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If you’re here on this photography website, you probably best know Canon for its cameras. In reality, Canon has been one of the top printer producers for decades and the company’s offerings span everything from high-end fine art models to basic, handy all-in-ones. Whether you’re looking for a photo printer, laser printer, inkjet printer, a big and fast printer for the office or a tiny portable printer for pages on the go, Canon has an option. But printers can be confusing. Though they may not seem like a fast-moving tech category, printers have actually gained an awful lot of features and options over the past few years. We’re here to help you choose the best Canon printer for you.
- Best photo printer: Canon PIXMA Pro-200
- Best compact photo printer: Canon SELPHY CP1300
- Best laser printer: Canon imageCLASS LBP6230dw
- Best all in one printer: Canon TR8620
- Best budget printer: Canon PIXMA TR4520
How we picked the best Canon printers
While this is a photography-specific site, this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive comparison of Canon’s high-end photo printer offerings. Instead, this is an overview of the best Canon printers for most people and their usage. That includes photographers, of course. We drew from personal experience with these devices, as well as editorial reviews, spec comparisons, and user feedback. We focused on selecting the best printers for specific tasks because paying too much for features you don’t use is a mistake just like getting a printer that doesn’t meet your needs. We have selected a number of single-purpose and all-in-one models to make these offerings as versatile as possible.
Things to consider when shopping for the best Canon printer
Though printers aren’t always the sexiest gadgets on the market, Canon, along with the other major printer manufacturers, haven’t let that stop them from really upgrading and improving printer technology lately. Today’s printers have new ways to fill up, whether that’s dye-based photo ink, refillable inkjet tanks, or long-lasting laser drums. They’ve got new connectivity options: forget about hunting for an old-school USB cable when trying to connect, because Canon printers often include wireless protocols like WiFi and Bluetooth.
You’ll also find easy-to-navigate touchscreens, compatibility with wireless printing standards from Apple and Google, and more eco-friendly (and cheaper) ink cartridge replacements.
That said, there’s no “best printer” for everyone. Everybody has a different need, a different specific use case that causes them to need a printer in the first place. We can walk you through finding exactly the right one for you.
What makes a photo printer?
You might take a look at photo printers and wonder: what exactly is the difference between a photo printer and any other kind of printer? After all, these are all just printers, right?
Most photo printers use some variation of inkjet technology, in which nozzles spray different colors of ink onto paper to achieve a printed page. But the best printers for photos, which are often several times more expensive than standard inkjet printers, are specifically designed for printing large, vibrant photos. The best photo printer will have a much larger range of color capabilities, often with as many as eight different ink colors, which will provide a far fuller gamut of colors for the most vibrant possible image.
Photo printers can, of course, print pretty much anything; you can use them for black and white documents if you want. But we wouldn’t recommend it except in a pinch. Photo printer ink tends to be pricey, and it’d be a little bit like using a Ferrari to go to the grocery store. Sure, the Ferrari is capable of hauling a few bags of groceries, but it’s not really designed for it, and it’d be a little bit of a waste.
What about compact photo printers?
Compact photo printers are a really fun gadget, either for quick professional or semi-professional applications or for the home enthusiast. But the majority of compact printers are, well, really compact, printing no more than a wallet-sized photo. Those can be fun, for sure, and great for parties, but for many years, the standard photo size has been four by six inches, and few of the cheaper compact photo printers can handle that.
Canon, luckily, has its SELPHY line, which is a super-capable, surprisingly affordable four-by-six photo printer. The current SELPHY printer, the CP1300, uses thermal dye sublimation as its ink, which means you’ll get instantly dry photos that can last for a very, very long time. (The downside is that they require four passes, so this isn’t a speed demon.) It’s also super tiny, hardly larger than the photos it prints, and can even use a battery pack for truly wireless operation.
All-in-one vs. single purpose
All-in-one printers are great for home offices and small offices, because, well, they’ve got it all. In one. Package. You understand. Typically, an all-in-one printer will be able to print, copy, and scan, and while not all can do this, ideally you’d prefer it could send and receive faxes as well. It’s kind of retro, but faxing can come in handy, sometimes.
All-in-one printers are typically inkjets, and also generally quite large. That’s a combination that can make them a little bit annoying to deal with: You’ll have to replace the ink fairly often. But Canon’s best all-in-one printers, like our pick below, use the company’s MegaTank technology. This eco-friendly, less expensive, and frankly much less annoying setup is a reusable system, using little bottles with easy-to-refill nozzles.
Laser vs. inkjet
Laser printers are fantastic for office use, whether you’re talking about a regular office or, as many of us have lately been using, a home office. The best laser printers offer super-fast printing in black and white, extremely low ink costs per printed page, and less maintenance and ink replacement than an inkjet.
Historically, laser printers have been very expensive, but those days, thankfully, are long gone. Today, you can find great laser printers at prices to fit any budget, and still get all those great features. Plus, modern laser printers pack all kinds of helpful features, like wireless printing that’s compatible with standard protocols like Apple’s AirPrint and Google’s CloudPrint.
You don’t need to spend a boatload to get an excellent printer, even from a brand like Canon. In fact, you can get an awful lot for your money these days. Canon sells inexpensive photo printers, all-in-one printers, and even portable printers, all for under $200.
When you’re looking at a budget printer, you should go for the basics, because if the printer can master those, you’ll have a good, solid printing experience. That means you’ll be looking at an inkjet, without any fancy touch screens or laser drums or refillable tanks. You want a solid, reliable printer, and anything above that is just gravy.
Best Canon photo printer: Canon PIXMA Pro-200
Why it made the cut: Excellent image quality in a common size make this a great option for most photographers.
- Print width: 13 inches
- Print resolution: 4800 x 2400
- Printer style: Single purpose ink jet
- Ink cartridges: 8
- Exceptional print quality
- 8 ink cartridges
- Versatile paper support
- Pricey ink
The Pro-200 is Canon’s top photo printer and our pick for best Canon photo printer, excellent for both glossy and matte applications. It has all your standard high-end tech features: WiFi, a touchscreen, nice printing software. It does use dye-based inks, which may not last quite as long, but that’s a minor quibble, especially given the price. It also enables advanced color management options, which is important for getting the right color in your prints and not wasting pricy fine art paper. it can go all the way up to 13 x 19 inches, which is a very common inkjet size, so it’s easy to frame.
Best compact photo printer: Canon SELPHY CP1300
Why it made the cut: This extremely compact printer churns out high-quality 4×6 prints at surprisingly excellent quality.
- Print width: 4 inches
- Print resolution: 300 dpi
- Printer style: Single purpose (dye sub)
- Ink cartridges: 1
- Convenient toner cartridges
- Excellent image quality
- Wireless connectivity
The SELPHY CP1300 continues the trend of the best compact photo printers, with a 300 dpi resolution, super vibrant prints comparable to drugstore prints, and an affordable price. It does require special SELPHY paper cartridges, though. Watching the prints come out is interesting in itself. The paper moves back and forth through the device as it applies the layers of color. Because they’re dye sub prints, they don’t need to dry like inkjet prints, which makes this great for parties and events.
Best Canon laser printer: Canon imageCLASS LBP6230dw
Why it made the cut: If you have a lot of office work to handle, this super-fast, compact printer is a great option.
- Print width: 8.5 inches
- Printer style: Single purpose (laser)
- Ink cartridges: Toner
- Fast printing up to 26 pages per minute
- Small form factor
- Very low energy usage
- Holds up to 250 sheets in the feeder
- Not useful for photos
This imageCLASS model of Canon laser printer is designed for ultimate ease of use. As the best Canon laser printer It prints quickly, at 26 pages per minute; it holds 250 sheets of paper at a time; and it’s compatible with wireless printing. It even features a “toner saving” option that uses less ink, which is great for test prints. The fast printing features also make it great for general office stuff that photographers and other business owners need to deal with on a daily basis.
Best all-in-one printer: Canon TR8620
Why it made the cut: While it’s not churning out museum-grade prints, it will make other pieces of your process much simpler.
- Print width: 8.5 inches
- Print resolution: 4800 x 1200 dpi
- Printer style: all-in-one
- Ink cartridges: 5
- High-resolution prints
- Lots of functionality
- Large ink capacity
- Relatively compact
- Not the fastest printing
This relatively compact all-in-one printer handles just about any task you might need in the office, as well as basic photo prints. The feeder can do automatic two-sided printing, but it can also handle thick, glossy paper for printing images. The prints have a maximum resolution of 4,800 x 1,200 DPI so that’s plenty for printing snapshots or proofs. Like any good all-in-one printer, it can also scan, copy, and even fax documents if the need should arise. It uses five different ink tanks, but Canon also sells them as a package together if you want to change them regularly all at once and never think about it. It’s an all-around solid performer that will handle everything you need.
Best budget Canon printer: Canon PIXMA TR4520
Why it made the cut: Get the functions you need without spending a lot of cash.
- Print width: 8.5 inches
- Print resolution: 2400 dpi
- Printer style: all-in-one
- Ink cartridges: 2
- Full featurelist
- Surprisingly high print quality
- Only two cartridges so wasteful replacements
The PIXMA TR4520 is a great basic all-in-one, which means it’s got a surprising amount of features: print, copy, or scan, even control it with Alexa voice control. It doesn’t have refillable ink tanks, and it’s not the fastest on the market, but it’s a solid option, especially at this price. It also connects easily to a computer or mobile app without a wired connection, which is essential in a modern printer.
Q: What is the best printer to buy for home use?
Well, since many of us are working from home these days, the best printer for home use also has to double as a bit of a home office printer. If you think all you’ll need is black-and-white, for documents and mailing codes and things like that, go for a laser; otherwise, grab an all-in-one.
Q: Are Canon PIXMA printers any good?
Canon’s PIXMA line is its entry-level category, which means, given its low price, that you might wonder if they’re actually any good. Not every model comes with stellar reviews, but if you look, you can find a PIXMA that’s really quite good.
Q: Are Canon printers better than HP?
Both Canon and HP make many, many different printers, so it isn’t easy to generalize. HP is often superior in its ease of use, but Canon has been a pioneer in refillable tanks. It really depends on the individual printer more than the brand.
The final word on the best Canon printers
Canon has long been a powerhouse in all sectors of the photography world, so it’s no surprise that its photo printers are some of the best printers on the market. But the best Canon printers are more than just photos: you can find great office machines, great laser printers, and even fun portable gadgets.