Print quality
Still, we wouldn’t recommend this printer if you’re planning to do lots of plain paperwork: while text was legible and reasonably crisp, it lacked the sharpness and darkness you’d see from an office-focused device. Colour graphics were entirely free of artefacts, but also lacked the punch you get from a great plain-paper printer.
On photo paper, however, the results were sensational. Images were crisp and beautifully detailed, without showing any signs of artificial sharpening or enhancement. Thankfully, this also applied to colour reproduction, which was lively without looking artificial or oversaturated. Skin tones looked perfect, while precise shade control helped deliver high levels of detail.
Our first black-and-white print threatened to spoil the party with a subtle but disappointing magenta cast, but trying again with the driver’s black and white photo mode resulted in a neutral monochrome print, with impressive contrast throughout.
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Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 review: Verdict
Running a photo printer isn’t cheap. Calculated for Epson’s XL range of cartridges, a single A4 page of text and graphics costs nearly 13p – and that doesn’t include grey ink, which is only used on photos. For most of us, an online snaps service will do just fine, but if you want more control over the end result, the Expression Photo HD XP-15000 is an excellent, comparatively affordable A3+ photo printer – it’s our Best Buy.