Selecting the Best Photo Printer for your individual printing requirements can be a daunting task. If you are capturing snaps exclusively on your smartphone, you might be best served by a pocket-sized printer that delivers small scale prints. However, photography enthusiasts may find the limitations of this compact printing models too restrictive and require advanced piece of hardware to reproduce their captures with the clarity they deserve. To help you make the best possible purchasing decision, we have put together a go-to guide to make your search for the Best Photo Printer as straightforward as possible.
Compact Convenience or Full Functionality?
This is perhaps the biggest thing to consider if you are torn between printing on the go or something more substantial in terms of printing requirements. Nowadays, with many snapping away on their smartphones and tablets, compact printers are becoming more and more popular. If you are indeed seeking a compact printer to print directly from your mobile devices, you have a wealth of pocket-sized options to consider. However, you need to bear in mind that these smaller printing units will have limitations when it comes to printing media.
The smallest compact printers will only produce credit card sized prints, for example. Portable printers designed for use with smartphones will almost always utilise a specially designed app. These apps provide you with more printing features, but these are relatively limited in scope and will only allow you some control over basic refinements.
If you have more substantial printing requirements, you should definitely be looking at a desktop printing model. Not only will these allow you to print in richer resolutions and at larger sizes, you will also enjoy far greater freedoms when it comes to making precise adjustments to your printing jobs. If you are looking for a printer for professional applications, a conventional desktop printer should be the bare minimum in terms of hardware.
Photo Printer Ink Refills
Although home printing is generally more affordable than it once was, the cost of printing is something you need to seriously consider. The smallest portable printers will almost always utilise printing media that doesn’t require you purchase additional ink refills or cartridges, but these can be costly if you are looking to print in high enough numbers.
Larger compact printers will instead use ink cartridges and refills and can be more cost-effective for those looking to produce larger numbers of prints. Without doubt the most affordable option for home printing is to invest in a printer that can be refilled with ink and pigments. These save you the hassle of having to replace entire cartridges at once, with a full refill often allowing you to print upwards of several thousand glossy photos.
Cost of Print Media
Another big cost associated with home printing is print media itself. Photo print paper is relatively affordable, although you should consider what size and volume you will be looking to print at. Opt for a printer that allows for printing at different sizes for the best return on your investment. If are you looking to invest in a more professional-level printer, make sure the device you are purchasing allows for more versatility when it comes to printing media.
Printing Speed of Photo Printer
This should only be a real concern for those with more intensive printing requirements, but it is worth considering all the same. The smallest compact printers will usually deliver an impressive print in less than a minute. Larger, more conventional models will generally yield more prints per minute. You can of course look forward to a wider range of page-per-minute speeds should you invest in a conventional desktop printer, depending on the exact print settings you have selected.
Whilst we have you on this page, do take a moment to check our in-depth buyers guide & product reviews on Budget 3D Printers
Product Reviews of 9 Best Photo Printer
Keen to commence photo printing at home or on the move? Below you will find our pick of some of the best photo printer models you can currently find available in the UK market.
This instax Link smartphone printer is a good choice for those with more casual printing requirements. With this printer, you can run off instax mini prints directly from your mobile phone with minimal fuss, while you can also use it to print off your favourite snaps from social media accounts like Facebook and instragram. However, this printer also offers compatibility with conventional devices as well, such as Fujifilm cameras.
Printing speed is more than sufficient for everyday requirements, with prints delivered in as little as 12 seconds. The instax film technology on offer here delivers a good degree of sharpness and clarity to your prints, with colours that are vibrant and warm. Skin tones are beautifully reproduced and the finished prints will hold their vibrancy for years to come. You can also make use of no less than 25 individual design templates for fuss-free printing.
However, there are some limitations to this choice of printer. We have already talked about the compatibility restrictions, so you will want to bear this in mind if you are seeking something more useable with a range of devices. Furthermore, the nature of this printer means you will only be able to produce smaller prints. In this case, you are looking at credit card sized prints measuring 54 x 86 mm.
The Canon Selphy CP1300 is a good bet for those looking for a more versatile choice of photo printer. Smart printing is assured thanks to wireless technology that allows you to print directly from your favourite smart devices via the use of the Canon PRINT app. You can also count on superb quality with this printer, with vibrant and durable finished prints delivered in less than a minute.
Dye sublimation technology is utilised in the printing process to ensure your prints look their very best, while auto image optimize technology is also on hand to ensure brilliant results, every time. There is also room for fun with the Canon Selphy. A wide variety of layouts and shuffle options are included so you can put together impressive collages and playful prints.
Finally, this compact printer is also a good option for those looking for something that is easy to carry. When fully charged, the inbuilt battery will allow you to produce up to 54 individual prints before you need to reach or the charger again.
There are a few downsides to this particular choice of printer, however. Arguably the main drawback of this printer is to do with printing size. Should you choose to print a single image at max size, you may find the finished result suffers from cropping. With little way to control what part of the image is cropped out of view, this is a big issue.
If portability is something you value above all else, the HP Sprocket is well worth a second look. Weighing in at around the same amount as a conventional smart phone, this compact printing unit will easily slip into your pocket so you can carry it about with you during the day. It is also simple to ensure you have plenty of printing material with you at any one time.
This printer is loaded with a 10-sheet pack, which might seem a little restrictive at first, but gives you plenty of flexibility if you are a more careful about what you commit to print. You also will not need to worry about carrying out excess cables for connection. With the use of the HP Sprocket App, free to download for Android and Apple devices, you can connect to the printer via Bluetooth to print.
Furthermore, the app allows you easily customise your images prior to printing. This seamless Bluetooth pairing also means that friends and family can quickly connect to your HP Sprocket to print images from their own devices.
Despite the compact convenience provided by this printer, there are some things to consider before you commit to parting with your hard-earned cash. The max printing size of A8 might be a little small for some, while the relatively slow printing speed may prove an issue for those who wish to run off reams of prints at any one time.
If you would prefer something more substantial for home printing, the Epson EcoTank ET-7750 is something to consider. This conventional desktop printer provides you with superior features and advanced printing technology as standard.
This printer is of the cartridge-free variety, using four individual dyes and a pigment ink instead. This provides you with a more refined print resolution, while also providing you with a more affordable way of printing at home.
You do not need to worry about replacing entire cartridges should one pigment begin to diminish, refilling only when necessary. In fact, this printer comes ready-filled with enough ink for you to print up to 3,400 photos prior to any refills. User-friendless is also assured here, with general operation a breeze thanks to intuitive controls. Refills themselves are also straightforward.
This desktop printer will of course prove too cumbersome for those looking for compactness and portability, even if the wireless printing functionality navigates some of the issue. Additionally, the more significant cost of this unit will require you to think long and hard before making an investment.
The Epson EcoTank ET-7700 is a slightly more affordable alternative to the ET-7750. Despite the lower cost, plenty of the same great features and functionality of the more enhanced model are present and accounted for. The innovative EcoTank refilling system is perhaps the biggest draw of this printer unit, potentially saving you a small fortune in ink cartridges if you are someone who prints at high volumes on a regular basis.
As with the more expensive model, this printer comes with enough ink included to print off up to 3,400 photos before you need to think about refilling. This printer also provides 3-in-1 functionality, allowing you to produce both single and double-sized prints, as well as delivering copy and scanning functionality. Although it is a desktop model, you can enjoy wireless printing, even from mobile devices.
The same downsides of any desktop printing unit apply here. You will not be able to enjoy the same freedom you will find with a pocket-sized printer model, even if the wireless connectivity negates some of the issue.
Additionally, this model commands a significant asking price. The EcoTank refilling technology does mean it will prove a more worthwhile investment in the long run, but if you are only looking to print compact images casually, you may be better served by a cheaper alternative.
The Epson Expression Photo XP-8605 offers a good middle ground between a compact photo printer and a more conventional 3-in-1 desktop model. A surprisingly affordable option, this printer allows you print at both A4 sizes and in smaller photo paper dimensions.
To make life simple, you will find two feed trays for each print size. This saves you the hassle of having to make adjustments to a loading tray which, when done incorrectly, can produce subpar printing results. Despite being a more affordable option, you do not need to settle for diminished printing quality. In fact, the 6-colour Claria Photo HD inks used here will deliver glossy prints with long-lasting vibrancy. Connectivity is well provided for here.
You can connect via wireless signal from your device without needing to join a designated network. This makes it ideal if you are looking to print straight from your smartphone or tablet device. Ethernet connectivity is also supported.
Despite being compact and easy to use, this printer might not prove the most affordable choice in the long run. Unlike integrated ink refill tanks, the cost of replacing cartridges may prove significant over time. This is especially true if you are printing at max resolution and at full A4 size in great enough quantities.
This Epson Expression Photo XP-970 gives you a little more flexibility when it comes to printing than the previous entry on this list. Boasting all the same compact convenience and functionality of the XP-8605, this printer model gives you m ore freedom for printing at larger sizes. In fact, you can produce prints at a max size of A3.
If you are looking to produce vibrant prints at larger sizes for display purposes, this printer might be a good way to go. Dual paper trays are provided for both larger printing media as well as photo paper sheets, while wireless connectivity means you can print directly from your smart devices with minimal fuss.
Despite allowing you to print in A3, this copy and scan functionality of this unit is still limited to A4. Ink costs may also force you to consider a long-term investment in the XP-970, with Epson EcoTank alternatives a better bet if you intend to produce high volumes more affordably.
The Epson SureColor SC-P700 Professional is the way to go for more advanced printing requirements. Designed with black/monochrome printing in mind, quality printing output is assured thanks to black enhance overcoat technology. This yields much finer levels of detail and a more refined texture. In fact, this printer delivers incredible resolution of 5760 dpi.
Plenty of attention has gone into the user-friendliness of this particular printer, with simple controls and a highly intuitive 4.3 inch LCD optical touchscreen that allow you to make precise adjustments to your jobs prior to printing. The SC-P700 is also incredibly versatile when it comes to media types, with various printing materials allowable.
Worth bearing in mind before investing in this printer is whether or not your printing requirements need such a robust machine. If you are looking to produce premium black and white prints or need a printer to deliver materials for professional requirements, this is a great piece of machinery.
However, everyday colour printing requirements aren’t provided for, while the significant cost of the base machinery itself and subsequent ink refills might prove too much for the average consumer.
The XP-8600 is another first-rate printer from the Epson Expression series. Compact and incredibly versatile, this printer utilises 6-Colour Claria Photo HD inks to produce vibrant resolutions for prints that will hold their lustre for years to come.
This is an ideal choice for those seeking something affordable that will easily deliver glossy photos at high quality. This is also a very user-friendly and convenient choice of printer. Wireless printing comes as standard, with no network required to print directly from your device. You also have the added convenience of dual paper trays, for both A4 media and smaller photo paper sheets.
The cost of replenishing ink cartridges might be cause for concern for those requiring only occasional printing. Also, while this printer does provide a good compromise between desktop functionality and compact portability, you are somewhat limited by a max size of A4 when it comes to printing media.