The best printers for photo printing

From little to large, and to suit every budget, here are the best printers for producing high-quality photo prints at home and on the go.
Hands holding a child up to place a framed photo print on the wall.

A photograph has the power to capture a moment in time and turn it into a treasured memory. But that power is lost when it's buried on a hard drive or amongst pages of digital media.

Printing your favourite photos transforms them into physical entities that can be framed and displayed around the home, given as keepsake gifts, placed in a scrapbook or photo album, or even printed as stickers to personalise your possessions.

There are a wide range of printers available that enable you to create your own prints, when and where you want – from compact printers that you can take on days out, holidays and to special events, to large-format models for producing big prints to frame and hang on the wall.

So how do you choose the best home printer for photos? Here we take a closer look at what the Canon printer lineup has to offer.

Best all-round photo printers

A woman holding a printed photo montage stands next to a Canon PIXMA printer on a wood-effect surface

The Canon PIXMA TS7440a printer can output bordered or borderless photos in sizes ranging from 91x55mm and square options, up to A4. It would be ideal for printing a photo montage, or a selection of photos in different sizes to display on a gallery wall or mounted together in one large frame.

Hands holding wedding photos above further photos arranged on a table.

Printing your photos can help you to become a better photographer, enabling you to identify what you like or dislike about an image and the aspects that could be improved on.

A multi-function printer makes it quick and easy to transform digital memories into beautiful prints to decorate your home or to share with loved ones. The physical nature of print means the images seem to hold more value, especially when given as a gift.

The multi-purpose Canon PIXMA TS7440a is simple to use, with a built-in scanner and Wi-Fi connection to your computer or smartphone. It's compatible with the free Canon PRINT app, and can output full-colour 100x150mm borderless photo prints in as little as 43 seconds.

Generally, the more inks a printer uses, the better the photo quality will be. The PIXMA TS7440a uses a pigment-based black ink for crisp, smudge-resistant mono text output, and dye-based cyan, magenta and yellow inks for photos.

If you want even better photo quality, perhaps for creating your own wedding album, the Canon PIXMA TS8340a again features a pigment-based black ink but adds black, cyan, magenta, yellow and 'photo blue' dye-based inks, all available in standard, XL and XXL options. The extra inks enhance the quality of photo prints, enabling a greater colour space, or gamut, as well as enhancing the tonal range for retaining greater detail in dark shadows and bright highlights. The specialist 'photo blue' colour enables particularly smooth graduations in the blue skies of landscape photos.

The PIXMA TS8340a comes into its own for super-fast photo printing. As with the PIXMA TS7440a, borderless photo prints are available in wide-ranging sizes, but this printer can output a 100x150mm borderless photo in just 17 seconds.

Best photo printer for mobile printing and scrapbooking

A pair of hands holds a printed baby photo above a Canon SELPHY CP1500, with further printed photos surrounding it.

A compact printer such as the Canon SELPHY CP1500 would be ideal for creating an album celebrating the first year of a child's life. Start with pregnancy shots, and include scans or photos of birth certificates and cards to capture the whole experience. Print out your imagery in a range of sizes and experiment with layout and ordering.

A woman sits on a sofa sticking photo prints from a Canon SELPHY Square QX10 into a scrapbook.

The battery-powered Canon SELPHY Square QX10 enables you to print photos anywhere and everywhere. Wi-Fi Direct makes it easy to connect to a smartphone, tablet or compatible camera, while the peelable, self-adhesive backing means prints are ideal for scrapbooking or for sticking to just about anything.

The printers we've covered so far are desktop/tabletop models that include built-in Wi-Fi, so you can place them anywhere around the home. But if you want to print further afield, Canon's compact, mobile printers can be taken wherever you go to create prints direct from your smartphone or compatible camera. It's a great way of gifting mementos to family and friends, or even creating custom postcards from your travels to send back home.

The compact Canon SELPHY CP1500 supports multiple paper types, ranging from postcard-sized paper (RP-108 and KP-36IP) to mini stickers (KC-18IL), with credit card (KC-36IP and KC-18IF) and square-shaped paper (KC-18IS) sizes in between. Each paper pack includes an ink cartridge loaded with the exact amount of ink needed. Photo print speed is about 41 seconds for a 100x150mm postcard-sized print.

The Canon SELPHY Square QX10 is a self-contained mobile printer that has an internal rechargeable battery pack and produces 68mm square photos on slightly larger 72x85mm sticker paper, enabling you to write your own captions at the bottom of photo prints. As with the larger Canon SELPHY CP1500, you can use different layout options and add decorative stamps, borders and special effects via the Canon SELPHY Photo Layout app.

Going smaller still, the Canon Zoemini 2 portable printer is small enough to put in a spare pocket, making it ideal for travel scrapbooking or for taking to a festival for instant printed selfies.

Find out more in our guide to getting creative with a compact photo printer.

Best photo printer for big projects

A Canon PIXMA printer surrounded by colourful photo prints, one of which sits in the printer tray.

The Canon PIXMA G640 features six cyan, magenta, yellow, red, black and grey dye-based ink tanks, for a wide colour space and tonal range, as well as for enhanced black and white photo printing.

MegaTank ink bottles being installed in a Canon PIXMA printer.

The high-capacity MegaTanks in the PIXMA G640 have clear windows at the front, making it easy to keep track of ink levels.

If you're working on a long-term project that requires a lot of photo prints, especially at large sizes, the need to replace ink cartridges on a regular basis can feel a bit of a chore. Canon's MegaTank printers feature relatively high-capacity ink tanks that take cartridges out of the equation.

The Canon PIXMA G640 is a particularly strong contender, delivering sumptuous photo quality based on six dye-based inks. Each set of low-cost ink bottles is sufficient for creating up to 3,800 100x150mm colour photo prints and borderless printing is supported right up to full A4/letter sizes. Refilling the tanks is straightforward and mess-free.

As with the other PIXMA printers we've mentioned, the G640 has built-in Wi-Fi and supports cloud-based scanning and printing, and a built-in, high-resolution scanner also makes it easy to scan and copy photos.

Best printer for professional quality photo prints

A woman standing by a Canon PIXMA printer, which is sitting on a desk next to a computer monitor. Printed photos are displayed in frames on the wall behind.

As a specialist dye-based photo printer, the Canon PIXMA PRO-200 is unrivalled for professional-quality colour and black and white output. The printer is ideally suited to glossy and lustre photo papers, but also delivers beautiful looking prints on matte and fine art media.

If you want to take your photo printing to the next level, the Canon PIXMA PRO-200 delivers A3+ (329x483mm) borderless prints in as little as 90 seconds. It can also produce panoramic photo prints of up to 990mm in length, to really show the bigger picture, which is ideal for landscape photography.

The PIXMA PRO-200 runs on eight individual dye-based ink cartridges, the inks being formulated to give professional-quality photo prints. It's therefore the perfect printer for the most demanding creative photographers who want the utmost photo quality and bigger prints.

Multiple input trays ensure compatibility with relatively thick fine art media as well as regular photo papers, so you can experiment with the look and feel of your printed pictures. To help with this, Canon's free Professional Print & Layout software simplifies multi-image page designs, as well as giving easy options for customising colour rendition, brightness and contrast.

How to make good photos look great

A hand arranges a wedding photo in a frame on a wooden surface.

Canon has a range of different kinds of printer papers, and each could add something different to your final printed photo. For wedding photos, a matte finish such as Matte Photo Paper can be the best fit for subtle colour treatment or romantic-looking black and white.

A before and after shot of a couple on their wedding day next to a lake, dark and unedited on the left, showing the lighter version on the right, edited in Digital Photo Professional.

It's useful to know how to edit your photos, so you can fix mistakes, improve your composition and adjust settings. Find out how to process your images using software such as Digital Photo Professional in our simple photo editing tips guide.

For top-quality, long-lasting photo prints, paper choice is as important as the ink. The variety of different profiles in Canon's printer drivers ensures that the process is fine-tuned to give the utmost accuracy in terms of colour, brightness and contrast, and that prints are highly resistant to smudging or fading over time.

Glossy paper is particularly good for creating vibrant, punchy colour photos. Non-reflective matte papers can work better for dramatic black and white photo prints, and for a more subtle colour treatment, for example in portraits and wedding photos.

There's a wide range of Canon photo papers to choose from, including the cost-effective Glossy Photo Paper 'Everyday Use', the thicker and more lavish Photo Paper Plus Glossy II, the Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss with its luxurious satin finish, and Matte Photo Paper which is excellent not only for matte photo prints, but also for greeting cards and crafting projects. All of these photo papers are available in a wide range of sizes. It's a good idea to test a few different photo papers to see which you prefer.

Canon's range of printers and papers means photographers can be sure their photo prints do justice to their images, no matter how or where they intend to display them. From mobile models that put fun into printing with family and friends at special occasions, through desktop printers that are equally adept at document and photo printing, to MegaTank printers that are convenient and cost-effective for larger projects. And to really make a statement, the Canon PIXMA PRO-200 offers professional-quality large-format printing at a relatively affordable price.

Written by Matthew Richards

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