Best Printer for Photo Printing

When you want to print photos for your scrapbook or create physical copies of your memorable photos, having a good printer designed for photo printing would be helpful. It’s true that you can use any printer to print images, but only dedicated photo printers can give you vivid and accurate reproductions of your original photos.

When it comes to photo printing, Epson and Canon are the two companies that are dominating the market. There are some companies that produce instant printers, large format printers, or portable photo printers. However, these two companies are still the main players when it comes to photo printing.

So if you are looking for a photo printer that best suits your application, this is the right place for you! Here, we are going to walk you through the important things you should know when buying a printer for your precious photos. Read on to know more!

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photo-print

What Is the Difference Between a Photo Printer and a Regular Printer?

First of all, let us discuss the key differences between regular printers and photo printers through the table below:

Regular Printers

  • They have  four toners or inks
  • They usually print on letter-size papers only
  • They can use laser printer toner or dye-based ink
  • They can produce good results when printing schools reports, business graphics, flyers, and the like
  • They are not optimized to produce outputs of the best quality when it comes to photo printing (grainy results)

Photo Printers

  • They can have up to 12 ink or toner cartridges
  • They can handle premium-coated photo papers such as glossy papers of up to 60-inch widths
  • Most of them use dye-based inks
  • They are designed specifically for printing photographs with more accurate colors and less visible grain

Which Printer Is Better for Photos, Inkjet or Laser?

Now, you want a photo printer, but which should you choose? A laser or an inkjet photo printer? This is the most common question that is asked when it comes to printing photos. Let’s have a comparison between the performance of these two when it comes to photo printing to help you decide which is best for you.

Inkjet and laser printers produce different results and some may favor inkjet photo printers over laser ones. However, it all boils down to your specific requirements and the result you want to achieve. Let’s define what inkjet and laser printers are first including their pros and cons:

Inkjet Photo Printers
Laser Photo Printers
Definition
  • Most common types of printers in the market (most home printers are inkjet printers)
  • They use ink cartridges that are connected to jets and spray ink into papers to print
  • Most office or business printers are laser printers
  • They use lasers to melt powder ink (toner) onto papers
Pros
  • Compact and lightweight so they can fit anywhere
  • They can work with various paper sizes and types
  • They can print instantly without warming up
  • They can combine colors effectively to produce vibrant prints
  • They can produce smoother color transitions and deeper blacks
  • They support a wide range of colors
  • Upfront costs are cheaper
  • You can refill ink cartridges
  • They have large paper trays that can hold a lot of paper
  • They use toner cartridges which are very affordable
  • They provide clear and sharp texts
  • They can handle high-volume printing applications seamlessly
  • The cheapest and fastest way to print
  • They are not susceptible to fading and water damage
Cons
  • They can handle bulk printing
  • They can’t hold a lot of paper
  • They are slow
  • They use ink cartridges that are very expensive
  • They are expensive to maintain
  • They can fade and smudge
  • They are more expensive compared to inkjet printers
  • They can only work with a few paper sizes and types
  • Most are huge and bulky
  • They can’t print complex graphics
Applications
  • For printing on photo coated papers
  • For reproducing art
  • For high-quality photo printing
  • For printing color images in plain paper or card
  • For high-volume printing
  • For marketing materials like brochures and posters
  • For low to medium-quality photo printing

You can read more on inkjet vs laser printers in the link provided.

So Why Are Inkjet Printers Better at Producing High-Quality Photos?

Why do many people prefer inkjet photo printers over laser photo printers? Simple. They can create excellent reproductions of original photos as we have mentioned above. But how do inkjet printers do this? Below is an overview of how they work:

  • They either use the following:
    • Pigment-based ink and Micro Piezo print heads that use electrical pulses to change the nozzle’s shape to release ink to the paper
    • Dye ink that is released from nozzles when heated
  • They spray microscopic ink drops of 4-12 colors
  • Aside from the basics CMYK colors, inkjet photo printers us light CMYK colors along with other supplemental colors

With the above working mechanism, inkjet printers can produce a wider range of shades as well as higher tone quality and greater depth compared to laser printers that only use four colors. This allows inkjet printers to produce vibrant and more precise imagery.

However, laser printers are also catching up. They can’t provide the same quality as inkjet printers, but they can still produce neat printouts. The majority of laser printers today are designed with unique technologies and decent features that allow them to still achieve excellent photo prints.

The Verdict

If you are focused on producing gallery-quality photographs and speed doesn’t matter, you might want to consider inkjet printers. But if you are only printing basic images and documents with graphics, laser printers would suffice and are recommended for high-volume printing.

Which Printers Do Photographers Use?

A lot of professional photographers nowadays have shifted to printing their own photos in-house. This saves them a lot of money and helps ensure that they can produce the exact colors they want. But how do they choose the right photo printer for their application?

If you want a photo printer for professional printing, below are the three main factors that you might want to consider:

#1 Manufacturer

Canon, Epson, and HP are the three top choices of professional photographers:

(a) Epson Photo Printer

High-end Epson printers are considered the industry standards. They are used in a lot of photography studios.

(b) Canon Photo Printer

Canon PIXMA PRO-1 inkjet photo printers represent the professional printer market’s lower end, but they also have their own advantages.

(c) HP Photo Printer

HP DesignJets are great for printing graphic art. They can handle up to 50-feet media.

#2 Inksets

The type and number of ink cartridges used by a printer significantly impact the print’s appearance and longevity. For instance, printers using pigment-based inks (e.g. Canon’s Pixma Pro-1 and Epson’s Stylus Pro) produce images that last longer compared to HP’s dye-based DesignJet series.

Moreover, the more colors a printer uses, the finer the images it can produce. Printers print a certain color by mixing different inks with CMYK being the standard ones. The more colors available, the more the printer can create an accurate reproduction of that certain color. Professional printers use additional colors to print smoother image tones.

Below is an overview of the number of inks that Epson, Canon, and HP use:

(a) Epson Stylus Pro

  • Addition of light and very light black along with grayscales for black-and-white photos
  • You can swap its special black and regular black inks if you are using matte papers

(b) Canon Pixma Pro-1

  • 12 colors
  • Addition of grayscale ink, red ink, color optimizer, and matte black aside from the Stylus Pro’s eight-color ink

(c) HP DesignJets

  • 6 colors
  • Cyan, light cyan, magenta, light magenta, yellow, and black

#3 Features

The three important features considered by professional photo printers are printer size, connectivity, and paper handling:

(a) Printer Size

  • Bigger printers are designed with stands
  • Smaller models can fit on large desktops

(b) Connectivity

  • Standard USB ports or Ethernet connection because high-resolution photo printers receive substantial amounts of data

(c) Paper Handling

  • Many high-end printers come with wide carriages for accommodating wider images like 13-inch ones
  • Some can support wider papers of up to 24 inches
  • There are printers that can handle paper rolls which is more cost-effective

Things to Consider When Buying a Photo Printer

So have you decided to buy a printer but don’t know how to choose one? Here are the things you can consider:

1.

Desk-Bound or Portable?

Below is a comparison between desk-bound and portable photo printers:

Desk-Bound Photo Printers

  • Known as near-dedicated photo printers
  • Designed for amateur photographers
  • They offer professional-quality photos
  • They can print up to 13×19-inch photos including banner-size photos
  • They are more complex to operate if you want the best results
  • They support roll papers
  • They are often large, especially those with roll feeders and support large paper stocks

Portable Photo Printers

  • Known as small-format or dedicated snapshot printers
  • Designed for printing smaller photos (snapshot sizes: 2×3, 4×6, or 5×7 inches)
  • They can’t print documents (they don’t support letter-size papers)
  • They are relatively small and not that computer-centric
  • They are cheaper and can run using a battery

2.

Output Quality

Checking the output quality prior to buying a printer is always important. As we’ve said earlier, inkjet printers will always give you the best results. Also, the type of paper has a great impact on the overall quality of the print. Make sure that you buy papers that match your printer’s recommendations.

3.

Color or Black-and-White Printing?

If you are printing mostly black-and-white photos, choose monochrome printers that can match your specifications. However, take note that black-and-white printing has some flaws too. Multiple tints can occur in different shades of grey. So if you will be printing in black-and-white using a color printer, check out the quality of the color and black-in-white prints separately.

4.

Connectivity

Do you want a wired or wireless connection? If you want more convenience, wireless would be good. But if you are going to print from memory cards or USB, make sure that the photo printer has these features. You can even print directly from your camera if it supports PictBridge. Other connectivity options include Bluetooth, Ethernet, mobile printing, and cloud printing.

5.

Running Costs

Consider the cost of ownership and running costs of the photo printer before you buy it. Ink cartridges are often expensive, so you might want to check out the cost per page as well. If possible, you can choose a printer with ink subscription services.

Which Printer Is Good For Photo Printing?

Let’s end our guide by giving you some recommendations on the best photo printers you can check out this 2021. We will be answering the following common questions:

    • What printer produces the highest quality photos?
    • Which is the best printer for photo printing?
    • What kind of printer is best for photos?

The printers we have listed below were picked from review sites like PCMag, Digital Camera World, TechRadar, Rtings.com, and Digital Trends.

#1 Canon Pixma TS6420

Source: Amazon

Key Features
  • Functions: Print, Scan, Copy
  • Printer Type: Color, Inkjet
  • Ink Type:
    • Dye-Based (Tri-Color)
    • Pigment-Based (Black)
  • Print Speed:
    • 13 ipm (Black)
    • 6.8 ipm (Color)
  • Print Resolution: 4800 x 1200 dpi
  • Paper Handling
    • 2 input trays
    • Min: 3.5″ x 3.5″
    • Max: 8.5″ x 14″
    • 100 sheets each tray
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB Type-B, Bluetooth, Mobile printing
Pros
  • Borderless printing of up to 8.5 x 11″
  • Duplex printing and copying
  • Compact size
  • Decent family printer
  • Excellent photos (little grayscale coloring and good detail)
  • Affordable cartridges
  • You can extend the lid for thicker items such as small books
  • Voice-activated through Google Home or Amazon Alexa
  • Relatively low upfront costs
  • Two input trays
  • Bluetooth LE
Cons
  • Low-yield cartridges that need regular replacement
  • No sheetfed scanner
  • Mediocre color accuracy
  • Expensive to run
  • It doesn’t support memory cards
  • It doesn’t have an automatic document feeder

#2 Canon PIXMA PRO-200

Source: Amazon

Key Features
  • Functions: Print Only
  • Printer Type: Color, Inkjet
  • Ink Type: Dye-Based (8 individual cartridges)
  • Print Speed:
    • 53 Seconds (8 x 10″)
    • 1 Minute 30 Seconds (11 x 14″)
  • Print Resolution: 4800 x 2400 dpi
  • Paper Handling
    • 2 input trays
    • Min: 3.5″ x 3.5″
    • Max: 13″ x 39″
    • 100 sheets and 1 sheet
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB Type-B, RJ45, Mobile printing
Pros
  • Borderless printing of panoramas and banners of up to 13 x 19″
  • Low running cost
  • Improved control panel display
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Automatic detection of nozzle clogs
  • Excellent grayscale output
  • Excellent output quality
  • It supports a wide variety of print mediums
  • Competitive price
Cons
  • Challenging to set up
  • Bulky
  • It doesn’t support roll papers

#3 Epson SureColor P700

Source: Amazon

Key Features
  • Functions: Print Only
  • Printer Type: Color, Inkjet
  • Ink Type: Pigment-Based (10 individual cartridges)
  • Print Speed:
    • 1 Minute 29 Seconds (8.5 x 11″)
    • 2 Minutes 23 Seconds (13 x 19″)
  • Print Resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi
  • Paper Handling
    • 2 input trays:
      • Min: 3″ x 5″
      • Max: 13″ x 19″
      • 30 sheets (input tray 1)
    • Roll Feed
      • Min: 3″ x 5″
      • Max: 13″ x 129″
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB Type-B, RJ45, Mobile printing
Pros
  • Borderless printing of panoramas and banners of up to 13 x 19″
  • It has a roll feed
  • High print quality but still with an acceptable price
  • Ideal for photographers who are looking for great photo printers without spending too much
  • Manual and mechanize cutters
  • It can switch between roll and cut media as well as between matte black and photo inks automatically
  • It uses UltraChrome PRO10 inks for more color gamut
Cons
  • Small-capacity cartridges (no larger options available)
  • Too high running costs
  • Physically large

#4 Canon PIXMA TR8620

Source: Amazon

Key Features
  • Functions: Print, Scan, Copy, Fax
  • Printer Type: Color, Inkjet
  • Ink Type:
    • Dye-Based (CMYK)
    • Pigment-Based (Black)
  • Print Speed:
    • 15 ipm (Black)
    • 10 ipm (Color)
  • Print Resolution: 4800 x 1200 dpi
  • Paper Handling
    • 2 input trays
    • Min: 3.5″ x 3.5″
    • Max: 8.5″ x 14″
    • 100 sheets each tray
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB Type-B, RJ11, RJ45, Bluetooth, Mobile printing
Pros
  • Borderless printing of up to 8.5 x 11″
  • Duplex printing and copying
  • Sleek and compact design
  • Unbeatable print quality
  • It supports SD cards
  • It has an automatic document feeder
  • Outstanding connectivity options
Cons
  • High running costs
  • Quite slow when printing
  • Low-yield black cartridge
  • Its scanner lid wiggles

#5 Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000

Source: Amazon

Key Features
  • Functions: Print Only
  • Printer Type: Color, Inkjet
  • Ink Type: Dye-Based (6 individual cartridges)
  • Print Speed:
    • 9.2 ppm (Black)
    • 9 ppm (Color)
  • Print Resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi
  • Paper Handling
    • Min: 4 x 6″
    • Max: 13 x 44″
    • Front Feed Tray: 200 sheets
    • Rear Feed Tray: 50 sheets
    • Output Tray: 100 sheets
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, Ethernet, Mobile printing
Pros
  • Borderless printing from 4 x 6″ to 13 x 44″
  • A wide array of format options
  • Consistent color
  • Duplex printing
  • It comes with an automatic document feeder
  • It can print directly from USB thumb drives and media cards
  • Light and small for a wide-format printer
  • It uses new Claria Photo HD inks
  • Excellent print quality
  • Easy to set-up
Cons
  • Acceptable print speed
  • Quite high running costs
  • Relatively low-definition results when it comes to dark areas
  • Microbanding in grayscale

Wrapping Up

You can use any printer to print your photos, but if you want the best results, find printers that are dedicated to photo printing. Inkjet printers are recommended if you are looking into producing professional-quality photos. You will have a lot of options when choosing the right photo printer for your application, but make sure that you know your specific needs first.

Hopefully, this guide was able to help you find a suitable printer for your photo printing needs. Feel free to read our other photo printing guides below:

    • How To Print High-Resolution Photos
    • How To Select The Right Photo Paper

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