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Best Photo Printers 2013: High-Quality Inkjet Photo Printers

If you’ve been looking for a printer lately, you know they come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes and prices. This leads to the question: What’s right for me? Before laying down your  credit card, it is helpful to ask yourself a few questions – conduct a personal needs  assessment, if you will. Do you want to produce gallery-ready fine-art prints for public  scrutiny? Are you looking to hang framed images on your wail at home, mainly for your own  enjoyment? Are you mainly a 4×6 snapshot kind of person? Do you primarily want an office-type  printer with light-duty photo capability?

If you’re an event photographer, for instance, you’ll want a more portable printer with Wi-Fi, as this will allow you to work clutter-free and print out shots for clients a lot faster than  using a large, beefy printer. Wireless printers are also good for using around the house when you don’t have space for them to always be out.

At the other end of the scale is printing with the intention of making sales, either for fine art prints or presenting newlyweds with an impressive collection of top-quality prints from their wedding. Spend a little bit more and it’s as good as getting prints from a professional lab!

Let’s explore some options within each category.

Prosumer Printers

Super B class printers are able to print cut sheet media up to 13×19 inches – certainly suitable for hanging in your living room. Significantly less expensive than the big boys, yet  nearly as capable (and even more so in some respects), these dedicated photo printers will satisfy the requirements of the majority of photographers and provide exceptional output, especially considering the relatively modest sticker price.

Canon Pixma Pro 1

How many cartridges does it take to get true-to-life prints? Canon has thrown the number 12  into the ring with its new Pixma Pro 1. Yes, that’s the number of cartridges in the company’s  latest SuperB printer: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Red, Photo Cyan, Photo Magenta, Photo Black,  Matte Black, Grey, Dark Grey, Light Grey and one containing something called a “chroma  optimizer.”

This last item helps extend color gamut and also increases black density when printing on  glossy paper, according to Canon. The Pixma Pro 1 uses larger-capacity ink cartridges – 2.5x  bigger than what was offered in the Pixma line before, says Canon. Print speed is impressive:  under four and a half minutes for a 13×19 print.

Epson Stylus Photo R3000

This entry in the Epson line-up has many of its big brother’s features, and even exceeds its sibling’s specifications in terms of resolution. With a maximum dpi of 5760×1440, you can expect the tiniest details within your photographs to be rendered with precision and clarity. The unit achieves this feat by utilizing Epson’s Variable Droplet Technology, in tandem with an incredibly small, 2-pl droplet footprint.

The R3000 employs an 8-cartridge system that automatically swaps in Matte or Photo Black when called for. Other colors include Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, Vivid Light Magenta, Light Black and Light Light Black in 25.9-ml UltraChrome K3 cartridges. The three-black system serves to ensure smooth tonal gradations across the entire black-and-white range in your images.

Not only does the R3000 exceed the 4900’s resolution, it bests it in terms of print speed too. 8x10s are produced in 1:33 while full 13 x 19-inch prints take a mere minutes 30 seconds. Further, it even prints on CDs, DVDs, and handles 2-inch core rolled media for up to 13×44-inch panoramas.

Additional features include wireless N network connectivity (as well as USB and 100Base-T Ethernet), lowest weight in the class at 15 kg, and an advanced black-and-white mode in the driver that ensures color casts are eliminated in your photographs – unless you specifically request their presence.

With a list price of $849, this printer has been seen in the wild at prices as low as $599 after mail-in rebate. At these pricing thresholds, the R3000 is a serious contender for any photographer looking to get the biggest bang for their buck.

Best for Economy

Canon PIXMA Pro 9000 Mk II

If you’re after an affordable printer to churn out vibrant and detailed prints at exhibition-standard, this one is definitely worth considering. Printing a wide range of sizes from 10x15cm up to A3+, this is a great all-rounder.

With eight individual ink tanks you can reduce costs and minimize waste by just replacing colors as and when you need to, and Canon EOS users have the option of directly printing RAW  files without having to convert them to a compressed format via a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop.

Best for High Quality

The Big Boys

Printers that make 13×19 inch prints are very affordable these days. If you think that stepping up your sizes means a huge leap in dollars, you might be pleasantly surprised. Printers that can take 17-inch or wider papers have become quite affordable. And when you consider the ongoing ink costs, the price per mililitre of inks for these larger printers is typically much less than for letter-size or tabloid size printers – it’s cheaper to make an 8×10 or 13×19 inch print on one of these big printers, plus you have the capacity to go bigger. These are quite a bit larger and heavier then your typical home office printer, however, so be prepared to set aside some extra space and a sturdy table.

Epson Stylus Pro 3880

This printer is capable of producing large professional quality prints up to 37.4×17 in (LxW), but is actually compact enough to fit onto most people’s desktop space. The bold color images and subtle mono tones are created by the nine Epson UltraChrome K3 inks.

To make this printer even more appealing for the pro photographer it has a three cut-sheet paper path system, which makes it possible to print onto a range of surfaces, including 1.5mm thick posterboard for fine art prints.

Best for Multi-Function

Not so long ago, if anyone had suggested producing photos on a multi-function unit would be viable alternative to a dedicated photo printer, they’d be seen as not quite right in the head, in today’s world however, for light duty photographic output, these erstwhile jacks-of-all-trades masters of none, have finally earned some measure of respectablity. With incredibly inexpensive offerings from a wide variety of companies, multi-function printers may well represent the best value for the majority of folks who primarily print documents, but want the flexibility of being able to output photos on occasion.

Canon PIXMA MG6220

This versatile All-in-One offers wireless and connected printing options galore.

This sophisticated wireless all-in-one printer gives you high-quality prints, copies and scans for under $200, making it an attractive option if you’re a newbie to the printing world. Not only is it full to the brim with features, it also works extremely fast, printing off a 10x15cm image in just 20 seconds. It’s not just prints you can scan either, as you can also use it to digitize your 35mm film slides and negatives by utilizing the high quality CCD scanner with up to 4800dpi resolution.

In addition to the pretty standard copy and scanning options, the MG6220 has a long list of connectivity and printing features.

  • The Intelligent Touch System allows you to effortlessly operate your machine with gorgeous touch sensitive buttons
  • Six individual ink system featuring gray ink for professional looking black & white photos
  • Full HD Movie Print software turns your favorite HD movie clips captured with your compatible
  • Professional color adjustment feature with the included Easy-PhotoPrint Pro software
  • Built-in CD/DVD Printing
  • Canon EOS Digital SLR or PowerShot cameras into beautiful prints

Best Value for Money

Epson Artisan 1430

The Epson Artisan 1430 has a lot of things going on for it – large prints, wireless connectivity, long-lasting inks and excellent image quality. Because it is a wide-format printer with cut sheet printing up to 13×19, the 1430 is pretty hefty. It weighs about 26 pounds and has a footprint of 24.3×31.4×16.3 inches when in use. Tucking away extrusions when the printer is idle shrinks the footprint to 24.3×12.7×8.5 inches. Just be sure to leave enough room surrounding the printer so you can extend the front and rear trays.

There are series of buttons (Wi-Fi, power, status, cancel print) on the printers top panel. The printer doesn’t have an LCD for viewing images and really doesn’t need one.

Although it doesn’t have all the direct print options of the Pixma MG6220 All-in-One, if you combine the 1430’s image quality, wireless options and the bundled copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements, you’ve got yourself a really good deal.

What’s the right inkjet printer for me and my budget?

Whether you’re looking for a cost-effective printer for updating your portfolio, or you’ve got the money to splash-out on a professional work-horse capable of producing large-format prints  to frame or exhibit, finding one that ticks all the boxes can be a nightmare. With so many choices out there you need to figure out exactly what you’re going to be using yours for.

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