Best photo printer 2021: the best printers for your digital printouts Best photo printer

The best photo printers will produce high-quality prints of high-resolution images and pictures, either taken by yourself or – more frequently these days – from stock photo websites.

While just about any printer can reproduce hard copies of your prints, photo printers are the ones that are designed to deliver prints that are close as possible to photo lab quality.

Whether you want to print out photos for your photo books, to put them up on your walls or as gifts to family and friends, only the best photo printers can see you through your needs. 

And, unlike photo labs that typically charge a premium for prints, they’re cost-effective as well, saving you a few bucks. There is also a growing cottage industry where home-bound entrepreneurs are using photo printers as an essential tool for making money from home.

There’s a variety of the best photo printers out there. Some photo printers, much like the best all-in-one printers and home printers, are quite multi-functional, allowing you to also print, copy, and scan documents. Others are made solely to meet all your photo printing needs, from wireless printers meant to be used with a smartphone to professional photo printers that make studio-quality prints. So let us help you choose the one that best meets your needs and budget.

Best photo printers: How did we test them?

Each printer we source for testing is measured on our test bench and the results are critically compared with every other model we have reviewed. Rather than relying on the manufacturer’s quoted figures, we time the first page out and print speeds in single sheet and duplex mode using a standard ten-page document and a stopwatch app.

To compare print quality, we print out the same set of test documents on every machine. These twelve test pages include text of varying font sizes and colors, mixed image and text pages, a set of photos and a series of test patterns designed to assess sharpness, color fidelity, contrast and grey scale. 

We also calculate running costs, compare functionality and consider each product’s versatility, design and build quality. The overall score reflects all of these parameters and overall value for money.

Specifically for photo printers, we looked at their versatility (both in term of management and media handling), paying closer attention to the print output and the cost of the consumables (ink cartridges etc). 

Epson EcoTank ET-7750

(Image credit: Jim Hill)

1. Epson EcoTank ET-7750 photo printer

Cartridge-less photo printing at its best

Specifications

Print speed: 28ppm

Paper capacity: 100 sheets

Paper size: up to A3

Weight: 10.5kg

Reasons to buy

+Vibrant photo quality +Low long-term cost

Reasons to avoid

High purchase price Bulky 

It looks a little ungainly with the refillable ink tanks ruining the symmetry of this otherwise compact all-in-one, but it’s the refined EcoTank system that sets this model apart from the competition. If you can swallow the high price tag, your ongoing ink costs will be very low and Epson’s five-colour printing guarantees excellent image quality, especially with photos on photo paper.      

Read the full review: Epson EcoTank ET-7750 

Canon PIXMA iX6850

(Image credit: Canon)

2. Canon PIXMA iX6850

Five colors add up to fine A3 photos

Specifications

Category: Color inkjet printer

Print speed: 14ppm (mono)

Paper capacity: 150 sheets

Paper size: up to A3+

Weight: 11.5kg

Reasons to buy

+Natural colors+Large color prints

Reasons to avoid

No auto duplex

Instead of the usual four inkjet cartridges, the Canon PIXMA iX6850 uses five inks to create naturally colored photos and crisp text documents. Being able to replace each one individually makes economic sense too. It can’t print both sides of a page automatically (duplex), but this machine is well connected with an Ethernet port, Wi-Fi and AirPrint compatibility. The most significant feature, however, is its ability to print on any size paper up to A3+ (329 x 483mm) making it perfect for printing large spreadsheets and photos.

Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000

(Image credit: Epson)

3. Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000

Superior A3 photos from six Claria cartridges

Specifications

Category: Color inkjet printer

Print speed: 29ppm (mono)

Paper capacity: 200 sheets

Paper size: up to A3+

Weight: 8.5kg

Reasons to buy

+Excellent color accuracy+Vivid A3 photo prints

Reasons to avoid

Rather expensive to run

The Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 uses six high-quality Claria ink cartridges to achieve a more lifelike color palette when it comes to printing photos. It also has the ability to handle A3+ sized paper for printing super-sized images or large spreadsheets. It also functions very well as a regular A4 printer thanks to a surprisingly fast output of 29 black and white pages per minute and the ability to print on both sides of the paper (auto duplex). 

Canon Pixma Pro-100

(Image credit: Canon)

4. Canon Pixma Pro-100

A monster of a photo printer

Specifications

Category: Wireless professional inkjet printer

Print speed: 8″ x 10″ on A4 with border:51 secs; 11″ x 14″ on A3+ with border: 1 min 30 secs

Paper capacity: 150 sheets of plain paper, 20 sheets photo paper (4″x6″)

Paper size: up to 13″ x 19″

Weight: 19.6Kg

Reasons to buy

+Two paper trays+Excellent color accuracy

Reasons to avoid

Pricey ink

The Canon Pixma Pro-100 is a monster of a photo printer. Its 8-ink dye system called ChromaLife 100+ provides excellent color accuracy and a wide range of colors for vivid prints that you would want to hang in a museum. Its large format allows you to print up to 13” x 19” prints and, with its two paper trays, you’re able to cover just about any paper stock you can think of, making this printer incredibly versatile.

Epson Expression Photo XP-970

(Image credit: Epson)

5. Epson Expression Photo XP-970

A small-in-one with exceptional A3 photo ability

Specifications

Print speed: 8.5ppm (mono)

Paper capacity: 100 sheets

Paper size: A3

Weight: 8.7kg

Reasons to buy

+Six-ink colour fidelity  +Large touchscreen 

Reasons to avoid

Slow print speed Limited paper capacity  

Despite its sleek dimensions, this smooth 3-in-1 inkjet device is able to print on A3-size paper and uses not four, but six inkjet cartridges to achieve superior colour accuracy. It means your ink costs are rather high, but it’s worth it for the beautifully shaded results. The scanner is only A4-size, but it makes very high resolution scans and combined with the high print resolution, you can make near identical colour copies. There’s no fax and print speeds are slow, but in all other respects, the Epson Expression Photo XP-970 is hard to beat. For an idea of its performance you can read our review of the almost identical Epson Expression Photo XP-960.

HP ENVY 6055

(Image credit: HP)

6. HP Envy 6055

Home photo printing on a budget

Specifications

Print speed: 10ppm

Paper capacity: 100 sheets

Paper size: up to A4

Weight: 11.51lb

Reasons to buy

+Low price  +Easy to use  

Reasons to avoid

Ink costsNot the fastest

This humble all-in-one can scan and copy, but its real strength is in printing photos. Frustratingly, there’s no Ethernet port, or USB port for printing from a flash drive and it churns very slowly, but the results are surprisingly good for such an affordable inkjet. The supplied starter cartridges are rather light on ink, but if you replace them with high-capacity carts, then the running cost is competitive too.

Canon PIXMA TS9520

(Image credit: Canon)

7. Canon PIXMA TS9520 (TS9550 in UK)

Business inkjet with a forte for photos

Specifications

Print speed: 15ppm (mono)

Paper capacity: 100 sheets

Paper size: up to A3

Weight: 9.7kg

Reasons to buy

+Lots of features+Colorful photos 

Reasons to avoid

High consumables cost

Sitting at the top of Canon’s Pixma range, the TS9150 looks like a premium product as you might expect, with a giant touchscreen display nestling up-front. It also boasts a high-resolution printing and scanning and Canon’s excellent six-ink system. By using black pigment ink alongside dye-based colours, photographic prints look especially realistic. 

Canon Pixma G4510

(Image credit: Canon)

8. Canon Pixma G4510

Refillable tanks mean affordable photos

Specifications

Print speed: 13ppm

Paper capacity: 100 sheets

Paper size: up to A3

Weight: 10.5kg

Reasons to buy

+Neat design   +Low ink cost

Reasons to avoid

No duplex mode  No front USB port

Canon’s most affordable printer to include ink tanks instead of cartridges is a modest 4-in-1 that could work well in a small office that needs to run out lots of colour documents. It prints very slowly and cannot print on both sides of the page, but in all other respects, it holds up well. The cartridge-less system is very economical and the box includes enough ink for 6,000 mono and 7,000 colour pages.   

Read the full review: Canon Pixma G4510

Epson EcoTank ET-2720

(Image credit: Epson)

9. Epson EcoTank ET-2720 (ET-2715 in UK)

Inexpensive ink tank for economical photos

Specifications

Category: Color all-in-one inkjet

Print speed: 33ppm (mono)

Paper capacity: 100 sheets

Paper size: Up to A4

Weight: 12.30Kg

Reasons to buy

+Plenty of ink in box+Economical prints

Reasons to avoid

No duplex modeLow paper capacity

The Epson EcoTank ET-2720, known as the Epson EcoTank ET-2715 in UK, is the most affordable of the color Supertank printers and probably the most economical way of printing photos too. The unit ships with enough ink in the box to last two years (or 4,500 pages) with bottled ink costs working out around 80% lower than cartridge ink. It also functions very well as an all-in-one for the home office with a surprisingly fast print speed of 33 mono pages per minute.

HP Envy Photo 7855

(Image credit: HP)

10. HP Envy Photo 7855 (7830 in the UK)

A feature-rich photo printer for the office

Specifications

Print speed: 15ppm

Paper capacity: 125 sheets

Paper size: up to A4

Weight: 7.6kg

Reasons to buy

+Low price    +Many features

Reasons to avoid

Impractical design Combined ink cartridge

HP’s oddly shaped all-in-one includes every feature from a fax facility, to an SD card slot, while giving you easy access to them via a colourful touchscreen interface. The coloured inks are combined in one cartridge and if you subscribe to HP’s Instant Ink service, it will be automatically replaced just before you run out. It feels a little flimsy, but photos prints in particular, look vibrant.

Source: TechRadar

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