Best Photo Printers 2018

Jessica Richards ·
Education Software & Printing Senior Writer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

After printing hundreds of photos of landscapes and portraits and comparing them under high magnification, we think the Epson Expression is the overall best photo printer available right now. It outperformed more expensive large-format printers in our quality tests, and it has updated connection options. Because it also has a copier and scanner for digitizing photos, it’s a great option if you want to print high-quality photos from your home office.  

Best Overall
Epson Expression XP-960
Even though it only uses six ink cartridges and has limited large-format photo sizes, the Epson Expression XP-960 beat out more sophisticated and expensive photo-only printers because it has the best print quality.
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Best Value
Polaroid Zip
While not very practical, the Polaroid Zip is fun to use. This small, fast printer only takes about a minute to print a 2 x 3 photo using zero ink technology.
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Best Snapshot Photo-Only Printer
Kodak Photo Dock
The Kodak Photo Dock isn’t truly portable, but it is compact enough to lug around, and we think it has the best photo quality of the snapshot printers we tested.
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Product
Price
Overall Rating
Output
Ink & Media
Device & Portability
Connectivity
Help & Support
Snapshot Print Quality
Large Format Print Quality
Max Resolution (DPI)
Snapshot Print Speed (seconds)
Large Format Print Speed (seconds)
Borderless Printing
Print Technology
Ink Costs
Media Type
Max Media Size (inches)
Total Media Capacity
Number of Ink Cartridges
Ink Type
Battery Included
Battery Life (photos per charge)
Portability Rating
Dimensions (inches)
Weight (lbs)
Preview Display
Standalone Printing
Wireless Connectivity
USB Connectivity
Ethernet
Proprietary App
Print from Camera (PictBridge)
Print from External Storage
Warranty
Phone
Live Chat
Email
Online Manual
Troubleshooting Guide
FAQs
Forums
$199.99 Amazon
8.3 10 7.3 3.3 10 6.8
A+
A
5760 x 1440
68
154
Inkjet
$2.27 per mL
Photo Paper, Other Media
11 x 17
20
6
Epson Claria Photo HD Ink
-
No Battery
Not Portable
18.9 x 14 x 5.8
19.4
Wi-Fi
Epson iPrint
Wired
USB, SD Card, MS Duo, Compact Flash
1 Year
-
-
$583.99 Amazon
7 8.8 10 0 4.3 6.8
A
B
5760 x 1440
88
194
Inkjet
$1.29 per mL
Photo Paper, Fine Art Paper
13 x 19
30
8
Epson UltraChrome HG2 Pigment Ink
-
No Battery
Not Portable
18.9 x 14 x 5.8
27.1
-
-
Wi-Fi
Epson iPrint
-
1 Year
-
-
$369.00 Amazon
6.8 7.5 8.3 0 8.3 10
B
C
4800 x 2400
97
192
Inkjet
$1.31 per mL
Photo Paper, Fine Art Paper
13 x 19
20
8
Canon ChromaLife Photo Ink
-
No Battery
Not Portable
27.2 x 15.2 x 8.5
43.2
-
Wi-Fi
Canon Easy-PhotoPrint
-
-
1 Year
$199.99 Amazon
6.4 7 4 5.3 8 6.8
A+
Snapshot Only
5760 x 1440
39
Snapshot Only
Inkjet
33¢ per photo
Photo Paper
5 x 7
20
1
Epson T320 PictureMate Color Ink
-
No Battery
C-
9.8 x 15.1 x 7.9
4.0
Wi-Fi
-
Epson iPrint
Wired
USB, SD Card
1 Year
-
-
$139.99 Amazon
5.9 7.3 6.5 2 7.3 3.3
B-
Snapshot Only
Not Available
96
Snapshot Only
Dye-Sublimation
50¢ per photo
Kodak Photo Paper
4 x 6
20
1
Kodak Mini Photo Printer Cartridge_PMC
-
No Battery
C
2.7 x 6.53 x 3.94
1.7
Wi-Fi
-
Kodak Photo Dock
USB
1 Year
-
-
-
-
$109.97 Amazon
5.6 3.5 6 9.5 8.3 6.8
C+
Snapshot Only
300 x 300
91
Snapshot Only
Dye-Sublimation
35¢ per photo
KP-180IN Color
4 x 6
18
1
KP-180IN Color Ink/Paper Set
$
54
B
7.1 x 5.4 x 2.5
1.9
Wi-Fi
-
Canon PRINT Inkjet/Selphy
USB, SD Card
1 Year
-
-
-
$103.76 Amazon
4.8 4.8 5 6.8 3.8 3.3
C
Snapshot Only
1200 x 600
67
Snapshot Only
Zink Inkless Media
50¢ per photo
ZINK Zero Ink Paper
2 x 3
10
0
Inkless
25
B
2.9 x 4.7 x 0.9
0.41
-
Bluetooth
-
-
Polaroid Zip
-
-
1 Year
-
-
-
-
$129.95 Amazon
4.6 4.5 2.3 7.8 3.8 5
C-
Snapshot Only
313 x 400
40
Snapshot Only
Zink Inkless Media
50¢ per photo
HP Zink (R)
2 x 3
10
0
Inkless
30
A+
4.53 x 2.95 x .87
0.38
-
Bluetooth
-
HP Sprocket
-
-
1 Year
-
-
-
-
$145.00 Amazon
3.8 3 3.3 9.5 2 1.8
C
Snapshot Only
1200 x 600
15
Snapshot Only
-
3-Color Exposure with OLED
74¢ per photo
INSTAX Mini Instant Film
3.4 x 2.1
10
0
Inkless
100
A+
7.12 x 5 x 3
0.54
-
Wi-Fi
-
-
instax SHARE
-
-
1 Year
-
-
-
-
-
$89.99 Amazon
3.2 1.8 3 6.5 3.8 5
D
Snapshot Only
313 x 400
63
Snapshot Only
-
Zink Inkless Media
50¢ per photo
ZINK Pocket Photo Paper
2 x 3
10
0
Inkless
20
B-
2.65 x 4.76 x 0.95
0.47
-
Bluetooth
Micro USB
-
LG Pocket Photo
USB, SD Card
1 Year
-
-
-
Best Overall
The Epson Expression XP-960 balances price with the best features found on photo-only printers.
It only uses six ink cartridge versus the eight many other high-end printers use, and it doesn’t leave a glossy protective coating on your photos or make prints larger than 11 x 17, both of which other prosumer machines can do. Still, it more faithfully reproduced bright and vivid colors in the test images we printed than more expensive machines. The printer’s high 5760 x 1440 resolution, no doubt, contributes to its ability to reproduce the detail we saw under high-magnification; however, it also created fewer print and feed errors than other devices. The Epson Expression combines this high print quality with connectivity and speed, producing photos 30 seconds faster than other printers we tested. Many other machines are missing updated connection options, but this model can print from USB or Ethernet, Wi-Fi, SD cards, or Epson’s iPrint app, which lets you print images stored on mobile devices. It’s small for a large-format photo printer – others are about 10 pounds heavier – but at 19.8 pounds and with dimensions of 18.9 x 14 x 15.8 inches, it’s not mobile. It also comes with a flatbed scanner and copier.
Pros
  • Best photo print quality of the machines we tested
  • Features more connectivity options that other large-format photo-only printers
  • Prints on many types of paper
Cons
  • Doesn’t seal photos with a glossy coat
  • Isn’t portable
  • Largest photo size is 11 x 17
$170.29Amazon
Read the full review
Best Value
The Polaroid Zip is small enough you can carry it around in a large pocket. We think it’s the best of the small novelty printers we tested because of how easy it is to use and its portability.
It’s not very useful because it only prints very small pictures, but the Zip is a lot of fun. This small, fast printer makes 2 x 3 photos in just over a minute using zero ink, or “zink,” technology. Although zink photos aren’t quite as high quality as those printed on inkjet or dye-sublimation machines, you only need to purchase new paper to keep zero ink devices running. Polaroid even has sticky paper you can use to hang your photos up after you print them. While the printer is portable, it can only handle up to 30 prints before it needs to recharge. Also, there’s only one way to connect the device to a power source – by USB cable. To use the printer, you download Polaroid’s Zip app, which lets you sync the device with your social media accounts over a Bluetooth connection. It’s easy to edit the photos in the app; however, you can’t make many sophisticated edits beyond adding text and emojis. There are also fewer ways to connect to the Zip than other portable printers, but that makes it easy for novices to get it up and running.
Pros
  • Easy setup lets you print right away
  • Very portable
  • No ink cartridges to refill or replace
Cons
  • Only makes 2 x 3 prints
  • Lower print quality than other photo-only printers
  • “Zink” paper is more expensive than traditional paper
$103.78Amazon
Read the full review
Best Snapshot Photo-Only Printer
The Kodak Photo Dock printer had the best photo quality of the smaller, portable snapshot printers we tested.
The machine uses dye-sublimation technology, which isn’t as precise as inkjet but much more vivid than zero ink, or zink, print technology. Dye-sublimation uses layers of color and heat transfer to create images, so you only have to install a single cartridge in the Kodak Photo Dock. Photos also take longer to print than with inkjet or zink machines because of the slow layering and feeding process each image undergoes. The printer has a place for you to dock your phone to transfer photos and information. While we found this Kodak model’s print quality to be top-notch compared to other snapshot printers, we thought its design was a little clunky, especially since the dock accepts micro-USB and not the more popular USB-C connection. Once you connect your phone via an adapter, the printer charges it while it prints photos. You can also connect your phone wirelessly using Kodak’s app, making the physical docking unnecessary. Kodak’s printing app was one of the more intuitive we tested, and it lets you print directly from your social media accounts. As with similar printers, the app has a few fun and simple editing tools. While the Kodak Photo Dock printer is small and light, there’s no battery to make it truly portable. You have to find an outlet to use the device.
Pros
  • Only one cartridge for all the ink
  • App lets you print directly from social media
  • Takes longer to print photos than zink and inkjet printers
Cons
  • Doesn’t come with a battery
  • Only prints up to 4 x 6 snapshots
  • Printed images don’t have clean edges
$139.99Amazon
Read the full review
Most Portable
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.
Pros
  • Portable and easy to use
Cons
  • Only prints wallet-size photos
$119.99HP
Read the full review
Best for Large Photos
The Canon PIXMA PRO-100 produces larger prints than even the best photo printer we reviewed. It can create borderless prints up to 13 x 19 inches and comes with plenty of paper choices.
The printer also has a special tray for printing labels for discs. Because it can print large photos, the PIXMA PRO-100 is bulky. It weighs over 40 pounds and takes up a lot of space on a desk. We didn’t find any errors in the photos we printed using this machine – each photo had quality detail and solid coloring. However, creating high-quality prints takes time, and this Canon model was one of the slowest photo printers we reviewed. It took over a minute and a half to print snapshots and just over three minutes to create full-page prints. Despite it having a lot of ink cartridges to maintain, on average, it is more affordable to print with the PIXMA PRO-100 than other printers.
Pros
  • Prints large photos
Cons
  • Slow print speeds
Canon
Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

We’ve kept up with the best in photo-only printer technology for close to 10 years. During that time, we’ve developed standard image tests that put these printers through their paces. We’ve also 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 don’t just test them once, either. We make sure each printer can reproduce the same quality photos again and again, without errors or wearing down.

We look at the photos printed by each machine side-by-side to directly compare quality from one printer to another. We also archive prints for later use so we can compare them to photos printed on newer models or all-new devices.

How Much Does a Photo-Only Printer Cost?

When we reviewed photo-only 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.

How We Tested

We unboxed the printers, installed all their mobile applications and explored the machine’s connectivity options. The best models can print over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB or SD card. We also noted which applications let you sync the printer with online accounts, such as Instagram or Facebook. At a basic level, we checked to see that each app can successfully connect the printer to your phone when you follow its instructions.

We printed a variety of photos, including portraits and landscapes, to test the printers’ capabilities and all-around quality. We also printed some images with colorful objects to test how well the printers reproduce detail and depth. We evaluated whether each printer separated objects with clean lines and noted banding or visible lines made by the print head. We also put the photos under lighted-magnification to see if the printers reproduced the quality of the original, digital images.

Print speed is important for smaller snapshot printers, especially if you plan to use some of their party or social features, like the Canon Selphy’s Party Shuffle mode. We printed the same images on all the devices and timed how long it took to print each one. We averaged the print speeds, taking photo size into account.

While print quality was our number one consideration, we also looked at each machine’s physical dimensions, portability and value.

What Key Features to Look for When Buying Photo-Only Printers

Print Quality

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.

Print Speed

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.

Portability

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.

Connectivity

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.