Photo Printers: Choosing the Best One for Your Needs

Photo Printers: Choosing the Best One for Your Needs

Looking for a great Photo Printer? James Gapinski from Just Suppositions shares some tips on how to choose one.


41KJ8IJ5HzL._SL500_AA280_-1.jpgDigital photo printers are not only convenient, but they can also save you money on reproduction costs in the long-run. In the short-run, however,you’ll need to spend a couple hundred dollars to get a decent printer, and it can take months for your photo reproduction savings to add up. In order to make sure this expensive purchase is well-worth it, you need to consider several factors when buying a new photo printer.

Types of Printers:

When comparing printers, you need to keep in mind that there are two basic types. The most common type is the ink jet photo printer; this type is useful if you plan on multi-purposing the printer for document usage. Ink jet photo printers can serve as holistic home printers, letting you print Web pages, text files, and other digital media alongside your photographs.

Dye sublimation printers, on the other hand, are designed only for photography reproduction, and these printers rarely work well when repurposed for printing text documents. Dye sublimation printers produce high-quality glossy prints, ideal for professional photographers. While these printers often create the best quality photos, they are much more expensive and therefore only recommended for people who plan on doing a lot of photo printing at home. For most photographers, lower cost ink jet printers will work just fine.


This is perhaps the most important consideration since a higher resolution will yield better-quality photographic prints. While virtually every printer branded as a “photo printer” will have good enough resolution for casual usage, professionals will want to look for a resolution of 4,800 x 1,200 dpi or even higher if you can afford it. The HP Photosmart D7560 Photo Printer (pictured above right) is a good option with an impressive 9,600 x 2,400 dpi resolution.

Printer Sizes:

31G5YNK-a8L._SL500_AA280_.jpgFew buyers keep size in mind when making photo printer comparisons; however, size is very important. Smaller, ultra-portable machines may cost more, but they are perfect for on-the-go photographers. The Canon Stelphy Compact Photo Printer is a great small-sized option, as is the ultra-portable Polaroid PoGo Instant Mobile Printer (pictured right).

However, if the convenience of a compact unit is not important for your purposes, then you’ll want to actively look for comparably priced bulkier machines offering higher-quality photo printing. For example, the bulky Epson Artisan Multifunction Photo Printer offers higher resolution prints and document printing options for the same price as the aforementioned lower-resolution, yet ultra-portable, models.


Make sure the printer you select is compatible with your digital storage devices. Some consumers mistakenly assume that all photo printers offer the same standard types of connectivity.

Some photo printers, like the extremely versatile Kodak ESP3 or the previously recommended HP Photosmart D7560, have built-in slots for SD cards, MMC cards, MiroDrives, and more. Others, like the previously mentioned Polaroid PoGo, will simply offer direct USB or connectivity. Lastly, some photo printers, like the Epson Artisan, do not feature any type of direct-from-camera printing; however, such models can still be useful if you already do a lot of photo editing on your computer and don’t mind spending a few minutes uploading your images before printing.


While there are several factors to consider when choosing the best photo printer, taking time to diligently consider your options will lead to a better long-term investment. Whether you’re looking for pro-quality, easy portability, or fast connectivity, there is a printer out there that will fit your needs. Now that you know what features to look for, go get that new printer and take your at-home photography reproduction to the next level.

About the Author: James Gapinski is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Many of James’ past and current projects involve photography and the arts, including recent grant research at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and guest writer contributions to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Art City blog. James’ blog, Just Suppositions, contains links to many of his past written and photographic works.

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Some Older Comments

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  • Melissa Mercier May 12, 2010 02:43 am

    I found the one I need. Epson 9900. Now what I need to find is the funds to acquire it!

  • 11x17 printet December 5, 2009 04:05 pm

    I just bought the HP F4480, it prints very fast, and document quality is superb.

  • Roger Atkins November 7, 2009 02:11 am

    I use an Epson R2400 and I use a Perajet CIS inks, used this for the past 3 years with no problems.

  • acedrew September 21, 2009 04:19 am

    I use Red River Paper with my cheap Canon MP620, and get astounding results. It's all about getting the color profiles right. Red River has ICC profiles for all there papers available for just about every manufactures ink set. It makes it easy in lightroom to just choose the one for your paper+printer combo and bam, BEAUTIFUL prints. I use there UltraPro Satin 2.0 for everyday shots, and I've used their Polar Series ultimate papers with simply amazing results! Their sample packs are affordable and give you a great way to find the paper that works with your shots best.
    Andrew Rodgers

  • Bamillionaire September 18, 2009 10:30 pm

    The post has be very educating.but i av a question about d type of paper that wil most do a picture job.

  • cables September 16, 2009 10:56 pm

    Hi friends..
    I am using two types of printers one of epson and one of Hp laser.
    Well this all are good printers with good printing quality and good outputs.
    Well this is about me.
    Anyways thanks for the post.

  • joshua baskerville September 15, 2009 07:24 pm

    Get a noritsu D701 haha lol... if you have $48,000. thats what we use at work. pretty dam good printer, fast as.

  • Fredshome September 13, 2009 11:58 pm

    Well, this was quite content-free. :-/

    I don't do any printing myself, letting labs do it (I only do large formats every now and then), but IMO things to look for would be :
    - supported inks (and how many, 4 or more), whether black is in a larger separate cartridge
    - supported media (paper, CD, others)
    - connectivity (USB, Ethernet, WiFi, possibly //)
    - cost per print
    - printing speed
    - quality of drivers
    - design (easy to clean ? size of paper tray ? etc.)

  • Fletch September 11, 2009 08:29 pm

    Don't forget that the paper is almost as important as the printer. Using good quality photo paper is really important and will make a huge difference to you prints.

    Even if you print a lot home printing is a very expensive option unless you print a lot of one off larger sized prints. These things drink ink and good paper is not cheap.

  • Rob H September 10, 2009 10:41 pm

    I have had my HP Photosmart D7560 for about 8 months now. I LOVE IT ! It gives me sharp, crisp & clean photos everytime. The program it comes with works good. I especially love the fact that now I can print directly onto my DVD/CD discs from the printer. The built in slots are very convient to use & the on-screen display is a help also.

  • Dave September 10, 2009 01:10 am

    I have been very impressed with the quality from my Epson 2880, but have heard some people have issues getting the colors profiled correctly with their systems. I think it's a matter of learning where all the settings are hidden! I am constantly asked where I get my printing done, and other photographers can't believe I do it myself - especially the canvas work.

  • MeiTeng September 9, 2009 01:37 am

    I have been thinking of investing in a good printer. A timely article indeed. I am eyeing an Epson model. Will check it out and compare with the tips listed here. Thanks for posting this article.

  • Dave September 9, 2009 01:19 am

    I think an important thing to mention is the need for Archival ink. This ink is designed to last at least 99 years without fading. I also prefer a printer that has the ability to roll feed the media, and also print on canvas. The Epson 2880 is a good printer for both of those reasons, and I can put out high quality canvas prints with it.