Whether you're printing off photos to save in your scrapbook, or you just want to have some glossy photos of your best pictures handy, a good photo printer can make a huge difference when you're saving those important images. While most printers can print images, a dedicated photo printer can accurately and vividly reproduce colors while still retaining detail from your original image. Inkjet printers also tend to be better suited for printing photos, and some inkjets even include special photo cartridges to give you an even better color reproduction.
We've tested over 80 printers, and below are our recommendations for the best printers for photos you can buy. For other options, check out our recommendations for the best home printers, the best inkjet printers, and the best printers with cheap ink.
The best printer for photos we've tested is the Canon PIXMA TR8520. It's an all-in-one printer with great features, and more importantly, excellent photo printing quality. It has decent build quality, and it's designed to give easy access to the ink cartridges and paper jams. It has a large touch-sensitive display screen, the settings menu is easy to navigate, and it can even play how-to videos should you need help with changing the ink cartridges or loading paper.
It can print amazing photos. There's plenty of fine details in the pictures, the colors are vibrant, and there's no banding at all. Color accuracy is decent and should be good enough for casual use, but it might not be ideal for professional work that requires precise color reproduction. It's not the fastest at printing photos; it usually takes about a full minute to print one out. Its cartridge system yields a good number of color pages, and the ink cartridges are relatively affordable, which helps keep the cost-per-print low overtime.
You can connect to the printer wired or wirelessly and print directly off a USB thumb drive or SD card. Canon's PRINT mobile app is available for Android and iOS, and it lets you print, make copies, or scan documents using your smartphone's camera. You can order ink, but unfortunately, there's no ink subscription available. Overall, it's a great and versatile printer for printing photos and one that most people should be happy with.
If you plan on printing a lot of photos and need a printer with a better cost-per-print, then consider the Canon PIXMA G7020. It's also an inkjet printer, but instead of using ink cartridges, it has refillable ink tanks. It yields an incredible number of color pages, you can fill up the tanks as you go, and the ink bottles are very affordable, so the cost-per-print remains low even if you print a lot. Its photo printing quality is good, but there's some banding in the darker shades, and color accuracy is mediocre. Its two-line monochrome Full-Dot Matrix display screen is rather disappointing, although it shouldn't be a dealbreaker for most people.
Overall, the TR8520 is a better choice because it prints higher-quality photos with better color accuracy. However, if you need a printer with a better cost-per-print and don't mind losing a bit of image quality in your photos, the G7020 is a good alternative.
The best multipurpose printer for photos that we've tested is the Brother MFC-J995DW. This all-in-one inkjet model is a great choice for printing casual photos and is versatile enough for other uses. It has a sturdy design with easy access to the ink cartridges from the front. Also, it has a flatbed scanner, which is very useful if you plan on scanning old photos, and an automatic document feeder. You can connect to this printer over Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB, and you can print directly from a USB key or SD card.
The cost-per-print is superbly low, thanks to Brother's INKvestment Tank Ink System, which can yield high quantities of both black-only text documents and photos. You shouldn't need to replace the cartridges often, even if you print a large number of documents frequently. Printing speed is quite good, and while document printing is obviously faster, photos can be printed in less than a minute. Photos look highly detailed and great overall, despite some banding with certain colors.
Unfortunately, color accuracy is only okay and isn't recommended for those who work in print media or graphic design. It also lacks Bluetooth connectivity and can't be used with Mopria Print Service. Also, while it has an automatic document feeder, it doesn't have duplex scanning, meaning you have to manually flip over double-sided pages. That said, if you just want something that can print great-looking photos and keep up with printing documents, this is one of the best all-in-one printers we've tested.
The best small photo printer we've tested is the HP DeskJet 3755. This all-in-one model is a good choice for photo printing thanks to its impressive color accuracy and good photo quality. Its rear input tray supports a few photo sizes, including 4" x 6" and 5" x 7", and it also accepts most common paper formats. While it's too small to have a flatbed scanner, it still features a sheetfed scanner, which is great if you need to automatically scan or copy many documents at once.
It's fairly well-built, and it provides access to both ink cartridges and paper jams from the front-facing panel. It comes in three vibrant colors that give a pop of color to your workspace, and since it has a very small footprint, you shouldn't have any problems storing it in a tight space. It has decent connectivity options, and it also supports Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service if you want to print directly from your device without installing printer drivers.
Unfortunately, its page yield for both black and color pages is terribly low, so you may need to replace the cartridges often, especially if you print a lot. Because of this, its cost-per-print is also bad, but at least the cartridges are reasonably inexpensive. Also, it prints very slow, with a 4" x 6" photo taking over a minute and a half to finish. Nevertheless, this is still one of the best printers for photos if you're looking for something very compact.
The best printer for photos in the budget category is the Canon PIXMA TR4520. This all-in-one inkjet model is good for printing family photos. It has decent connectivity options, letting you print via Ethernet, USB, Wi-Fi, Apple Print, and Mopria Print. It's also compatible with Canon PRINT Inkjet/SELPHY, which lets you print, scan, copy, and perform maintenance tasks directly from your mobile device.
Its photos look impressively detailed, with only a bit of banding in gray areas. Colors look decently accurate, and it should be good enough if you're using it to print out family photos for a feature wall or photo album. It has great scanner features, including a sheetfed to automatically scan multi-page documents, and it has a flatbed with great resolution and color depth to digitize fragile family photos.
Unfortunately, it has a poor page yield, and the cost-per-print is high since you may need to replace the cartridges often. It also prints documents disappointingly slow, with a 4" x 6" photo taking over a minute. Also, it doesn't have Bluetooth support, and you can't print directly off an external storage device, but at least there are many other connectivity options. Overall, this is a good budget model for photo printing, and it's one of the best printers under $100 we've tested.
Feb 12, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks. No change in recommendations.
Dec 16, 2020: Updated text for clarity and structure, no changes in product picks.
Aug 07, 2020: Added HP ENVY 5055 to Notable Mentions.
Jul 17, 2020: Replaced the Canon PIXMA TS5320 with the Canon PIXMA TR4520 in 'Best Budget Photo Printer'. Added Canon PIXMA TS5320 to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best home printers for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here's the list of all our printer reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no printer is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.