Are your favorite photos languishing on your phone or hard drive? Why not print those memories instead? The best photo printer makes lab-quality photo printing easy, affordable, and convenient, right in the comfort of your home. From portable pocket printers to professional-grade machines, there’s a photo printer to suit every need. To shop wisely, read on to learn what factors and features to consider, then check out some quality products to find your best photo printer, whether you’re creating a family photo album or printing professional photos for your business.
- BEST OVERALL: HP ENVY Photo 7855 All in One Photo Printer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: HP Sprocket 2-in-1 Photo Printer & Instant Camera
- BEST PROFESSIONAL-GRADE: Canon PIXMA PRO-200 Professional Photo Printer
- BEST MINI: Kodak Dock Plus 4×6″ Portable Instant Photo Printer
- BEST PORTABLE: KODAK Smile Instant Digital Bluetooth Printer
- BEST WIDE-FORMAT: Canon IP8720 Wireless Printer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Photo Printer
Owning a photo printer opens up a world of creative possibilities, giving you the freedom to print pictures at any time with ease. Photo printers can vary widely in size and quality, from handheld snapshot printers to large professional-grade photography printers. When selecting the best photo printer for your needs, consider print speed, photo quality, connectivity options, and portability.
Depending on the intended use, the print speed may be an important factor. Generally, printing a photo takes longer than printing text or images to a standard piece of paper. Print time can vary depending on the printer’s design, printer speed, and print size. Photo printers can take anywhere from a few seconds to 2 minutes to print a standard 4-by-6-inch photo.
Print speed typically matters most in professional environments, such as a deadline-oriented business. When time is of the essence, waiting a minute or more per photo can seriously slow operations. Print speed is also worth considering for portable printers so you won’t need to slow down on the go. For occasional photo printing, however, the print speed may be less of a concern.
The best photo printers create clear, crisp photos that look as beautiful in print as they do on the screen. Made for printing vivid colors and details, most photo printers have a high-resolution printing capability. Photo printers can use inkjet, thermal dye, or ZINK technology to create quality photo prints—and all options have their pros and cons.
Both inkjet and thermal-dye printers can create high-quality prints. Inkjet printers use ink to print photos. While they can reliably deliver crisp, photorealistic images, ink cartridges can be prone to clogging, and replacements can be pricey. Instead of ink, thermal printers use heating elements to transfer pigments. Though less reliable for creating high-quality prints, they tend to have a faster printing time.
ZINK, which stands for Zero Ink technology, is found in some small, portable printers. ZINK printers use a special printing paper instead of ink cartridges (which means no ink refills) but tend to offer a slightly lower-quality print. However, since ZINK printers are generally very small, their quality is often acceptable for quick snapshot printing.
Beyond print quality, also keep in mind print size (which can range from 2 by 3 inches to 13 by 19 inches and larger) and print type (bordered or borderless), as these factors will affect the look of the finished print.
Photo printers can include wired or wireless connection options. Wireless options usually feature Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.
Similar to standard home office printers, many desktop home photo printers include both wired and wireless capabilities. These options can connect to a computer or device using a USB cable, Ethernet cable, Wi-Fi connection, and sometimes Bluetooth.
Portable photo printers are almost always wireless to make them simpler to use on the go. A connection wire would be easy to forget or lose while out and about, so these printers use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect to devices. Most portable photo printers don’t need to connect to a computer and can print photos straight from a smartphone.
Deskbound or Portable
There are two main photo printer options: deskbound or portable. Deskbound printers often look similar to standard home office printers. They are the larger of the two choices and must be set up on a flat surface, such as a desk.
Due to their larger size, deskbound printers can create larger photo prints. Most often, these printers can issue standard 4-by-6-inch photo sizes and larger, ranging up to wide-format prints that measure 13 by 19 inches. Professionals may consider printers capable of 17- or 24-inch-wide prints, if needed. These large printers will take up a good chunk of desk space and are less popular for consumer use.
Portable photo printers tend to be much smaller, and some models can even fit in the palm of a hand. These portable printers are great for taking to parties and athletic events and to take along while traveling—just remember to keep them charged. Portable printers are also a good pick for occasional photo printing and are an easy-to-store option for those who don’t want to commit to a deskbound office printer. Their small size means they are limited to printing smaller photo prints, usually from 2 by 3 inches to 4 by 6 inches in size.
Our Top Picks
Whether for printing sentimental memories or creating a one-of-a-kind gallery wall, a photo printer puts a range of possibilities at your fingertips. The best photo printers are reliable and deliver vivid, crisp prints to bring your photos to life. Print your favorite snapshots, professional photos, and art prints with the best photo printers below.
To print stunning photos with ease and speed, consider the HP Envy Photo 7855. This multifunctional printer is compatible with Alexa-enabled devices, for function control via a simple voice command. As an all-in-one printer, it can help create high-quality photo prints as well as print, scan, copy, and fax documents up to 8 by 10 inches.
For those without an Alexa-enabled device, the HP Smart app is a suitable alternative, useful for setting up the printer, scanning documents, using a phone camera, and printing from social media or the cloud. Other connectivity options include USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or the built-in USB and SD card slots.
With the HP Sprocket Photo Printer & Instant Camera, users can take and print photos all from one nifty device—and with a smartphone. The portable instant camera-and-printer combo is a small, budget-priced pick to take and enjoy on the go.
This smartphone-sized gadget fits a number of features into a tidy package. The camera features an LED flash, tripod mount, pop-up viewfinder with an attached selfie mirror, and a 10-second timer for taking photos with friends.
The device gives the option to print instant photos from the camera or print from a smartphone. Using the HP Sprocket app, users can edit and then print snapshots from a Bluetooth-enabled phone. The printer uses ZINK technology to print 2-by-3-inch photos with a sticker back.
For professional-quality photos, consider the Canon PIXMA PRO-200 Professional Photo Printer. This printer features an enhanced eight-color, dye-based ink system to reliably deliver rich, vivid, and accurate color reproduction in professional prints.
Beyond excellent print and image quality, this printer is also a quick pick that speedily delivers in a variety of photo sizes. It can print a bordered 8-by-11-inch print in only 90 seconds. The printer is compatible with a variety of paper types and sizes. It can print borderless photos up to 13 by 19 inches or custom, panoramic sizes up to 13 by 39 inches to cover a range of printing needs.
The Kodak Dock Plus is a compact and simple option for printing standard-size photos. This mini printer is larger than handheld, portable models but much smaller than a full-size desktop unit. The in-between size is intentional, as this printer only prints 4-by-6-inch photos.
To use, plug in an iOS or Android smartphone on the docking pad or connect to Bluetooth using the free Kodak app. Bonus: The app also allows users to decorate and add filters to pictures for extra photo-printing fun. The printer uses thermal-dye printing to create long-lasting and water-resistant laminated photos in bordered or borderless designs, and each photo prints in less than 50 seconds.
The Kodak Smile Instant Digital Printer is ultra-portable to take brunching, partying, or traveling. The slim pocket-size device uses ZINK technology to print 2-by-3-inch bordered or borderless sticky-back photos.
Printing is simple with the free Kodak Smile app on a Bluetooth-enabled phone or tablet. Before printing, users can also edit color and lighting and add fun stickers and filters. The printer charges using a USB cable and provides up to 40 prints per charge. The prints feature a protective treatment layer that shields the photo from tears, smudges, and water damage, to ensure the photo makes it home in one piece.
The compact size of the Canon IP8720 Wireless Printer offers wide-format printing that’s ideally suited for the home office. This printer takes up the same desk space as an average household printer but can print snapshots and photos up to 13 by 19 inches.
Using a six-color ink system and a fine inkjet nozzle, this printer creates vivid, high-resolution photo prints for scrapbooks, frames, wall displays, and more. Connecting to the printer is simple by Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB cord. Once connected, the IP8720 can print a borderless 4-by-6-inch photo in about 36 seconds to quickly bring cherished memories to life.
FAQs About Photo Printers
Photo printers are a worthy splurge for those who print photos, offering an affordable and convenient way to display your favorite memories and photos. If you’re still considering the best photo printer for your needs, peruse the frequently asked questions and their answers below.
Q. Which printers do photographers use?
Photographers often opt for professional-grade photo printers, which create high-quality prints in a range of sizes.
Q. How do I maintain and clean my photo printer?
While some printers will need occasional cleaning to ensure that their working parts are free of dried ink, dust, and foreign particles, different types of printers require different maintenance and cleaning practices, so it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Q. How long can my photo printer last?
The average printer lifespan is 3 to 5 years. Consider replacing the photo printer if it stops performing as well as before (such as slow printing speeds or regular print blemishes) since repair costs are not worthwhile compared to upgrading to a new printer.