When searching for a high-quality photo printer, you’ll find that there are nearly limitless options and form factors to choose from. The best printers for photos are available in larger, wide-format versions as well as portable versions that can print from a smartphone, which allows users to fine-tune their choice of equipment based upon the type of photos required. Some models are dedicated to tackling a variety of printing projects including photo printing, while others are designed to exclusively print photos and nothing else. When determining which model is right for you, a good place to start is considering whether your main priority is versatility or portability.
Professionals and enthusiasts alike will appreciate the flexibility that photo printers provide when faced with art projects, home decor ideas, and personalized gift-giving. Having the ability to print high-quality photos from a digital source at a moment’s notice from either a portable photo printer or a professional photo printer eliminates the need to rely upon third-party printing services when you’re looking to create hard copies of your favorite images. Still, you’ll need to pay close attention to a unit’s print quality specifications, since the demands of photo quality and detail reproduction stretch far beyond those that plain text documents require. Below, we’ll break down a few of the best photo printers on the market and highlight some key features to keep your eye on while shopping.
- Best professional photo printer: Canon Pixma Pro-100
- Best wide format photo printer: Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000
- Best ink tank printer for photos: Canon G7020 All-In-One Megatank Printer
- Best portable photo printer: HP Sprocket Studio
- Best photo printer for home use: HP Envy 6055
- Best cheap printer for photos: Canon Pixma TS5320
Features to consider when shopping for the best printer for photos
The best printers for photos offer high-quality and high-resolution prints on-demand using inkjet printing technology and specialized photo paper. These printers are available in a number of shapes and sizes, allowing users to create photos that range from the widest of formats to small, portable formats. From an ink tank printer to a basic home printer, there’s a model and design of photo printer out there for everyone.
This Canon photo printer is a real monster in the professional photo printer world
The best professional photo printers on the market are designed to replicate the results of high-quality film prints from the environment of a home or office. These specialized printers are set apart from traditional printers by their ability to print an incredibly high number of dots per inch, which allows for results that show a high level of granular detail. While classic inkjet printers rely on a limited number of inks to complete printing jobs, professional photo printers utilize a variety of dye-based inks to ensure accurate color reproduction across the entire spectrum. By using a wide number of inks, professional photo printers are able to produce smoother gradients and deeper contrast when compared to traditional printers.
The best professional photo printers overall have the ability to print to a variety of paper sizes, up to and including wide-format. This flexibility allows these units to excel in the most critical and dynamic environments including art and photo studios. Users who require the highest possible quality prints on very short notice will appreciate a professional photo printer for its consistent results as well as its reliability and versatility, but because the most capable models tend to be bulky, these are meant more to be stationary fixtures rather than portable tools.
Best professional photo printer: Canon Pixma Pro-100
Uses a unique set of eight individual dyes including three dedicated monochrome inks to achieve deep, dynamic results. Amazon
The Pixma Pro-100 from Canon is one of the best professional photo printers on the market thanks to its automatic sheet feeder and ability to print a range of sizes from 4 by 6 inches up to 13 xby19 inches. It uses its 6,144 nozzles to deliver a jaw-dropping print resolution of 4800 by 2400 dots per inch and allows users to print from anywhere on the network thanks to its built-in WiFi connectivity. This Canon photo printer’s individual ink tanks also let users replace each ink individually as it runs out.
If you’re looking for a wide-format printer, the Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 is for you
The best wide-format photo printers allow users to render gallery-quality physical reproductions of photos and other critical media on demand. These units are known for their versatility and flexibility, commonly processing prints up to 19 inches in length as opposed to traditional printers’ 11 inches. A wide-format printer is a must-have for photographers and other visual artists who want to create multiple copies of work for sale or professional display—niche requirements that make these units pivotal to the success of any creative studio.
Like other professional photo printers, a wide-format photo printer should include a high number of inks to allow for accurate and wide-gamut color reproduction as well as a high printing DPI. Choosing a model that achieves borderless printing is also key for users who want to utilize every part of the paper and achieve a truly wide-format result. Apart from these general considerations, it’s also important to understand that a wide-format photo printer doesn’t necessarily need to be a bulky, space-hogging unit to achieve larger-than-life results.
Best wide format photo printer: Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000
Compact and Capable
Delivers borderless prints up to 13 by 19 inches in size. Amazon
This wide-format photo printer from Epson features a 200-sheet front tray with automatic two-sided printing for complex and demanding tasks. This is one of the best wide-format photo printers available due to its compatibility with a variety of card stocks and other paper media as well as its ability to print smaller-sized photos. It’s set apart by its automatic Dash replenishment system, which tracks ink cartridge levels and can be set to order more when running low.
The most cost-effective picture printer is the Canon MegaTank with 4 refillable ink tanks
If cost-efficiency is your main concern, look for a photo printer that uses specialized refillable ink tanks to maintain proper levels. These systems typically allow users to monitor ink levels as they go down and refill each particular ink on an as-needed basis. This ends up being much cheaper to maintain than traditional cartridge designs over the long term, as ink only needs to be replaced when the tank runs low. By eliminating the extra factor of a cartridge, users can achieve better awareness and control of their printer’s current ink status.
The best ink tank printer for photos should keep users apprised of ink levels at all times, whether through a digital readout or an ink tank window. A model with a large tank will enable users to buy ink in large quantities, thereby saving money. Ink tank printers are ideal for high-volume office and studio environments not only for their cost-effectiveness but their efficiency and user-friendliness. One key thing to keep in mind when choosing an ink tank printer is that they’re best suited for frequent operation due to the ink’s tendency to dry up after long periods of unuse.
Best ink tank printer for photos: Canon G7020 All-In-One Megatank Printer
Fine-Tuned for High-Volume Use
Scan, copy, print, and fax like there’s no tomorrow. Amazon
Offices and studios with demanding project schedules and high-volume print needs will appreciate the Canon Megatank for its easy-to-use and easy-to-maintain design that’s built for consistent use. The onboard integrated ink tanks allow for easy real-time ink level monitoring and quick refills as needed, with a high-yield construction that renders between 6,000 and 7,000 pages per full tank. A high-capacity 350-sheet feeder tray and wireless connectivity round this out as one of the best ink tank printers for photos currently available.
Those who want to print photos directly from their phone should go for a portable mini photo printer
If you’re looking for a travel-sized photo printer that can easily fit into a bag or backpack, go for a smartphone-compatible portable model. These are some of the best printers for photos for rendering high-quality hard copies of photos on demand at sizes up to 4 by 6 inches, making them great for parties and on-the-fly gift giving. When shopping for a portable mini photo printer, look for a model that connects wirelessly and quickly to smartphones via Bluetooth or another high-speed cordless interface. Portable photo printers are built for convenience with limited extra bulk, so it’s important to choose a model that doesn’t require a lot of extra cabling or configuration.
Some of the best portable photo printers include app compatibility that goes far beyond simple connectivity, allowing users to add borders and other enhancements to their photos before printing or integrated collage creation. This makes a portable photo printer a versatile choice for making scrapbooking and photo album creation that much easier. The benefits don’t end at creative projects, either—this form factor is ideal for schools, offices, and families who want to print out identification photos or other recordkeeping photos on demand, too.
Best portable photo printer: HP Sprocket Studio
Customizable Prints in a Portable Package
Connects wirelessly to any smartphone running Android or iOS. Amazon
The HP Sprocket Studio is one of the best portable photo printers for use in creative and office settings alike. Edit, stitch, and enhance photos using the HP Sprocket smartphone app before wirelessly printing glossy and smudge-free 4 by 6-inch photos on demand. An optional portable battery pack offers users the ability to print on the go without the need for an outlet, which can come in handy while traveling. While this printer may not deliver the highest caliber of quality, it’s a versatile choice for just about every casual use under the sun.
For casual photo printing at home, the HP Envy 6055 is a brilliant choice
Photo printing is a convenient and unique feature that expands the creative possibilities of every user, but some may find that their other printing needs don’t justify the purchase of a dedicated photo printer. This is especially common in home environments when space is a limiting factor, or when a printer isn’t used very often. When seeking out the best printer for photos for home use, casual users can get by with a multi-functional model that’s built for versatility, thereby getting the most out of their available space.
Some of the best photo printers for home use are all-in-one models that feature scanning and copying functionality in addition to printing features. The inclusion of these functions allow the printer to be a hub for the home office and provide assistance in a host of bookkeeping-related tasks. A couple key features to look for in a home use photo printer are WiFi connectivity to allow printing from anywhere in the home and borderless printing capabilities to ensure the production of high-quality photo prints when needed.
Best photo printer for home use: HP Envy 6055
WiFi-ready and Alexa-enabled for mobile and hands-free control. Amazon
Here’s a printer that will breeze through casual photo projects and deliver high-quality printing and scanning while it’s at it. The HP Envy 6055 offers borderless printing, self-healing WiFi connectivity, and enhanced productivity via the HP Smart app for convenient document sharing and transferring. Users who aren’t looking for a dedicated photo printer but still want a printer that can deliver quality photos from time to time should look no further.
The best printer for photos on a budget: What you can get for under $250
Photo printing is an extremely demanding task due to the high level of detail reproduction required. Because this is such a critical process, it’s difficult to find a cheap photo printer that delivers professional-quality results. Whether a budget photo printer is right for you comes down to the desired application of your photos and whether you can settle for adequate, and not perfect, results.
When shopping for the best printer for photos on a budget, it’s essential to seek out a model that offers borderless printing to maximize the size of your prints and get the most out of your photo paper. Because printers in this class tend to be pricier than their traditional counterparts—even in the budget category—it’s easy to find a model that offers extra functionality like photo and document scanning and wireless connectivity. The effect of a cut in price is also reflected in cheap printers’ ink cartridge types and their ultimate color reproduction, but from a utility standpoint, this hit to color accuracy shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Best cheap printer for photos: Canon Pixma TS5320
Dual Cartridge Design
A 1.44-inch OLED display shows the current status, menu navigation, and more. Amazon
The Canon Pixma TS5320 is a fantastic photo printer that offers unique features and high-quality prints without breaking the bank. A scanner and copier function add to its versatility as a home office tool, and it’s compatible with Alexa for easy hands-free control in a pinch. It’s significantly compact considering its robust feature set, and because it’s also available in four stylish colors, it’s built to look good in any home office.
FAQ: best printer for photos
Is it worth buying a photo printer?
Photo printers are a worthy investment for any user who has the need for high-quality and high-resolution prints on demand. Even casual users can benefit from the convenience of a photo printer, which is more accessible than ever thanks to affordable all-in-one models available on the market.
What should I look for when buying a photo printer?
Ink type and dots per inch are the most important metrics to consider when gauging the quality of prints from a photo printer. Other key factors include size and format of prints rendered, as well as borderless printing capability for getting the most out of your paper.
Is inkjet or laser better for photo printing?
Inkjet printers are the top choice for photo printing due to the accurate nature of the printing process that involves shooting millions of small dots of ink onto the paper. The end result is a dynamic, high-contrast image that is much more natural and true to the source than the quicker, heat-based process of a laser printer can produce.
A final word on shopping for the best printer for photos
The best printers for photos offer unparalleled quality in office-friendly form factors and are available in a wide range of feature sets tailored to specific environments. Art studios and offices can benefit from a professional photo printer when only the best quality will do, while casual users can enjoy the convenience of an all-in-one or portable model to print their photos. Whether you’re looking for borderless, wide-format prints or a high-volume ink tank model that allows bulk replacement of ink, we hope we’ve made your photo printer shopping experience a little easier.