I’ve been covering printers and camera gear here at the Wirecutter since 2013 and have worked as a professional photographer and digital imaging consultant for almost 15 years. I also ran my own digital printmaking shop for a nearly a decade, producing photographic prints on wide format inkjet printers. I’m on the faculty of New York City’s International Center of Photography and lead photography workshops around the country.
Out of the thousands of entries that turn up in an Amazon search for “photo printer,” there are just a handful of models you’d actually want to consider for purely photographic output.
If you’re looking for a portable printer and only need to make postcard sized-prints, dye-sublimation printers (dyes are quickly heated from a solid form to transfer onto paper) retail for less than and make postcard-sized prints at an attractive per-print cost of less than 40 cents. Mike Pasini, editor of photo enthusiast blog , tells me these have long made “quality 4-by-6 prints on glossy stock,” but the domestic market for these models has declined significantly as multifunction inkjet printers have become more and more capable of delivering quality photographic output.
Multifunction inkjet printers come in a wide range of output sizes and provide the option of making larger 8½-by-11 prints (some can even do 11-by-17); multifunction models offer document scanning and copying as well, making them even better choices for most users who are interested in more than photo prints. While dye-sublimation printers like the Canon CP910, a portable wireless unit that spits out 4-by-6 prints on glossy paper, can boast of true continuous tone output (colors are laid down as single hues instead of being made up of tiny individual dots), the reality is that inkjet printers long ago passed the threshold of producing smooth photorealistic results when viewed with the naked eye. Today, inkjet prints can be found in the collections of the top and .
Inkjet printers work by spraying incredibly fine droplets of ink onto specially coated paper, giving the illusion of continuous tone photorealistic output. In fact, with current technology, you need a high magnification loupe to make out the individual dot patterns. There are, of course, other methods of printing, like digital chromogenic prints that use lasers to expose photographic paper to light. Those require industrial-grade machines well beyond the realm of in-home use.
If you already own a 13-inch capable photo inkjet printer, you should probably sit tight. Photo printer technology is so mature that you won’t see much (if any) difference in print quality between a printer made today and one released even five years ago. Output from the P600, for example, is largely indistinguishable from that of its predecessor, the , with the exception of noticeably richer blacks when printing on fine art matte papers. The rise of social media has greatly reduced the demand for physical prints. And for those with an occasional need to print high-quality photos, many online print services exist, and are credible alternatives to a home printer. As a result there are only two players left in the American home photo printer market: Canon and Epson. And they don’t upgrade models frequently. In 2015, we’re just starting to see replacement models for printers introduced way back in 2011.Buying a dedicated photo printer is a great solution if you make prints on a regular basis and want precise control over how they look. Photo: Amadou Diallo
If you don’t already own a photo inkjet printer, the first thing you should know is that getting one is not about saving money. Our pick is 0, a full set of runs more than 0, and you also have to factor in paper costs (and, of course, your time). If you’re a casual hobbyist who occasionally wants to create physical mementos of life’s special moments and milestones, there are many in-store and online print services available, many at very low prices. Simply put, if your printing needs are limited to either making the occasional lone print or churning out large quantities of 4-by-6 family photos around the holidays, you’ll save time, effort, and money by . I’ll talk more about these options a bit later.
While these 13-inch printers are marketed as “desktop” models, be aware that they will take up the majority of any home office desk. Our top pick, the , weighs 35 pounds and has a footprint that’s just over two feet wide and more than 14 inches deep with its paper trays in their closed position. That’s just slightly smaller than the , which can print on papers up to 17 inches wide. You’ll also need ample room both in front of and behind the actual unit for paper loading and retrieval.Any printer capable of accepting 13-inch wide sheets will take up most of any normal-sized desk, especially when the paper trays are extended. Photo: Amadou Diallo
But home printing is a great option for photographers who print at least a few times a month, want the flexibility of printing at any time that’s convenient, enjoy selecting from an incredibly wide range of papers on which to print, and revel in the ability to make finely-tuned adjustments to an image after evaluating an initial print. If these possibilities excite you, owning a photo printer can be a very rewarding experience.
Crafting a high-quality print that precisely matches your expectations is one of the great pleasures of photography. How do I know this? I ran my own digital printmaking boutique service in New York City for nearly a decade. Using large format inkjet printers and a range of printable media, I worked with both amateur photographers producing prints to hang in their homes and artists exhibiting their work in galleries around the world. One thing that continually surprised clients was how the same image could result in a dramatically different print depending on the paper we chose. A glossy sheet, a heavily textured matte paper, or a canvas stock will each impart its own look and feel to an image. As a result, one of my most important interactions with clients was in determining the right medium for a particular image. Owning your own printer offers flexibility in terms of paper choice that is almost impossible to match. And you can tweak your image files after looking at an actual print to ensure that the final result is exactly what you envisioned.
The size and quality of the image file you send to the printer plays an absolutely crucial role in how good the print looks. If you shoot with a like the or a like the , your image files can feature a wide range of details from highlight to shadow. Our pick, the , can render these tones beautifully on paper, while a sub-0 multifunction printer will yield flat areas with no detail.
Spending 0 on a printer to output files from a 0 point-and-shoot camera or 0 smartphone is like buying a sports car for trips to the grocery store.
Can you make satisfying prints with images from a decidedly more entry-level camera? Of course. Tyler Boley, a master printer and owner of the print shop, has actually taken photos from an iPhone and made prints as wide as 13 inches, describing the results as “quite astonishingly good.” But make no mistake. Spending 0 on a printer to output files from a 0 point-and-shoot camera or 0 smartphone is like buying a sports car for trips to the grocery store. These entry-level cameras will rarely capture fine enough detail or sufficient tonal range to exceed what much less expensive printers can render. And because you’re starting with lower-resolution files to begin with, you’re limited to how much of the image you can crop and still have enough pixels to make a large print. My rule of thumb is that for optimal results you want a minimum of 240-300 pixels per inch (ppi) at your desired print dimensions.
In seeking out the best inkjet photo printer, I spent hours poring over manufacturers’ spec sheets and reading reviews from authoritative sources. Starting with a list of dozens of photo printers I quickly narrowed down candidates to inkjet models capable of printing up to 13 inches wide (I’ll explain why in a moment). This eliminated the vast majority of multifunction printers like the 0 and , which can only print on paper up to 8½ inches wide. These models also use dye inks designed to be used with ultra glossy, swellable papers (these contain a thin coating that actually swells to absorb the ink, preventing it from rubbing off). Because this absorption process is slow, dye inks can take “from several minutes to several hours to dry,” according to RIT’s . Handle the print while it’s still wet and the inks can easily smear, meaning you’ve got to start over again.Buying a 13-inch wide inkjet printer means unpacking a large and heavy box. Photo: Amadou Diallo
Why limit the choices to a 13-inch printer? A model of this size obviously gives you the option of making a larger print. “The home user isn’t going to make many of these prints but a 13-by-19 print of your own hanging on the wall is a real joy you don’t appreciate until you make one from an image that matters to you…something you can look at over and over again with pleasure,” says Pasini. You can also save on paper costs by ganging up several smaller prints on a single sheet, cutting them down after you print. And even if you only print a single image per sheet, having a larger sheet area can give you a wide, aesthetically pleasing paper border when framing your image.
Shopping for a 13-inch-wide printer also eliminates the chance of choosing a dud. Any current 13-inch-wide model is going to have at least six ink colors (in individual cartridges), let you print on both matte and glossy photo papers (as well as inkjet-compatible CDs/DVDs) and will be capable of producing great-looking prints.
Armed with these criteria, I was left with just a handful of models to choose from. Some, like the , lack the gray inks needed to make finely detailed black-and-white prints. I brought in the remaining candidates for side-by-side print comparisons as well as long-term evaluations of their performance and reliability. For a more detailed look at what we dismissed and why please see our .
When evaluating photo printers in-house we looked at ease of use, performance and, of course, print quality. Ink usage is difficult to quantify with any precision because the amount you use is dependent on the type and size of images you print. We therefore settled on cartridge size and price, giving us a cost-per-mL figure to use in comparing operating costs between different models. We set up each printer on a home Wi-Fi network and compared speed over cable connections and wireless (the latter were a lot slower). For all other tests, we used a USB connection between the printer and computer.
We printed on both glossy and matte papers up to 13 inches wide using paper stock and (for color images) provided by the printer vendor. For black-and-white prints, we used the monochrome-only modes in the printer drivers at their default settings, disabling color management options in Photoshop and Lightroom. This delivered the most neutral and color-consistent output from each printer. We printed images at the printers’ default resolutions and viewed prints using professional color-corrected viewing booths. While using the absolute highest settings did, in some cases, produce more detailed results (at the cost of much longer print times), the differences were slight enough that we recommend the default settings for most users.
Using the testing methods above, we compared our photo inkjet prints to those from two online print services using identical image files. You can see the results below in our .
The decision whether to print at home or to use one of the dozens of online print providers can be a difficult one, especially since print quality can vary dramatically between them. Jim Harmer, owner of the enthusiast site Improve Photography, conducted an among 11 national service providers. He found there was a wide range of print quality that often had no correlation to print cost.
A second challenge is that the size of print and quantity of your order can actually determine the types of services available. High volume services like Shutterfly or your local Walgreens (which ) will be using a digital laser-based device to expose your image onto silver halide papers, typically a Fujifilm Crystal glossy or matte stock. You can order anything from 4-by-6 prints to a 20-by-30 poster. Where these outfits are most compelling, though, is with bulk orders of small prints. We’ve seen promotions offering 300 4-by-6 prints for !
Higher-end boutique printing companies, on the other hand, will offer “fine art” inkjet prints (which typically offer greater longevity by using pigment inks) and a wider variety of media choices. Yet the inkjet printing process is significantly more time-consuming and labor intensive than a photo lab’s laser-based printers. Therefore, most boutique print shops shy away from “onesies” like a single 8-by-10 print order, for example.
It’s not uncommon to see order minimums of between 5-250 from these high-end print shops. We’ve even seen some who require “proof” that you’re a professional photographer before allowing you to place an order on the site. So high-end inkjet printing may not even be an option if you just need to make a small print or two.
Terrance Reimer, master printer at specialty boutique lab , explains that “[with] a small team focused on the very unique needs and expectations of the exhibiting fine art photographer, it’s much more than just sending a print through an automated system. Everything is hands-on and custom. Because of that, we have some minimum order requirements for new customers.”
The big question, of course, is how home prints compare to those you can order online. To find out, we took two images (one a color portrait, the second a black-and-white landscape) and printed them as 8-by-10s on both the Epson P600 and the Canon Pixma Pro-100. We then sent identical files to , one of the most popular online providers, and , a sister company of West Coast Imaging created specifically to address the low-volume needs of photo hobbyists.At left: Original print file. Clockwise from top left: Epson P600, Aspen Creek, Canon Pro-100, Snapfish.
The Epson P600 color print was a reasonably accurate reproduction of the digital file (main image above), displaying a neutral color balance with pleasing skin tone. The print from Aspen Creek Photo was made on a digital laser-based printer. The result was very good, demonstrating excellent detail and sharpness. The Canon Pro-100 also had great detail and printed both lighter and warmer than the Epson print. While the Epson P600 print was to our eyes preferable, we’re confident most hobbyists would be happy with a print from either of these sources.
We ordered the Snapfish print online, and with local pickup we were able to have the file printed at a nearby Walgreens. It was ready within fewer than two hours; a great convenience. The result was extremely disappointing, however. The print was overly contrasty and dark, with orange skin tones. Perhaps we could have gotten a different result from another Walgreens location, but an output that varies greatly from store to store detracts a lot from the convenience factor.Top: Original print file. Clockwise from upper left: Epson P600, Aspen Creek, Canon Pro-100, Snapfish.
At its default ABW (Advanced Black and White) print settings, the Epson P600 print lacked a bit of detail in deep shadows but had a pleasing (if slightly cool) tone compared to the neutral tone of the original digital file (main image above). The black-and-white print from Aspen Creek had good shadow detail and a similar tint to the Epson print. In B&W mode, the Canon Pro-100 printed a bit lighter than the original with good shadow detail and with a warmer tint than the Epson print.
The Snapfish print lacked detail in both shadows and highlights, had a distinct color cast, and was significantly over-sharpened, easily the worst print of the bunch. The big surprise here was that the the 8-by-10 Snapfish prints cost each, while the same size prints at Aspen Creek Photo were only . And the latter prints were easily more than twice as good. In addition, the Snapfish prints were automatically enlarged to make a borderless 8-by-10 print, meaning significant portions of the image were cropped on all sides.
If you choose to print online, you may well have to go through some trial and error to find a service of suitable quality. With a home printer like the Epson P600, you’re getting excellent quality that you can rely on print after print.
These are truly gallery-quality prints that can provide many years of viewing pleasure whether you’re hanging them on your own wall or selling them to others.
The 0 consistently delivers outstanding color and black-and-white photos that provide greater image detail and more accurate colors on prints that will last longer than anything you can get from a typical online photo service. These are truly gallery-quality prints that can provide many years of viewing pleasure whether you’re hanging them on your own wall or selling them to others. The printer accepts a wide range of inkjet-compatible media up to 13 inches wide, from photo lab-quality glossy paper and fine-art oriented sheets that mimic classic darkroom prints to CDs/DVDs and even sheets of metal up to 1.3 mm thick.A 13-inch pigment-ink photo printer like the Epson SureColor P600 lets you make gallery-quality color and black-and-white prints on a wide variety of paper surfaces. Photo: Amadou Diallo
Its newly formulated pigment-based UltraChrome HD inkset gives noticeably richer blacks than previous Epson models when printing on fine art matte papers and comes in nine individual large capacity cartridges. that in lab tests it commissioned from the , prints using these inks on both glossy and matte papers have up to twice the print permanence of previous Epson inks. Accelerated print longevity tests can only provide an approximation of what you can expect in real-world conditions. So claims like “Your print will last 200 years before fading” should be taken with a grain of salt. You can take comfort, however, in the fact that the longevity performance of the P600 places it among the best consumer options for making prints that will resist fading and discoloration better than traditional analog photographic prints.
The P600’s nine-color inkset can print dots as small as two picoliters (two trillionths of a liter).
The P600’s nine-color inkset can print dots as small as two picoliters (two trillionths of a liter). In addition to the standard CMY (Cyan, Magenta and Yellow) inks, the printer uses Light Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Vivid Light Magenta, Photo Black (for glossy media), Matte Black (for matte papers), Light Black, and Light Light Black.The Epson P600 comes with a set of nine individual inks cartridges each holding nearly 26 mL of ink with a replacement cost of per cartridge. Photo: Amadou Diallo
You’ll find similar “light” ink dilutions among competing models in this price range, all surpassing the four and six-color inksets of sub 0 photo printers. These additional inks expand the range of colors the printer can produce and allow for smooth transitions in both light and dark areas of the print that show very fine details. If your only digital printing experience is with an inexpensive multifunction printer, you’ll immediately notice the difference in prints with the P600; accurate colors in landscapes with subtle details, portraits that show smooth skin tones in shadow areas and black-and-white prints that are pleasingly neutral in appearance, without garish green or magenta color casts.
The P600 uses large 25.9-mL cartridges. With a street price of per cartridge, this works out to an ink cost of .28 per mL, not quite as cheap as our alternate pick, the Canon Pro-10. The P600 has a much lower operating cost than multifunction printers, which have smaller cartridges that can cost more than /mL for ink.
The P600 comes with detailed setup instructions. After unpacking the 35-pound printer you’ll spend a fair bit of time installing the ink cartridges (shake each one vigorously before inserting it) and waiting for the printer to prime its ink lines once you’ve done so. With the P600 Epson introduces a tilting color touchscreen display which speeds along the process with step-by-step guidance and illustrations that make setup easy; the complete setup and installation process took us about 30 minutes from unboxing to handling the first print.A tilting touchscreen makes it fast and easy to change and verify printer settings, load specialty paper, and perform routine maintenance like checking that the printhead nozzles are firing correctly. Photo: Amadou Diallo
In daily use the color display makes it easy to verify remaining ink levels, giving you plenty of advance notice before any of the cartridges need replacing. The touchscreen is a convenience that allows swapping inks for matte and glossy papers and routine maintenance like nozzle checks and head cleanings to be done directly from the printer. A step-by-step onscreen guide makes this easier and more foolproof than on previous Epson models. Not having to call up the printer utility on your computer to do this actually makes initiating the whole process much faster.A color LCD display that’s also touch-sensitive allow you to monitor crucial information like remaining ink levels without going to the computer. Photo: Amadou Diallo
The P600 can accommodate a wide range of media. Its manual paper feed can handle media up to 1.3 mm thick, allowing you to use significantly thicker media than a model like our runner-up, the , which only accepts sheets up to 0.6 mm thick. While many users will be happy to print on more traditional, thin paper stock, the P600 will let you experiment with alternative media like
A few reviewers have complained of having to make multiple attempts when manually loading thick sheets through the front-feeding slot because the printer’s paper skew sensor was a bit too sensitive and kept forcing them to reload. We haven’t experienced that problem here, though we did request a replacement unit from Epson after the first P600 we were sent wouldn’t let us load through the front-feeder at all. Epson says our unit was likely damaged during shipping, resulting in an obstruction of the paper path, and the replacement unit has worked flawlessly.The P600 has a front-feeding slot with a straight paper path for loading thick fine art papers. Photo: Amadou Diallo
You can connect the P600 to your computer via USB or wired Ethernet. The printer also has built-in Wi-Fi (helpful if you need to share the printer among multiple computers in separate rooms), and comes with a mobile app for direct printing from iOS and Android devices. These wireless options are much slower than wired printing, however, nearly doubling your print times. And if your print workflow includes using third-party papers with custom profiles, you’ll find color management options in the mobile apps much more limited than those in the desktop print driver.With a touchscreen LCD and wizard-driven interface, we were able to connect the P600 to a wireless network in about three minutes. Photo: Amadou Diallo
Reviewers have been uniformly positive in their impressions of the P600, not surprising since it shares so much in the way of features and performance with the much-loved Epson R3000.
reviewer William Harrel finds the P600 to be a worthy successor to Epson’s previous photo printers. “If you look back over the six-year span of these [Epson] machines,” he writes, “you’ll see that while they have changed considerably in terms of ease of use and other features, the one constant has been their excellent print quality.” He also extols the virtues of having a professional quality printer at your disposal, saying for “semi-pro photographers, [or] other types of artists…this is one of those products that can make you giddy with anticipation…wait until you see what it can do for your photos and fine art. When you’re in creative mode, few things are as valuable as having the ability to print trial runs, or the ability to make changes and then print them immediately.”
Keith Cooper of calls the P600 “an easy to set up and use A3+ printer that produced excellent quality prints for colour and black & white.” He appreciated the convenience of the tilting touchscreen display, saying “From a usability point of view it’s a definite step forward.”
Vincent Oliver at likes the convenience of seeing the printer’s ink levels displayed by default on the touchscreen. Of the printer’s durability, he writes “The overall build quality of the SC-P600 is of a very high standard, with sturdy trays that don’t give the impression they are going to fall apart with heavy use.” He was especially impressed with the P600’s monochrome output, saying “The black & white photograph on our test print maintains good shadow and highlight detail, and has the feel of a quality darkroom print.”
David Stone of likes that you don’t need to print at the P600’s highest-quality (and much slower) 5760 dpi mode to get outstanding results. “Even with the driver set for Speed [mode], the output quality for both graphics and photos is superb, and easily in the top tier for inkjets. The improvement for the Maximum Quality setting is visible…but for most people most of the time, the Speed setting should be more than good enough. For people without a trained eye the difference may not even be visible.”
Writing for Andrew Darlow was impressed with the performance of the Ultrachrome HD inkset. “In assessing image quality,” he writes, “one of the SureColor P600’s greatest strengths is the density of the deep shadow areas. This counts among its chief advantages over every other pigment inkjet printer we’ve reviewed to date. The increased density was noticeable with all the media we tested…monochrome prints made using Epson’s Advanced Black and White mode (built into the driver) produced stunning results on all the papers we tested.”
Luminous-Landscape editor Michael Reichmann was particularly impressed with the darker blacks the P600 produced on matte papers. “Printing on various rag papers using the Matte black ink I was immediately taken by how much richer the blacks were. This is a really big deal – at least it is for me – because I prefer printing on slightly textured rag papers, but usually don’t because the blacks are not rich enough. Well – now they are. This new ink set rocks when it comes to Matte black.”
A long-standing complaint about Epson printers is the costly ink purge involved when switching between Matte Black and Photo Black. They share the same ink line to the print head. According to Epson, this causes about three mL of ink to be flushed from the ink line. The P600 does offer an econo mode option for making the switch that wastes less ink, but you’re still throwing out perfectly good ink every time you switch. Canon’s printers, by virtue of having separate ink lines for each of their black inks, offer a much more seamless and less costly switch between matte and glossy papers.The biggest complaint about Epson printers is that you must swap between black inks when switching from a matte paper to a glossy sheet, a process that discards up to 3 mL of expensive ink. Photo: Amadou Diallo
The P600 will certainly feel slow if you’ve only used document printers. In our tests at the 1440-dpi setting, an 8-by-10 glossy print took 3 minutes and 18 seconds from paper feed to finished print. While this falls right in line with what found for the rival , it is slower than our runner-up pick, the dye-ink , which we timed at a brisk 1 minute and 37 seconds even at its highest quality setting.
While Wi-Fi connectivity is convenient, be aware that its use leads to the slowest possible print speeds. The 3 minute 18 second print time I just mentioned was with a USB connection. Using a Wi-Fi connection on my home network, the same print took 5 minutes and 44 seconds from paper feed to print eject.
While the P600 can print on any number of papers, Epson has always stubbornly refused to provide media settings or ICC profiles for any papers other than their own, requiring you to seek out these profiles yourself from paper manufacturers’ sites. Canon, by contrast includes third-party paper profiles in both its print drivers and on its website, an approach we’d sorely love to see Epson adopt.
We’ve used the in house for just over six months without any significant issues. It still makes great-looking prints with a minimum of fuss. This result isn’t surprising, as inkjet printers, particularly at this price level, can be expected to deliver years of solid service. The only real maintenance issue with pigment-ink printers arises from extended periods of inactivity: If you regularly go several weeks without making a print, nozzles on the print head can get clogged temporarily with pigment particles.
Occasionally, if our printer has been idle for more than a few weeks, we’ve had to run a head-cleaning cycle (an automated process) to fix the clog, but that’s been the exception rather than the rule. The vast majority of the time, we fire up the printer, and the first print looks great.
If 0 for the P600 is more than you’re willing to spend, we recommend the 9 dye-ink . This is a great choice if you’ll only be making prints for personal use, as opposed to selling editions of your work. It makes vibrant, professional-looking prints faster than any other 13-inch photo inkjet we found. At less than half the cost of our top pick, users who may occasionally skip a month between making prints can more easily justify the upfront expense. Because it uses dye inks, however, its prints won’t stand up over time as well as those from a pigment inkjet, and the Pro-100 can’t handle the super thick sheets that our top pick can.
Dye ink printers produce more saturated output than pigment ink printers. The downside is print longevity, as dye ink will fade faster. If you only store your images in photo albums, Canon claims the Pro-100 can resist noticeable fading for up to 100 years in proper storage conditions. We suggest taking those numbers with a grain of salt, as they’re extrapolated estimates based on lab tests. In a in 2012, print permanence expert Henry Wilhelm and his colleagues at the Wilhelm Research Institute note, “meaningful, comparative test methods for…bound photobooks may be difficult or impossible to develop – there are simply too many variables involved.”
But if you’ll be hanging prints on your wall where they’re exposed to sunlight and airborne pollutants along with temperature and humidity changes, you shouldn’t be surprised to see some noticeable fading over the months and years. By their nature, pigment inks are much more resistant to fading; if you’re selling your prints rather than giving them to family and friends as gifts, you’re much better off with a pigment ink printer like our top pick.
Another concession you make by stepping down to the Canon Pro-100 is limiting the variety of media you can print on. Our top pick, the P600, can handle sheets up to 1.3 mm thick, and it comes with a roll holder and printer driver that can produce panoramas up to 44 inches long. The Canon Pro-100 lacks any roll capacity, has a maximum paper thickness of only 0.6 mm and the printer driver limits you to a 26-inch print length.
If you like to print on fine art matte papers, the Pro-100, like all recent Canon Pixma Pro models, imposes a wide 1.2-inch image border on all four sides, limiting the size of image you can print. While I suspect the majority of users buying a dye-ink printer will gravitate to lighter weight glossy paper, this is something to be aware of.
The is a great alternative to our top pick for those who’ll be printing primarily on glossy papers. It’s solidly built, has a lower ink cost than our top pick and delivers great print quality, falling just slightly short of its big brother the and our top pick in highlight and shadow details when printing in black-and-white mode (since it has fewer black ink dilutions). With a 0 street price, the Pro-10 doesn’t offer any significant benefits over the P600—but we’ve seen occasional price drops of more than 0, and at that much of a discount, it’s a compelling alternative.
The Pro-10 is no speed demon, printing twice as slow as the P600, but this 10-ink printer does have a very low ink cost of .07 per mL. It’s worth noting, however, that because of its smaller 14-mL (versus 26) capacity ink cartridges, you will be replacing inks more frequently with the Pro-10 than with the P600.
Like our top pick, the Pro-10 offers built-in Wi-Fi, wired Ethernet and USB ports and compatibility with AirPrint and Google Cloud Print, which allows direct printing from iOS and Android devices. The printer also benefits from Canon’s open embrace of third-party media, with ICC paper profiles for popular papers from leading brands like Hahnemühle, Moab, Canson, and Ilford included in the driver, with even more options available on . Epson, by contrast, supplies ICC profiles only for its own brand of papers, forcing users to seek out third-party paper profiles on their own, typically from the paper companies’ .
One of the easiest ways to tell whether an inkjet printer will make great-looking photorealistic prints is to look at the number of ink colors it holds. Models that come with only four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) are fine for graphics and illustrations but will struggle to produce smooth, accurate transitions between colors and won’t show fine details in highlight and shadow areas.
We therefore dismissed the entire lot of 4-ink all-in-one printers selling for less than 0 like the . There’s no point in buying a printer if you can get better results from inexpensive online services or in-store drop-offs at Walgreens or Costco.
Six-ink multifunction models like the 0 add light cyan and light magenta inks which go a long way towards creating smooth transitions in areas like skin tones and blues skies and do a much better job producing the highlight and shadow detail you see in your image on-screen.
With models like these, however, you’re limited to a maximum 8.5-inch-wide print and can only print on a limited selection of relatively thin photo papers. But the biggest drawback of these multifunction models is the pricy ink cartridges that hold only about 5-7 mL of ink. The has an ink cost of .86 per mL. The (which does print up to 11-by-17) is even worse at .40 per mL. For comparison, our top pick has 26 mL ink cartridges that cost less than .30 per mL. With these multifunction printers, you’re going to making a lot of last-minute runs to the office supply store to finish up your print jobs. We can’t recommend them if you’ll be printing on even a semi-regular basis.
The 0 is a 13-inch wide dye-ink printer with light cyan and light magenta inks. It’s black-and-white output is pretty poor, though, and with inks that run .95 per mL, it has a high operating cost. The is another 13-inch printer with six dye inks, but one of them is used only for document printing on plain paper, making it a less stellar performer for color prints than our top picks. It also has a high ink cost of .71 per mL.
The is a pigment-ink printer that produces great-looking color prints. Its black-and-white output is a couple of generations behind current Epson models, however, and has since been discontinued by Epson.
The delivers image quality nearly identical to the P600, although the latter produces noticeably richer blacks on fine art matte papers. The only feature the R3000 lacks is a tilting touchscreen. It was our previous pick but has been discontinued. You can still find it at retailers (for how much longer we can’t say) but its dwindling supplies have actually pushed its price on Amazon above our new top pick’s.
Epson’s 13-inch has the same styling and many of the same features as our top pick and is 0 cheaper. But because the P400 uses the same 8-color inkset as the now discontinued , it lacks the additional gray inks that our main picks use to produce such smooth, neutral BW prints. Another drawback is that the P400 ink cartridges only hold 14ml of ink each (compared to 26ml for our top pick), which means more frequent replacement, a drawback if you print a lot.
The 0 is very nearly the P600’s equal in both color and B&W output, and at /ml it has the lowest ink costs of any 13-inch pigment printer. But at 0 more than our top pick, we can’t overlook the fact that selecting a fine art media type in the Canon driver substantially increases the print margins to 1.2 inches. You can’t print an 8-by-10-inch print on a letter-size sheet of fine art paper. That’s an inexcusable limitation on a printer in this price range.
In February Canon released both the Pixma Pro-10s and Pixma Pro-100s upgrades in Europe and Australia. Unfortunately the only difference in the upgraded models are built-in options for printing images from cloud services like Dropbox, Flickr, and Google Drive. We have no word on whether these models will be released in the US. Even if they are, they offer no practical benefit over the current models.
Mike Pasini, , Interview
Tyler Boley, , Interview
Jim Harmer, , Improve Photography
William Harrel, , Computer Shopper, February 20, 2015
Keith Cooper, , Northlight Images
Vincent Oliver, , Amateur Photographer, April 23, 2015
David Stone, , PC Mag, March 24, 2015
Andrew Darlow, , Popular Photography, March 9, 2015
Michael Reichmann, , Luminous Landscape, April 1, 2015
Henry Wilhelm, Kabenla Armah, Barbara C. Stahl, , Wilhelm Research, January 8, 2012