Top Photo Printers for Printing at Home

In the digital age, it seems prints have taken a back seat for many. We spend a lot of money on high resolution cameras, pair them with the best glass money can buy, and do all we can in the field to ensure the ‘sharpest’ image possible.

The majority of us go through those steps so we can then downsize our images by 80% and post onto Instagram and Facebook, where almost all viewers will use a cell phone to view the images. If that’s not dramatic irony, I don’t know what it is.

What happened to printing?! What happened to getting a 40×60 inch print and draping it across a wall in your house… Without a doubt, the best way to see your work, and I mean really see, is to print it. There are many photographers who do just that and print their own work, in all sizes. But, there are a large number of us out there that don’t print for whatever reason. This will be part 1 in a series on printing and photography. We will focus on printing in home, outsourcing prints to labs across the country, and the art of proofing for print.

In this first installment, our focus is printing in the home. Although it is difficult to print at very large sizes (it is possible, just involves some expensive start up fees), printing in home provides a very reasonable and convenient way to print your work at smaller sizes (think 3 inches on the longest edge all the way up to 16 inches). There are a wide variety of printers available, but the best seem to always come from Canon and Epson, who both make fantastic printers.  

Printers generally come in all shapes and sizes. There are budget photo printers that represent a good entry place, there are portable printers that you can take with you anywhere, and of course there are professional printers that might need a dedicated room for themselves. There is a printer out there for every photographer.

Considerations:

Functionality

What sizes can the printer handle, 4 x 6, 5 x 7, and 8 x 10?  Is the printer designed to produce vibrant, color accurate, high-quality prints? These are just a few things to consider when looking at a printer. Functionality is one of the most important aspects of a home printer. Portability is another aspect to research. Many photographers carry printers the size of their smart phone and print while traveling. To me, the most important thing to research is how functional is the printer in terms of photo size and paper.

Cost

You can spend $200 on a printer and you can also spend $3000+ on a printer. Increased cost is proportional with increased functionality and print quality, but only you can determine if the additional cost is worth it. Paper and ink costs money too obviously, and just like printers, the price and quality for both varies greatly. Cost is important to consider, especially if you only print a few times of year, in that case it might make more sense to outsource to a lab.

Print Resolution

Like cameras, print resolution matters, but only to a point. The general rule of thumb is you want a high black and color resolution. Resolution for printers is measured in DPI or dots per inch. The higher the DPI then the better the quality of print. However, as you look into printers that are capable of producing very large prints you will find that they have a lower resolution than printers specialized to print smaller.  Most inkjet printers can do 4800 x 2400 dpi, but some of the printers capable of printing larger are only around 2400 x 1200 dpi for their max resolution. Hence, resolution should be a consideration, but it should be considered with the other features of a specific printer.

  • Canon PIXMA PRO-100 – $379.99

Canon Pixma Pro 100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifications

  • 4800 x 2400 dpi
  • Print 8 x 10″ in 51 Seconds
  • Wi-Fi, Ethernet, AirPrint, PictBridge
  • Print Sizes up to 13 x 19″
  • 8 Ink Cartridges Including 3 Monochrome
  • CD, DVD, Blu-ray Printing

The Canon PIXMA PRO-100 offers resolution up to 4800 x 2400 dpi and features an 8-cartridge ink system, that means great color range and it even has three black inks for incredible black and white prints. The Pro-100 is capable of producing prints up to 13×19”, which is really impressive at the price. It allows you to work with the paper you want as well, glossy, matte, pearl, luster, you name it. For the price point, the PRO-100 offers the best bang for the buck. It is priced on the lower end of the spectrum for photo printers, but you will be extremely satisfied with it, especially if you have never printed your own photos before. Setup is a breeze too with the included software. You can print directly from Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom.

  • Epson SureColor P400 – $389.99

Epson SureColor P400

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifications

  • Max Resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi
  • Max Printable Area: 13 x 129″
  • Borderless Prints up to 13 x 19″
  • Accepts Roll Media up to 13″ Wide
  • Epson MicroPiezo AMC Print Head
  • AccuPhoto HG Imaging Technology
  • 8 UltraChrome HG2 Pigment-Based Inks
  • Auto-Selecting Black Ink Technology
  • Advanced Media Handling & Disc Printing
  • USB 2.0, Ethernet, & Wi-Fi Connectivity

The Epson SureColor P400 Inkjet Printer is a close competitor to Canon’s PRO-100.  The P400 is an incredible entry level photo printer as well. Epson’s MicroPiezo AMC one-inch-wide print head combined with a 1.5 pl minimum droplet size ensure insanely detailed prints. The P400 one ups the Canon PRO-100 (minimum droplet size is 3.0 pl). The P400 has better resolution at 5760 x 1440 dpi too. It can print as large as 13 x 19”, but because of its adaptability to roll paper, it can do panoramic prints up to 13 x 129”. Overall, this printer is better than the Canon PRO-100, and it is on sale at B&H right now so it is actually a similar price. Check it out!

  • Canon imagePrograf PRO-1000 – $1,299.99

Canon imagePrograf PRO-1000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifications

  • Max Resolution: 2400 x 1200 dpi
  • Max Print Size: 17 x 22″ (Sheet Media)
  • Print Speed: 17 x 22″ in 4 Min 10 Sec
  • Borderless Printing at up to 17″ Wide
  • FINE Printing Technology
  • L-COA PRO Image Processing Engine
  • 12 LUCIA PRO Pigment-Based Inks
  • Grayscale Photo Printing; 3.0″ Color LCD
  • Canon PRINT App, PIXMA Cloud Link
  • USB 2.0, Ethernet, & Wi-Fi Connectivity

The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 Professional Photographic Inkjet Printer’s main function is to deliver large format prints at the highest quality possible. Large format printers in general experience quite a bump up in price, but in return you get max print sizes of around 17 x 22”. The PRO-1000 will do 17 x22” in about 4 minutes. The newest model has a 50% larger print head than previous offerings and introduces an 11-color ink set. This printer covers a very large gamut of colors, and does it very well. Look at this printer or the next option if your budget is around $1,000.

  • Epson SureColor P800 Inkjet Printer – $1,195.00

 

Epson SureColor P800 Inkjet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifications

  • Max Resolution: 2880 x 1440 dpi
  • Max Print Size: 17 x 22″ (Sheet Media)
  • Print Speed: 8 x 10″ in 113 Seconds
  • Borderless Printing at up to 17″ Wide
  • Epson MicroPiezo AMC Print Head
  • 9 UltraChrome HD Pigment-Based Inks
  • Auto-Switching Black Ink Technology
  • Advanced Black & White Mode
  • Optional Adapter for 17″ Wide Roll Media
  • USB 2.0, Ethernet, & Wi-Fi Connectivity

The Epson SureColor P800 Inkjet Printer is a great option at a budget of about $1000. It features a maximum resolution of 2880 x 1440 dpi. It can also print borderless up to 17 x 22”. Only 9 UltraChrome HD inks compared to the Canon’s 11, but the Epson is a speed demon. You can dish out 8 x 10” prints in less than 2 minutes.

  • Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000S 44″ Professional Production Signage Large Format Printer – $3,995.00

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000S 44″ Professional Production Signage Large Format

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifications

  • Max Resolution: 2400 x 1200 dpi
  • Max Printable Width: 44″
  • FINE Print Head Technology
  • L-COA PRO High-Speed Processing Engine
  • Color Densitometer for Calibration
  • 12 LUCIA PRO Inks; No Black Switching
  • Sub-Ink Tank System; 320GB Hard Drive
  • 3.5″ LCD Touchscreen; USB Direct Print
  • USB 2.0, Ethernet, & Wi-Fi Connectivity

Most likely out of the price range for many, but if you want the ultimate professional printer, look no further. You can create incredible lab quality prints with the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 44″ Professional Photographic Inkjet Printer. Max resolution is 2400 x 1200 dpi and you can print up to 44” wide. It includes Canon’s state of the art FINE technology, a 12 color LUCIA PRO ink set, a high speed processing engine, and a color densitometer. This printer delivers peak performance in terms of size, color, color accuracy, and print speeds. But, it will cost you. It essentially turns your home into a professional print lab.

  • Canon IVY Mini Photo Printer – $125.00

Canon IVY Mini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifications

  • ZINK Zero Ink Printing Technology
  • Compact Wireless Design
  • Compatible with iOS and Android Devices
  • Print Size: 2 x 3″
  • Print Speed: Up to 50 Seconds
  • For ZINK-Compatible Printers & Cameras
  • Peel-Off Adhesive Backing
  • Borderless Printing
  • Vivid Color Reproduction
  • Smudge, Tear, and Water-Resistant Prints

For good measure, I thought I would include an extremely portable printer. Canon’s IVY Mini printer is super compact; it is less than 1” tall. It won’t print very large obviously, maxing out at 2 x 3”, but it does offer a quick solution for printing while on the road. It is Bluetooth compatible and operates on a rechargeable battery. If portability is most important to you, look no further, this printer will easily fit into a backpack or camera case.

Matt Meisenheimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Meisenheimer is a photographer based in Wisconsin.  His artistry revolves around finding unique compositions and exploring locations that few have seen. He strives to capture those brief moments of dramatic light and weather, which make our grand landscapes so special.  Matt loves the process of photography – from planning trips and scouting locations, taking the shot in-field, to post-processing the final image.

Matt is an active adventurer and wildlife enthusiast as well. He graduated with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked in Denali National Park and Mount Rainier National Park as a biologist. He also spent 6 months working in the deserts of Namibia before finding his path in photography. Matt’s passion for the wilderness has taken him to many beautiful places around the world.

As a former university teaching assistant, Matt is passionate about instruction. It is his goal to give his students the technical and creative knowledge they need to achieve their own photographic vision. He truly enjoys working with photographers on a personal level and helping them reach their goals.

You can see Matt’s work and portfolio on his webpage at www.meisphotography.com

 

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