Jul 18, 2018712 views

What's the best affordable home photo printer?

Hey photo friends! Recently I've been pondering the idea of going in on a fairly decent photo printer; something I could keep at home near my desk and use to proof colors/exposures, make tweaks, and eventually maybe even sell prints from. I think I've just been yearning a bit more of a tangible, physical sense to my photographs lately and creating at home prints seems like a cool way to achieve that.
The problem is I don't have much experience with this. I could scour the internet (and likely will go down that rabbit hole soon), but wanted to check with the experts here first. Anyone bought a decent photo printer they liked? How much money do you have to spend to get quality without breaking the bank? Are there solid photo printers less than $500? What should I be looking for and prioritizing?
Any thoughts/help are much appreciated!
Seb Etienne, Jaysun, and 6 others

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Are you going to be printing every week, at least? If you aren't, you likely want a printer that uses dye inks rather than one that uses pigments (clogged ink jets if they're unused for too long). Of the dye ink printers, I like the Canon Pro-100 the best. If you live in the US, every four to six months there's a rebate deal on Pro-100s - basically a printer will full standard ink carts for the price of a set of ink carts. Many of us have a spare printer stashed away. Pretty handy if you ever need a replacement print head, or there's an out-of-warranty issue with the printer itself. Dye inks to great on glossy, metallic, and semi-gloss papers. Pigment is much better on matte papers, particularly with B&W prints on 'art' paper. Downside is that the ink is expensive. Don't buy a printer to save money, 'cause you won't. There are a bunch of printing/printer gurus (I'm laughably far from being a guru) over on dpreview.com. I'd suggest you sign up there, then head to the "Printers and Printing" forum.
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I have used Canon PIXMAs with good results, but the wireless has failed in all. I went with an Epson XP-6000 for $80 and am very happy with photo printing (as well as normal stuff too).
Regarding the Canon Pro 100 printer: I have used one heavily for the past 4 years and it's been perfect for my landscapes. I bought a backup, but it's still new in the box. Check Craigslist where the printer was bundled with a DSLR camera and most people don't print and sell cheap. Paid $120. each for mine including paper.
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I own a 3 year old Epson 1430 and love it.If properly maintained aka use it once a week the results is pretty impressive.Of course ink and paper makes a difference but on prints that your willing to compromise a bit on sharpness after market inks does well.Highly recommend this printer.
Canon Pro 100 is a great printer! Not something you can buy at Staples but at a camera store like B&H Photo or Amazon. Been using it for the last few years and with wonderful results! It is a little more expensive (and there are others that cost much more) but this model is a great blend of price/quality.
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I am a crafter and a amateur photographer. I would like a printer that can print 12x12 paper for scrapbooking as well as print pictures good enough to sell. I see that Cannon sells one. Any comments about this printer - TS9521C ?
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If you are seriously price sensitive, the Canon Pixma Pro-100 is an OK choice.
However, I’d vote for the Pro-10. I've has one for six years, and it is truly amazing. Your question about not printing very often, I have let the printer sit for six months, not printed anything. The first print out was flawless. The 10 has a totally different ink system that is completely sealed. It doesn’t clog, ever.
There was a window where the 10 was on really steep discount everywhere. It was less expensive than the 100. Watch for another sale. It might end up in the $300 range. It is $460 at Amazon now (by a reseller, not Amazon or an authorized dealer; $600 from legit channels).
The other thing i don't think anybody mentioned is the Pixma Pro uses pigment based ink. If you are going to sell prints, don’t ever use dye based ink. It isn’t archival. Epson makes a line of true photo based printers that use pigment based ink (the R series). They aren’t the standard ones you find at staples.
The ink is expensive. It is almost impossible to calculate a per print price for ink. They end up around $14 per tank.
By the way, the 10 has more ink tanks (10 compared to 8 in the 100), including a CO tank that is for glossy paper. CO fills in the gaps where there is no ink in a print. If you hold a glossy print at the right angle, you can see silver holes in the print. CO eliminates that problem.
No matter which printer you buy, don’t forget to calibrate your monitor, and use the ICC printer profiles for the paper you are using (explaining all that could fill a book - just turn off the printer handling color matching). These are the two most critical steps no matter which printer you use.
And heaven help you the the day you buy a sample pack of Moab paper. Or start looking at Hahnemühle, or Canson paper. Or try metallic paper, that gives your print a three dimensional look. You will get addicted to fine art paper, and then there is no going back. https://www.shutterbug.com/content/our-favorite-fine-art-inkjet-papers-these-papers-will-help-you-make-gallery-ready-photo
To me, the 10 is well worth the extra money.
DO NOT buy a Pro-1 under any circumstances for any price ever for your needs. The 12 ink tanks are massive and those end up not working if you don’t print every day. There is a hose from the tank to the print head that drains back and causes tons of printer problems.
And if price is less of an object, Canon recently released a new line of professional printers. Just to confuse you even more.
I have found that printing on that Canon is like the old days of doing darkroom work. It takes a while to do the printing, just like exposing and processing a sheet of photographic paper. The results are equally stunning.
thanks for the thoughtful post! I will definitely look into this option more as well.
Canon Pixma Pro-100S is the best option for home photo printer. this is in both color an mono print, its Print quality is stunning - which is perhaps the most important aspect of a photo printer, with an 8-ink dye system that produces gallery-quality prints. If you take a lot of photos on your smartphone or tablet, then the wireless printing feature will be a great help as well. If you want the very best photo printer for a reasonable price, this is the one i will recommend you. Visit: https://www.printererrorrepair.com/canon-printer-support-phone-number/ for canon printer issues
yeah i have heard several good things about that printer! thanks for adding in your recommendation!
Canon PIXMA Pro-100, hands-down best and often the cheapest pro-grade printer out there. Cannon damn near gives these away when they run periodic rebate specials. For example, I picked up a second Pro-100/ink/paper package because the total price was actually less than just buying the full supply of replacement ink!

The prints I've made with the Pro 100 look very nice (on the excellent paper supplied). I've made color and B/W prints and both look true to their on-screen versions in Lightroom. Of course the drawback with any of these printers is INK: a full set of eight ink cartridges will set you back at least $125 (which is why I purchased a second printer when the combo price--including a printer was about $65!). Off promo the Pro 100 sells for a little over $300. You can check one out here for specs, but I'd look for the specials before paying full price:
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And they ship with full tanks, and paper, and a new printer--thank you!
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As somebody who has installed and repaired printers for years, I have a little bit I can chime in on. On a personal level, my last 2 inkjet photo printers have been Epsons that somebody else discarded and I grabbed out of a current need. It was a Dell MFP before that, and a HP Photosmart that I purchased before that.
If I was not getting the hardware free, I would not seriously consider Epson. The hardware is capable, but the print drivers have to be adjusted a lot. It's a trial and error process, and the default settings just can be best described as "muddy" and "flat". The Dell was nothing remarkable, and I think they were made by Canon. Most Canons do fine though. HP also can do good inkjet. I am less than impressed with their color laser printer quality. Samsung has been a support nightmare since HP bought the printer division, but I was impressed with their color output on the laser products. I only have experience with Lexmark on their color laser printers. I nicknamed them "Hexmark". How does that translate to inkjet products? I cannot say.
I really do believe HP makes a nice inkjet with drivers that can bring out the best of the hardware. Canon is right there with them. Reviews of the 13" wide printers normally gives the Canon printers a better review than the HP and Epson in the same category.
So after having an Epson 13" inkjet printer, I am back to a 8.5" format MFP style printer. Early on I attempted to make wall-hanger prints. I had to make print adjustments with nearly everything I tried. Basically I make an occasional 4x6 print on photo paper these days. It just works so much better to use the online print services. Even Photobucket's print service could make attractive prints from what I uploaded, and you have print media options you can never do at home. Even Staples or Office Depot can make a poster print for you on their HP plotter on photo print paper as you wait.
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Got it. Yeah I'll need to do some math on this and figure out if it's actually worth it then. Guess it's possible selling some of the prints would help pay back the cost of the printer but would also depend on how happy I'd be with the quality and color of the prints in the first place.
*goes back to the drawing board*
Tyler, as a fyi, the Canon Pro 100 comes with the full size ink cartridges and not some starter size. I print full size at 13"x19" and have sold around 80 prints in the $12.-$20. range. Printing max size, I get about 45 prints per ink set. Ink is available in generic at half the cost of Canon ink at $100 for the full set. Print quality is equal and often better than what I get from a well rated online shop. If you ever need tech help, be happy your bought a Canon since their support is the best in the industry., by far. I've called them twice and hold time was less than 5 minutes and their tech reps know their stuff.
I'm not an expert, but I bought a large format inkjet printer some years ago with the expectation that I'd occasionally be printing my photos with it. That was a terrible decision on my part. The printer did the job and did it well, but if you're only doing some occasional printing, your expensive injket printer becomes an even more expensive ink guzzling black hole. I can count the number of times on one hand in which I was able to get a print off without one of the seven ink heads being clogged and ruining the print.
I hear you're supposed to print at least once a week to keep an inkjet happy. I never got close to that. At best, I was printing things a couple of times a month.
Now if I like the photo enough to print it, I send it off to be printed somewhere.
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Well, there is an alternative out there. It is more expensive. There is more potential for mechanical failure. And I really only have had to deal with broken ones, so I presume there are also many people happy with their product. Xerox ColorCube. It is called solid ink-jet. Basically it is a color wax that is melted and applied to paper in similar fashion to ink. They take a loooong time to start-up and come to temperature. Not a great deal of moving parts, but if power is not shut down correctly, you can get wax solidifying where it should not and cause a lock-up. The waxy media leaves a glossy sheen on even plain paper.
Here is an Amazon link for one model, you can use that as a lead to research others. The ColorCube series is not one of Xerox's most popular products, but it sells good enough that they still have it around. https://www.amazon.com/Xerox-ColorQube-8570N-Solid-Printer/dp/B004KM4HQ2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532032082&sr=8-1&keywords=xerox+solid+ink+printer

Now when you read the reviews of other models with some real reviews, people either like it or hate it. Getting one repaired can be an ordeal. Having been a Xerox dealership tech for about 3 years, I didn't particularly like dealing with Xerox service. They have a strict policy of how repair requests are escalated, and it must begin with attempting a remote fix. And I only was asked to look at a 3 or 4 of these things.
But for printing a couple of photos a month, it has the potential of being a better option than standard ink-jet.
@BF_Hammer man, you know your printers! Okay I'll look into this further. I appreciate all your insight!