The 10 Best Photo Printers of 2021

Cherish your pictures forever with these top photo printers

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
"The Pro-200 has a 3-inch LCD screen and it can handle prints up to 13 x 19 inches."
Best Wide Format:
Canon iP8720 at Amazon
"Its patented print-head mechanism fires ink droplets as small as one pixel for extreme detail."
Best All-in-One:
HP Envy Photo 7155 at Amazon
"As an all-in-one device, the HP Envy Photo 7155 incorporates the ability to scan and copy in addition to printing."
"If you’re primarily looking for Facebook and Instagram-ready prints, the aptly named SELPHY is an amazing choice."
Best Portable:
Kodak Mini 2 at Amazon
"Although the printer is small, the photos have excellent image quality, with a 256 gradation with 16.7 million colors."
"The Sprocket has a sturdy design, and it won’t easily break when you put it in your backpack or bag."
Best for Square Format:
Fujifilm Instax SP-3 at Amazon
"The SP-3 wireless printer handles the larger, Instax Square film format, but the printer itself is still compact."
Best for Giant Prints:
Canon imagePROGRAF Pro-2100 at Amazon
"What makes this giant really stand out is that it prints from a roll, which means you have no limit to how long your prints may be."
"Instead of irritating, wasteful, single-use cartridges, the ET-7750 uses huge, refillable ink tanks."
Best for Smart Homes:
HP Tango X at Amazon
"You can operate the Tango X with voice commands via your virtual assistant in your phone or smart home setup."

It wasn’t too long ago when printed photos were the primary form of photo display and storage. Digital photography has come a long way, but the ability to take a picture on so many devices has also made it easy for us to forget about our photos. These days, many of us relegate our precious photographs to dusty hard drives or cloud storage applications—ephemeral code at constant risk of vanishing into digital mist should our computer or mobile hardware fail us, or should we lose access to a cloud application.

The best images deserve to be displayed in all of their glory—preserved in physical form to be enjoyed and passed down through the generations. Photo printers are ideal for anyone who still values a printed picture.

Our experts have put hundreds of hours into researching and testing printers to help you make a decision as to which photo printer will best translate your images from code to vibrant, living ink. Whether you’re taking pictures of family and friends on your smartphone or you’re a pro photographer, read on to see our picks for the best photo printers in different categories and price ranges.

Best Overall: Canon PIXMA Pro-200

What We Like
  • Large maximum print size

  • Eight-color ink system

  • Stunning print quality

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

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 pigments in cheaper inkjets, which won’t stand up as well to the test of time. With its eight-color dye-based ink system, Canon’s Pixma Pro-100 was a big hit with those who enjoyed high-quality photo prints, and its successor, the Pixma Pro-200, offers many of the same benefits in a smaller printer that measures 25.2 x 15 x 7.9 inches (L x W x H).

The Pro-200 has a 3-inch LCD screen and it can handle prints up to 13 x 19 inches. Weighing 27 pounds, the Pro-200 will still need its own 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.

The Pro-200 is compatible with Canon’s PPL software, and it can print in up to 4800 x 2400dpi resolution like the Pixma Pro-100. This is an excellent printer for anyone who wants to print gorgeous photos at home, and is willing to spend a bit of cash upfront to do so.

Type: InkJet | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet | LCD Screen: Yes | Scanner/Copier/Fax: Print

"Installing all of the programs can take some time, but it’s a one-time ordeal and updates can be automatically installed going forward." — Gannon Burgett, Product Tester

Canon PIXMA Pro-100

 Lifewire

Best Wide Format: Canon iP8720

What We Like
  • Large maximum print size

  • Easy setup and operation

  • Wi-Fi makes for easy wireless operation

What We Don't Like
  • No display for navigating menu

If you don’t want to spend on the Pixma Pro-200, the Canon iP8720 is a slightly more affordable alternative that prints in a wide format. It boasts an impressive 9600 x 2400 maximum color dpi and a six-color ink system including gray ink, which produces remarkable detail for black and white photos in particular.

Its patented print-head mechanism fires ink droplets as small as one pixel for extreme detail. The printing itself is reasonably fast, with an average speed of 14.5 ppm (prints per minute) for black and white photos and 10.4ppm for color. Canon also boasts the longevity of its ChromaLife100+, claiming that photos printed using Canon-brand photo paper and ink will last up to 100 years when stored in an archival-quality photo album.

Our reviewer Gannon wasn’t able to test whether or not photos lasted 100 years, but he tested half a dozen photos on Canon’s 8.5 x 11-inch Pro Lustre paper, including high-contrast motorsports photos, multiple small prints on a single page, and portraits, and the Cannon produced beautiful printed pictures with striking detail. 

Objectively, the iP8720 is not the absolute best on the market, but the highest-quality photo printers can cost you at least $1,000. For a high-end, consumer-friendly product, this printer is the perfect compromise to deliver quality photos at a reasonable price. At a modest 18 pounds, it fits just about anywhere in your home office. Printing is quick and efficient; simply transfer documents over Wi-Fi, or connect using Google Cloud for mobile devices. Gannon also praised the iP8720 for its easy setup and smooth operation.

Type: InkJet | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet | LCD Screen: No | Scanner/Copier/Fax: Print

"If you’re in the market for a photo printer that won’t break the bank, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Canon PIXMA iP8720." — Gannon Burgett, Product Tester

Canon PIXMA iP8720

Lifewire / Gannon Burgett

Best All-in-One: HP Envy Photo 7155

HP Envy Photo 7155
What We Like
  • All standard connectivity options included

  • Direct printing from SD cards

  • Affordable photo prints

What We Don't Like
  • No auto document feeder

As an all-in-one device, the HP Envy Photo 7155 incorporates the ability to scan and copy in addition to printing. It can scan in quite a few different digital file formats (e.g. RAW, JPG, and PDF), and can produce up to 50 copies at a resolution of up to 600dpi. The 7155 is also rated for print speeds of up to 14ppm (black) and 9ppm (color), and sports a monthly duty cycle of up to 1,000 pages. This means you can print up to 1,000 photos or pages per month before compromising the printer’s durability.

For connectivity, everything from Wi-Fi 802.11bgn, USB 2.0, Bluetooth LE, and an SD card slot is included in the mix. The 7155 prints at a resolution of up to 4800 x 1200 dpi, which isn’t bad for an all-in-one at this price range, but it’s also not as good as a more expensive printer like the PIXMA Pro-200 or the Canon iP8720. 

Considering the sheer number of images most of us capture on a regular basis, getting a photo printer certainly makes a lot of sense. There are quite a few available on the market, and this is a good option for someone who wants to print photos in addition to documents and other files. It allows you to print vibrant and richly detailed pictures from a diverse range of sources, including social media platforms and your smartphone's camera roll. Additionally, using the device's 2.7-inch color display (with touch input), you can view and edit photos stored on external SD cards before printing them.

Type: InkJet | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: USB, wireless | LCD Screen: Yes | Scanner/Copier/Fax: Print, copy, scan

Best Mini: Canon SELPHY CP1300

What We Like
  • Prints with a clear overcoat to protect photos

  • Perfect size and weight for portability

  • Can print up to 54 prints on a single charge

What We Don't Like
  • Slow transfer process

We love the Canon SELPHY’s functionality, especially its ability to print images simply by tapping a button on your smartphone through Canon’s companion app. Given that many dedicated photo printers are often too large to be carried around, the Canon SELPHY CP1300 is excellent for portability. 

If you’re primarily looking for Facebook and Instagram-ready prints, the aptly named SELPHY is an amazing choice. In fact, Canon’s entire buying proposition might just be based on the idea that you have a smartphone you regularly use for photographs. 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 and 7.1  x 5.4  x 2.5 inches (L x W X H), that’s exactly what we could hope for. As a bonus feature for compact prints, Canon features a clear overcoat on each print to help protect against dirt or liquids. Our reviewer Theano was impressed with the print quality overall, but noted that the lack of an included battery reduced portability. You can get a battery for the SELPHY, but it’s an extra purchase.

Type: Dye Sub | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: iOS, Android, Mopria, AirPrint | LCD Screen: Yes | Scanner/Copier/Fax: Print

“Some of the test prints looked better than many we’ve seen from the do-it-yourself kiosks in local stores.” Theano Nikitas, Product Tester

Canon Selphy CP1300

Lifewire / Theano Nikitas

Best Portable: Kodak Mini 2 Instant Photo Printer

What We Like
  • Quick printing

  • Vibrant colors

  • Easy connectivity

What We Don't Like
  • Comes with only eight photo pages

The Kodak Mini 2 Instant Photo Printer produces small, credit-card sized images from a portable printer. Although the printer is small, the photos have excellent image quality, with a 256 gradation with 16.7 million colors. You can print 2.1 x 3.4-inch photos straight from social media or from your phone library, and you don’t need any cables or cords because the phone connects to the printer via Bluetooth.

The prints come out waterproof, and Kodak claims they can last for years to come. Our reviewer Hayley tested the photos from this printer by placing them under a running faucet for a second or two, and found that the photos held up exceptionally well.

The 620 mAh lithium polymer can print about 20 prints per charge, although it’s not removable. Plus, at a price of under $100, this printer is an excellent value. We do, however, wish it came with more photo paper in the starting package, as you get only eight sheets to start out.

Type: Dye sublimation thermal transfer | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: Bluetooth | LCD Screen: No | Scanner/Copier/Fax: Print

“Produces your desired photos in less than a minute.” Hayley Prokos, Product Tester

Kodak Mini 2 Instant Photo Printer

Lifewire / Hayley Prokos

Best Design: HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer

What We Like
  • Geared toward smartphone users

  • Extremely compact

  • Prints on adhesive paper

What We Don't Like
  • Requires additional accessories

HP’s Sprocket measures 3.15-inches wide, 4.63-inches tall, and less than an inch in thickness, so you can carry it around in a bag or even in your pocket. It runs on a battery that lasts for up to 35 hours per charge, and lets you print 2 x 3 inch photos on sticky paper that you can stick on lockers, notebooks, or you can leave the backing on and just keep the photos as a keepsake. However, our reviewer Theano found that if you choose to keep the backing on, the prints tend to curl, so that’s something to keep in mind.

More and more mini photo printers have entered the market, from the Kodak Mini 2 to the Polaroid Zip, and there are benefits and drawbacks to each model. The Sprocket has a sturdy design, and it won’t easily break when you put it in your backpack or bag. Theano was impressed with its durability, although he doesn’t suggest dropping the printer. The free app also offers cool features such as borders, text, emojis, and stickers. This makes it a fun option for photos you want to stick on your locker or notebook.

Type: Zink Zero-Ink Technology | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: Bluetooth | LCD Screen: No | Scanner/Copier/Fax: Print

“The HP Sprocket 2nd Edition is sure to pique people’s curiosity when you take it out at a party or family event.” Theano Nikitas, Product Tester

HP Sprocket 2nd Edition Photo Printer

Lifewire / Theanos Nikitas

Best for Square Format: Fujifilm Instax SP-3

Fujifilm Instax SP-3
What We Like
  • Small and light for portability

  • Supplies up to 160 prints on a single charge

  • Good printing quality

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive film

You’ll have to pony up a little more money for the Fujifilm Instax SP-3, as the film itself is more expensive but other than that it’s a wonderful choice. Compared to its predecessor, the SP-2, the SP-3 wireless printer handles the larger, Instax Square film format, but the printer itself is still compact. Measuring 5.1 x 4.6 x 1.8 inches and weighing a light 11.1 ounces, you can slip the printer into your bag without a problem. 

It’s battery-powered (chargeable via microUSB port), which makes it even more portable, and will supply about 160 prints per charge. It prints square images up to 2.4 inches that are reminiscent of old Polaroids but with better quality. You can use the Instax Share app to send pictures to the printer, as well as add filters and make small edits. However, if you’re looking to make larger edits, we recommend downloading a dedicated editing app.

Type: Action camera | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: Wireless | LCD Screen: No | Scanner/Copier/Fax: Print

Best for Giant Prints: Canon imagePROGRAF Pro-2100

What We Like
  • Incredible image quality

  • Large max print size

  • Good for posters

What We Don't Like
  • Gigantic and heavy

  • Extremely expensive

The Canon imagePROGRAF Pro-2100 is a massive, large format printer that can produce stunning 24-inch wide prints with a maximum resolution of 2400 x 1200 dpi. What makes this giant really stand out is that it prints from a roll, which means you have no limit to how long your prints may be. You can print posters, photographic art, and large portraits.

The Pro-2100 also includes Canon’s LUCIA PRO 11-Color plus Chroma Optimizer ink system that increases color accuracy and detail in dark areas of the print, and there’s a sensor built in to ensure that color remains consistent from one print to the next.

Of course, a large machine like this comes at a cost to match its size, quality, and features. It also takes up a serious amount of space, and practically needs a room to itself. Unless you are a professional photographer with both the space and means to sell large prints, the Pro-2100 is not a good option for most people. However, if you have deep pockets, lots of space, and the desire to see that epic panoramic image you captured in all its glory, this is the printer for you.

Type: InkJet | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: Wireless, USB | LCD Screen: Yes | Scanner/Copier/Fax: Print

Best No-Cartridge Printer: Epson Expression Premium ET-7750 EcoTank

What We Like
  • Can go years without a refill

  • Does not require wasteful cartridges

  • Can save money on ink

What We Don't Like
  • Very high upfront cost.

The Epson Expression Premium ET-7750 EcoTank printer breaks the frustrating ink-cartridge replacement cycle set by the average printer. Instead of irritating, wasteful, single-use cartridges, the ET-7750 uses huge, refillable ink tanks. It ships with enough ink to last approximately two years—roughly 9,000 pages of color prints, or 14,000 pages if printing in black and white.

Replacement ink is sold in simple, economical bottles to be poured into the five tanks. The caveat is that the EcoTank costs several times what you’d pay for a comparable cartridge printer. However, in the long term, the ET-7750 operates at a lower cost than most cartridge printers. It has some bells and whistles too, with a built-in 2.7-inch LCD screen, SD card reader, and wireless capabilities make printing possible without having to hook it up to a computer. 

The ET-7750 can produce high-quality photos up to 11 x 17 inches at a max resolution of 5760 x 1440 optimized dpi. This is a good choice for business professionals who print posters or advertisements, or for those who want to print photos at home. For professional artists or photographers, there are better options out there, but it’s not a bad choice for a hobby artist or photographer.

Type: InkJet | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: USB, wireless | LCD Screen: Yes | Scanner/Copier/Fax: Print, scan, copy

Best for Smart Homes: HP Tango X

HP Tango X Printer
What We Like
  • Voice-activated printing

  • Compact and attractive

  • HP Instant Ink plan can reduce costs

What We Don't Like
  • Can only scan documents via your smartphone camera

The HP Tango X connects to your smartphone, and you are able to send an image to print from anywhere in the world. You can even operate the Tango X with voice commands via your virtual assistant in your phone or smart home setup.

Smart home functionality is not unique to the Tango, as other printers like the HP DeskJet 3755 offer Alexa compatibility, but the HP Tango X also incorporates an attractive design. The Tango X comes with a cloth cover, giving it a softer design that’s more suitable for a home or home office. Additionally, the Tango X works with HP’s Instant Ink subscription program which keeps you always supplied with ink.

The major downsides to the Tango X are that only prints 5 x 7 inches and smaller can be borderless, and the scanning function just takes a photo with your smartphone camera. Overall, the HP Tango X is a slickly designed modern printer that is ideal for smart homes and for those who want to print high-quality photos via the web.

Type: InkJet | Color/Monochrome: Color | Connection Type: Wireless | LCD Screen: Yes | Scanner/Copier/Fax: Print, mobile scan, copy

Final Verdict

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Canon dominates our list, with the PIXMA Pro-200 (view at Amazon) snagging the top slot based on its perfect balance of quality, features, and value. If wide format is a priority, however, you'd be better served by Canon's iP8720 (view at Amazon), which specializes in larger prints but is also an excellent all-around choice.

About Our Trusted Experts

Erika Rawes has been writing professionally for more than a decade, and she’s spent the last five years writing about consumer technology. Erika has reviewed roughly 150 gadgets, including computers, peripherals, A/V equipment, mobile devices, and smart home gadgets. Erika currently writes for Digital Trends and Lifewire.

Gannon Burgett is passionate about photography and brings a decade of experience covering photography gear and a broad gamut of other tech to his reviews of a pair of the photo printers that appear on our list.

FAQs

Are laser printers good for photo printing?
Laser printers use toner, while inkjet printers use ink. Toner has the advantage of producing sharp text and deep blacks and toner tends to be cheaper, so laser printers are ideal for documents. A laser printer can tackle photos in a pinch if you don't have any other options available, but it’s probably better to go with an inkjet printer that’s designed for photos.

Are Brother printers good for photos?
Brother printers tend to be workhorse models designed for the office, but there are several color inkjet models that can handle photos with ease. One example is the Brother INKVestment MFC-J6545DW, a wireless color all-in-one-printer that can put out crisp photos and documents alike. That said, you may want to consider one of the more dedicated photo printers on this roundup if you plan to do a lot of image prints.

Do you need special photo paper?
If you want the best photo quality, you will need to use photo paper rather than standard printer paper. Regular printer paper is designed to absorb ink and provide a simple background for text and graphics. Photo paper is glossy and doesn't absorb ink, meaning an injket printer can do more precise inking. The reflective quality also makes the photos look more lustrous and vibrant.

What to Look for in a Photo Printer

Photo Quality

When buying a photo printer, there are a lot of factors that affect photo quality, including the type of ink, printing method, and type and quality of paper. In general, stay away from printers that prioritize speed. Though photo printers can be fast, a good rule of thumb is that fast printing decreases print quality. Resolution is also important—the higher DPI (Dots Per Inch) the better.

Maximum Print Size

Planning to print out your favorite Instagram photos? You’ll be fine with a square format photo printer. But if you want to print photos larger than the 4 x 6-inch standard, you should look for a wide format printer, most of which can print out pictures up to 13 x 19 inches. A big part of choosing the perfect printer is knowing how big you want to print. Typically, the bigger the maximum print size, the more expensive and bulky the printer will be. For example, the Canon imagePROGRAF Pro-2100 can produce gigantic 24-inch wide prints of any length you may desire, but it costs over $2,000 and practically needs an office all to itself. Even for many professional photographers, a printer of this size is unnecessary.

Keep in mind that the bigger you print, the bigger and more expensive frames you’ll need. If you’re printing photos only for your own enjoyment, take a look at the photos currently hanging on your wall to help you decide what size you expect to print. If you’re looking to start selling your photos, you will probably want a printer that can print larger than 8 x 10 inches.

Ease of Use

If you’re just learning to print your own photos, a built-in LCD and easy-to-navigate controls can be immensely helpful. Even for experienced professionals, a screen and good controls can streamline troubleshooting.

Cost of Operation

Even a relatively expensive, high-end printer may seem strangely underpriced at face value. These devices are at least as complex and difficult to produce as a DSLR cameras or computer, so why are they available for so much less? The answer is that Canon, Epson, and the rest make their money after the initial sale when you purchase the ink and paper your printer consumes at a terrifying rate. So, when purchasing a printer be sure and factor how much it will cost per picture, and be aware that printing errors will inevitably gobble up extra ink and paper.

If you are planning to sell your prints, or are already doing so, this is an important consideration to factor into the cost of operating your printer. If you are able to sell higher-quality prints for a significantly higher sum, then a printer that costs more to operate may well be worth it. Alternatively, if you’re not charging a high price for your work, you need to know how much of your profits are being gobbled up by an ink-hungry printer. Of course, if you’re not printing for profit, the balance between cost and quality is entirely up to you.

Be sure and check out our guide to estimating a printer's cost per page, and if you’re wondering why printer ink is so expensive, we looked into that as well.

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