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We’re all walking around with high-quality cameras in our hands these days, capturing thousands of images while documenting our daily lives. They’re all stored either on our phones, laptops, or in the Cloud, but too often, this massive collection of images stays put. A photo printer can help you print out actual photos to display and enjoy for years to come.
A physical print feels different. You can hold it, frame it, hang it and see details in a new light. Printing out your photos with a printer is also an excellent way to present your photography portfolio, both for amateurs and professionals alike. Viewing your shots on-screen can show off your eye for composition, but being able to show detailed full-color prints leaves a lasting impression.
When it comes to looking for the best photo printer available, you can find a model that will fit your printing needs, whether your photography is a hobby or your main career. Here’s our guide on what to look for, along with our top choices for photo printers to consider.
Photo Printer Buying Guide
Size: How big are the photos you’ll be printing? Will you be sticking to 4×6 or go large with 16×24? While it’s often better to go with a large printer, this will also increase the cost. If you’ll only print a few panoramic shots per year, springing for a high-end printer may not be worth it in the long run. It’s also a good idea to consider the size of the printer itself. While it seems like each generation of printer gets sleeker and smaller, consider where your new gear will go, and how much desk space it’ll occupy.
Color: How many cartridges does your printer of choice have? The higher the number of ink cartridges a printer has, the greater difference and variation of colors it will offer. Professional printers should also be able to separate intricate and subtle contrasts between the shades and shadows. Figure out what you plan to shoot the most, and select a printer that can really enhance the frequent and common color scheme your photos use, like greens for nature or blues for the ocean and sky.
Paper: This can vary in terms of thickness, glossiness, size, and impact the overall quality of how your final print looks. Even the best photo can look dull on sub-par paper. Some printers don’t work well with paper manufactured by other brands, so if you’re going to be locked in to a company’s photo paper, make sure you’re satisfied with all the attributes of the brand’s sheets.
Connectivity: Though most modern printers feature wireless connectivity, such as WiFi, AirPlay or Bluetooth, even the best can be risky. A severed connection, even for a second, can result in a useless half-printed photo that just ate up a good chunk of ink. This won’t always happen, and there are plenty of convenient benefits to wireless printing, but it’s best to also have a wired connectivity option just in case.
1. Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Photo Printer
While others may claim to be professional quality, Canon is the real deal for serious photographers. Their Pixma preserves the popping colors of your original photo with 4800×2800 dpi resolution, creating a physical copy that looks just as great as on-screen. Prints are layered with absolutely gorgeous gradients of color, even in black and white, and it can even print larger 13×19-inch images.
With the Canon app, printing is swift from your smartphone or tablet, and it’s easy to integrate this with your favorite photo editing platform. They didn’t sacrifice speed either — an 8×10 photo can churn out in about 51 seconds. WiFi and Cloud connectivity come built-in, and there’s an Ethernet port for wired connectivity.
2. Epson SureColor P900 Printer
The 4.3-inch customizable LCD screen on Epson’s P900 offers a ton of options, including showing your photo as it prints, and a light inside lets you see the printing process as it happens. It also prints your photos quickly, without cutting corners on performance or detail, producing prints that are meant to last you years.
UltraChrome PRO10 ink spans a rich palette of vivid colors, with dedicated nozzles for matte black and a driver for Carbon Black. This can handle glossy photo paper up to 1.5mm thick, and wirelessly prints from any device.
Meanwhile, the Epson Print Layout app makes things like choosing borders, paper size, and color profiles quick and easy right before you send it to the printer. Though it’s not portable, it’s noticeably smaller than the last generation, with a sleek and modern design.
3. HP Tango X Smart Home Inkjet Printer
HP’s Tango X is built to work smoothly with all your smart devices. From phones to smart-home hubs like Alexa and Google AI, the Tango’s strong connection over Bluetooth and WiFi makes it great for the photographer who’s got everything connected.
This can crank out 20 pages a minute, while retaining 1200×1200 dpi resolution. The photos themselves are still stunning. Color accuracy stays true to what you see on-screen, and even small text is still clearly readable. The HP Smart app can even keep track of your ink levels, and order more before you know you even need them.
While it does have a scan feature, it’s not entirely a real scanner — you’ll need to first scan a document with a smartphone camera in the HP Smart app (or Cloud), then send it to the printer. As a really nice bonus, it’s quiet, allowing you to print late at night without waking up sensitive sleepers.
4. Fujifilm Instax SP-3 Mobile Printer
For portable printing from your laptop, phone, or even directly from a camera, the SP-3 cranks out some nice quality 62x62mm prints.
You can recharge it via standard USB, and it takes about three hours to fully fuel up. Its design is pretty minimal as there are only two buttons — power on/off, and reprint the last photo. Printing a saved photo from your device is simple, but this can also handle pics from social platforms, or even right from a Fuji camera.
Ten LED lights let you know how many printing sheets remain (the last one being bright orange), and since they come in packs of 10, it’s always easy to keep track of your supply. The accompanying Fuji app provides all the extra controls you’ll most likely need.