What is the best photo printer to buy – a guide.

What is the best photo printer to buy - a guide.

While laser printers and inkjet technology have been around for a long time, photo printers are still relatively new. High-quality inkjet technology is more affordable than ever, but it’s only in the last few years with the selfie revolution taking off that photo printers have really gained in popularity. Now they range from professional high-tech photo printers designed for professional photographers to instant mobile printers and compact photo printers for families. The choice has gotten so diverse, in fact, that it can often be difficult to find the best photo printer for you. With that mind, we decided to take a look at the photo printer options and what to look out for when it’s time to choose your own.

What is the difference between a photo printer and a regular printer?

When we say photo printer, we just mean any printer that is designed with great quality photo printing in mind. While laser printers are improving in this area, the type of technology means that inkjet printers are simply better when it comes to photo printing as well as the photo-specific technology of dye sublimation. Here’s what you should be looking out for in a photo printer.

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The printing

The colour technology, ink system and resolution are all important features for a photo printer. Today, colour technology is better than ever and can produce vibrant full-colour prints for a professional finish.

Colour and ink

You’ll probably notice that photo printers state they are anywhere from a two all the way up to a ten single ink system. This refers to the number of cartridges in the printer and therefore the number of colours. A four-ink system consists of black, cyan, magenta and yellow while a six-ink system will additionally have light magenta and light cyan and so on. The more single inks a photo printer has, the more diverse and vibrant the colour you can print. Pigment-based inks additionally provide a long-lasting vibrancy to prevent faded photos.

Single ink systems also have the additional benefit of only needing to change the cartridge that runs out, unlike two-ink systems with a tri-colour cartridge that requires replacing all three colours when only one has run out.

As well as ink, look out for special photo printing technology. Dye sublimation has revolutionised photo printing and can even be found in compact mobile printers so you can print photos with ease and on-the-go. Dye sublimation technology uses heat to transfer dye onto the paper. Unlike inkjet, which uses ink droplets that can be seen individually under magnification and is limited to the colours in the printer, a dye-sublimation printer uses a continuous tone technology.

The HP Tango printer is perfect for photos at home.


Resolution is crucial to photo printing, the higher the better. Resolution is measured by dpi, or dots per inch, and is exactly what it says: The number of dots per inch. The higher the dots per inch, the more solid the colour appears to the naked eye and the better quality the photo appears. Photo printers can be up to 5,760 dpi and higher, but you don’t really want to go below 1,200 x 1,200 dpi for quality photos unless you’re looking at a mobile instant printer.

The paper

You’ll also want to consider paper when it comes to photo printing. The ability to print on glossy photo paper and other media, as well as the size, is essential to being able to create the photos that you need.

Paper stock
True photo printers should have glossy photo paper and other media that you can buy that are compatible with the printer. Depending on whether you’re printing photographs or marketing materials, you may want to opt for a photo printer that can handle other stock such as card. Each printer should tell you the maximum thickness of card it can handle as well as other types of stock it can print on.

Paper size
If you’re looking at printing instant photos to make the most of your memories then be aware that a mobile instant printer will be limited in paper size. Photographers and creatives, on the other hand, will want to look out for large format printers up to A3 and beyond. Some of these printers will also offer borderless printing for quality photographs ready to frame, perfect for showcasing photos at home and even at a gallery.

Paper trays
Finally, the number of paper trays a printer can handle could also be important for your photo printer. Different paper trays means that you can print from different stock without having to change the paper over every time. This is perfect for creatives that may need to regularly print on glossy paper, different card weights and more as well as businesses needing to print both documents and photos from the same machine.

The connectivity

Today connectivity is more important than ever. Depending on what you need your photo printer for and where it will be, there is a range of connectivity options you should look out for.

SD and USB

Built-in SD and USB ports are essential for photographers whether professional or hobbyists. These connectivity options mean you can print straight from your camera either from the SD memory card or via USB cable.

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Wireless and mobile

Traditionally we might have recommended wireless and mobile connectivity for homes, but today these options are just as important for photographers who may be able to take quality photos straight from their mobile device. Additionally, wireless, Cloud and AirPrint technology could enable you to share and print from more locations, perfect for busy households that share memories between family members as well as professional photographers looking to run their business more efficiently.

Ready to buy a photo printer of your own? You can speak to one of our team today to find out more.

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