So you own a digital camera. It’s nifty. You take it with you everywhere, prepared to snap a shot of something or anything that catches your eye. Eventually, you find that you have files upon files of photos taking up valuable real estate on your computer, so you decide to print out the ones you wish to keep. You could go to a kiosk in your local drugstore, or even send them to an online photo service. But why pay for these services when you can print out photos of equivalent quality (or better) from the comfort of your own home?
If photo taking is something you do on a consistent or near-consistent basis, you may want to consider purchasing a photo printer. A photo printer allows the user to print high resolution photos that rival or, in some cases, exceeds the quality you’d receive from a kiosk print out. These particular printers offer the user a higher resolution than your average inkjet printer by mimicking the color range and resolution of prints made from photographic film. Most photo printers also give the owner additional control over the finished photo with the ability to crop, change color and store images, all from the convenience of an LCD display screen located on the front of the device. Some photo printers will only produce 4×6 prints, whereas others can print larger photos of 8 ½ by 11 or even larger. A dedicated photo printer is limited to only printing photos, while a near-dedicated photo printer can also print text and graphics, and may even offer some of the functions of an all-in-one printer such as scanning and faxing.
Now that we have that short education out of the way, let’s go over the features and pricing of the best photo printers of 2014…
Epson PictureMate Charm PM 225
When it comes to fast printing and superb photo quality, few rival the Epson PictureMate Charm PM 225. The photo quality on this printer isn’t just kiosk quality–it’s better. And the convenient lunch-pail design and weight of 7.9 lbs makes this transportable photo studio perfect for traveling.
In terms of connectivity options, the PictureMate Charm PM 225 has you covered. This printer allows you to connect via USB cable, PictBridge and USB direct print-enabled digital cameras, SD cards and memory sticks.
The Epson Charm not only produces vibrant photos, but delivers a durable and long-lasting photo quality. Epson gives a lifespan of photos created with this printer at 200 years in dark storage, or 96 years framed behind glass. These photos are also water and scratch resistant, so you can handle them freely without fear of smudges or scratches.
Epson Stylus Photo R2000
The Epson Stylus Photo R2000 delivers enough speed and production quality to satisfy professional photographers and graphic artists with a price tag suitable for photography amateurs. Not only that, but being a near-dedicated photo printer, this printer can also print text documents as well.
Although lacking the convenience of an LCD control panel and high capacity cartridges, this printer does boast Ethernet and WiFi support. It also allows you to install both black cartridges (matte and photo black) at the same time so you don’t have to continually switch out the cartridges when you switch paper. A PictBridge connector provides you with the ability to print directly from your camera. Although the photo resolution falls slightly below the Epson PictureMate Charm PM 225, this printer is a great buy for someone who wants to print great looking photos while still having the option to print text.
Epson Stylus Photo R2880
The Epson Stylus Photo R2880 is a solid choice for those looking for professional-quality photos and graphics and who would also like the option to print plain text when needed. Epson Stylus Photo R2880 ink cartridges are slightly less expensive than consumables for other printers featured in this article, giving this printer a low total cost of ownership.
Paper handling is one of the strong suits of the R2880. The main paper tray can hold up to 120 sheets of plain paper or 30 sheets of photo paper. Also, you can mount 8.3 inch or 13 inch wide rolls of various fine art papers on the back to print up to 13 by 44 inches. Single sheets of heavy weight fine art paper can be printed up to 13 by 19 inches. As an added bonus, this printer possesses a special-purpose disc tray to hold and print photos on optical discs.
Epson Stylus Photo R3000
The Epson Stylus Photo R3000 is the fastest near-dedicated photo printer on this list, averaging 53 seconds for 4 x 6 and one minute, 41 seconds for 8 x 10 photos. Photo quality sets this printer apart from most near-dedicated printers, and surpasses the other printers mentioned on this list when it comes to black and white photo quality. Text output, for a photo printer, is also very high quality.
For those that are serious about photo or graphic output, it delivers a nice balance of output quality, speed and paper handling that outshines most of the competition.
Canon PIXMA MG8220 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-in-One
When it comes to a multifunction printer that is also capable of producing amazing photo quality, it doesn’t get much better than the Canon PIXMA MG8220. This printer can produce excellent text and graphics, and also offers scan and copy functions. The copy feature even lets you print photos directly from film. It can also print from a long, familiar list of other sources, including memory cards, USB memory keys and PictBridge cameras.
Additional features include both Photo Copy and Advanced Photo copy commands on the front panel that allow you to print high-quality copies of photographic prints. This is great if you want to create a scrapbook, but don’t want to include your cherished original copies in there. The front panel also offers an Online Album Print option that gives you choices for Canon Image Gateway and Picasa Web Albums. And, as you probably expected, you can preview photos on the printer’s 3.5-inch LCD before printing. Canon also includes software that lets you capture and print HD frames from any Canon HD PowerShot or EOS camera.
The photo speed for this printer is better than most inkjet printers, at 58 seconds for a 4 x 6 prints. Output quality isn’t as strong as your typical MFP when it comes to text and graphics, but is definitely above par for photos. One nice feature that comes with this printer is automatic duplexing, which allows you to save money, resources and the environment by printing your text documents on both sides of the page.
The Canon MG8220 has an equal claim to being an excellent multifunction printer or a standalone photo lab. Home users looking for a new multifunction printer that is also capable of printing professional photos will find the Canon PIXMA MG8220 a perfect fit.