Epson SureColor P400 is the best photo printer you can buy for fast home printing that can rival a print shop's quality. No, large format art prints cannot be made for your gallery show, but it does offer great color reproduction without a crazy high price tag.
If you often print photos, a home printer provides instant satisfaction, convenience, and can even save printing costs in the long run compared to going through a lab. However, thanks to technologies like zinc and print-to-film, you don't even have to be home to print your photos. Here you can find the best photo printers for 2020, from high-end inkjet models (that can handle these gallery prints) to portable wireless units.
At a glance:
The best photo printer: Epson SureColor P400
Why should you buy this? Print quality to soothe the most demanding of audiences, but without the huge price tag.
Who is it for Photographers who want high quality prints without a high price tag.
Why we chose the Epson SureColor P400:
Photo printers can easily cost more than the camera itself – but the Epson SureColor P400 strikes the ideal balance between price and image quality. Sure, the printer is more than just a simple photo printer, but the prints are way better than these budget options without sacrificing the price of a large format printer.
Why is the print quality so good? The SureColor P400 uses eight cartridges, seven for color and one as a "gloss optimizer". This combination creates rich colors that fall off the page without becoming oversaturated. Because there are more cartridges, the printer can produce a wide variety of hues so the colors remain more accurate than a cheap photo printer.
While the quality and price are great, the printer doesn't spit out photos in seconds to keep the price and quality high. A typical photo takes a few minutes. The printer can produce images up to 13 "by 19", including support for roll paper, so it doesn't have the size flexibility of a large format printer.
Read our Epson SureColor P400 review
The best instant printer: Fujifilm Instax SP-3
Why should you buy this? Turn phone photos into instant prints.
Who is it for Anyone who wants the nostalgia of instant film with the convenience of digital photography.
Why we chose the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3:
With its Instax brand, Fujifilm played a huge role in launching the instant camera industry after it was all but lost during the rise of digital cameras. Instax cameras use real instant film to create a print that is fully developed in minutes. The Instax Share series printers can make the same prints of film directly from digital images stored on your phone or tablet. The Share SP-3 is the newest model from Fujifilm and our favorite thanks to its use of the Instax Square format, which is used to create 2.4-inch square prints.
It takes approximately 13 seconds to take a print (plus a few minutes to fully develop) and the battery is rated for a total of 160 prints. Compared to an Instax camera that prints every photo you take, an Instax printer allows you to be more selective about what to print. This can save you money. While we haven't tested the SP-3, our experience with other Instax printers has shown us that they can be addicting quickly. Printing pictures from your phone is surprisingly fun, and it can make you work through the movie pretty quickly.
The best multifunction photo inkjet printer: Canon Pixma TS 9521C
Why should you buy this? It's a versatile printer that works and plays in equal parts.
Who is it for Home users looking for a versatile all-in-one photo printer.
Why we chose the Pixma TS9521C:
The Canon Pixma TS9521C is not a photo printer. not really. It is billed as a "craft" printer, hence the following C in its name. It can print on anything from envelopes and greeting cards to CDs and DVDs (because those are apparently still things). But in the realm of all things smart, photo printing is certainly something it can handle – and it can do a lot more with built-in scan and copy capabilities too.
One of the cool things about the TS9521C for photography is that not only can it print up to 11 "by 17", but it can also make 12 "by 12" borderless prints. The speed is 15 images per minute. Thanks to the duplex function, you can also make double-sided prints. The paper tray holds up to 100 sheets of document printing, making it ideal for a home office.
The all-in-one offers several ways to connect, including wirelessly using Apple AirPrint. There's a built-in SD memory card slot if you want to take photos straight from your camera and convert them to prints without going through a computer first. Finally, the printer can be controlled using the Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and even If This Then That. For the price, it's hard to find a printer that can do more.
The best inkjet photo printer: Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000
Why should you buy this? A large format, six ink photo printer that you can afford.
Who is it for Photo enthusiasts who want gallery-quality prints.
Why we chose the Epson printout:
There is no shortage of great large format photo printers on the market. The problem is that they can get very expensive. Enter the Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000, a large format wireless color printer that can handle borderless prints up to 13×19 inches at a price you can possibly afford.
As is common with photo printers, the Expression Photo HD XP-15000 uses more ink than the standard CMYK setup. In addition to cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, Epson added red and gray inks. An additional color ink means even more accurate color prints, while the gray ink improves the tonality of black and white photos. While professional printers often use even more inks, the difference in quality can be hard to tell – and the Expression XP-15000 stays much cheaper.
It also supports duplex (double-sided) printing and has a 200-sheet paper tray on the front, making it useful for documents as well as documents. The printer connects via USB or Wi-Fi and also supports mobile printing standards such as Apple AirPrint and Android printing as well as Wi-Fi Direct.
For even better photo quality, check out Canon Pixma Pro (like Pro-1 and Pro-10) and Epson's SureColor series (like P600). But for the price, it's hard to argue against the XP-15000.
The best portable photo printer: Canon SELPHY QX10
Why should you buy this? Instant mobile photos with the technology for higher quality
Who is it for Mobile photographers
Why we chose the Canon Selphy QX10:
Portable photo printers are easy to come by, but usually use zinc paper, a specialty photo paper with embedded color crystals, or instant film. Because all printers of the same type use the same media, they all offer fairly similar image quality. The Canon Selphy QX10 is different. It uses a technology called dye sublimation.
Unlike zinc or film printers, dye sublimation requires an ink pack. Because of this, the colors are usually more accurate than zinc printers. You'll need to install both paper and a ribbon, but Canon sells them bundled together, and the extra seconds to insert the ink cartridge is worth the extra quality. The paper has a sticky back and is difficult to break when the printer is done and the protective coating has been applied. According to Canon, photos last 100 years.
Previously, this printing process wasn't small enough to compete with printers like Lifeprint and HP Sprocket, but Canon has finally managed to reduce the technology enough for a mobile printer. It's not quite pocketable or lightweight like some of the competition, but still small enough to slip into a pocket.
As with other mobile photo printers, the print size is small – about 2.7 inches on each side. If you want larger prints, the Canon Selphy CP1300 uses similar technology for 4 x 6 inch prints, but is a much larger printer.
Are Laser Printers Good for Photo Printing?
In general, laser printers are not as good as inkjet printers for photo printing, especially when compared to high-end photo-specific models. Inkjet printers use more colors of ink for better print quality and can support a much wider variety of paper types. Laser printer paper must be able to withstand high temperatures for which photo paper is not suitable (it can also be too thick for the paper feed of a laser printer).
However, the best color laser printers have vastly improved their photo game. While we wouldn't recommend buying a laser printer for photography, if you need a laser printer for other tasks and only need to print an image occasionally, you will likely be happy with one.
Can photo printers print documents?
While mobile photo printers like the Instax Share can't print documents (you can save a screenshot of a document and print it out if you want to for some reason), desktop inkjet photo printers like the Epson Expression mentioned above certainly can – but you are may not be the best tool for the job. Photo printers have a much higher cost per page than laser printers. If you're printing a lot of plain text documents, laser is the way to go. For more limited document printing, you can find an inexpensive inkjet printer for around $ 30. But for documents that combine photos, graphics, and text – or if you want to use thicker paper stocks – a photo printer does a great job.
Is it worth buying a photo printer?
When it comes to mobile printers we think they are great fun. The ability to print smartphone pictures at parties or events is a great way to leave a personalized souvenir for guests, and kids will love it.
When it comes to desktop photo printers, for most people – even most photographers – the answer is probably no. Getting very high quality prints from the best online photo labs is easy. If you're not printing a large volume, it's cheaper too. Cost aside, not all of us have desktop printer space in our homes, nor do we want the hassle of maintaining them. Outsourcing our print jobs is a great way to avoid these headaches.
However, if you print properly at home, you will get the best results and can experiment with different types of paper. It may not be for the faint of heart, but if you are the type who wants ultimate control over your creative work, owning your own photo printer is a must.