The Best Photo Printer in 2020 And Why You Will Want This One

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We have spent a lot of time analyzing various photo printers to find the best one for photographers and overall, we would recommend the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000. One of the first problems you are going to have to overcome when you decide to start printing your photographs is to choose one to suit your specific needs. It doesn’t matter whether you are using a pro-grade medium format camera, entry level DSLR, a point and shoot or even a smartphone camera, using the best photo printer allows you to have a great physical copy of your images and gives you the opportunity to have your special moments in your hand at the click of a button.

Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000

Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 - The Best Photo Printer

Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000

Amazon | B&H | Adorama

The options available in the market are numerous – there is a photo printer out there for everyone, so it depends on your budget and requirements.

Whatever your need is, you will be looking for a printer for photos that can reproduce the quality of the image you have created digitally, to look the same way when printed on paper and to last a long time. If you are a professional photographer running a business, or a photographer looking for stunning quality prints, you may not always want to print at a standard size – for example a postcard, 4”X6” size or A4 size – but there are times when you may want to have a landscape printed in a large format, you may want to make a few large and small prints to add to your collection, or maybe other larger prints to support your clients’, friends’ or families’ needs, even to display in galleries. Keeping this in mind, in this article, we will be focussing on a printer that can be used for professional grade printing, which means gallery-quality prints at home between 13” to 17” wide (note that, this is not the very large format commercial editions like 24”, 36” or 44” wide printers).

The photo printers that we have analyzed here are all professional inkjet printers for photos that have more colors, with the high-end photo printers having up to 12 different to accurately replicate the rich colors in your image (scroll down to read our reason for this selection).

In our estimation, the best printer of a reasonable size, that can match the needs of a professional photographer would be the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 that can print up to 17 inches wide, is suitable for most purposes, comes with the Lucia Pro 11-ink system + Chroma optimizer, which means it produces prints with a broader color gamut (accurate color reproduction) and strong shadow details in darker areas, great image clarity, gloss uniformity and anti-bronzing.

The printhead is engineered with 1,536 nozzles x 12 inks = total 18,432 nozzles and sensors that continuously monitor the status of the nozzles and it has dedicated nozzles for photo black and matte black inks – which means, if you often switch back and forth between output types, you will neither have to waste time or ink when you switch between matte and glossy prints as you do with some other photo printers.

Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000
The Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000

Available At: Amazon | B&H | Adorama

How We Selected The Best Photo Printer Available Right Now

Table of Contents:

  1. Who are we?
  2. Why You Want to Avoid Bad Printers
  3. How This Analysis Was Conducted
  4. Research Methodology
  5. Best Photo Printer for Professional Grade Printing
  6. Conclusion

Who Are We Anyway?

If you're new to Light Stalking, you might like to know a little about us first. The Light Stalking Team has been featured by leading organizations including Nat Geo, Adobe, and is one among the top 10 most followed photography blogs in the world. The writers at Light Stalking have years of experience in the field of photography and this has given them the opportunity to test and use many different photography tools and accessories. This experience allows us to understand your needs and evaluate the highest quality products in the market. 

Moreover, being connected with the industry ensures that we keep ourselves up-to-date on the latest technologies available for the consumer and that we are continuously researching new product categories, reading user reviews, and trialing those products, which ensures that we can provide the right suggestions when you are looking for one.

Why You Want to Avoid Inferior Quality Printers as a Photographer

You may have spent hours scouting for locations and then more hours hiking to those spots with all your heavy camera gear, including your cumbersome tripod, further you were probably shooting in bad weather – all in the name of capturing that epic image. Maybe you’ve even completed a portrait session (with all the wrangling that involves!), making sure that your photo represents the spirit of the person, friends or family.

You’ve then spent hours post-processing your image, ensuring that every little detail is correct, tweaking your images to make them look their best and to really represent your creative vision for that photograph. Then, you’ve chosen to print one or few of your favourite images to go on display.

You’ve sent it to your current home printer, waiting patiently for a few minutes, or longer, only for it to be of such poor quality that the image is unusable – the colors are not what you expected, nor are they representative of your work, and the quality of the image is just not up to scratch.

There are also times when you’ve chosen to print your black and white photographs, only for the prints to come out with strange color casts and the printed image does not reproduce the expected dynamic range or tonality, of your photograph.

Sometimes, when you’ve printed your printhead has malfunctioned, usually as a result of nozzle block, or your paper has become skewed due to humidity or moisture – in this scenario, you had to waste paper and ink that are not cheap!

What is the reason for these unexpected issues?

Poor print results can be due to a number of issues:

  • Predominantly, the quality of ink used in cheaper photo printers means that you do not get a true representation of your image. 
  • Less advanced printhead options have limited your color range and potentially leave you with a strange color cast to your image. 
  • Technology failure can also be due to the cheaper components used in these printers underperforming or wearing out. Unfortunately, compromising and buying a cheap printer can cause more issues and be more expensive in ink, paper and time, than you envisaged.

Avoid these issues by buying the best photo printers out there that has advanced technology with more color combinations to reproduce a broader color gamut in the images. By choosing a cheaper product, you may have saved money but you’ve compromised quality, time and money as you reproduce on paper what you spent all your effort in creating digitally. You have wasted expensive ink and paper trying different settings or rectifying printer problems in hopes to arrive at a better print. A good advice is to invest in the best printing device out there, that can reproduce your images with the same colors, contrast and clarity that you expect.

Why We Think You Should Err Towards Inkjet Printers for Printing Photographs

The pigment ink for professional inkjet printers are made of tiny particles that sit on top of the paper and are of archival quality. This can last up to 200 years or more when maintained in proper conditions, compared with dye-based inks which are absorbed into the paper and tend to fade quickly lasting up to 75 years if maintained in proper conditions.

Epson P400 Photo Printer
Epson P400

However, you should understand that there are two drawbacks to pigment ink:

  1. metamerism, which is a slight shift in color when the image is viewed at an angle
  2. pigment ink isn’t as vibrant as the dye-based colors

If you did not know what metamerism is, it is a phenomenon where two colors appear to be of the same shade under one light source (maybe an incandescent light) but appear to be different shades under a second source (maybe a fluorescent light). In our case, the difference in shade appears when the image is viewed at an angle.

How This Analysis Was Conducted:

With so many printer manufacturers out there offering a vast range of products – starting from mobile portable ones to the very large format 64-inch printers, there are hundreds out there in the market that suit every person’s need. Cost is similarly diverse starting from below $50 to consumers being able to purchase ones that cost well over $10,000 and everything in between. As with most photography accessories, all printers are not the same but come with a variety of ink systems, technologies, and print sizes.

While some printers use great quality pigment-based ink and printhead technology, they do cost more. Conversely, there are some that favor lower cost over more features. Unfortunately, we found that lower cost devices, in particular, do not produce acceptable quality black and white images.

So we focussed our attention on the best photo printers that are not overly large but could produce at least 13 to 17 inch-wide prints. We wanted those that performed great not only for color but also monochrome images and finally, we also focussed on products that could consistently provide high-quality images that you’d be proud to see displayed on your wall, hanging in a gallery or sold to clients.

The top line of printers that were analyzed fell broadly into two manufacturers –  Canon and Epson – with a few of their devices making it to the top of the group. We also looked into one of HP’s professional line, the HP Photosmart 8750 Professional, as this met the specifications we were looking for.

Some of the reasons that other manufacturers did not make it through our analysis stage include the use of fewer colors meaning that these options could not provide the color gamut required, or the ink type used was not of a high enough quality. Further, some printers used laser and LED, thermal or dye sublimation – these technologies currently lack the print quality required, particularly for monochrome photographs. Finally, we did not include ones that are not dedicated to printing photos.

The criteria taken into account while analyzing the contenders for best photo printer were:

  1. Printing technology – since the printhead technology determines the quality of the print and determines whether there will be wastage of paper or ink we looked more into this criteria. This also impacts potential maintenance issues and the print speed
  2. Image quality – the maximum print resolution was taken into account as this is a ruling factor when producing high-quality images for any purpose.
  3. Maximum print size – we understand that many people want to produce larger format prints, whether they are professionals or enthusiastic amateurs, therefore we looked at a maximum print size of 17 inches that is required in many galleries, and also at a few 13-inch-wide devices.
  4. Ink type – this is a major deciding factor for the quality of the images, be they color or monochrome images, and we have looked mostly at only pigment based inks, but also checked two with dye-based inks.
  5. Ink palette and Chroma Optimizer – The higher the number of inks the printer uses, the broader the color gamut it can capture. Thus this became another crucial factor that we have taken into account along with the Chroma Optimizer that helps create amazing quality photos.
  6. Monochrome prints – it is no good having a monochrome image with no tonal variations or one with awkward color casts and so we have looked at devices that have a few inks dedicated to monochrome so that the produced images have an amazing dynamic range and produce true grey colors. Dedicated matte and photo black nozzles are also a very important factor to be looked into if you are someone who very often switches media. A device without a dedicated nozzle for photo black and matte black will cost you some money on ink when switching between media as some ink is wasted in this process and it will also take some time for switching, although not a huge amount.
  7. Roll feeder – if you are someone who wants to print panoramas, then a device with a roll feeder attachment will help you print on rolls of paper up to 129 inches long depending. However, beware, you may have to buy the roll feed adapter as an optional attachment at an extra cost.
  8. Print speed – the more nozzles and bigger the printhead, the higher the printing speed and this ensures that you get superb quality 17 inches photos in less than 5 minutes.

Taking the above criteria into consideration, we have eliminated the HP Photosmart 8750 Professional. Why? Although a decent device, it comes with nine dye-based colors that are delivered in tricolor cartridges which is a high waste technology, because, if one of the inks in the tricolor cartridge runs out, you will end up disposing of the entire cartridge wasting any remaining ink in the remaining two cartridges, this can be a concern increasing costs. Further, the HP Photosmart 8750 Professional prints only up to a maximum of 13 inches wide which means if you need images larger than 13 inches, then you will need to get the help of professional services.

The HP Photosmart 8750
The HP Photosmart 8750 is a fine printer but didn't make the cut for us

Excluding HP from the list, the remaining devices were all various models from Canon or Epson as most of their 13” or 17” wide carriage ones came with quality pigment-based ink systems with three to five colors for monochrome making them the most desirable for not only color, but also monochrome photo printing. Some of these printers come with a total of 12 tanks (11 colors + 1 Chroma Optimizer) so they can reproduce a broad color gamut and have uniform glossiness protecting the printed products from getting damaged. Two of Canon’s were the best at this range, but we have eliminated one due to the fact that it is extremely large comparatively, occupying an enormous amount of space and weighing about 44 kg!

A Note About Very Large Printers: A general rule with really large format machines like the 36” and 44” wide are that they are designed for graphics, maps, scientific renderings or technical information. As a result, these devices are very large and come with a smaller number of cartridges and produce a narrow color gamut compared with printers that are dedicated to photos. As we are looking for the best photo printer for most photographers, we decided, therefore, to omit these machines from our analysis.

The three top printers that came out of the initial analysis are:

  1. Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000  (Available at Amazon | B&H | Adorama)
  2. Epson SureColor P5000 (Available at Amazon | B&H | Adorama)
  3. Epson SureColor P800 (Available at Amazon | B&H | Adorama)

The 3 Best Photo Printers for Professional Printing Up to 17 Inches Wide

Although all the printers that have made it to the final can print up to 17 inches wide, the output from the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 and Epson SC-P800 are slightly better than Epson SC-P5000 due to their advanced technology and ink systems. Also, the photo print speed is slightly faster. The Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 and Epson SC-P5000 have dedicated nozzles for matte and photo black ink tanks which makes switching automatic. The Epson SC-P800 lacks this facility. Another feature to note with Epson devices that have been listed here is the roll feeder that lets the user print panoramas on rolls of paper.

Let's look at the three main contenders in detail.

The Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 (Overall Winner)

The Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 (Available At: Amazon | B&H | Adorama) comes as a 17-inch-wide carriage photo printer and is priced at around $1,299.00 at the time of publishing, which means it is affordable for serious photography enthusiasts, professionals and comes with that “red line” which Canon has on their professional line of lenses.

Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 comes with the Lucia Pro 11-ink system + Chroma Optimizer, that has an optimized resin coating for each pigment and allows denser droplets to be applied to the media. This means it produces beautiful photos with a broad color gamut and accurate color reproduction. It also reproduces great shadow details in darker areas, has outstanding image clarity, gloss-uniformity and anti-bronzing.

There are four inks for monochrome (photo black, matte black, grey and photo grey), which helps to reproduce amazing black and white images with a broad tonal range with deeper and richer blacks. The photo and matte versions would be for the matte and glossy prints as there are dedicated matte and photo black nozzles.

The printhead is 50 percent larger compared with previous versions and comes with anti-clogging technology where sensors detect ink ejection and clogs, providing automatic back-up via another nozzle. The printhead is engineered with 1,536 nozzles x 12 inks = total 18,432 nozzles and sensors that continuously monitor the status of the nozzles. This aids in consistent ink droplets, limits clogs, avoids wastage of ink and reduces the frequency of cleaning cycles.  This means, less worry about frequent printhead maintenance and wasting papers because there was a block in the nozzle. The tubular ink delivery system also ensures faster print speeds.

The dedicated nozzles for photo black and matte black inks mean, if you often switch back and forth between output types (media), you won’t have to waste time or ink during the switching process as with some other devices.

The air feeding system prevents the pages from being skewed due to moisture and humidity and ensures accurate and uniform ink placement. The air feeding system provides a consistent height between the printhead and the media that leads to ink droplet accuracy and improved image quality. So no more worrying about wasting ink and papers because your printed material got damaged as a result of skewing.

Due to the bigger size of the printhead, anti-clogging technology, and air feed method, you can have a reliable and hassle-free standard color print from 4 x 8 or  8 x 12 to a maximum size of 17 x 22 inches in less than 5 minutes, while a full bleed edge to edge photo can take between 25 to 30 minutes to print.

However, one drawback is, there is no provision for roll paper media, which means, the maximum printable sheet size is 17 x 22 inches with a printable area of 16.73 x 21.69 inches (clicking the “C” option in the settings lets you print borderless). If you are into printing panoramas often, then this is not for you.

The important features of Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 are:

  1. Printing technology – full photolithography inkjet nozzle engineering
  2. Nozzle Configuration – 1,536 nozzles x 12 inks = total 18,432 nozzles
  3. Image quality – Up to 4800 x 2400 dpi 4 for both color and monochrome
  4. Maximum Print size – 17 x 22 inches
  5. Ink type – Pigment based Lucia Pro Ink
  6. Ink palette – 11 + 1 at 80 ml each (Cyan, magenta, yellow, photo cyan, photo magenta, red, blue, photo black, matte black, grey, photo grey and Chroma Optimizer).
  7. Monochrome prints – has greyscale with photo black, matte black, grey and photo grey ink tanks with dedicated nozzles for photo black and matte black
  8. Minimum Ink Droplet Size – 4 pl
  9. Print Speed – 17 x 22 inches color photo – approximately 4 minutes 10 seconds for standard prints (full bleed edge to edge can take up to 25 – 30 minutes because it prints only one way)
Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 photograph printer
Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 Available At: Amazon | B&H | Adorama

If you are looking for a printer that is low on maintenance, with exceptional image quality, broad color gamut, dramatic black and white images and high-speed printing at only approximately 4 minutes 10 seconds for a standard 17 x 22 inches color photo, then in our estimation, the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-100 should be your first option as a professional photographer looking to have gallery or fine art quality prints.

Moreover, the price is a bargain compared with others of this range. 

Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 is available at: Amazon | B&H | Adorama

The Epson SureColor P5000

The Epson SureColor P5000 (Available at Amazon | B&H | Adorama) is a printer aimed at professional imaging and comes as a wide format device that can print up to 17” wide with enhanced performance and reliability. The advanced PrecisionCore TFP printhead and Epson’s precision dot screening technologies along with the 10 color gamut UltraChrome HDX pigment ink cartridges and high-density blacks (1.5 times denser than previous generations) delivers twice the print permeance compared with previous generation models, which means prints last twice as long.

The SureColor-P5000 also comes with a roll media feeder along with a paper cassette which means you are not limited to just the 17 x 22 inches wide prints but can print panoramas as well. Automatic switching is possible between front paper cassette and roll media feeder.

Black and white photos are done with three levels of black inks, photo black, light black and light light black, to create smooth tonal transitions and to bring out the subtlest details in the image. The switch between matte black and photo black is automatic which means you do not waste ink and time while switching media.

The printhead is designed to achieve high ink efficiency and printhead reliability, offers improved dust and static control and comes with ink-repellent surface coating for reduced nozzle maintenance. Matte black and photo black inks are delivered through a single channel which means the ink type is chosen automatically based on the chosen media.

The important features of SureColor-P5000 are:

  1. Printing technology – Inkjet printhead
  2. Nozzle Configuration – 360 nozzles per ink color = 360 x 10 = 3600 nozzles
  3. Image quality – 2880 x 1440 dpi
  4. Maximum Print size – 17” x 22”
  5. Paper handling – front tray and roll feed
  6. Ink type – UltraChrome HDX pigment ink
  7. Ink palette at 200 ml each – Standard edition of 10 (Cyan, Light Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Vivid Light Magenta, Yellow, Orange, Green, Light Light Black, Light Black, Photo Black, Matte Black). The 200 ml cartridges can be beneficial if you are someone who prints very often or uses it for bulk printing. It can be a great disadvantage for occasional printing purposes as you will have to dispose off old ink that renders unusable after a certain time period.
  8. Monochrome prints – has greyscale with UltraChrome HDX Light Light Black, Light Black, Photo Black, Matte Black
  9. Minimum Ink Droplet Size – 3.5 pL
  10. Print Speed – 17” x 22” borderless color printer photo – approximately 7 minutes (normal) to 12 minutes 26 seconds (maximum) depending on print speed setting
Epson SureColor P5000
Epson SureColor P5000 (Available at Amazon | B&H | Adorama)

When comparing the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 with the Epson SureColor P5000 the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 excels in two categories:

  1. The printhead is 50 percent larger and comes with anti-clogging technology where sensors detect ink ejection and any clogs providing automatic backup via another nozzle. The 18,432 nozzles and sensors continuously monitor the status of the nozzles and this aids in consistent ink droplets, limits clogs, higher print speed, avoids wastage of ink and reduces the frequency of cleaning cycles.
  2. The air feeding system prevents the pages from skewing due to moisture and humidity and ensures accurate and uniform ink placement and prevents loss of ink or media due to skewing. This means a consistent height is maintained between the media and printhead resulting in improved image quality.

If you are not concerned about the above criteria but are looking to print panoramas besides the 17 x 22 inches photo, then in our estimation, the Epson SC-P5000 should be your second option as a professional photographer looking to have photos made up to a size of 17 inches wide.

The Epson SureColor P5000 is available at AmazonB&H | Adorama.

The Epson SureColor P800

The Epson SureColor P800 (Available at Amazon | B&H | Adorama) utilises professional imaging technologies and comes with a 17-inch-wide option for sheet media and roll media; yes, you can print panoramas with this device up to 129 inches long on roll paper that comes as an optional adapter (will have to be bought at an extra cost of around $250). It uses UltraChrome HD inks which is the 8 color pigment ink technology for reproducing outstanding colors + resin encapsulation technology (similar to Chroma Optimizer) for uniform glossiness. The MicroPiezo AMC (Advanced Meniscus Control) printhead combined with the professional grade ink ensures accurate and stunning detail.

The printhead comes with 180 nozzles per color and utilizes the AMC technology, combined with an ink-repellent surface coating that ensures consistent dot placement. However, when switching between matte and photo black, although it is automatic, there is some time involved and ink used in that process; matte to photo black, 3 mins 30 secs, 4.6 ml ink used, photo to matte black, 2 mins 30 secs, 1.6 ml ink used.

The important features of Epson SC-P800 are:

  1. Printing technology – Epson MicroPiezo AMC inkjet printhead
  2. Nozzle Configuration – 180 nozzles per ink color x 8
  3. Image quality – 2880 x 1440 dpi
  4. Maximum Print size – 17” x 22” and panoramas up to 129 inches long
  5. Paper handling – auto sheet feeder, front fine art feed, front straight path, optional roll media adapter for prints up to 129 inches long
  6. Ink type – Pigment based UltraChrome HD inks
  7. Ink palette at 80 ml each – 9 individual cartridges (cyan, vivid magenta, yellow, light cyan, vivid light magenta)
  8. Monochrome prints – has greyscale with UltraChrome HD photo black and UltraChrome HD matte black ink tanks, light black and light light black
  9. Minimum Ink Droplet Size – 3.5 pL
  10. Print Speed – 17” x 22” borderless color photo – approximately 7 minutes (normal speed) to 12 minutes 26 seconds (maximum) depending on print speed
Epson SureColor P800
Epson SureColor P800 (Available at Amazon | B&H | Adorama)

When comparing the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 with the Epson SC-P800 the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 excels in three or more categories.

  1. The Canon printhead is 50 percent larger and comes with anti-clogging technology where sensors detect ink ejection and any clogs providing automatic back-up via another nozzle. The 18,432 nozzles and sensors continuously monitor the status of the nozzles and this aids in consistent ink droplets, limits clogs, higher print speed, avoids wastage of ink and reduces the frequency of cleaning cycles compared with the fewer ink nozzles for Epson SC-P800.
  2. The air feeding system prevents the pages from skewing due to moisture and humidity and ensures accurate and uniform ink placement and prevents loss of ink or media due to skewing. This means a consistent height is maintained between the media and printhead resulting in improved image quality.
  3. The Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 comes with dedicated nozzles for photo black and matte black inks which means, when switching back and forth between output types (media), you will neither have to waste time or ink when you switch between matte and glossy as you do with the Epson SC-P800.

If you are not concerned about the above criteria but are looking for a device that can print very long panorama besides the 17 x 22 inches photo, then in our estimation, the Epson SC-P800 should be your third option as a professional photographer looking to have images printed up to a size of 17 inches wide.

You can get an Epson SureColor P800 at Amazon | B&H | Adorama

Printer FAQs

We have decided to add an FAQ section about printers to this article based on the feedback we were getting about our selections. There are also some suggestions on the best photo printers that can print up to 13″ wide!

Is an inkjet or laser printer better for photos?

If you want to print photos and you are looking for quality results for colour and monochrome images, then you should go for an inkjet because laserjets do not come with a wider colour gamut – laserjets work with only four colours unlike the inkjets with 11 colours + chroma optimiser and do not offer various grey colours to create monochrome images with high contrast / tonal range.

Moreover, the technology involved is very different for laser and inkjets. Laserjets are a bit expensive and make use of pricier toner cartridges that contain toner powder, where the toner sticks to paper while printing, which is then heated for it to fuse with the fibers in the paper. This way, imprints are done on the surface of the paper thereby consuming less toner saving up on toner cost and faster print speeds.

Inkjets are cheaper than laserjets and make use of expensive technology where ink is sprayed onto the paper in a controlled manner using microscopic nozzles. This way, ink is absorbed into the fibers of the paper, consuming more ink which makes the image quality look many times better than a laserjet. Inkjets take more time and more ink compared to a laserjet.

So, the decision about what you want to buy depends on what you want to print – documents or photos. If you are looking to print a huge volume of documents, then go for the laserjet as it can produce crisp printed text good for reading purposes, but anyone looking for superior quality photos should go for an inkjet that is specialised for photo printing.

Can I use any printer to print photos?

The answer of course is yes, but it is the quality of the photos that differ with each model. The most common types of printers are laserjets and inkjets apart from dot matrix printers for computer data ( dot matrix makes use of a ribbon, very similar to a typewriter).

Inkjets as discussed above come with a wide range of colour cartridges for both colour and monochrome along with chroma optimisers in high-end models and can be used to create superior quality images with wider colour gamut and tonal depth.

Moreover, inkjets are safe for quality photo papers as these are special coated papers that should be used with inkjets only. The coating helps to absorb ink and stop them from smudging or bleeding at the edges.

If photo papers for inkjets are used with laserjets that use a fusing process to bond the toner with the paper by applying high heat, then chances are that, the rollers can get damaged as the coated papers are not designed to withstand the high heat produced by the laserjets during the final process. Also, coated papers are thicker and can easily be fed in an inkjet, whereas in a laserjet, it will be difficult for them to be fed through and the coating can melt and damage the inside of the device.

If you want to print photos using a laserjet, you will need to use glossy paper specially designed to be used with these devices. However, due to the limited number of colours and the process by which it is printed, photos printed using laserjets will have lower quality and colour range compared to photos printed using inkjets. If photos are for one time use or for short-term purposes, you can then go ahead and use a laserjet.

Can you print photos on a laser printer?

Yes, with no problem, but there will be a compromise on quality. Laserjets, unlike inkjets, use only 4 colours (black, cyan, magenta and yellow) and they use micro polymer powder as the colour medium. These colours are laid on paper and fused finally using heated rollers at the end of the printing process, which means, you do not get the finish that you get from an inkjet, simply because, the finish that you will see will be that of the toner and not the paper.

Moreover, laserjets are calibrated for document printing, and hence accept standard office printing papers, So, papers which are heat sensitive cannot be run through a laserjet. For product catalogs, graphics, invitations, circulars or medium quality images you are looking at the economic benefits and hence papers manufactured for laserjets, are good to start with. Besides these, metamerism is another issue that cannot be prevented in laser printed photos.

So the advice is to use laserjet for documents and inkjet for photos.

What is the best printer to buy for printing photos?

The best printer varies with the needs of every photographer, but if you are looking at this from a professional photographer’s point of view, then the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 is the best out there that can produce images up to 17 inches wide. It is suitable for most purposes, and all details about this device are discussed above. With all the qualities that it provides, you will be able to make gallery quality printed photo.

Which is the best printer for home use?

When you are looking for home use ( maybe a few photos as well as other documents), it is good to choose one that can handle printing photos and handle all of the work needs like document printing, faxing and scanning as well. The Canon PIXMA TR8520 although slightly pricey at $99.99, is an all in one device that comes with rear and front paper feeding trays, 5 individual ink system, memory card slot, Wi Fi connectivity and a 4.3” LCD touchscreen.

The resolution is an amazing 4800 x 1200 dpi with a maximum size of 8.5 x 14” and supports duplex printing. The five colour ink system helps create stunning photographs and crisp documents. The ChromaLife100 system provides printed images that can be preserved for 100 years if looked after properly.

Besides printing photos and documents, the scanner features an optical resolution of 1200 x 2400 dpi with a colour depth of 48-bit internally and 24-bit externally. 

Copy features include 4-on-1 and 2-on-1 copy. The fax feature offers transmission speeds of 3 seconds per page in black and 60 seconds for colour. With these features, we think that the Canon PIXMA TR8520 would be the most perfect choice to perform the jobs of a home use.

While it's a great home-use device, the Canon PIXMA TR8520 may not be quite up to the requirements of a photographer who is looking for great photos.

What is the best printer that can print up to 13″ wide?

When it comes to a good quality printer that can print up to 13″ wide, we have two other models from the Canon's PIXMA range that can print up to 13″ x 19″ with the highest resolution being 4800 x 2400 dpi.

Canon PIXMA PRO-10: It uses 10 ink cartridges based on the LUCIA pigment system with 3 inks for perfect monochrome prints which means you can produce photos with a wide colour gamut and produce monochrome images with greater depth and tonal range. The chroma optimiser helps regulate surface reflection and to maintain natural colours in the printed photos. The Optimum Image Generating (OIG) System makes sure your printed images have the correct colour reproduction, tonal gradations, correct density for monochrome colours, less grain, anti-bronzing, anti-metamerism, tonal gradation and uniform glossiness.

Canon PIXMA PRO-100: If you are looking for a cheaper version because you do not print your photos quite often, then you can go for the Canon PIXMA PRO-100 that comes with an eight cartridge ink system where three of them are for monochrome. This principle makes use of the same OIG system that the PIXMA PRO-10 uses and both these come with the 2-way paper feeding system where you have a rear feed option and a dedicated manual feed for loading thick papers.

Besides the above, we have one from the Epson's SureColor range, the P600 which is excellent and can produce a maximum resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi.

Epson SureColor P600: One of the most remarkable features about this device is that it also supports roll paper feed. This means, apart from the maximum borderless prints of 13″ x 19″ it can also be used for printing panoramas of about 10 feet long. It uses Ultrachrome HD pigment based inks that come as a set of 9 cartridges with four dedicated to monochrome prints which means the monochrome images come with plenty of details in the shadow and highlight areas.

What is the best printer that uses less ink?

Inkjets stand out in the market for producing high-quality inks because of the number of colours and the chroma optimiser that they use for the finishing touch and for their wider colour gamut and tonal depth that they reproduce for both monochrome and colour printing. As much as these devices produce high-quality photos, much of the ink that the devices consume do not make it to the medium, which means a lot of the ink is used up while cleaning printheads and for other maintenance purposes. The amount of ink consumed varies with different models and the technology behind the printing process.

With advanced devices, the number of cartridges and printheads increases. So when it comes to saving ink, we focused on ones that used less number of cartridges but still produced good quality photos.

Taking into account quality, price and home use, the best device that uses acceptable ink is the Epson Expression Premium XP-640. It does 2 sided printing and has dedicated trays for photo papers. It is wireless and can do print, copy, and scan with Wi Fi connectivity and uses 5 Claria Premium cartridges. The maximum resolution for Epson Expression Premium XP-640 is 5760 x 1440 dpi and can do a maximum size of 8.5 x 11”.

There is another small device from the Epson range, the Epson Expression Photo XP-970. It can print borderless photos up to 11″ x 17″, and the epson Expression Photo XP-970 gives your photos brilliant colours with its six ink color Claria Photo HD Inks.

How do you load photo paper in a printer?

Loading photo paper in a printer can vary with different models, so it is always recommended to check for specific instructions – it is important to read the user manual.

Depending on whether you are loading the papers using the rear or front slot, open/pull out the paper input tray and pull out the paper support tray as well. Depending on the model, you may have to open a feed slot cover. Slide in the papers (usually glossy side up, but always check the user manual to avoid mistakes as some have glossy side up for rear feed and glossy side down for front feed) and use the paper guides to align the papers so that they can be fed easily. Do not use force to push the paper in.

Papers are always loaded in portrait orientation and loading it otherwise can cause a paper jam. Look for the loading mark limit and do not stack papers beyond that limit. Close the feed slot cover for efficient feeding of paper. Pull out the output tray and extender to receive printed papers.

Do not feed or load papers during a printing process as this can lead to paper jams and error. Also, always store photo papers in their bags and store away in cool dark places to keep the quality as opposed to leaving them on the device for later use.

How do I print a photo?

Connect your computer to the printer and if you are printing from a mobile device, make sure you have connected the mobile device to the printer. Follow the instruction manual and load paper or follow the steps above if they apply to your make/model.

If your device has a dedicated tray for photo paper, always load paper on to that tray. Make sure that all other trays are empty of other printing papers, just in case. Make sure the paper guides are set to prevent papers from moving out of position or getting skewed while being fed.

You need to have an edited photo that has basic adjustments and other colour corrections done to make it ready for printing – you do not want to reprint and waste ink + paper, so, spend some time thoroughly looking at the image (zoomed in) for any flaws or adjustments required.

Make sure you did the edits on a calibrated monitor so that you get the correct colours displayed on the monitor on your printed photos as well. Always use high-resolution images and high-quality photo papers + ink cartridges recommended by the manufacturer for printing photos.

On your computer, open the image and from the file menu click print, or right click on the image and choose print. The “Print” window opens with default settings for printing.

You will need to look through the options / properties on each tab + advanced settings to choose the desired settings that you are looking for in your printed photo. For example, check these settings – orientation, paper tray/source, paper type, paper size, add/remove border, etc. Also to get great quality photos, make sure you choose the highest quality or Max DPI as the setting and also choose whether to print in colour, monochrome or greyscale.

If you are printing from mobile, on your mobile device, go to picture options and choose “print” and follow the instructions on the screen.

Once all the settings are done, check previews, click ok and then click print. Each device may have different settings and options to choose from, and the manufacturer may have suggestions to get good quality photos. Make sure you choose the one that suits your need and use it for superior print quality.

Can you use glossy photo paper in a laser printer?

If the glossy paper is manufactured specifically for laserjets, then it can be used in a laserjet, but do not use a paper manufactured for use on an inkjet, on a laserjet because they cannot withstand the heat produced by the rollers (fuser unit) during the print process. Most inkjet papers have a special coating to receive spray on ink, some of which may have polyester properties and hence, using inkjet photo paper on a laser printer can melt that coating and cause damage to the fuser, drums and other parts of the device.

Moreover, photo papers designed for inkjets are thicker than ones that laser printers can take in and the coating on top of the paper for inkjets will not let the toner fuse or adhere to the paper. Papers designed for laserjets are coated to attract dry toner powder and any glossy paper manufactured for use on a laserjet can be used on a laser printer – bear in mind, the final look of the image depends on the toner and not the paper as toner is not absorbed into the paper.

Can you print in colour with a laser printer?

Yes, you can although laserjets do not come with a pro ink system similar to inkjets, they still have the standard CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) colours that can be used to reproduce most of the colours. The colour quality may not be the equivalent of an inkjet and there may not be good tonal range, but you can still make medium quality photos using a laser printer if you are looking for economical options.

Which is the best wireless printer?

As we go wireless with almost everything these days, Wi Fi connectivity helps with less cables which means less clutter and easy maintenance and most of the printers these days come as devices with wired or wireless options to suit anyone’s need. If you are looking for a printer that can perform copying and scanning besides a photo printing job, then the Canon Compact TS6120 wireless inkjet is a very good one to go for and is recommended for home use.

The reasons we think this is a very good wireless printer are that it is affordable, compact, uses five individual inks with a resolution of 2400 x 1200 dpi, maximum size of 8.5 x 14”, duplex printing, has rear paper tray and front paper cassette, touch LCD, high speed USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connectivity, Airprint, Google cloud print, etc. The speed is quite impressive even over Wi Fi and this is a very good wireless printer at home for photos and documents.

The Chromalife100 provides photos that can last up to 100 years when stored in albums and can remain outside for 30 years. The five colour ink system (pigment + dye) that includes pigment black can produce sharp text for documents besides high-quality photos using the dye inks.

It comes with a flatbed scanner featuring optical resolution of 2400 x 1200 dpi with many scan features and the copy features include the 4-on-1 and 2-on-1 copy.

Do you need ink for a laser printer?

No, laserjets do not use inks that are expensive, but use toners that are micro polymer powders as the colour medium. Here is a quick explanation of the laser printing process without getting too much into the technical details.

During the print process a laser beam scans the data (page or image to be printed) back and forth and draws this image on a drum. This drum is then coated with toner by the roller, depending on the data read (electrostatic process) and when the paper is fed, it moves along the drum where the toner particles are transferred from the drum to the surface of the paper. This paper coated with toner (depending on data), is passed through two hot rollers called the fuser unit and the heat and pressure from this unit fuses the toner particles into the fibers of the paper.

What is a 4 in 1 printer?

A 4 in 1 printer can also be called an all-in-one (AiO) printer and it is a device that has multiple capabilities like printing, faxing, scanning and copying. It is also called a multifunction printer (MFP) or multifunctional device (MFD) as it provides a centralized management system where it is capable of performing the duties a small office space or a home office requires.

So in addition to printing beautiful images, scanning and copying documents or images, this device can help you run a small business where they can connect to a secure network and share documents through fax.

What is the difference between an inkjet and a laser printer?

S.No.

Inkjet Printer

Laser Printer

1The basic difference – an inkjet uses ink for printingLaserjets use toner that is in powder form (micro polymer powder) for printing
2Inkjet printer uses papers that are coated for efficient absorption of ink and prevention of ink from smudging and bleeding beyond the edges.Laserjets use papers that are coated to let the toner fuse into the fibers of the paper during the fusing process
3Photo papers for inkjets are thicker due to the photo coating some of which may have polyester characteristics and hence can only be used in inkjets that facilitate feeding through papers of varying thicknessLaserjets cannot take in photo papers due to their thickness and coating which can cause damage to several parts of the printer including the drum and fuser unit. Moreover, the print quality on these papers using a laserjet will be nowhere near the ones from inkjets.
4Inkjet printers especially the high-end printers, use up to 11 ink colours + chroma optimiser that lets one print superior quality images with details in the shadow areas and huge tonal depth. Moreover, the monochrome prints are also of very high quality with a dramatic range in tones because some printers use as much as 4 grey colours for monochrome.Laserjets come with the standard CMYK colour system that has just cyan, magenta and yellow to use and reproduce other possible colours and they just have one black cartridge for monochrome. Hence with laserjets, the huge tonal range and colour gamut are not possible.
5Uses high precision microscopic nozzles to spray ink onto paper and use advanced printing technologies that include anti-clogging systems and air-feed mechanisms to produce amazing quality photos and to prevent skewing of papers.Laserjets use drum and fuser units where images are printed from drum on to paper depending on data read and then the paper is fed between rollers that heat up the paper while applying pressure to fuse the toner to the fibers in the paper
6Ink from inkjets are absorbed by the fibers of the paper and as a result, the ink consumption is more and the images have rich colours when viewed. It also helps with long life for the printed images.Toner from laserjets is fused into fibers of the paper on to which it is printed. The toner is just fused on the surface thereby consuming less toner, making the colours not so rich like the ones from inkjets and as a result the print life is less compared to inkjets.
7Use coated papers that are of excellent quality and the printed photo is coated with a resin coating for uniform glossiness and anti-bronzing. Laserjets cannot use photo coated papers or coat images with resin coating, because their internal units like drum and fuser can get damaged.
8Inks for inkjet photo printers are very expensive and prints can consume a lot of ink compared to laserjets as ink from the cartridges are used up for cleaning printheads and other maintenance purposes.Toners when looking at the cost per page are very cheap compared to ink for inkjets.
9Can print only a certain number of pages without running into maintenance issues. These are good for home, small office and for printing photos occasionally.Laserjets can be used for bulk work in huge office spaces as they can run for a long time without slowing down or getting into repair.
10Used for art reproduction due to the high-quality images they can printUsed for posters, brochures, and other bulk jobs.
11The start-up cost is lower, but ink costs are higher and hence inkjet printer photos can be expensive.Start-up costs are higher, but on the long run, the price per print is much lesser making the toner cost cheaper.
12Many types of papers can be used in inkjets, including some fabricsLaserjets cannot handle a variety of paper or printing materials but can use normal paper and other papers designed to be used in a laser printer. Anything heat sensitive cannot be used in a laser printer.
13Slower compared to laserjetsLaserjets are faster but can take some time to warm up
14Ink dries up if the printer is not used for a while leading to printheads getting dry and needing replacement.There is no problem of the ink drying up if the printer is not used for a long time as the toner is in powder form.
15Although expensive on ink, win hands down for superb quality photos with wide colour range and tonal depth.Although cheap on toner consumption, monochrome laserjets can be used for text and documents whereas colour laser printers can be used for medium quality images, magazines, brochures, flyers, etc.

Conclusion: The Best Photo Printer for Photographers

Huge prints are made to last for a lifetime. Photographers are always looking for rich colors, broad color gamut, high dynamic range, exceptional monochrome images, sharpness and amazing details in the shadow areas. When you are working on large projects, you are also looking at performance and maintenance issues and so you need a printer that can accomplish all these things.

Taking into consideration the above facts, the number 1 recommendation from us would be the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000 as it comes with professional quality ink that has a wider color gamut, a Chroma Optimizer that provides uniform glossiness and four tanks for monochrome. Added to this is the air feed system that prevents media from skewing, the anti-clogging technology reduces maintenance frequency and the improved size of the printhead and print speed.

If you are looking for the best professional photo printer out there that can print up to 17” wide, then our number one recommendation would be the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000. It is also sold at quite an affordable price for serious professionals and can be purchased at these outlets:

The best photo printer of 2020 is the Canon ImagePrograf Pro-1000. Get it at Amazon | B&H | Adorama

About Author

Dahlia is a stock photographer and full time educator at Light Stalking. You can find her on Gurushots and see some of her more popular articles at The American Society of Media Photographers. Get to know her better here.

This one’s tricky – it’s a bit like saying a Rolls-Royce is better than a Mercedes, in some areas. There’s a level below which poorer quality images become rather obvious. There’s also a level above which further improvements are almost impossible to see. And there are factors such as “how large do you normally/ever print” which also govern choices.

I have no need for a 17″ printer, so I bought a 13″ one with fittings for rolls of paper – and now I find that a 13″ printer makes it hard to get hold of paper in rolls. (Not impossible – but limited and costly). I don’t find that frustrating – it’s just annoying, and means one of the “features” of the printer is pretty meaningless, for me.

And using a 17″ printer to almost invariably print nothing larger than A4, apart from the occasional A3 print, means most of the gear inside the printer is only used on one side of the machine. I’ve no idea if it’s true, but I’ve been told that’s not a good idea.

So in the end, the choice becomes a personal one, based on what you’ll use it for.

Sorry Dahlia – I meant to add “fabulous article – never come across a discussion of printers that’s even remotely close to the quality of this article!”

Dahlia: This article was very helpful. I currently own an Epson Stylus Photo R3000, and I have had less than perfect results. Also, as far as customer service goes, Epson is horrible. Most of the time they patch me through someone in the Philippines or Vietnam. When I do get someone from the USA, they are impatient and unable to assist me. I’m leaning towards the Canon especially since there is a $300 Rebate through 12/31/18. Thanks again.

Splendid article. I was already going to upgrade to a wide format printer and it looks like I will go the Canon way. I was wondering what was the “other” Canon that you say was eliminated based on weight? I did not know they had another 17″ available. Thanks so much for the research.

It’s too bad Canon won’t add the roll capability!! I have a Canon Pro-100 and have been very disappointed with color quality. I found myself purchasing a calibration device but even then no consistency on the black and whites and green hues. Went back to my Epson R3000 for color consistency but then head blew! I love doing panorama’s so I’ll keep searching.

I think the three main printers review in this article are targeting different consumers. Epson SC-P5000 is really a pro studio printer. SC-5000 is a true beat of a printer weighs around 55kg with ink cartridge that requires 2 strong people to move it around places. I have used SC-P800 and SC-P5000 and my experience is SC-P5000 is definitely superior to SC-800, this is particularly noticeable in black and white prints and in color prints SC-5000 extra touch of realism specially with skin tone. Depend on what I am printing or what paper I am using I think there are occasions that I think SC-P5000 is superior printer than Canon Pro-1000, this includes print on fine art paper like Epson Cold Press , Matte base Canvas or even on some semi glossy paper. Canon Pro-1000 does have an edge on glossy paper .

Fantastic detailed review. Thank you. I look forward to reading more of your posts.
I am wondering if there is a smaller version of Prograf Pro-1000? My maximum print needs are usually 8×10. All of the details of the Pro-1000 are right on for me but I do not need to make such big prints.

Can you compare very large format printers – 24″ – 64″ – from Canon, Epson and HP? Or recommend where I could find a comparison. I’m a fine art photographer who values print quality as foremost.

Nice article, but no comment on print longevity, which is important. I know print longevity depends on a number of factors such as media used, storage etc., but a like for like comparison would give an indication. I am looking to replace an Epson Stylus Pro 4900 and am interested in the Canon ( I do not print many panoramas .) but I am not confident of its print longevity, and can find little information on this important factor,

I’ve had the P1000 for over a year and love it! The prints are breathtaking, it’s reliable, Canon support is top notch. Am a headshot, portrait and live performance photographer and the colors are stunning, accurate, and getting the print right is very straightforward using Lightroom. My clients love the results – particularly for the larger prints. No clogging or issues – highly recommended!

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