8 best photo printers to perfectly capture your memories   

Feeling nostalgic? Print your favourite moments at home with the help of these high quality devices

David Phelan@davidphelan2009
Tuesday 24 March 2020 18:30
All these printers have app printing and a range of ink cartridge colour options
All these printers have app printing and a range of ink cartridge colour options

Almost any printer can deliver decent documents with sharp text, but if you want to print out photos, you need to look at pricier, dedicated models. The number of ink cartridges becomes more important: a printer with six cartridges typically includes extra colours like light magenta or photo blue to add extra subtlety and variety of shades for more faithful results.

On the other hand, some printers still have just two cartridges, one for black ink and one with three-colour inks in one. When one colour runs out you need to replace the lot, though HP notably offers a subscription service which eases the pain slightly.

Do you need to print really big photos, up to A3 size, perhaps? The printers capable of this are bigger and heavier (though one here, the Epson XP-970, is a miracle of compactness). Print quality was at the front of our minds during testing, plus ease of use, cost of printing and speed.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Canon pixma 9150

Maximum paper size: A4
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Six
Dimensions: 372 x 324 x 140mm
Weight: 6.7kg
App printing: Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Canon Print
Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200 dpi

This printer is outstanding thanks to the high quality images it produces. It includes six ink cartridges with one, photo blue, designed to make photos look more detailed and have less evidence of image grain. The colour inks are dye-based and the black ink, designed primarily for text documents, is pigment, which combines for especially faithful image quality.

The large touchscreen is convenient and easy to use and, like several printers here, there’s a memory card slot so you can put a card from your camera directly into the printer. This was one of the fastest printers we tested, delivering text documents and colour prints quickly. Double-sided printing is a little slower, unsurprisingly.

HP envy photo 7830

Maximum paper size: A4
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Two
Dimensions: 454 x 193 x 491mm
Weight: 7.58kg
App printing: Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print
Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200 dpi

Like the other HP above, this printer uses the company’s “instant ink” subscription service, and this model comes with seven months’ ink included. As such, it doesn’t matter as much that the three coloured inks are all in one cartridge as you’ll be replacing them on a regular basis anyway. The design is curious with its rounded top that takes up more space, but this is a strong home office machine with an automatic document feeder and even a fax capability. The print quality is fine rather than exceptional but the printer is easy to use and versatile.

Canon selphy square QX10

Maximum paper size: 68 x 68mm
Scanner? No
Copier? No
Ink cartridges: Dye-sub
Dimensions: 102 x 13 x 31 mm
Weight: 445g
App printing: Selphy Photo Layout
Maximum print resolution: N/A

This printer is specifically for small, sticky-backed prints measuring 68mm square. The tiny, highly portable QX10 is powered by a rechargeable battery. A cartridge contains 20 sheets of paper and the ink for each image – it uses a different system, called dye-sublimation, so the ink and paper are packaged together.

Each replacement cartridge costs £14.99, so prints cost 75p each, and the image quality is sharp and bright. The printer comes in four colour options: white, pink, green or black. It’s a novel and fun gadget, though no replacement for a regular printer, and it’s not trying to be.

Epson expression photo XP-8600

Maximum paper size: A4
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Six
Dimensions: 349 x 340 x 142mm
Weight: 6.7kg
App printing: Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Epson Connect
Maximum print resolution: 5,760x 1,440 dpi

This is the latest in a series of effective and reliable printers from Epson, and it is a great all-rounder; ideal for someone who isn’t printing photographs all the time but who wants to be able to rely on the print quality when they are. Like other printers here, it’s capable of double-sided printing, which is useful for regular documents. The compact size will fit most desks easily. There are two paper trays, with one for dedicated photo paper.

Epson XP-4100

Maximum paper size: A4
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Four
Dimensions: 75 x 300 x 170 mm
Weight: 4.3kg
App printing: Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Epson Connect
Maximum print resolution: 5,760x 1,440 dpi

The Epson XP-4100 stands out for being impressively compact and good value. It’s certainly a good price, though corners have been cut, for instance the screen on the front is not touch-sensitive, meaning that entering passwords using the switches takes much longer. Printing is also slower than some models here, though if you’re using it for frequent but not incessant prints, you’ll be fine.

The print quality is good, especially for photos on glossy paper. It’s not as good as the Epson expression XP-8600, though. Although the upfront cost of the hardware is low, the running costs are high, with inks running out faster than you’d hope. This is ideal as a printer that’s used less often.

HP envy 5010

Maximum paper size: A4
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Two
Dimensions: 445 x 367 x 128 mm
Weight: 5.41kg
App printing: Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print
Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200 dpi

There are only two ink cartridges in this model, which can imply higher ink costs. Still, HP has a system to save money on ink, a program called “HP instant ink”. You pay a monthly fee according to the pages you print per month and additional ink is sent automatically. Prices range from free (up to 15 pages per month) to £7.99 for up to 300 pages. The price here includes your first two months’ subscription. The print quality is good, though not exceptional, but this is a good value printer.

Epson XP-970

Maximum paper size: A3
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Six
Dimensions: 479 x 356 x 148mm
Weight: 8.7kg
App printing: Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Epson Connect
Maximum print resolution: 5,760 x 1440 dpi

The compactness of this A3 printer means Epson refers to it as a “small-in-one”. The largest paper size is 13 x 19 inches, which look fantastic with sharp, precise printing, good enough quality to be framed. Note that printing at the biggest size has the effect of emptying the ink cartridges more quickly, especially the light magenta and light cyan. The interface is straightforward to use and performance is strong, though this is not the fastest printer out there. Although this machine can print in sizes up to A3, the scanner is A4.

Canon pixma pro-100

Maximum paper size: A3
Scanner? No
Copier? No
Ink cartridges: Eight
Dimensions: 689 x 215 x 385mm
Weight: 19.7kg
App printing: Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Canon Print
Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 2,400 dpi

This is a big beast of a printer, and very heavy. Still, once it’s on your desk you probably won’t be moving it around, right? There’s no scanning or copying here, it’s a dedicated print-only device. And the print quality is second-to-none. It uses dye inks, unlike some printers which use pigment inks. This can lead to a smoother-looking result. The eight cartridges include two grey and light grey shadees which make for excellent black and white prints. This is a solid, well-built machine which is reliable and effective. It prints at speed, too.

The verdict: Photo printers

Between them, Canon and Epson rule the world of photo printers. The Canon Pixma 9150 is a solid performer with great image quality and simple interface. The Epson expression XP-8600 is the latest in a series of solid all-rounder machines, and it has strong image print quality. The Epson XP-970 is remarkably small, given that it can print at up to A3 size.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.