Which photo printers are best?
Thanks to modern technology, it’s easier than ever to take a photo. While posting pictures on social media is nice, nothing can replace the impact of printed photos. They can hang on your wall, make up an album or accompany a greeting card. Many people still prefer to have a hard copy of their most cherished family pictures, but they don’t want to run to the drug store every time they want an actual physical photo. That’s where a photo printer comes in.
Our top pick, the Canon SELPHY CP1300 Wireless Photo Printer, prints in multiple sizes at a consistently high level of quality.
What to know before you buy a photo printer
Photo printers can be wired or wireless. Wired models connect to your computer, digital camera or smartphone with a cord. Wireless models use Wi-Fi.
Wired models transmit your photos faster, which leads to quicker printing. They’re also more secure since your pictures won’t travel over a network. If neither of these issues are a concern for you, and you’ve got a strong and consistent Wi-Fi connection, a wireless model is probably your best bet. Wireless models allow for more flexibility and ease of use.
The bigger the photo printer, the more sizes it will be able to print. Standard sizes you’ll find are 4×6 inches (standard postcard size), 2×3 inches (standard wallet size) and 3×3 inches (standard Polaroid size). Some models can print one of these sizes and other models can be adjusted to print them all.
There are a few photo printers on the market that can print photos as large as 5×7 inches. If you’re looking to print anything bigger, the best bet is still the photo department at your local drug store.
Replacement ink and paper
Once you’ve got your eye on a specific model, look at how much the additional photo paper and ink cartridges will cost. A printer can look like a bargain, but if the replacement supplies are very expensive, you won’t end up saving money.
Many manufacturers will bundle photo paper and ink cartridges together. This is a good way to gauge how much it will end up costing you to print each photo. Some manufacturers also offer subscription plans that send replacement supplies directly to your home as needed.
For even more information, check out the full photo printer buying guide from BestReviews.
What to look for in a quality photo printer
App design and integration
Photo printers come with their own apps that allow you to edit each photo before you print it. Some of these apps are better designed than others. Search online reviews for your prospective model to see how easy or difficult other users are finding the app.
Some photo printers must use their app and their app only. Others can be used by a wide variety of third party apps. Many contain a plug-in extension so you can print directly from your favorite social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.
If you need to print on the go, some smaller photo printers run on batteries and can be used anywhere. Most of these models are wireless while a few connect via cord. Be sure to check if your device is compatible before buying.
Portable photo printers are a fun idea for group outings because everyone can get an instant souvenir of the event. They’re particularly ideal for birthday parties, weddings or anywhere else you would’ve used a Polaroid camera back in the day.
Some photo printers can be used to make your own stickers. Look for a model that works with self-adhesive paper to get the fun started.
Creating and printing your own stickers is the perfect rainy day activity for the young or the young at heart. Custom stickers are also a great way to personalize invitations, thank you cards or any other correspondence.
How much you can expect to spend on a photo printer
Basic portable photo printers fall between $70-$100. Keep in mind that many of these models have the most expensive replacement ink cartridges and photo paper. It may pay to invest in a mid-range model, which can be anywhere from $100-$200. These should have a wider variety of photo sizes and more affordably priced supplies. High-end models above $200 will have professional-level quality and the biggest range of features.
Photo printer FAQ
Do I need a separate photo printer if I already have an all-in-one desktop printer?
A. Although many larger desktop printers claim they can do everything, in practice, the photos they print may not have the level of quality you’d expect. The easiest way to find out is to buy some compatible photo paper and give your all-in-one printer a trial run. Keep in mind that you’ll have to readjust the settings and swap out the paper every time you want to print a photo instead of a document. This inconvenience will be enough for many users to consider buying a separate machine.
Should I print photos from social media or from my phone?
A. Whenever possible, print photos from your phone, computer or camera. When you upload a photo to social media, the image gets compressed and the quality is degraded. Sometimes this means the photo will look blurry, pixelated or just generally wonky when printed. Avoid this by printing directly from the original source whenever you can.
What’s the best photo printer to buy?
Top photo printer
What you need to know: A versatile printer with everything you need.
What you’ll love: This photo printer is wireless but fast. It can also be adjusted to print in four different sizes.
What you should consider: Some users report difficulty maintaining the wireless connection with certain device models.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top photo printer for the money
What you need to know: A printer with great color quality at a great price.
What you’ll love: Unique dye sublimation technology creates photos that will last a lifetime. The printer body comes in four different colors.
What you should consider: The machine is larger than most other models.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: A portable gem that’s great for photos or stickers.
What you’ll love: This printer is small enough to fit inside a pocket or purse and connects via Bluetooth to a wide variety of smart devices.
What you should consider: It only prints 2×3-inch photos.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Frank Paiva writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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