The best photo printers are designed to take all those wonderful images from your digital camera or smartphone and turn them into physical prints that you can frame and adorn your home with, or even print out and share with family and friends. Photo printers range in terms of size, price and functionality, but most are fast and relatively simple to use.
While some all-in-one printers also offer a photo printing function, by going for one of the best photo printers you're getting the latest tech dedicated to the task of producing high quality prints at home. As a result, you'll naturally end up with a much better quality of printed photos, with features centered around producing the best images possible, rather than spending money on extra printer features like scanning and copying that you may not need.
The best photo printers produce images filled with all the color and vibrancy that you want in a print, but as with everything, you get what you pay for in terms of quality. So at the top end of the price range is the Canon PIXMA PRO-100, a machine designed to print off stunning photos at home. On the flipside, a photo printer such as the HP Sprocket has a lower printing quality, but it's fully mobile (so ideal for on-the-go use) and prints images straight from your smartphone.
If you already have one of the best cameras, it makes sense to spare no expense when getting one of the best photo printers to do your images justice. But if you're just printing casual snaps from your phone, the file sizes won't be that large and so you won't need the best print quality, so you could make a saving by going for a more entry level photo printer.
1. Canon PIXMA PRO-100: Best photo printer overall
The Canon PIXMA PRO-100 is part of the company's high-end line of photo quality printers, with this model sitting at the most affordable end of that selection. As such you get a whole lot of printer for your buck.
This is a large format printer that's capable of printing off photo quality images at A3 8.5 x 11 inches as well as more standard 4 x 6 inch photos. The printer's impressive 4800 x 2400 resolution means quality is high with error free, crisp finishes found in our testing. The cost of this is that print times were slower than many other printers with full page photos taking 192 seconds.
Since this model uses eight dye-based ink colors, the end result is impressively professional, especially when used with fine-art or photo paper. These inks cost an average of $1.31 per milliliter making it a very affordable option for ink replacements.
The PIXMA PRO-100 also features wireless connectivity, Ethernet and USB for lots of easy printing choice. The unit comes with a one year warranty and has lots of online support.
- Read the full Canon PIXMA PRO-100 review.
2. Canon PIXMA TS8320: Best value photo printer
The Canon PIXMA TS8320 is a superb value for money option that doesn't scrimp on quality thanks to the six ink system. Despite being at the lower price range end this has great features like smart assistant compatibility for voice controls. It also offers really fast printing for the price, with a photo in letter size coming out in two minutes and two seconds.
There's a 4.3-inch LCD display with touchscreen controls, an SD memory card slot, USB and wireless connectivity. This will print CDs but also has a duplexer for dual-sided paper prints. There are two paper trays with an auto detect to use what's needed for the size of the job. This even features a scanner and copier mode thanks to a flatbed that supports up to A4/letter sized paper.
There are varying capacity ink cartridges available with savings to be made on the larger XXL option. Expect to pay about six cents for text and 16 cents for graphics. Everything has a one year warranty as standard.
- Read our full Canon PIXMA TS8320 review.
3. Epson Expression Photo XP-970: Best A3/large photo printer
The Epson Expression XP-970 is another large format printer able to print up to A3 sized images. This uses six different inks to offer excellent quality prints. What this also offers is a flatbed scanner making this a real all round printer that just happens to be photo capable too. Considering this is also affordably priced, all that makes this a really impressive model.
So why doesn't this have the top spot? Print speeds could have been faster in our testing but with that 5760 x 1440 resolution it makes sense that it would take a while. A large format 11 x 7 inch print took 154 seconds while a 4 x 6 inch photo was out in 68 seconds.
The XP-970 also prints on CDs, supports wireless printing and has an SD card reader that's easily accessible. The inks are expensive at $2.27 per milliliter and you get a standard one year warranty with this printer.
- Read the full Epson Expression Photo XP-970 review.
4. HP Sprocket: Best portable photo printer
The HP Sprocket is tiny compared to other photo printers we reviewed, and its output is tiny too – the paper tray holds just 10 sheets, and the machine can only produce wallet-size, 2 x 3-inch photos.
The printer can be so small because of its zero-ink, or “Zink,” technology, which uses heat-activated paper instead of ink or dye sublimation. Zink doesn’t produce the most detailed prints, and in our testing, we found that some of the colors appeared washed out. However, the look of these filtered colors may appeal to you.
For a novelty printer, the HP Sprocket is convenient and easy to use. In fact, it was the easiest printer to set up of the models we tested – we were printing photos within minutes of opening the box. The printer has a clean design and fits easily into a purse or backpack. Also, you control printing with your smartphone. We liked the HP Sprocket’s simplicity and fun design, even if it’s tough to come up with practical reasons for having it around.
- Read the full HP Sprocket review.
5. HP Envy 6055 All-In-One Printer: Best budget photo printer
The HP Envy 6055 All-in-One is a great budget photo printer option that will get you decent quality prints without breaking the bank. This offers a scanner and copier function as well as the ability to print text, graphics and photos making it, as the name suggests, a true all-in-one device.
Everything is setup from the app making this super easy to get going in as little as 10 minutes. Then it's simple to use from there on out with no frills like a screen on this very small 11.5 pound printer.
Expect to get a good six pages per minute for text and four per minute in color with 4 x 6 inch color photos coming out in as little as a minute. Yup, this is fast when it comes to photo prints and the quality is still decent with punchy colors and bright, defined range on the 4800 x 1200 resolution prints.
- Read the full HP Envy 6055 All-In-One Printer review.
6. Epson Expression Premium ET-7700 EcoTank: Best photo printer for ink costs
The Epson Expression Premium ET-7700 EcoTank is the ideal photo printer for anyone that wants to print lots and doesn't want to worry about replacing ink cartridges regularly. Thanks to the ink tank, which offers five inks, this is a rare photo printer, catering to larger needs while remaining high quality. As such it's not cheap upfront but that covers you for thousands of photo prints before needing more ink.
This large printer manages to print out a 4 x 6 inch photo in just under 32 seconds, making it one of the fastest on this list. Quality was high with a crisp finish that offers solid and rich colors. There was a little blue hue to it though.
This also comes with a flatbed scanner making this a versatile printer and copier which can print to the likes of CDs, cards, envelopes and more. There is Wi-Fi as well as USB, Ethernet, an SD card slot and AirPrint support.
An expensive upfront cost that will make you savings on the ink in the long run makes this ideal for those planning to print a lot of photos, and fast.
- Read the full Epson Expression Premium ET-7700 EcoTank review.
Why trust us on the best photo printers?
We’ve kept up with the best in photo-only printer technology for close to 15 years. As technology advanced we’ve seen printers with more connectivity options and higher print resolutions become accessible for home offices.
As we test, we look for professional print quality and spend hours evaluating each machine’s strengths and weaknesses. We compare the print speed and quality with other photo printers to help you find the best option. We also consider factors like ink cartridge cost, ease of use, and styling.
How Much Does a Photo-Only Printer Cost?
When we reviewed photo printers, we looked at both portable and professional models. It’s worth mentioning that even at the higher end of the price range, home photo printers don’t quite match the quality of professional printers. On average, the desktop photo-only printers we tested cost around $350.
The snapshot printers were a little less expensive, with prices between $100 and $150. The most portable printers were a little more expensive than the snapshot printers by a small margin, costing just over $125.
Key Features to Look for When Buying Photo-Only Printers
A good way to know what kind of print quality to expect is to check the kind of printing technology a machine uses. Inkjet printers create the highest quality photos, but there are also dye-sublimation printers, which aren’t quite as good but simplify cartridge installation. Zero ink, also called “zink,” models are speedy but produce prints that aren’t very bright or vivid.
Based on how you plan to use your printer, whether in a classroom or at social events, speed can be important. Manufacturers often provide information about speed in the printers’ specifications, and we also tested print speed in our lab.
As with speed, how you plan to use your printer affects how portable you need it to be. If you need to use yours on the go, we recommend finding a machine with a battery pack included in the initial purchase. Also, look at how many images the device can print before it needs to recharge. It’s also worth mentioning that more portable devices don’t have the same high print quality as stationary printers.
Even some of the smaller snapshot printers we tested have a lot of connectivity options. Photo printers may offer any combination of wired, USB and Ethernet connections as well as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth so you can print directly from your social media accounts and cell phone.
If you are looking for a large-format, desktop photo printer, look for one that has a lot of connectivity options, especially if you plan to share it with other users. On the other hand, if you want a portable printer, often less is more – we liked portable printers that have simple connectivity options that make it easy to start printing right away.
Best Photo Book Services
The photo printers we tested are the perfect solution for printing single high-quality images for framing. However, if you want to combine multiple images in a nicely bound keepsake photo book, we also compared 13 of the best photo book printing services by evaluating print quality, pricing and book template options. Here are a couple of our favorite photo book sites.
This online photo book service has the largest selection of pre-designed book templates, and our test project arrived faster than any other online service we tested. The interface is easy to use and includes a guided virtual tour highlighting the important features and tools. Mixbook offers a 20-page 8 x 8 hardcover photo book for $29.99 plus shipping and handling, and each additional page is $1.29. That’s an average price for our test group, but the print quality of this service was among the best we evaluated.
The print quality of Walgreens’ photo books isn’t on par with the best services we tested, but an 8 x 8 book only costs $19.99 and is available to pick up at Walgreens stores the same day you design it. There are six different sizes to choose from with six cover options, including hardbound, softbound, leather and fabric. The photo editor is easy to use and includes tools for adding embellishments and text alongside the photos.