You’re no Ansel Adams, but you still want to document your family’s inaugural ski trip and your kid’s first steps. And sure, you can share your memories on social media sites, but there’s something gorgeously tangible about holding an actual printed photo, and framing after using a photo printer to print it.
Yes, you could send your digital photos to online printing services (or hit your local drugstore and its inevitably clunky and usually broken photo printer) and wait for them to arrive weeks later. But we’re all about immediate gratification, and that’s why a photo printer is a beautiful investment. You can choose a desktop photo printer model that churns out vibrant pictures, or a portable photo printer unit that’s like a Polaroid for your backpack.
We’ve got options for every skill level and budget. Here are some of our favorite photo printers.
A great portable photo printer that is compact and wireless, and features ZINK printing technology that is smudge-proof and water-resistant.
Pros: We love this printer because it uses ZINK, meaning zero ink, to create a small, portable design that doesn’t require ink cartridges or toners. You just download the app to personalize and print your photos, and connect the Ivy to your Android or iPhone using Bluetooth.
Cons: The quality of the photos can sometimes be all over the place.
While Polaroid may be synonymous with instant film, we were impressed with the innovation of the Mint pocket photo printer. The paper is great. But the most important bonus was at its size. At under an inch thick and not much bigger than a pack of cards, it’s an easy carry-along for any trip.
Pros: Paper and ink for a printer should always be a consideration, and the Mint photo printer makes the former affordable and the latter unnecessary. At around 50 cents a sheet, its zero-ink, water-resistant paper costs substantially less than other instant film, making it easier to burn a few prints for the family. We also loved its Bluetooth connectivity and rechargeable battery (good for 50 pictures) for on-the-go use.
Cons: If only all printing were this easy! Alas, this is only good for smartphone photos, so if you’re using another camera or simply want bigger photos than its two-by-three-inch prints, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Whether you’ve got a fancy camera or not, we can guarantee you’re more likely to have your phone with you at any decisive moment. That’s why a cameraphone printer always makes a cut on a list like this. The ease of use for the KiiPix photo printer is such that operation is a cinch for even the most technologically-challenged.
Pros: Simply center your photo in the included frame, turn your phone’s brightness up, and depress the KiiPix’s button to expose the film. There are no batteries to replace or cords to lose—its fully mechanical action needs no WiFi or Bluetooth connection to work. For added customization, download its app to overlay photos with text, lightly edit, or add emoji-like symbols.
Cons: As any old photographer will tell you, it’s not the cost of the camera that gets you—it’s the film. Even Fujifilm, which is known for its economy pricing, will still run you a little less than a dollar a sheet.
This printer is so small, it fits easily into any bag, or even your pocket. Plus, you can decorate, design, and print your social media photos using the HP Sprocket app.
Pros: It’s tiny, but powerful. The Sprocket has Bluetooth 50 and sleep mode, so it stays connected even when you’re not using, which means you don’t drain your battery. You two-by-three-inch sticky-backed photos so you can be surrounded by happy or silly memories. And the photo refill paper isn’t expensive, at just about $5 a pack.
Cons: This is not a professional photo printer, so don’t expect that level of picture quality. And you need the app to print.
Straddling the line between the portability of a smartphone printer and the variety of a desktop, the Canon SELPHY CP1300 is worth its weight for the variety of prints it produces.
Pros: Plug it in (or purchase an optional battery pack), and with the included paper you can make prints from photo booth strips to four-by-six glossies. You can, of course, print directly from your phone via its app, but the device also allows you to insert an SD card (common among digital cameras) or USB. For these latter methods, a three-inch LCD screen allows preview and selection of images.
Cons: It’s hardly fair to expect professional-level prints, but we should nevertheless note that images produced won’t be as sharp or detailed as those printed from an at-home machine. Portability has its drawbacks. Still, Canon sells its inks together with paper, and all told you can bang out prints for pennies—something not nearly as affordable as other high-quality options.
Cruise enough yard sales and you’ll come across a graveyard of printers. The culprit? The rising costs of inks. We credit the HP Envy 5055 for its sheer affordability for the print-crazed. For less than a cup of coffee, you can be printing to your heart’s content.
Pros: Released in 2018, the Envy 5055 packs a ton of cutting-edge features in an affordable package, including wireless, dual-band connectivity; direct-from-smartphone and –tablet printing; and edge-to-edge pictures up to eight-by-10. But what really sold us were the ink refills. For as little as three bucks a month, you can get topped off and back to printing. Bonus: It also scans.
Cons:A product this good must have a downside, and this one involves having to install a ton of software. Still, after navigating these troubled waters, many users were ultimately satisfied.
This inkjet printer has a maximum resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi and produces photos in as fast as 37 seconds.
Pros: This is hailed by fans as one of the easiest photo printers you can find. This lightweight printer gets you stunning borderless four-by-six-inch and five-by-seven-inch photos that will last decades and decades. You can print from your iPad, iPhone, tablet and smartphones; the printer includes WiFi Direct. Bottom line is that it’s fast, it’s portable, and it’s simple to use.
Cons: Some folks complain about the color quality.
You’ve tried the rest, and now you want the best. This machine will offer the greatest latitude of printing options—but for a price.
Pros: Epson is arguably top three in the photo printer game, but its SureColor P800 makes this list because of its versatility. If you’re printing in volume—think Christmas cards and large extended families—the price of paper will be a consideration, and the most economical means of it is with roll paper. This machine can use both sheet and roll options with aplomb, making major holidays and one-off jobs equally easy. Of course, it has Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud printing capabilities for devices other than your lap- or desktop, but if you’re willing to drop a G on a photo printer, we’re betting you’re doing a more thorough job of retouching than slapping an Instagram filter on a smarphone photo. Ultra high-res photos are blown up larger than life with a max sheet size of 17-by-22-inch sheet size or 17-inch rolls.
Cons: Like another on this list, quality comes with both price and weight. At 43 pounds, this is one of the smallest pro-level machine available, and as such, it demands a base photo worthy of the ink. Many won’t need a sliver of its capability. But if your photography is located somewhere between vocation and hobby, this is the printer for you.
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