Plenty of printers are good at photos, but some are outstanding. Many brands focus more on ensuring pristine document printing, but two manufacturers rule the photo printing roost: Epson and Canon.

With photo printers especially, the number of ink cartridges the printer uses is important. More is better as, for instance, if the printer has one black and one colour cartridge (which will have multiple coloured inks inside) it means when one of the inks in the colour cartridges runs out you need to replace the entire cartridge. And for greater fidelity in your images, the higher number of cartridges the better.

Also consider the size of the printer – a bigger printer can take up too much desk space. These printers are all A4-capable apart from the Canon Selphy CP1200, which is a compact portable designed to print small postcard-sized photos only. A couple also manage A3, which can be essential for keen  photographers wanting the visual impact of bigger prints.

Some manufacturers almost give their printers away but, be warned, this almost certainly means you’ll be paying in the long run through more expensive inks. Note that many printers come with starter cartridges, that is, they don’t have much ink in them, so your first ink purchase will come soon.

If you’re printing your photos from a mobile phone, you can often do so directly, thanks to manufacturer smartphone apps or compatibility with Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print for iPhones and Android phones respectively.

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 us to fund journalism across The Independent. 

Canon Pixma TS9155: £219.95, John Lewis & Partners

Maximum paper size: A4
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Six
Dimensions: 372‎ x 324 x 140mm
App printing: Canon Print, Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print

The slick, colourful Pixma TS9155 is tremendous. It’s easy to use thanks to a larger-than-most touch screen which automatically tilts outwards when in use. Image quality is very strong thanks to a high-density resolution and six ink cartridges including one called Photo Blue, designed to enhance photo prints with great detail and reduced grain, and a black designed for pin-sharp text in documents. It’s reasonably compact and, thanks to two paper trays, it can deliver two sizes of paper conveniently. Oh, and there’s a plain black model if you prefer something more subtle, model number TS9150.

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Epson Expression Photo XP-8500: £87, Amazon

Maximum paper size: A4
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Six
Dimensions: 349‎ x 340 x 142mm
App printing: Epson app, Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print

This is a surprisingly compact printer and very capable to boot. It looks good and doesn’t dominate a room or reduce your usable desk space too much. The six ink cartridges make for excellent photos with subtle, realistic colours. The XP-8500 is easy to set up and use, with a large touchscreen to control every function. It’s versatile, with two output trays, a USB socket, and three different wireless options.

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Canon Pixma Pro-100S: £374, Jessops

 

Maximum paper size: A3

Scanner? No

Copier? No

Ink cartridges: 8

Dimensions: 689‎ x 385 x 215mm

App printing: Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print

Eight inks are part of the reason the picture fidelity is so strong on this printer. It is capable of printing images up to A3, borderless even at this large size. A3 prints take longer, over five minutes, though smaller photos are as quick as 2 minutes or less. Both the printer and ink replenishment costs are higher than some here, and it’s so photo-focused that it’s not a recommendation for those only wanting to print photos once in a while and plain paper documents the rest of the time. Also note that this printer uses dye-based inks rather than pigment inks, found in some other Pro machines and expensive printers, for instance. This makes for a glossier finish to photos, which can be a good thing but is beaten by pigment inks in terms of permanence - if you are selling your photos professionally, this may be a concern. For most of us, though, your prints are still likely to 40 years or so if the photographs are on display behind glass, and much longer in a photo album, before fading.

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Epson SC-P400: £530, Amazon

Maximum paper size: A3
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Eight
Dimensions: 622‎ x 324 x 219mm​
App printing: Epson app

Another A3 printer, the SC-P400 is big and bulky but delivers great results. It’s designed for exceptional quality and is versatile enough to allow printing on fine art paper, for instance. Unlike some printers, this one has no screen to control printing in detail. That’s done on a connected computer and buttons on the machine itself are for actions such as on/off, resume and so on.

Because quality is the key, it prints slowly, so is slightly wasted if you’re planning to use it for documents as well as photos. It has eight cartridges, that’s seven colours, including two blacks, one of which is called Photo Black, and an eighth which is a gloss optimiser. This is to improve the finish of the photo prints. Big but powerful.

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Brother DCP-J572DW: £89, Amazon

Maximum paper size: A4
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: 4
Dimensions: 400‎ x 341 x 151mm
App printing: Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print

This Brother printer is usefully compact and straightforward to use, with handy features such as one that will shrink pages – so two or four, for instance, will fit on one piece of A4. The screen, which is not a touchscreen, is quite small. Print quality is good: detailed and precise with strong colour fidelity, even though there are only four colour cartridges, not the six or more found on some printers. Given the fact that Brother only describes this printer as one “that covers the essentials”, it exceeds expectations.

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Canon Selphy CP1200 compact printer: £99, Amazon

Maximum paper size: 15 x 10cm​
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: One
Dimensions: 181‎ x 136 x 63mm​
App printing: Selphy app, Apple AirPrint

This is a dedicated photo printer, designed to deliver prints sized 15 x 10cm or smaller – it can’t handle regular A4 paper so is not much use for documents. This means the printer is small and portable – an optional battery pack is available if you want to print somewhere with no mains connection. It uses a different printing process, dye sublimation, where four colours are printed one after the other, so printing isn’t very fast. Paper and ink are contained in the same package. The screen is large but not touch sensitive. As well as Apple AirPrint and Canon’s own app, you can print by connecting an SD memory card or a USB drive.

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HP Envy Photo 6234: £89.99, Currys

Maximum paper size: A4
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Two
Dimensions: 454‎ x 410 x 161mm
App printing: HP AIO Remote app, Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print

It’s worth noting that this printer only has two cartridges, black and colour. However, you can save some money with a program called HP Instant Ink. You pay a monthly fee according to the pages you print per month and additional ink is sent automatically. Prices range from free (up to 15 pages per month) to £7.99 for up to 300 pages. The price here includes your first seven months’ Instant Ink. Colours are rich and vivid and while this is a decent photo printer, it’s also a fast, competent all-rounder that handles documents well.

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Canon Pixma TS8150: £139.99, Canon

Maximum paper size: A4
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Six
Dimensions: 372‎ x 324 x 139mm
App printing: Canon app, Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print

This printer is Canon at its best, combining a small footprint with very good quality printing. Its six inks include Photo Blue, designed to enhance sharp photo detail. The inks, it’s claimed, have excellent permanence: 100 years. If we can, we’ll update this roundup in a century’s time, so do check back. For now, though, it’s fast, capable and is ideal for a smaller desk. As well as working well with wireless connections like Apple AirPrint, there’s an SD card slot onboard as well.

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HP Envy 7134: £100, HP

Maximum paper size: A4
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Two
Dimensions: 454‎ x 410 x 160mm​
App printing: HP app

This is an affordable printer with strong all-round performance. It only has two cartridges but print quality is good, though beaten by others in this roundup. The HP original ink cartridges have electronics in them, to ensure they work perfectly. This brand has a reputation for reliability and simplicity of use, both of which are true here. HP has also made it easy to scan documents by using your smartphone as a scanner and then sharing the result to email or print. The design may divide opinion and there are smaller printers here that work as well and look better, but this is a decent choice.

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Epson EcoTank ET-7750: £499.99, John Lewis & Partners

Maximum paper size: A3
Scanner? Yes
Copier? Yes
Ink cartridges: Five ink bottles
Dimensions: 526‎ x 415 x 168mm​
App printing: Epson app

Epson’s EcoTank takes a different approach to the most expensive part of any printer: the ink. Instead of cartridges, it runs on ink bottles and comes supplied with enough ink to last up to three years, or the equivalent of 3,400 prints of photos sized 10 x 15cm. You can actually see how much ink you have left, thanks to the tanks which are visible from the front of the printer. Each of the ink bottles has a different shaped top so you can’t inadvertently fill the wrong cartridge. Print quality is great, especially for photos where the Photo Black ink comes into its own. Though the initial outlay is high, the ink bottles are very good value compared to regular cartridges, so running costs are low.

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The verdict: Photo printers

Really, it’s hard to go wrong if you choose a printer by Epson or Canon for your home printed photographs. The Canon Pixma TS9155 is exceptional for ease of use and quality of image. The Epson EcoTank ET-7750 takes an appealing alternative approach to ink, with refillable bottles that last a very long time. And the Epson Expression Photo XP-8500 is the best all-rounder on this list: great for photos and everything else.

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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