If you want A3+ poster sized or even panoramic prints, getting the best large format printer is the way to go. In this guide, we've selected our pick of the best wide format printers for photographers on sale right now.
Today’s huge resolution digital cameras allow any photo enthusiast to potentially print their images up to billboard size – something that was once purely the preserve of professionals able to spend 20K on a camera. But most of us, typically, still have A4 or Letter-sized photo printers on our desks, whether that’s because we don’t have the space for a larger device, or because US Letter or A4 was always the most popular ‘standard’ size of printer for home output.
However, now we have sufficient pixels to be able to ‘go large’, you may be considering hunting out one of the best wide format printers for photographers. Whether you're after something that delivers double-size prints from a 13-inch printer (A3+ in Europe), or looking for larger 17-inch roll printing for increased flexibility in terms of print size as well as potentially a greater volume of prints, we've got you covered. With options right up to a 64-inch printer, there is plenty of choice for photographers and artists who want to sell fine art prints
A great large format printer is useful if you’re running your own studio and perhaps want prints for commercial purposes, for sale, display or exhibition. For a landscape photographer, a roll-fed printer will allow you to reproduce panoramas of virtually any length, for example.
There are some key factors to consider when sizing up the best wide format printer for you. The first is what you actually need it for, but you’ll also want to drill into the range of sizes it can output and the resolution it can output them at (given in ‘dpi’ or dots per inch).
Buying a printer isn’t a one-off investment – you'll need to regularly buy ink and media too. It's worth considering the type of ink a printer uses when making your purchase decision, as this will directly influence the running costs going forward. The general advice is that you should buy from the same manufacturer as your printer, as every part of the ‘system’ has been developed, designed and honed to work in tandem.
Fortunately, if you're undecided or simply embarking on initial research, we’re here to help. This guide showcases what’s on offer to help guide your buying decision, whatever your budget. So, given the above, which are the best wide and large format printers you can buy right now?
A previous TIPA Award winner, the Epson SureColor SC-P5000 is a beast of a desktop printer, perfect for placing in a corner of your studio. It’s a 17-inch model with an enviably broad ink set that can handle anything a photo business can throw at it. That includes panoramic prints, A2+ posters, and fine art sheet media, including poster board. Inevitably then, it’s bigger and heavier than most consumer desktop printers, but this inkjet model is designed for exhibition quality output, not just hard copies of holiday snaps.
It’s taken as read then that the P5000 is able to deliver exceptional print quality and color accuracy (capable of reproducing 99% of Pantone solid coated colors) thanks to an internal color calibration sensor. You’ll pay more for this device, but if you’re a working pro you could make back the investment over the course of a handful of commissions, if that.
If you need to go large, but do so on a budget, the Expression Photo HD XP-15000 is an entry-level 13-inch or A3+ printer from the reliable Epson brand. This large format printer is worth a look if you are a photo enthusiast looking for something that’s more back bedroom than pro studio. It’s compact for its class, with the manufacturer claiming the XP-15000 is 30 per cent smaller than its predecessor. OK, so for the price we have to make do with six inks rather than 10 or 11, but there’s a large LCD screen to adjust settings on and a suite of mobile printing apps that enable you to take advantage of the printer's wireless capabilities. While the front-loading tray actually handles A4 or US Letter paper, it’s the rear paper feed that has us excited, being suitable for A3+ prints, including those on thicker media.
The imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 is a heavy duty, 12 pigment ink based printer from Canon. You've got ‘PRO’ in capital letters here, so you know this is definitely aimed at those for whom image output is central to their income. A previous EISA Award winner to boot, this boxy A2 device is aimed at photographers, designers, art students and graphic artists.
Print speed is up to 6 minutes for an A2, giving you time to make a cup of tea or sneak a crafty cigarette. Canon likes to ring-fence its kit, and EOS shooters will be further enticed by a Crystal fidelity feature claimed to faithfully reproduce images shot with Canon's own cameras. Adjustments are made to settings via a 3-inch LCD and, like other pro models from competitors, there’s both Wi-Fi and ethernet connectivity. Those looking to reproduce monochrome inks as well as color may be swayed by the comprehensive provision of Photo Black, Matt Black, Grey and Photo Grey.
The Canon PIXMA Pro-10S boasts 10 inks and a 4 picolitre droplet size to ensure a professional level of print quality, as well as being able to output a pigment based A3+ hard copy in around five minutes. This wide format printer offers not only the ability to produce large format prints on fine art materials, but also the promise of long lasting and accurate color or mono output (there are three dedicated monochrome inks). There's the option of wireless printing, as well as the ability to print directly from cloud-based photo storage services. Price- and specification-wise, this is a mid-range model for those who want to spend a little more than the budget large-format offering (look to Canon’s 100S model for that), but don't want to break the bank.
Can’t decide whether you need a sheet or roll printer? The Epson SureColor SC-P800 provides choice of both. Epson’s flexible flagship A2 printer is capable of printing up to 17 inches in width.
Three paper paths, including a front-loading one for fine art paper, make it easy to switch between different formats – there's even a roll paper option for panoramic prints. The core of this inkjet model includes a nine-ink set, there’s onboard Wi-Fi for printing from smartphones or cameras directly, a 2.7-inch touch panel screen for making selections, and an 80ml cartridge size described as generous by its maker. A relatively compact footprint, coupled with the flexibility this machine provides, ensures it should be near the top of your wish list, especially for anyone wanting delivery of deep, contrast-y blacks and rich tones.
NB. The Epson SureColor SC-900 has just been announced, and will eventually replace the SC-800. This adds deeper blacks, and a larger 4.3in touchscreen.
If your budget is tight but still nothing smaller than an A3+ printer will do, check out the PIXMA iP8750 (aka iP8720), a very fairly priced and featured inkjet printer option from Canon. Yes, there are ‘only’ six inks to play with – essentially dye based inks plus one pigment ink – but, with the ability to print from 10 x 15cm at ‘photo lab quality’ up to A3+ in size, this looks like a decent option for the photo enthusiasts’ home office/studio. Attendant features include the convenience of wireless connectivity, while optional XL-sized ink tanks purport to cost users 30 per cent less per page than the standard size.
If you’re looking at the HP brand and want output prints bigger than standard A3, then the next jump up is the HP DesignJet T125. This 24-inch Wi-Fi-enabled model can print both sheets and rolls, yet still manages to come in at a value-added price that won’t place it out of the reach of any photo enthusiast or smaller commercial practice. In truth its audience is aimed mainly at those wishing to print large-scale diagrams and documents – and is most likely to be seen in an architect's office. However, as this device is one of the smallest in its class and offers user friendliness via a 4.3-inch touch screen, it could be an ideal option for anyone looking for an easy and inexpensive way to produce poster-sized prints or even banners, if that’s your thing.
This series replaced Epson’s popular Stylus Pro family – the flagship SureColor P20000 specifically replacing the Stylus Pro 118880. This wide format printer is designed for mini labs and photo studios needing something that can handle plenty of output. At 64 inches wide there’s versatility built in too: as well as printing photographs up to exhibition quality utilising its 10 pigment inks (nine of them color), its size means this printer can also produce signage and banners. A PrecisionCore MicroTFP print head offers prints to a maximum 2400 x 1200dpi resolution, whilst its print head structure claims to result in fewer vibrations along with more accurate ink drops and ink placement.
If you’ve decided that size really is everything after all, and the A2 sized PRO-1000 model from the same manufacturer isn’t big enough for your purposes, then go ‘one louder’ with the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000. This stonker of a printer offers 24-inch prints and the sharp, professional grade output that Canon is renowned for. The downside is, inevitably, that this is a large and weighty machine as a result, that you’ll need to literally find space for it in your setup. However, it can print from USB, ethernet connection, or wirelessly, with a 320GB hard drive built in to enable it to handle those extra large picture file sizes. Key improvements to the recently-introduced PRO-2100 updated include are a larger information display, that can show the type of paper being used, and new physical buttons that allow you to quickly 'Load', 'Feed' and 'Cut'.
The DesignJet T730 is a large format roll paper thermal inkjet option from HP, capable of delivering prints up to a satisfying 36 inches and at a resolution of 2400 x 1200 dpi. It's probably not the best option for those who want the closest color accuracy to their original images though, as a mere four different inks are in play here: cyan, yellow, magenta and black. That said, the 48kg weight of this unit isn’t as heavy as some, even if it is 1.4 metres in width. Ease of use is promised here too – just swipe the front panel like the screen of a smartphone to find the settings you want. Wi-Fi connectivity and USB interface are provided as standard.
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