The world has taken a sharp turn to the digital in the past few years, and it’s a revolution with a lot of promise. Anyone can share their experiences with the world with just a simple phone and an Instagram account, but we may have lost something along the way. The ability to turn photos into real, physical artifacts that can be preserved and shared is largely absent in the selfie generation.
That’s where a photo printer comes in. Precise, convenient, and often compact, these options allow you to convert your photos into physical copies without the need for a 24-hour photo center or dark room setup. We’ve put together photo printer reviews for the best 12 models along with a handy guide to help you better understand your options.
- The Best Photo Printer
- 1. HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer
- 2. Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000
- 3. Kodak Mini 2 Mobile Instant Photo Printer
- 4. Epson Expression Photo XP-8500
- 5. Canon SELPHY CP1300 Compact Photo Printer
- 6. Fujifilm Instax SP-3 Mobile Printer
- 7. Epson HD XP-15000 Wide-Format
- 8. HP Envy Photo 7155 All in One Photo Printer
- 9. Canon PIXMA TS702 Wireless Printer
- 10. Epson Expression Photo XP-960
- 11. Canon IVY Mobile Mini Photo Printer
- 12. Epson SureColor P800 Inkjet Color Printer
- Best Photo Printers Buyer’s Guide
The Best Photo Printer
1. HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer
Now in its second generation, Hewlett-Packard's Sprocket can fit conveniently in any pocket. And despite its small stature, this wireless photo printer offers a superb resolution. The built-in Bluetooth allows it to connect to multiple different devices, while a sleep mode ensures a longer battery life. You can get somewhere between 35 and 40 pictures with each charge. It also makes use of the ZINK ink-free development process.
A simple status light, printing slot, and charger port constitute the only external features of the device, but the compatible HP app is utterly packed with cool functions. Pairing with your device through the app is quick and automatic, and once you're there, you can easily print photos directly from your connected social media accounts. Some basic photo editing features are also built in to the Bluetooth photo printer. There are even some cool Augmented Reality features available.
2. Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000
Where the Sprocket 2 is positioned as a cute gadget for casual consumers, Canon's imagePrograf is a professional photo printer capable of meeting the needs of serious photographers and professional offices. It's a beefy piece of machinery that offers great print quality and well exceeds standards when working in grayscale images. It's a contender for the best Inkjet photo printer on the market, but you can expect to pay over a thousand dollars for that privilege.
That money won't be wasted, as Canon has packed in some quality tech into their photography printers. The Lucia Pro 11-color plus Chroma Optimizer offers a greater depth of vibrancy when working with color photos, and anti-clogging technology greatly reduces the risk of errors when printing larger batches. A 1.28" wide print head also helps speed up the printing process without affecting the richness and accuracy of your photos.
3. Kodak Mini 2 Mobile Instant Photo Printer
Kodak is putting itself in direct competition with the Sprocket 2 via is Mini 2. Between the comparable size, features, and app-based focus, they're incredibly similar in terms of their audience and intent. But Kodak's pocket-sized photo printers come in at a decently lower price at the cost of some of the Sprocket's niftier features. In contrast to HP's picture printer, the Mini 2 makes use of more traditional thermal dye ink. A four press approach lengthens the online photo printing time somewhat but creates more protected pictures less prone to bleeding.
The app is similarly impressive to HP's offering. Compatibility is available with six different social media services, and connections are available through Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth, and NFC. A number of basic editing options are available through the app as well. They include the capacity to add filters, adjust settings like tint and saturation, and sprinkle in decorations.
4. Epson Expression Photo XP-8500
Are you searching for a laser photo printer from your home but you're not willing to drop a grand on a professional model like the imagePROGRAF? The XP-8500 is a compact alternative that should fit comfortably in your space without costing you a fortune. It could be the best best all-in-one photo printer for non-professionals. It allows you to print photos directly from your computer, but the inclusion of USB and SD slots means that you can also plug in a thumb drive or memory card.
Setup is essentially plug and play, and connecting your computer over a wireless network is pretty simple to boot. It's certainly not going to get you the output you'd expect from a professional model, but it's certainly impressive enough from all but the most serious photographers. Scanning, copying, and faxing options further increase its versatility as an all-in-one device for the home.
5. Canon SELPHY CP1300 Compact Photo Printer
With its compact size and consumer-friendly lack of learning curve, Canon's CP1300 offers the features of the Epson Expression while splitting the difference between a pocket-sized printer. And while it sacrifices the versatility of scanning, faxing, and copying, its generously low price makes it a serious competitor if you need a dedicated photo quality printer. Best of all, the quality of the photos is more than proportionate to the price you're expected to pay.
The connection options here are fully loaded. You get traditional and direct Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity as well as USB and SD ports. The CP1300 even comes with a 3.2 inch color screen to preview and navigate your photos. But if you'd prefer something a bit more dynamic, you can use your phone or tablet as well. As is the case with most Canon printers, it makes use of a four pass printing process.
6. Fujifilm Instax SP-3 Mobile Printer
The Instax SP-3 is a compact-sized model that sports a sleek, futuristic design, but there's a lot more to this smartphone photo printer than just a great aesthetic. It's not small enough to fit in your pocket, but you can easily carry it with you in a purse or backpack. And unlike many other comparable models is the fact that it comes with rechargeable battery so it can last quite some time on long trips.
The quality of life options here may be minor, but they're stellar. You can reprint the last photo with the click of a single button, and the app keeps a meticulous archive of your fast photos. Additionally, you can print any photo that's on your phone even if you didn't shoot the picture with its camera. That means you can print out your mirrorless or DSLR photos with ease.
7. Epson HD XP-15000 Wide-Format
If you like the idea of the Expression XP-8500 but it's not quite enough for your needs, the XP-15000 might be more your speed. It strips out all of the extraneous general purpose features. If you want the best photo printer for your home, this will likely call to you. The control panel is easy to use, and there are some great connectivity features that allow it to fit to your specific needs. Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct are supported by a USB port and USB host.
Expanding on that is the Epson Connect platform that gives you a whole host of cloud-based options for managing, editing, and printing your photos. A 2.4 inch LCD screen lets you navigate your gallery without having to pull out a separate device. The results are some of the best photos you'll get out of anything short of a commercial-grade printer.
8. HP Envy Photo 7155 All in One Photo Printer
The HP Envy Photo 7155 has positioned itself based off of its great money value, and it has a strong argument. This wireless all-in-one is offered for under $200, and it boasts that it can offer photo printing for less than 5 cents an image. But it's not price alone that earns the 7155 a spot on our list. It offers above average printing speeds for tabletop home models and prints quality photos that aren't top shelf but justify themselves well considering the other advantages this budget option offers.
Dual-band Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and USB are all supported as well, and the Envy also supports a number of third party connectivity apps. An SD card slot rounds out the connectivity options. While the Envy's document printing is sub-par, that's not what most consumers are here for, and it's a small price to pay for the above average photo performance.
9. Canon PIXMA TS702 Wireless Printer
The Pixma is modest both in terms of price and sizing, but beneath its nondescript appearance is a serious Inkjet that performs well beyond expectations. It makes use of XXL printing cartridges, a bit of a double edged sword considering it can deliver some incredibly detailed photos at the expense of higher operating costs. And it also adds in copying and scanning services through the use of a mobile device. It's a neat addition but one that isn't going to deliver the most high-quality results.
And while this printer boasts a small profile, it has room for an incredible amount of paper in its two trays. That makes it an undercover fantastic choice for a home office. Voice activation is available through most of the major virtual assistant services, and it offers a ton of connectivity options as well as some simple but effective creativity software.
10. Epson Expression Photo XP-960
If you're a semi-professional or hobbyist photographer seeking out a single device that can cover all of your physical archiving needs, look to the Epson Expression. It offers support for both A3 and A4 paper so you can prioritize the demands of your photos, and it also offers the option to print and scan to flash drives and SD memory cards. Navigation is easy too, since the LCD screen is decently sized, fully color, and accompanied by a savvily designed menu.
While you'll likely be spending most of your time making use of the front loader, it also comes with a manual feed rear loader that supports paper up to 11 by 17 inches in size. Wi-Fi Direct allows you to connect to the printer straight through your tablet or phone, and DropBox, Evernote, Google Drive, and Box support is also included.
11. Canon IVY Mobile Mini Photo Printer
The IVY Mini is Canon's entry into the pocket-sized printer market. Less expensive than the Sprocket, it's also a bit lighter on features. But its value is competitive, and it offers image quality that's above its class. While there's no "it" feature that distinguishes the IVY from its competitors, it does everything you could expect from this class of printer, and it does all of them well. The only connectivity option is Bluetooth, but it works consistently with no issues.
The app is also pretty standard - functional and comfortably within the wheelhouse of the IVY's predecessors. It allows coordination with a ton of different cloud-based and social media apps, and the UI is simple to navigate. The IVY Mini is ordinary, but there's some sense of solace in that. It can comfortably fit the demands of anyone looking for a printer that can slide into their pocket.
12. Epson SureColor P800 Inkjet Color Printer
Epson's SureColor is a heavy hitter that will fit perfectly well in a professional photographer's studio or office. The wide variety of supported paper sizes can be further extended with a roll add-on, and despite its hefty specs and price tag, it's a relatively lightweight piece of machinery. The ink cartridges are both diverse and high-quality, producing a great level of saturation and incredibly diverse degrees of black.
In terms of quality, this printer mostly goes neck and neck with the imagePROGRAF, but it lags a bit behind in the area where Canon's printer really excels: grayscale photos. That ability to print on rolls could give it the edge for some customers with specialized needs. A 2.7" touch screen provides you with great previews, but Epson had the good sense to incorporate dedicated controls distinct from the screen itself.
Best Photo Printers Buyer’s Guide
Frequently Asked Questions
What Kind of Printer Do I Need?
The variety of photo printers available can be daunting if this is your first rodeo, but it doesn’t have to be. There are generally three classifications of printers to consider: dedicated printers, consumer level desktop printers, and commercial printers. Each offers its own advantages, but it should be pretty easy to figure out which one you need based off of your specific demands.
Dedicated printers are classified here exclusively as digital options. Featuring models like the HP Sprocket, the Kodak Mini 2, and the Fujifilm Instax, they’re better classified as gadgets than as dedicated appliances. Compact in size, they’re small enough to fit in your pocket or at least in your bag, and they’re intended to be able to come with you wherever you go. But the portability and relatively low price tag they carry means that they’re also not intended with professionals in mind.
These printers are typically controlled through a mobile app and offer strong integration with social media services as well as group party features. The quality of the results are nearly instant but not especially high-quality, but they’re great as a social gadget. You can typically expect a few dozen shots on a single battery. Their small size means they can only print traditional pocket-sized photos.
Things start to become more serious with desktop printers. The cheapest are comparable in price to the most expensive dedicated printers, and while they’re often slower to print than dedicated printers, their resolution is significantly higher than the alternatives, and their wired nature means they can print out much larger batches at a time. These printers specialize in photos, but they’re often all-around options that offer document printing and supplementary features like faxing and copying as well.
They support a much wider range of paper sizes and offer larger prints, and some of the better ones are appropriate enough to suit the needs of professional photographers. They also usually offer an expansive variety of connectivity options to assist with larger batch prints.
The Epson SureColor P800 and Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 represent commercial printers, and they’re the top photo printers you’ll find anywhere. Clocking in at over a grand, you shouldn’t invest in these printers unless you’re a serious and committed professional. These printers offer unparalleled color variety, the ability to print in Ultra HD resolution, and a huge variety of different paper types. If you want to make a living as an artist or photographer, you’ll eventually want to spring for one of these. Otherwise, you’re probably better off investing in something more reasonable.
What Are the Prevalent Ink Types?
There are two main types of output that are standard in desktop printers. Injket printers come with a number of separate cartridges that deal with the output for specific colors and black. The more colors a printer supports, the richer the range you can expect to find in your photo’s results. But since the ink is split among distinct cartridges, you have to be diligent about making sure they get replaced. Some printers will automatically track your ink usage and automatically replace a request for a delivery when a cartridge runs low. If you plan on producing photos en masse, this might be a wise choice.
Far simpler is thermal dye. These use a single cartridge, and it’s bought with the paper. That means that you’ll always know when your ink is going to run out, and you can plan accordingly. While thermal dye printers are more expensive, they also print faster and produce higher quality images on average. And since they use heat to apply dry ink to the surface of the paper, they’re less inclined to bleed and highly durable.
Most handheld printers make use of thermal dye, but a few stand out for their use of the ZINK format which uses its own proprietary paper. In ZINK printers, the dye is already embedded in the paper, and a special heating process causes it to rise to the surface in the image of the photograph. That means you never have to worry about replacing ink. But ZINK output is reserved solely for printers of this size, and the quality is equivalently matched to that format.
Are Print Speeds Important?
The difference between the speeds of a photo printer aren’t going to be that important to the vast majority of consumers. Since all of our listed printers can produce high-quality photos in less than two minutes, you might see a noticeable difference between the period of time they take to print, but it won’t have a significant effect on your life.
Of course, that’s a different story for professionals. If you’re producing artwork to sell or distribute, and you’re producing them in bulk, a few seconds per photo can quickly add up. We’ve listed printing times according to the average amount of seconds for a photo, but professionals will want to dig a little deeper. PPM (prints per minute) can give you a closer approximation of what to expect in a commercial setting, but you’ll want to place a higher importance on the listed “monthly duty cycle” which tells you how many pages you can comfortably print per month.
The best printer for photos is going to cost you a thousand dollars easily, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best printer for you. Fortunately, our list covers a whole range of needs and includes options across a wide expanse of price points. Consider what you need, think about what you’ll need in the future, and use our reviews and guide as a compass for your printer hunt.