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The best photo printer in 2020: top regular and wide format photo printers

Best photo printers

With all the time and effort you invest in your photography, it makes sense to get the best photo printer to print your images with. The number of printer makers in this market has shrunk to just two, so Canon and Epson are the only companies that make the best photo printers right now. 

But what type of printer should you go for and how much do you need to spend? When you start getting into paper sizes, ink systems and pigment versus dye, it all starts to sound complicated – but if you've already spent significant time researching the best DSLR or best mirrorless camera, there's no point cutting corners at this stage. That's why we're here to help!

First, you have to think about what size photos you need. We cover the two main sizes here: the best regular letter-size printers and the best wide format 13-inch printers. A4/letter size printers are inexpensive and useful for all sorts of chores, not just photos, but for the best photo printer we'd always recommend a larger A3+/wide format model.

For printing up to A4 in size (8.5x11 inches in the USA), most recent models follow Canon’s lead of combining a pigment-based black ink for crisp document printing, with four or more dye-based inks for premium photo output on glossy paper. Moving up to wider format A3+ printing (13x19 inches), there’s a choice of printers based exclusively on dye or pigment inks. 

• See also The best all-in-one printer for home working

Very broadly, pigment inks last longer without fading, but dye inks tend to give richer, denser colors and sink deeper into the paper surface. They're both 'inks', but they have different pros and cons and printer makers will choose one or the other (or combine them) according to what the printer's designed for. The best photo printer doesn't necessarily use one or the other – it's up to you how you want to balance immediate print quality against long-term stability.

Ink cartridges are renowned as being expensive, but costs compare favourably with prints created by an online lab. The best photo printers (including all those in our list) use individually replaceable inks, so you only need to replace cartridges that have actually run dry. Combined prices for manufacturers’ own-brand inks and high-quality papers generally average out to around £1.20/$1.60 per letter-size (A4) print, and up to £4/$5.30 for a larger format 13-inch wide (A3+) print.

The best photo printer in 2020

Best letter size/A4 photo printer

Best photo printer: Canon PIXMA TS9150

1. Canon PIXMA TS9120/9150

This range-topping PIXMA takes a different twist on six-ink printing

Max Print Size: A4 | Print resolution: 4800 x 1200 dpi | Print speed (6x4; std quality): 17 seconds | Interfaces: USB 2.0, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Scanner: Yes | Dimensions: 372 x 324 x 140 mm | Weight: 6.7kg

Auto-tilt 5-inch touchscreen
Excellent build quality
Outstanding print performance
Ethernet connectivity

This printer leapfrogs the intermediate TS8150 in the new PIXMA range (TS8120 in the USA). Both printers have the same six-ink line-up, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, memory card slot and facility for printing on white-faced CDs and DVDs. However, this printer has a 5-inch touchscreen and adds Ethernet into the connectivity mix. Build quality is excellent throughout, with refinements that include an automatically-tilting front panel and extending output tray. Portraits have the same beautiful warm skin tones as from the TS6150, but inky blue skies sometimes look fractionally smoother. Overall print performance is outstanding.

Best photo printer: Canon PIXMA TS6150

2. Canon PIXMA TS6120/6150

The latest in a long line of 5-ink Canon PIXMA printers, it sticks to the formula

Max Print Size: A4 | Print resolution: 4800 x 1200 dpi | Print speed (6x4; std quality): 35 seconds | Interfaces: USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Scanner: Yes | Dimensions: 372 x 315 x 139 mm | Weight: 6.2kg

Excellent color printing
Largest cartridges offer good value
No memory card slot
No printing to white-faced discs

Well connected, the printer has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and is fully compatible with Canon’s PIXMA Cloud-based printing and scanning facilities, along with a remote printing app that you can install on your smartphone or tablet. For standalone control, there’s a neat and intuitive 3in touchscreen. A welcome addition is the rear paper input tray that holds plain paper in the front-loading cassette, and up to 20 sheets of photo paper at the rear, at any size up to and including letter/A4 sizes. Print quality is excellent for color photos and pretty good for black-and-white images.

Best photo printer: Epson Expression Photo XP-8500

3. Epson Expression Photo XP-8600

It’s the most conventional A4 ‘photo printer’ in the group

Max Print Size: A4/letter | Print resolution: 5700 x 1400 dpi | Print speed (6x4; std quality): 10 seconds | Interfaces: USB 2.0, Wi-Fi | Scanner: Yes | Dimensions: 394 x 340 x 142 mm | Weight: 6.7kg

Fast, high-quality photo output
Full line-up of six individual inks
Compact and clever
‘Photo paper’ tray has limited size
Auto corrections can be too vivid

If you want an A4/8.5x11-inch printer that puts the emphasis on photo quality rather than document output, the Epson XP-8600 is an excellent choice. It has a tailor-made color range that does justice to images produced by high-end cameras. It’s compact, has clever motorized photo paper input and photo/document output trays, smart connectivity options and is good value for both purchase price and running costs. And despite being so photo-friendly, mono and color documents look pretty good too. This does appear to be a very minor update to the older XP-8500, however. If you’d prefer a step up in size, take a look at the similarly new Epson Expression Photo XP-970 A3 printer instead.

Read more: Epson Expression Photo XP-8600 review

Best photo printer: Epson EcoTank ET-7700

4. Epson EcoTank ET-7700

Comes supplied with nearly a pint of ink

Max Print Size: A4 | Print resolution: 4800 x 1200 dpi | Print speed (6x4; std quality): 42 seconds | Interfaces: USB 2.0, Ethernet, Wi-Fi | Scanner: Yes | Dimensions: 390 x 341 x 138 mm | Weight: 8kg

Accurate color rendition
Good range of connectivity
Pedestrian photo print speeds
Highlights/lowlights could be better

Epson’s new solution for ink cartridges comes in the shape of its ‘EcoTank’ printers, available in A4 and A3 formats. This A4 model is supplied with two high-capacity ink bottles, including a 140ml bottle of pigment black ink and 70ml bottles of cyan, magenta, yellow and black dye inks. That’s nearly a pint of ink, sufficient for up to 14,000 mono documents and 3,400 6x4-inch photos. Scanning, photocopying and printing from memory cards is based on a pushbutton interface with a 2.7-inch screen. Wi-Fi and Ethernet are built in, along with a USB 2.0 interface. Quality is good overall but, while color rendition is quite accurate, tonal range appears a bit lacking.

Best wide format 13-inch (A3+) photo printer

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5. Canon PIXMA Pro-100/100S

Specialising in big glossy prints, it goes large in ink range as well as size

Max Print Size: A3+ | Print resolution: 4800 x 2400 dpi | Print speed (6x4; std quality): 33 seconds | Interfaces: USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, BT | Scanner: No | Dimensions: 689 x 385 x 215 mm | Weight: 19.7kg

Very fast print speeds
Top quality photo printing
High quality build
Lacks memory card slots

The Pro-100S uses dye rather than pigment inks, aiming for exceptionally smooth output on glossy paper. The Pro-100S is well suited to creating black & white photo prints as well as color output, with the inclusion of grey and light grey cartridges. These are in addition to the usual six inks of conventional photo printers, bringing the total count to eight inks. Build quality feels ‘professional’, with a very sturdy chassis and high-grade components. Connectivity is good, with built-in USB 2.0, Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Color accuracy is similarly impressive and print speeds are super-quick. Overall, the Pro-100S is a great performer.

Best photo printer: Canon PIXMA Pro-10S

6. Canon PIXMA Pro-10/10S

The same but different, the Pro-10S printer has pigment inks aplenty

Max Print Size: A3+ | Print resolution: 4800 x 2400 dpi | Print speed (6x4; std quality): 1 minute 13 seconds | Interfaces: USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, BT | Scanner: No | Dimensions: 689 x 385 x 215 mm | Weight: 20kg

Excellent output quality
Printer uses 10 pigment inks
Front or rear feed
Not the fastest printer

The PIXMA Pro-10S uses ten pigment inks rather than dye-based ink. One of the cartridges is a ‘Chroma Optimizer’, which provides  a smooth finish on glossy paper. Of the other nine, you get the standard six colors for photo printing, plus red and grey inks, and both ‘photo’ black and matte black, for printing on glossy and matte media respectively. There are individual channels in the print head for both photo and matte black inks saving time and ink when swapping between media types. Excellent output quality combines superb accuracy for color prints and fabulous definition for black & white photo prints, without any unwanted color casts.

Best photo printer: Epson Expression Photo XP-970

7. Epson Expression Photo XP-970

It’s not quite the full nine yards, but it comes pretty close

Print resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi | Print speed (6x4; std quality): 26 seconds | Interfaces: USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, BT | Scanner: Yes | Dimensions: 479 x 356 x 148 mm | Weight: 8.7kg

Vibrant A3 glossy photo output
Individually replaceable ink cartridges
Built-in scanner
Even ‘XL’ ink cartridges lack capacity
Lacks color range of most rivals
Maximum output size smaller than A3+

There’s a lot to love about this new Epson printer, although it’s incredibly similar to the previous XP-960 model. It works very well as a standalone printer and photocopier, with intuitive touchscreen controls. Going large to A3/wide format printing makes your photos look much more imposing, and print quality itself is very good. Even so, for glossy color and black & white photo output, the XP-970 loses out to the more specialist Canon PIXMA Pro-100S A3+ printer. The Epson is smaller, lighter and less expensive to buy, but has dearer ink costs. 

Read more: Epson Expression Photo XP-970 review

Best photo printer: Epson SureColor P600

8. Epson SureColor P600

Roll your own photo prints with Epson’s range-topping 13-inch printer

Max Print Size: A3+ (plus panoramic) | Print resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi | Print speed (6x4; std quality): 1minute 04 seconds | Interfaces: USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, BT | Scanner: No | Dimensions: 616 x 369 x 228 mm | Weight: 15kg

Excellent color accuracy
High capacity cartridges
Paper roll feeder
Shared channel for black inks

A plus point of the P600 is that it comes complete with a roll feeder, something that’s not even available as an optional extra with the Canon 13-inch (A3+) printers. It enables you to buy photo paper in rolls and create prints with aspect ratios that exactly match your requirements, even stretching to panoramic prints. The printer incorporates a 2.7-inch touchscreen, again absent in the Canon A3+ printers. High-capacity cartridges are a good match for large-format printing, containing nearly three times as much ink as for the XP-960, and about twice as much as for the Canon A3+ printers. Color accuracy is excellent and black & white prints on matte media look magnificent.

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9. Epson EcoTank ET-7750

Continuous ink solution is moneysaver for those who print a lot

Max Print Size: A3 | Print resolution: 5,760 x 1,440 dpi | Print speed (6x4; std quality): 20 seconds | Interfaces: USB 2.0, Ethernet, Wi-Fi | Scanner: Yes | Dimensions: 526‎ x 415 x 168 mm | Weight: 10.5kg

High-quality print results
Extremely high ink capacity
Cost saving for bulk printing
High initial outlay
Paper trays are flimsy

Epson promises excellent savings in return for the  investment involved in getting the EcoTank ET-7750. With enough ink included to print you up to 3,400 photos and ink-efficient duplex printing, it’s easy to see how this will pay off over time.

The ET-7750 is Epson’s top-of-the-range multi-format printer. But it’s main selling point has to be the ink bottles included. In the box you will get two of each of the five-color system inks. This includes your dye CMYK inks, and a photo-specific pigment black for exceptional image depth. 

The tanks are at the front of the machine so you can physically see how much ink is left, rather than relying on sensors. It is satisfying to see how much ink you are using and therefore saving. Each bottle has a key nozzle to avoid accidentally filling up the wrong tank and mixing your inks, plus a valve to stop the flow automatically and prevent overfilling.

The 6.8-inch display is not a touchscreen, and so navigation is done through the buttons next to the screen. This is no real problem, as the readability is fine, and the panel tilts forward for easier reading. It’s just when it comes to typing in a wi-fi password that it becomes pretty irritating. To access the paper trays, you have to tilt up the front display panel. 

Here, you will find two paper trays and one printable CD/DVD tray. The rear feed tray is for A3 and speciality media. It is worth noting that it cannot print A3 glossy photos, but is meant for colour tabloids or poster etc. For all this functionality, it is heftier in build than some of the other models. The bulk of the machine is solid, but the various paper trays feel very flimsy and breakable.

Read more:

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  • justb
    Hi, you reference the Epson EcoTank ET-7750 as being unable to print glossy photos? I'm running one for just that, printing onto 300gsm ultra glossy paper, edgeless photos and getting fantastic quality. The cost saving of running large ink tanks is fantastic, so I've saved vs the various Canon and Epson printers I've ran previously with extremely expensive cartridges.