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8 best photo printers that capture your memories perfectly

Now we take photos on our phones and tablets as well as our cameras, it’s more important than ever that we can turn to a printer that does the images justice.

The cheapest printers can handle text easily enough, but often have just two cartridges, one for black ink and one for three different colours.

A photo printer will often have as many as six cartridges to add extra subtlety and realism when printing photos (and such a set-up has the advantage that you only need to replace each cartridge as it runs out of ink).

Some printers manage bigger photo prints, up to A3, for instance, though most are designed to max out at A4. There are even portable printers designed just for photos, usually at smaller sizes.

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Print quality was our highest priority in these tests, though value, cost of running the printer, ease of use and reliability were also important.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism acrossThe Independent.

The best photo printers for 2021 are:

Epson ET-7700

Best: Overall

Maximum paper size: A4

Scanner? Yes

Copier? Yes

Ink cartridges: 5

Dimensions: 425 x 359 x 161 mm

Weight: 8kg

Maximum print resolution: 5,760 x 1,440dpi

Image quality is very good on this printer, with faithful colours and prints with great sharpness and precision. Gloss paper made photos look especially good, but this is a great everyday printer for documents as well. It’s easy to use, though there’s no touchscreen, instead using direction keys next to the display.

Epson’s printer has five inks, but instead of cartridges it uses five tanks which hold much more ink. This is supplied in clever bottles which only release ink once they’re attached, to avoid spillage. Each tank lasts so long that you begin to forget what it’s like checking the ink levels. That in itself is very easy to do, as the tanks are visible from the front of the printer, and Epson says enough ink comes with the printer to last two years.

Canon pixma TS8350

Best: For photography enthusiasts

Maximum paper size: A4

Scanner? Yes

Copier? Yes

Ink cartridges: 6

Dimensions: 373 x 319 x 141 mm

Weight: 6.6kg

Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200dpi

Canon’s expertise in photo printing are unsurprising, as the company is also a leading camera brand. The six inks here include one called photo blue, which is dedicated to help photo quality by increasing the colour range and improving how smooth graduated colours can look. The results are impressive, with rich colours and natural skin tones. The touchscreen display is large and effective, making the printer especially easy to use. It’s also fast and accurate at regular document printing, too. There’s an SD card slot for most camera memory cards and the scanner is higher-resolution than many. It’s great value, too.

Epson expression photo XP-8600

Best: For all-round use

Maximum paper size: A4

Scanner? Yes

Copier? Yes

Ink cartridges: 6

Dimensions: 349 x 340 x 142mm

Weight: 6.7kg

Maximum print resolution: 5,760 x 1,440dpi

This is a great printer, with simple controls and highly effective results. The six ink cartridges deliver pristine, beautifully detailed prints with strong colour fidelity. The all-round capabilities mean it will handle all the tasks thrown at it with ease; it prints ordinary documents well but has enough class to deliver strong photo prints, and all from a reasonably compact footprint. There are two paper trays; one of them is dedicated to photo paper. It’s reliable, effective and enjoyable to use.

Canon pixma G3560

Best: For efficiency

Maximum paper size: A4

Scanner? Yes

Copier? Yes

Ink cartridges: 5 tanks

Dimensions: 445 x 330 x 135 mm

Weight: 6.4kg

Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200dpi

This is another tank, not cartridge, printer, with two black ink tanks and three colours. Great print quality is the standout here, especially for photo printing with sharp, crisp prints and documents. But this printer is also fast, designed to be useful for leisure or home office use equally. Like the Epson above, the Canon has visible tanks so you can see at a glance how much ink is left. When you insert the ink bottles into the tanks they work automatically and stop when the tank is full. There’s even an economy print mode, suited to documents better than photos, to make the ink go that bit further.

HP envy photo 7830

Best: For reliable performance

Maximum paper size: A4

Scanner? Yes

Copier? Yes

Ink cartridges: 2

Dimensions: 454 x 193 x 491mm

Weight: 7.58kg

Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200dpi

Printer ink isn’t cheap, but HP at least has an original take on things with its instant ink subscription service, where you commit to a monthly payment according to how many pages you’ll need. You can adjust it up or down as you like, and the great benefit is that the next set of ink arrives just before you run out. There are only two cartridges here, one black, the other containing all the coloured inks. As such, it can’t compete with the very best here, but print quality is good, if not quite exceptional.

Canon pixma TS6350

Best: For working from home

Maximum paper size: A4

Scanner? Yes

Copier? Yes

Ink cartridges: 5

Dimensions: 376 x 359 x 141 mm

Weight: 6.3kg

Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200dpi

If you want to use your printer as your work-from-home station, the versatility of the TS6350 works well. The main paper tray will serve for printing the latest reports and documents while the vertical rear feeder can be reserved for photos, say. Print quality is excellent with realistic colours whether you’re shooting landscapes or people. The out-of-the-box settings do photos great justice. If there are downsides on this well-built and attractive printer, it’s the lack of a touchscreen display and the absence of a photo memory card slot.

Canon pixma TS9550

Best: For large-scale work

Maximum paper size: A3

Scanner? Yes

Copier? Yes

Ink cartridges: 5

Dimensions: 468 x 366 x 193 mm

Weight: 9.7kg

Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200dpi

When it comes to photography, sometimes A4 isn’t big enough. In which case this A3 printer can deliver big-impact results. Of course, it also works if you’re printing a wall chart or big spreadsheet, say. This is a solid, sturdy machine and, remarkably, isn’t that much bigger in terms of desk space than some larger A4 printers. It is rather heavy, though. It’s a capable and effective machine with a big touchscreen, and speeds are good, though obviously A3 prints take longer. Note that the scanner and photocopier max out at A4.

Epson expression home XP-4100

Best: Value for money

Maximum paper size: A4

Scanner? Yes

Copier? Yes

Ink cartridges: 4

Dimensions: 75 x 300 x 170 mm

Weight: 4.3kg

Maximum print resolution: 5,760x 1,440dpi

The compact XP-4100 is small in size and price tag. It’s not as fast as some here but still respectable. In photographic terms it really shines when you print on glossy paper, though there’s a definite quality advantage on the other two (pricier) Epson printers here. Running costs are higher than some on test, so it’s a good thing the upfront price is lower. The control panel is not a touchscreen, which isn’t surprising at this price. More impressive is the fact that this budget machine has four ink cartridges and wireless connectivity.

The verdict: Photo printers

The value of a quality printer remains keen, especially now we’re working from home. The best model here in terms of quality and convenience, is the Epson ET-7700.

Canon, the other brand that dominates this part of the market, also has excellent photo printers, notably the Canon pixma TS8350 and Canon pixma G3560.

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IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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