The 8 Best Photo Printers to Buy in 2018

Cherish your pictures forever with these top photo printers

Whether you’re using a pro-grade DSLR or you’re a snap-happy smartphone user, pictures tend to end up overflowing on your hard drive. Regardless of your photo-taking street cred, a photo printer offers the opportunity to have those great moments in your hand moments at the click of a button. For many, that’s worth the price of admission. There’s no shortage of options and choosing between portable, prosumer and professional models heavily depend on budget and needs, but no matter what you want or when you want it, there’s definitely a photo printer for everyone.

When it comes to photo printers, the last thing you want to sacrifice is quality for budget. Canon’s Pixma Pro-100 might have some first-time buyers questioning the expenditure, but you get what you pay for with this printer. All photo printer brands like to claim fast printer speeds and great color prints, but Canon backs it up with room to spare. One notable difference between photo printers at lower price points is the use of dye inks over pigment inkjet, which won’t stand up as well to the test of time. Before you raise another eyebrow, rest assured that under proper storage conditions, Canon claims photos from the Pro-100 will last up to 100 years.

Just three buttons decorate the front of the well-designed silver and gray casing: power, cancel/resume, and WiFi. The Pro-100 offers an 8-color ink system that can handle prints up to 13”x19” inches and the main paper tray can handle up to 120 sheets of plain paper or 20 sheets of thicker stock photo paper. A single-sheet heavy stock input sits at the bottom of the rear of the printer. Weighing just over 43 pounds, the Pro-100 will need a dedicated space but if you’re looking to get serious about photo printing, that seems like a fair trade-off. Setup takes around 15 minutes or so if you’re installing all the utilities and drivers.

For many first-time photo printer buyers, there’s a justifiable case to be made that most casual photographers don’t require a dedicated photo printer. In numerous cases, that’s a fair statement and that’s why an option like the affordable Epson PictureMate PM-400 is a superb choice. Capable of 3.5”x5”, 4”x6” and 5”x7” prints, the PM-400 produces excellent photo quality for the price. Add in WiFi connectivity for printing directly from phones or tablets and you have an inexpensive and convenient option.

Weighing just under four pounds, the PM-400 doesn’t take up a lot of room. Setting up is a snap and the speed for printing standard size 4”x6” prints ranges anywhere from 40 to 42 seconds, which seems more than worth skipping the trip to Walgreens' photo shop.

We’re confident saying this model offers impressively high quality for most types of images. We’d skip looking at anything you might want to display in a gallery, but if that’s the type of result you’re looking for, you’re in the wrong place.

Discovering the best budget photo printer is inevitably going to mean tradeoffs. Fortunately, the HP Envy 4520 is a worthy investment if you want just the bare bones of photo printing. In fact, the Envy 4520 is more all-in-one than dedicated photo printer, with both a copier and scanner function. Its well-designed body offers a low-profile printer that won’t get in the way of your desk. The 2.2” touchscreen offers less clutter and confusion, along with easy setup. With included options like Airprint, Google Cloud Print and HP’s ePrint app, you’ve got a truly hands-free photo printing experience. At just 11 pounds, it’s one of the lightest printers on this list, and includes a 100-sheet input tray that pulls out from the bottom of the machine. For photo printers, the paper tray offers adjustable sliders for 4”x6”, 5”x8” and 8”x11” photo prints.

Perhaps you’ve got loads of pictures in your library, but those memories don’t always serve you so well sitting on your smartphone. The HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer lets you connect your social media accounts to the free Sprocket app (available for iOS and Android) and print them out in no time using Bluetooth. The app also lets you add things like text, borders and emojis and more for a custom touch.

The printer itself is a perfectly portable, measuring 4.53 x 2.95 x 0.87 inches -- or roughly the size of an iPhone -- and weighing just six ounces. It prints out 2 x 3-inch photos on sticky-backed paper, which might be limiting depending on how you intend to use it, but preserves your memories nonetheless.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best portable photo printers

Epson’s SureColor P600 is priced at the “prosumer”, the cross-pollination of the consumer and professional, looking for the best at-home photo quality. While we’re disappointed to see the P600 limited to 13”x19” print, the superb color accuracy, black inks and saturation shot it to the top of our list.

Utilizing Epson’s formulated 25.9ml UltraChrome HD inks in nine different colors, four of which are grays and blacks, we might call the P600 prints ready for gallery use. It’s a bold claim but, for the price, you might not expect anything less. And at 35 pounds, it’s sure going to take up some desk space. The 2.7” display will assist in WiFi  setup (Airprint and Google Print as well), loading media and roll paper, and perform various maintenance functions. Mac users will find the setup slightly more tolerable while Window users will find the good old “driver install” to be somewhat tedious, especially for first-time users.

Printing the maximum image size of 13”x19” can take upwards of 5 minutes, whereas an 8”x10” will take around one or two minutes. Realistically, those numbers will vary depending on the paper and driver settings being used for each photo print, but be forewarned that a raw print at maximum size with high quality paper could take around 20-30 minutes. These times will likely turn off casual photographers, but when you’re looking for a printer that costs just under $800, waiting for the perfect print seems like a worthy investment. One final complaint about the P600 is the lack of a roll paper cutter that slices off the print when finished. Still, aside from the minor niggles, the P600 is a fantastic best splurge choice. 

This one-touch printing solution brings the instant-charm of polaroid to the smartphone age, but trades the lo-fi haziness for brilliant high quality photos. One touch printing cuts down on the steps between a great shot and a physical copy. Just have the picture loaded and place your Android iPhone into the dock for an instant print with advanced patent dye sublimation printing technology.

In addition to smartphones, the dock is compatible with iPads, digital cameras and USB Memory sticks. And you don’t have to worry about draining your device’s charge when you have a big queue of photos to print. Simultaneous charging lets you recharge two smart devices while you wait. Customize your shots with the companion app, which gives you a host of filters, stickers, templates and other features to transform your snaps into studio quality shots.

The pictures print in standard 4” x 6” format with vivid colors and high definition detail. D2T2 Thermal Transfer Technology assures that they won’t bleed or fade while printing.

Given that most dedicated photo printers are often too large to be carried around, the Canon Selphy CP1200 is a welcome choice. However, it comes with one caveat. The CP1200 only prints 4”x6” images. If you’re looking for mostly Facebook and Instagram-ready prints, the trade-off is worth the price point. Size disappointment aside, we love Canon’s functionality, especially the ability to print images simply by tapping a button on your smartphone through Canon’s Selphy app.

In fact, Canon’s entire buying proposition may be based on the idea that you have a smartphone that you regularly use for photographic purposes. They’re banking on you finding happiness with prints that closely resemble exactly what you see on your smartphone display. For a printer that’s compact enough at 1.9 pounds to carry around, that’s exactly what we could hope for. As a bonus feature for compact prints, Canon features a clear overcoat on each print that helps protect against dirt or liquids.

Capable of printing up to 54 prints on a single charge, options for postcard, passport and square label are also available to complement the 4”x6” selling point. Printing wirelessly is a snap via WiFi, and for you Apple uses, Airprint. The printer also offers an optional battery for traveling. (Don't have money to travel? See the world without ever leaving your couch!)

Marked with the recognizable red line that normally adorns Canon lenses, this PRO-1000 printer delivers the exceptional print quality desired by photo professionals. The LUCIA PRO 11-color plus Chroma Optimizer ink system achieves crisp images with remarkable glossiness across all media types. It features four monochrome inks that minimize bronzing and create deep blacks for dramatic grayscale prints. On top of it all, Canon’s FINE (Full-Photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering) technology enables printing with microscopic droplets and high resolutions up to 4,800-by-2,400 dots per inch.

Printing photos up to 17 x 22 inches, the PRO-1000 delivers the largest size photos of the imagePROGRAF line. It prints quicker and quieter than many Amazon reviewers expected, producing a color bordered 13 x 19-inch photo in 2 minutes and 30 seconds. It’s also easy to connect to with USB 2.0, Ethernet and WiFi options available. The latter means you can use with the Canon PRINT app to wirelessly send files from your smartphone or tablet, as well as monitor ink levels and printer status remotely.

At 28.5 x 17 x 11.2 inches and weighing a hefty 70.5 pounds, this machine is a beast by all measures. But if it’s quality you crave, it’ll deliver frame-worthy art…assuming you took a frame-worthy photo to begin with.

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