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The Best Photo-Only Printers of 2018
We tested the top ten photo printers on the market, printing more than 100 test photos, examining prints under high magnification and comparing more than 60 sample photos to find the best dedicated photo printer for you.
The Best Photo-Only Printers of 2018
/ 10Gold AwardEpson ExpressionVisit Site2Epson SureColorVisit Site3Canon PIXMAVisit Site4Epson PictureMateVisit Site5Kodak Dock Photo PrinterVisit Site6Canon SelphyVisit Site7Polaroid ZipVisit Site8HP SprocketVisit Site9Fujifilm InstaxVisit Site10LG PocketVisit SiteOutputPreviousNextSnapshot Print QualityA+ABA+B-C+CC-CDLarge Format Print QualityABCSnapshot OnlySnapshot OnlySnapshot OnlySnapshot OnlySnapshot OnlySnapshot OnlySnapshot OnlyMax Resolution (DPI)5760 x 14405760 x 14404800 x 24005760 x 1440Not Available300 x 3001200 x 600313 x 4001200 x 600313 x 400Snapshot Print Speed (seconds)68889739969167401563Large Format Print Speed (seconds)154194192Snapshot OnlySnapshot OnlySnapshot OnlySnapshot OnlySnapshot OnlySnapshot OnlySnapshot OnlyBorderless PrintingBest Photo Printers: We tested the top ten photo printers on the market, printing more than 100 test photos, examining prints under high magnification and comparing more than 60 sample photos to find the best dedicated photo printer for you.Tired of running to the drug store kiosk every time you want to print some photos? A dedicated photo printer lets you print pictures in the comfort of your home without having to buy a big inkjet printer you may not use.Ink & MediaPreviousNextPrint TechnologyInkjetInkjetInkjetInkjetDye-SublimationDye-SublimationZink Inkless MediaZink Inkless Media3-Color Exposure with OLEDZink Inkless MediaInk Costs$2.27 per mL$1.29 per mL$1.31 per mL33 per photo50 per photo35 per photo50 per photo50 per photo74 per photo50 per photoMedia TypePhoto Paper, Other MediaPhoto Paper, Fine Art PaperPhoto Paper, Fine Art PaperPhoto PaperKodak Photo PaperKP-180IN ColorZINK Zero Ink PaperHP Zink (R)INSTAX Mini Instant FilmZINK Pocket Photo PaperMax Media Size (inches)11 x 1713 x 1913 x 195 x 74 x 64 x 62 x 32 x 33.4 x 2.12 x 3Total Media Capacity20302020201810101010Number of Ink Cartridges6881110000Ink TypeEpson Claria Photo HD InkEpson UltraChrome HG2 Pigment InkCanon ChromaLife Photo InkEpson T320 PictureMate Color InkKodak Mini Photo Printer Cartridge_PMCKP-180IN Color Ink/Paper SetInklessInklessInklessInklessDevice & PortabilityPreviousNextBattery Included$Battery Life (photos per charge)No BatteryNo BatteryNo BatteryNo BatteryNo Battery54253010020Portability RatingNot PortableNot PortableNot PortableC-CBBA+A+B-Dimensions (inches)18.9 x 14 x 5.818.9 x 14 x 5.827.2 x 15.2 x 8.59.8 x 15.1 x 7.92.7 x 6.53 x 3.947.1 x 5.4 x 2.52.9 x 4.7 x 0.94.53 x 2.95 x .877.12 x 5 x 32.65 x 4.76 x 0.95Weight (lbs)19.427.143.24.01.71.90.410.380.540.47Preview DisplayConnectivityPreviousNextStandalone PrintingWireless ConnectivityWi-FiWi-FiWi-FiWi-FiWi-FiWi-FiBluetoothBluetoothWi-FiBluetoothUSB ConnectivityMicro USBEthernetProprietary AppEpson iPrintEpson iPrintCanon Easy-PhotoPrintEpson iPrintKodak Photo DockCanon PRINT Inkjet/SelphyPolaroid ZipHP Sprocketinstax SHARELG Pocket PhotoPrint from Camera (PictBridge)WiredWiredPrint from External StorageUSB, SD Card, MS Duo, Compact FlashUSB, SD CardUSBUSB, SD CardUSB, SD CardHelp & SupportPreviousNextWarranty1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 Year1 YearPhoneLive ChatEmailOnline ManualTroubleshooting GuideFAQsForumsBest Photo PrintersHow to Choose a Photo-Only Printer
After examining dozens of photos and running extensive photo printing tests comparing features, print quality and speed, we recommend theEpson Expression XP-960for creating long-lasting, frameable pictures because it uses six different ink cartridges to create high-quality prints. Though keep in mind that even the best at-home photo printer cant compete with professional services for larger prints.
If youre only interested in printing 4×6 snapshots, there are a few printers that connect directly to your smartphone to make printing easier. After testing, we found that theEpson PictureMate PM-400photo printer had the best detail and color accuracy of these types of printers.
Other printers make printing portable, like thePolaroid Zip; these devices are often powered by battery packs so that transport is easy, and they generally print very small photosonly 2×3 inches so that theyre not really practical for all uses. Although, we found these models can still be fun for hobbyists, and many of come with stickers on the back of the photos to make it easy to hang them or scrapbook with them.
While there are a lot of features available that can make printing frustration free, the most important thing to consider is the final product. To test each printers range, we printed the same several portraits, landscapes and objects.
Each photo we printed went under a magnifying glass and high-intensity light source. We looked to make sure that the print captured all the detail of the original photograph while paying special attention to the photos color accuracy. Once we had all the prints, we also looked at photos side-by-side comparing them to find the best and worst in each print category. We also looked for any printing errors or distinguishable patterns visible on the print.
We also wanted to make sure the printers could produce bright whites and dark blacks, and that the lines between objects in the prints werent muddled or fuzzy to get the clearest images possible.
We worked each printer hard to see if theyd continue to create accurate prints even after heavy use. We downloaded the available apps and set up connections with each printer to test the functionality and quality of features each of the apps provide.
All our recommendations heavily influenced by these tests of the print quality, because in the end, the quality of the photo you get is the most important consideration.
We timed how long it took to get our hands on the photos after unboxing each printer. While larger, high-quality prints always take longer to finish printing, some of the smaller printers recapture an instant photo printing experience, like an old Polaroid camera. The best printers strike a balance between speed and accuracy, but you can definitely find models that favor one or the other if you have a preference.
We looked at the cost of color and paper for each printer to find the best value. The cost per print varies depending on the kind of printing technology the printer uses. For example, ink is the most expensive (sometimes prohibitively so) but it offers the best-looking and longest lasting results. Dye-sublimation, which transfers color to print via heat, is a cheaper option, but the prints dont have the longevity of archival photographs. Zink inkless printers are the most convenient way to print photos, but they dont have the color accuracy of dye-sublimation or inkjet printers.
If youre looking for a portable printer, choose one with built-in or rechargeable batteries. Most battery-powered models are the smaller snapshot printers, and they often also print wirelessly, so you can print snapshots from your phone where ever you are.
Most of these printers come with a downloadable app that you can use to print images directly from your phone, wirelessly. This wireless connectivity is quickly becoming a standard feature that photo-printers shouldnt be without. However, youll get the most flexibly from a printer that works with mobile devices (tablets, phones and camera) and also comes with wired connections for printing.
Printers are a little high maintenance compared to other household tech. When you want to print youve got to make sure you have ink and photos, that your connection is working and that the paper feeds correctly through the machine. While some of the printers we tested had us printing photographs in less than five minutes, others require patience to set up and maintain.
Because there a few different steps in this process, you want as much support from the website as possible. The best companies offer live chat, phone and email contact information, as well as ample documentation and troubleshooting guides on the site. All the products we reviewed come with a one-year warranty, which is comforting when youre putting a few hundred dollars into a machine.
Theres something satisfying about printing images directly from your device. And for photo enthusiasts, you cant beat the easy convenience of having an inkjet photo printer at home that can do large-format prints, especially if youre learning how to edit your work.
However, most of these printers still cant match the quality of professional prints. if youre concerned about longevity and accuracy, youll still want to use professional printing services.
After working with these machines, wed caution you about picking up one of the portable 2×3 novelty printers available. While they are fun for a bit, theyre not all that useful. We found more applications for the 4×6 photo printers, and of those, we think the Epson PictureMate PM-400 photo printer has the best photo quality.
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