Taking the time to find the best printers for photos is well worth the effort if you take quality shots and want a good-looking permanent record of your best work. We rarely look at most of our photos on anything other than our phones and monitors these days, but sometimes you take a picture that looks good enough to hang on your wall, and you need a printer to do it justice.
While most of the best printers will do a creditable job with photography, if you want your snaps to really shine then you need a printer that goes the extra mile. In general, the more you spend on a photo printer, the more (and better quality) inks you'll have to properly reproduce colours; you'll also be able to print larger and on more specialised media.
Whether you're after a portable printer for capturing snaps from your phone, a large-scale monster that'll deliver work suitable for exhibiting (check our guide to how to choose a high-end printer for more details), or simply a printer that'll do a better job with photos than your standard office printer, you should find your perfect printer for photos here.
The best printers for photos in 2021
For a good all-round Epson photo printer, the Expression Photo XP-970's a tough one to beat. It's reasonably compact but packs plenty of features, including an A4 scanner and the ability to print at A3 size, and while it's not especially quick at printing, the image quality makes it worth the wait.
This printer uses six cartridges of Claria Photo HD inks that'll give you rich colours and crisp contrast, and Epson promises that your prints can last up to 300 years in a photo album, although you might find the colour range a little lacking compared with some of the Canons here. It'll accept photos via USB, Wi-Fi or through a memory card slot, and there's a built-in touchscreen as well as a mobile app to help you get results.
When you're printing photos from your iPhone you don't really want to go large. What looks good on your phone's screen may not come across quite so well at A4 size. So if you want to print out some of your favourites from your photo stream, try Canon's SELPHY CP1300; it's a compact dye-sublimation printer that delivers excellent, well defined prints at postcard size.
It uses Canon's ink/paper cartridge system so it's easy to load, and you can connect to it via USB or Wi-Fi. While it's small it's not hugely portable; however if you want to take it out and about with you there's a battery pack available so you don't have to wait until you get home for your prints.
For pro photographers doing a lot of larger-scale print work, Epson's EcoTank ET-7750 is a quality option that comes at a high price but should save you money in the long run.
It uses high-capacity ink tanks rather than cartridges and comes loaded with enough ink to print up to 3,400 photos, and when you finally need a refill you simply buy bottles of ink instead of paying a premium for cartridges. The Epson EcoTank ET-7750 uses CMYK dyes plus a pigment black to really deliver image depth, and it prints at up to A3 size.
If you want a fully up-to-date take on the classic Polaroid ethos, you need Polaroid's own Mint Pocket Printer. It's a dinky little model that uses Zink paper – already impregnated with colour ink – so you don't need to worry about ink cartridges.
Ideal for printing smartphone shots or Instagram snaps, the Mint Pocket Printer delivers adorable little 2x3" prints complete with a protective polymer overcoat that's water-resistant and won't fade. It'll connect to your phone via Bluetooth, and if you're especially image-conscious you'll be delighted to know that it comes in five colour options.
There's more to having a photo printer than simply printing out images from your phone or DSLR. If you have a collection of old-school printed photographs that you want to store in digital form then a scanner is a must, and while there are a few options here with built-in scanners, this Canon is our favourite in terms of price and versatility.
The Canon PIXMA TS6350 (confusingly known as the TS6320 in the USA) is a five-ink all-in-one printer that produces great-quality photos at a decent speed, and with a scanner on top it's also ideal for storing the contents of your old photo albums.
Built both for professional photographers and fine art reproduction, the Epson SureColor SC-P5000 is a heavyweight monster of a printer that can cope with just about any print job that you can imagine. It'll print at up to A2 size on anything from standard paper to poster board, and with 10 inks and an internal colour calibration sensor it'll give you stunning print quality – it's capable of reproducing 99% of Pantone solid coated colours.
One look at the price will tell you that this isn't a machine for printing out your favourite snaps, but if you regularly need large-scale images in top quality then it should pay for itself pretty quickly.
Want great photo quality without having to pay an absolute fortune? We reckon Canon's Pixma PRO-200 strikes the perfect balance. It's a dye-based printer packing 8 Chroma Life 100+ inks for incredibly faithful colour reproduction and clarity, it'll print on any paper size up to A3+ and it can even do panoramic prints up to 990cm in length.
It's not particularly fast – a 6x4 will take around 33 seconds at standard quality – and the fairly small ink cartridges mean that you'll have to keep it regularly topped up, but if you can live with that you'll be rewarded with stunning photo prints on glossy, matte or even fine art paper.
Not so much a printer as a hybrid instant camera , the FujiFilm instax Mini iPlay is a combined digital camera and portable printer that can also print photos from your smartphone.
Like a Polaroid camera it prints on its own film; unlike a Polaroid you can pick and choose which shots you actually want to print by going through them on the LCD screen. The camera's pretty lightweight with a 4.9 megapixel sensor and 28mm f/2 lens, but this isn't a device for pro photographers, more of a fun instant camera for taking out and about with you, and in that respect it's hard to fault.
Need to go really big? Like the Epson SureColor SC-P5000 above, the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 goes up to A2 size and can also be pressed into service for panoramic prints up to 1.2 metres long.
It uses 12 pigment-based Lucia Pro ink cartridges that can be replaced individually rather than as a complete set, and its print quality is nothing short of stunning, especially when printing on matte or fine art paper. Colour reproduction is incredibly faithful, and when you're printing on glossy paper it'll apply a chroma optimiser to give your prints a smooth top coating that minimises bronzing and gloss differential.