Photography / Buying Guide

Recommended Printers for Photography

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Printing has become rarer these days as online albums have replaced physical ones, but there is something special about holding a physical photograph in your hand after a day of shooting. Photo albums filled with Polaroids and your drugstore 4 x 6 prints always seem to hold a place in people’s hearts as they reminisce about old times. Now, with technological improvements in the printing world, and the digital revolution, setting up a print lab at home is quite simple. Here are a few of our favorite printers, available today, for photographers who want to create beautiful works of art for their walls, desks, and tabletops.

Epson SureColor P800/P600 Inkjet Printers

Offering a 9-color Ultrachrome HD pigment-based ink palette, Epson’s SureColor P series printers deliver vivid prints with an exceptionally wide color gamut and deep blacks. The P800 and P600 allow users to print quite large, up to 17 and 13" wide, respectively, and they both have options for using roll papers for creating spectacular panoramic images. These models feature tilting color touchscreens for intuitive control and checking printer status. Another benefit is the addition of Wi-Fi connectivity, along with the more common USB 2.0 and Ethernet options.

Epson has long stood among the top printer manufacturers and it is no surprise that these printers are a favorite of many photographers, me included. Another bonus for these models is a driver with built-in profiles for Epson’s entire lineup of photographic papers and Advanced Black & White control.

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 Inkjet Printer

The imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 from Canon is quite impressive. Sporting the distinctive red line normally found on Canon’s pro-level L-series lenses, this printer is designed with photographers in mind and is the company’s first desktop printer for large 17" wide images. It has a large print head that uses FINE printing technology and the L-COA PRO image processing engine found in Canon’s large-format units that produce crisp images quickly. Also, it has an 11-color LUCIA PRO pigment-based ink set with a Chroma Optimizer to create color-accurate images with a wide gamut. Additionally, this printer is equipped with a vacuum feeder system that feeds media through the unit accurately and quickly.

Canon PIXMA PRO-1, PRO-10, and PRO-100 Inkjet Printers

A strong option in the inkjet photo arena, the Canon PIXMA PRO-1, along with its siblings the PRO-10 and PRO-100, is optimized for photographic printing and offer a wide selection, so nearly any photographer will find one that fits their needs. Of course, the flagship PRO-1 sits at the top, mostly thanks to an advanced 12-color LUCIA pigment-based ink set, far more colors than any competitors. This includes five different monochrome inks for creating very fine gradations in tone, along with a selection of different colors, including Red and a clear Chroma Optimizer. Also, the printer does not require any swapping of black ink when moving from glossy to matte paper—a significant time saver.

The PRO-1 offers great paper handling, as well, with the ability to handle 13 x 19" and 14 x 17" sheets up to 350 gsm in weight. Speed is also paramount, and it can create an 8 x 10" photo in just 2 minutes 10 seconds. Additionally, it has disc-printing capabilities and is very quiet.

The PRO-10 and PRO-100 feature three monochrome inks and print up to 13 x 19". While the Pro-100, with its dye-based ChromaLife 100+ ink system offers faster speeds, such as the ability to output an 8 x 10" print in 51 seconds versus three minutes and 35 seconds for the PRO-10, the pigment-based PRO-10 makes up for the additional time it uses in quality. Like the PRO-1, the PRO-10, with its 10-color LUCIA ink system, utilizes a dedicated matte black ink cartridge, a clear Chroma Optimizer, and a red ink for a wider color gamut.

DNP DS40 Professional Photo Printer

DNP’s dye sublimation printers, such as the DS40, are an alternative to the common inkjet, and offer speed, quality, and portability by using specialized paper rolls and ink ribbons. This makes them great for use in photo booths or when you want to deliver prints on location. This unit can handle anything from 2 x 6" to 6 x 8" and, in high-speed mode, it can produce a 4 x 6" photo in just 8 seconds. An extremely unique function is that, using the same photo paper, the DS40 can produce glossy and matte prints.

Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer and Fujifilm instax SHARE Smartphone Printer SP-2

Luckily, it seems Polaroid hasn’t forgotten about the joy of near-instant printing, with its release of the ZIP Mobile Printer. This pocketable, battery-powered unit connects directly to your iOS and Android devices and allows you to pop out 2 x 3" photo prints quickly. It works with ZINK Zero Ink Technology, meaning no messy refills; just add the specialized paper and you can be printing in no time. The Mobile App furthers your printing capabilities with basic photo editing, color filters, a collage mode, and painting, among other tools. For photographers always on the move and perhaps missing their classic Polaroid film cameras, the ZIP printer may be just what you were seeking.

Though not as pocketable, the Fujifilm instax SHARE Smartphone Printer SP-2 is still very portable. Like the ZIP printer, no inks or ribbons are needed, just its compatible media, in this case, 2.4 x 1.8" instax mini Instant Film. Through the instax Share app, smartphone photos can quickly be being brought into the real world, after bring edited for brightness, contrast, saturation, and having filters or templates applied. One of the SP-2’s strongest attributes is speed. Only 10 seconds stands between pressing the print button on your smartphone and having a picture in hand. While instax mini pictures need a few extra minutes to appear, not unlike traditional Polaroids, the SP-2 is a great solution for when you want to quickly share physical prints of digital photos in large groups or gatherings.

Canon imagePROGRAF Large-Format Inkjet Printers

Available in sizes up to 60" wide, Canon’s imagePROGRAF series is designed for photographers looking to make truly large prints for display. While there are many to choose from, the best options include the pigment-based LUCIA EX ink system, which creates images that will last. Some models, such as the iPF6450, which can print up to 24" wide, even offer a 12-color set, maximizing color gamut and providing smooth gradations in the final prints. One additional advantage of Canon’s large format printers is a user-replaceable print head, meaning that if issues ever arise, you can easily make the fix yourself and get back to printing right away.

Epson SureColor P-Series Large-Format Inkjet Printers

The SureColor P-series offers a variety of features and tools, along with a wide color gamut optimized for high-quality photography and design, so users looking to print large will do best with a large-format member from these teams, especially if you are used to working with smaller Epson units. They share many of the same features as their smaller siblings, including pigment-based UltraChrome inks, auto-switching black ink, and ink droplets as small as 3.5 picoliters that will maximize your prints for the ultimate in resolution and color. Additionally, Epson has units that can print up to 64" wide.

HP Designjet Large-Format Printers

With select models offering an embedded spectrophotometer, users of the HP Designjet series will be able to constantly ensure that their work will always be color-accurate. Along with this, the large-format family features up to 12 pigment-based inks with the Z3200ps printers, including 4 blacks and a gloss optimizer to ensure smooth gradations between dark and light areas and a uniform print. These printers also offer built-in hard drives and memory to handle large jobs and support for numerous types of media so you can make the exact print you would like.

Do you have a favorite photo printer we haven’t mentioned here? Tell us about it in the Comments section, below.

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For an inexpensive and quality 4" X 6" prints, I recommend the Canon Selphy CP1200. My wife and I each own one of these little printers and the uses are unlimited. The Selphy is powered by an adapter or can run on an optional battery. Connect to the printer via USB cable or wirelessly. Great for making prints on the go. As an advanced amatuer and wedding venue owner, we find that the Selphy will provide the quality commercially processed 4" X 6" prints instantly.  

Hi Jack,

Thanks for the input, the SELPHY's are great compact dye sublimation offerings, almost like a tiny version of the DS40 mentioned above. They were close to making it in the article but just didn't make the cut, thanks for recommending them here.

The Canon imagePrograf PRO-1000 seems to receive a bit of short-shrift in this review, with a clear bias for the Epson brand - which the author acknowledges.  Given that acknowledgement, any commentary on other printers must be taken with a grain of salt IMHO.  I have friends that have been Epson users for many years and uniformly complain about ink clogging and the expense of head replacement.

So let me expose my bias as well.  As a professional photographer I have been making ink-jet prints since the first HP "pro" unit was introduced.  Since then I have owned HP, Epson and Canon printers.  The HP Pro B9180 was an excellent printer - if you got a good one - but when it finally gave up the ghost I weighed the Epson vs Canon options and went with the PRO-1000.  In my opinion it is the finest pro-printer in its field/category.  I have printed more than 100 17x22 prints at the "high" quality setting and am still using 8 of the original color cartirdges that were supplied with the printer.  The prints are stunning.  Do I wish it had the roll-feed option?  Yep.  Would I change my decision based on that factor? Nope.

Epson is a great name and has led the field for many years with justification ... Just sayin' ... Canon has hit it out of the park with the PRO-1000.

Hi Gerald,

It is true, I do have a bias towards Epson, but it's mainly because they are what I have used for years and each has been quite reliable (the trick is to make sure you run a draft print through once every week or two if you aren't consistently printing, nozzles get clogged when they aren't used and cleanings use more ink than letter-sized drafts). Anyway, I do appreciate Canon's PRO-1000 so let me add another benefit of it here. My favorite aspect of it is the vacumm feed since it moves the media without using any potentially harmful rollers that physically handle the paper. Glad you enjoy the PRO-1000, if I had some time with it I'm sure I would love it. As long as you choose a respectable brand its hard to go wrong with printers today.

I need Epson a4 side photo printer please sent the price please

Hi Prijucherat,

For photos I would recommend the Epson SureColor P600, smaller less expensive version of the P800 but with the same image quality.

Side note. If you are marketing photo printers to photographers. It would be sugest to use actual photos of a photo studio and not a 3D render.

Real photographers have an eye for that kinda stuff. ; )

WOW!  Maybe one day I can be a "REAL" photographer!

Intended as constructive criticism......The first two facts that should be stated in EVERY inkjet printer review/list are:  1.  the carriage width, ie, maximum paper width it can accommodate, and then    2.  Whether it is pigment or dye based ink.

In this article, you didn't provide this info for the Canon Pro 10 or Pro 100.  You indirecty provide info so someone can probably figure out paper width on the Pro-1.  And in the large format printers from Epson, Canon and HP, you don't list the available widths for any of them.  For the HP, you don't say whether they are pigment or dye.

And as a third point to include, it would help your readers if you listed your current price for each of the items being discussed.  

Nobody mentions inkjet printers are very expensive to print with because of ink and paper costs. Also they are famous for the nozzles plugging up beyond self cleaning capacity. I have had every brand on the market, tried color laser printers, then wound up with dyesub. Simply the way to go, no spots, fast, water resistant, permanent and good prices for kits.

HP Call: 1-888-772-9897

Hmm the DNP DS40 Professional Photo Printer looks like beaucoup fun. With a 7.4 second 4x6 print speed and small footprint this would've saved the day at my last corporate event shoot. I like that it looks like a pricey retro toaster. Wish my Epson 3880 was ready for replacement so I could get the P/800 -- my 3880 is fantastic, so this one must be even better!

Wow! I can see somebody trying to shove a bagel in that now!

The DS40 is the same printer used in almost every Walgreens photo lab and many, many others as well. It has effectively replaced all wet labs except the highest in places. The reason for it's more utilitarian look is that it's designed to easily slide into and out of the racks they're kept in at the commercial labs they serve. They are indeed great work horses. DNP also makes a more portable unit (with touchscreen, SD card reader, etc.) that uses the same type of paper and dye sub film. 

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