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Photo printers are those dedicated solely to printing photographs or those with semi-dedicated or photo-capable printing along with many other functions. The best photo printer is one that offers high-quality resolution as well as photo-editing tools. Many photo printers also sync up wirelessly with mobile devices and offer USB ports and card slots to print output directly with digital hardware.

Photo printers and photo-ready printers

Manufacturers offer inkjet, laser, and dot matrix printers. Inkjet and laser printers are available as print-only printers and as multifunction or all-in-one printers with additional scan, copy, or fax functions. The best photo printers are the inkjets. While lasers produce photos, their main function is high-speed, high-volume document printing.

Many inkjets are photo-capable printers, not dedicated strictly to photo output. Others are semi-dedicated photo printers because, while they produce other presentation-ready output, their main task is lab-quality photo printing. Dedicated photo printers are compact print-only machines for home users.

Photo-capable printers from leading manufacturers

Among all printers, most photo-capable inkjets offer print resolutions of 600 x 1200 or 1200 x 2400 dots per inch (DPI). Some of the manufacturers and their series are:

  • HP® — DeskJet®, OfficeJet®, OfficeJet Pro, Tango, and PageWide Pro
  • Epson® — WorkForce®, WorkForce Pro, and EcoTank®
  • Canon® — PIXMA® and MAXIFY®

Other photo-capable products include Brother® printers using inkjet technology and Xerox™ VersaLink® and Phaser™ laser printers. However, their photo printing functionality is far secondary to text-heavy print and copy capability.

Semi-dedicated photo printers

This photo-printer class caters to the avocational or hobby photographer. The printers use dye-based inks that provide vibrant, color-rich photo output or pigment-based inks for archival-quality photos. They come with specific photo-editing tools, like red-eye removal, cropping, and photo restoration, and they work with mobile-device, cloud-based, USB, and memory card photo-printing options.

Semi-dedicated all-in-one photo printers series include HP ENVY™ Photo and Epson Expression® Photo printers. Envy offers 4800 x 1200 dpi color print resolution. Expression printers, equipped with six-cartridge Epson Claria® HD photo ink, have a resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi. Print-only semi-dedicated printers include HP’s DesignJet® PostScript printer series, with additional gray and photo-black cartridges for superior gray-scale photography in addition to color. Epson’s SureColor® photo printers have an eight-cartridge system of UltraChrome® pigment-based inks, yielding 5760 x 1440 dpi resolution.

The best photo printers for frequent use

Dedicated photo printers that are compact, portable, wireless models whose sole function is to print borderless photos in 4 x 6 and 5 x 7 inch formats are a good choice. Some Epson models offer high-resolution, scratch-resistant photos. Others, such as the Canon SELPHY® range, come with an immense array of photo-editing tools and use innovative dye-sublimation ink technology that prints photos with album-stored archival lives of 100 years.

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