photo printer
Get photo prints instantly at home and put some of the best holiday moments up on display. Image Credit: Unsplash/Joshua Fuller

Summer break is rolling to a stop, and all that’s left behind is a digital library of fond memories, with a few pictures posted online and shared with the relatives. Once that’s done and dusted, our happiest memories seldom leave our smartphone gallery. But, how about a physical album? You could also frame a funny incident or stick selfies onto the refrigerator, for the whole family to relive the holidays. Printing out photos at home isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

Our home office printers, unfortunately, cannot produce the glossy finish we have in mind, let alone mimic the true colours of a stunning backdrop. This is where dedicated photo printers step in. We spoke to a printer engineer, Glyn Mapoles, who supervises and operates equipment at the Dubai-based Art Plus printing gallery. Mapoles tells Gulf News what sets these printers apart from the regular machines we use at home and the best brands to look out for.

How is a photo printer different from a regular printer?

photo printer
What's great about photo printers is that they have access to more colours, allowing them to capture every detail. Image Credit: Pexels/Deybson Mallony

Hands down, the most noticeable difference between a photo and a regular printer is the colour depth. Mapoles explained: “Office printers that are mostly dedicated to printing texts and documents only use three to four colours – cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). A photo printer will have more colour combinations. For instance, we use a commercial-grade Canon Pro-4000 printer, and it has a 12-colour ink system, which includes light magenta, grey, blue, red and green, as well. These can give you 16 million colours for a defined, pigmented image”.

There’s another distinction that’s worth discussing – the printed resolution of the images. The more pixels a printer can print per inch (PPI), the better the quality of the image will be. “When you’re printing, the print head moves left and right, adding ink line by line. A regular printer will complete one sentence at a time, but with pictures, a photo printer will add more lines. It takes longer, but the quality is worth it,” said Mapoles.

Do I need special paper for photo printing?

printed photos
Having the right stack of photo papers will give you the best results; options include matte, lustre, glossy, fine art paper and more. Image Credit: Unsplash/Erik Mclean

Your printing material can singlehandedly affect the quality of printed photos. Regular A4 sheets, says Mapoles, drown under the deluge of ink, making pictures look dull. In contrast, photo papers absorb ink in a way that keeps the colours afloat.

“Photo papers with special coatings will keep your ink looking vibrant,” he added. Whether you’re looking for a glossy or matte finish, different types of photo papers are readily available in stationeries and online stores.

A reasonable concern when buying photo-based printers is having to shell out on ink refills over time, since they use more than four. You can spread out your ink capacity by tweaking the resolution settings, minimum 300ppi, and only printing what you need. Mapoles says daily heavy usage could easily run you out of colour within a week.

Which photo printer is the best for me?

polaroids
Smartphone photo printers add a touch of nostalgia to your digital selfies. Image Credit: Unsplash/Raj Rana

Your choice of photo printer depends on the type of pictures you want and how you want to display them. If bulky at-home equipment is not what you envisioned, a compact smartphone printer might serve you better instead. Polaroid-style print outs are perfect for group selfies and snapshots of comical bloopers that make you laugh out loud.

“Canon has a SELPHY printer that connects to your Wi-Fi and phone – all you have to do is wirelessly send the data for printing, and it does the job instantly. It has a special cartridge and paper,” Mapoles said.

According to our expert, Canon and Epson are trusted brands for high-quality photo printing. He added: “Epson produces some of the best print heads out there. You’ll often see different brands use an Epson print head in their machines”.

From instant photo printers to desktop versions, here’s a list that can help you hold, store and parcel the best of your holiday memories. Order your photo printer today and receive it tomorrow via Amazon Prime.

1. Best Overall: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300

Pros

  • Uses ink efficiently for a higher page yield
  • Prints panoramic shots and borderless pictures
  • Excellent colour matching
  • Produces large prints of up to A3+ size
  • Comes with the ink set

Cons

  • Expensive ink replacement

Achieve professional results with the Canon imagePROGRAF, which accepts paper up to A3+ (329 x 483mm) in size. You can seamlessly link your PC or Mac to the printer via Wi-Fi or cable, and choose to print with colour or its matte black ink for a sombre monochrome look. The PRO-300 has 10 LUCIA PRO inks in its arsenal, six more than the regular printers, which includes chroma optimiser clear ink to get bronzing out of the way. Do note that each shade yields a different number of photos – for instance, matte black can print a 4x6-inch photo 1,750 times, while red yields 920 photos. According to the reviews left by professional photographers, the printer’s inks last for a long time without compromising on the colours. It even handles long panoramic shots taken on your DSLR with ease, letting you frame your best work in the hallway. Shop A4-sized photo paper supported by this model here.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh296.64 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year of extended warranty for Dh181.60 and two years for Dh300.

2. Best Budget Desktop Printer: Epson Expression Photo XP-8700 Printer

Pros

  • Built-in scanner and copier
  • Memory card slot
  • Prints on CDs/DVDs
  • Three feeder trays for various types of paper
  • Comes with the ink set

Cons

  • Epson ink replacements are pricey

This affordable Epson machine makes for a great bargain, if you’re looking for an all-in-one wireless photo printer. Just like our regular at-home equipment, it’s fitted with a flatbed scanner and copier and accepts plain A4 paper for documents. These go into a separate tray, and your photo paper goes in another. Specialty paper, such as fine art papers, goes into the printer via a rear feed. Six Claria Photo HD inks produce professional prints of up to A4 size, when you send pictures from your laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone, and even from the built-in memory card slot. But its best bonus feature has to be CD/DVD printing, using a special CD tray. You can now customise labels on discs with photos and videos stored on them, for a more organised media library. Buy Epson’s glossy photo paper here.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh57.63 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year of extended warranty for Dh32 and two years for Dh52.80.

3. Best High Yield Printer: Canon Colour Photo PIXMA G640

Pros

  • Prints a large volume quickly
  • Cost-effective with refillable ink tanks
  • Built-in flatbed scanner and copier
  • Prints A4 documents

Cons

  • Has an outdated LCD display

Say, you’re looking to print a large volume of holiday pictures for the whole family, but you’re worried about exhausting the ink. Canon PIXMA G640 is an economical photo printer that uses not single-use cartridges but refillable dye-based ink tanks. This means every time you run out of ink, all you have to do is purchase ink bottles to refill the tank, which holds more volume than cartridges. The set of six ink bottles yields up to 3,800 4x6-inch photos. It's pretty fast, too: a 4x6-inch borderless photo prints in approximately 47 seconds. You’re also saving more thanks to the printer’s built-in flatbed scanner and copier. It supports wireless connectivity, voice assistance, Apple AirPrint and more. Get your Canon photo paper here.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh93.67 for 12 months with select banks.

4. Best Cost-Saving Printer: Epson EcoTank ET-8500 Photo Printer

Pros

  • Refillable ink tank
  • Special feeder for thick art papers
  • Built-in flatbed scanner
  • Economical choice
  • Memory card slot

Cons

  • Expensive

Another refillable tank option is the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 printer. Much like the XP-8700, it has six-colour inks, separate trays for different papers, including a feeder for thick posterboard papers, a flatbed scanner and CD/DVD printing. With the EcoTank, though its upfront cost is high, you’re saving more in the long run. A set of Epson bottles can last you for up to two years, and the cost of replacement bottles helps save up to 80 per cent on ink, compared to cartridges. Reviewers happily vouch for this statement, adding that their ink levels have barely moved after multiple uses. Photo quality is excellent, and regular A4-document printing works well, too. Shop for Epson's semi-gloss photo paper here.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh203.11 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year of extended warranty for Dh113.60 and two years for Dh188.

5. Best Smartphone Photo Printer: FUJIFILM INSTAX Mini Link Smartphone Printer

Pros

  • Ink-free photo printer
  • Dedicated app offers a range of editing options
  • Portable once charged
  • Yields 100 images on a single charge
  • Comes with films

Cons

  • Small photo dimensions

Mastering shots with an instant camera is a unique skill – you may or may not even be in the picture. If you prefer the Polaroid look, but don’t want to risk your expensive film with blooper shots, get the FUJIFILM Instax Mini printer instead. Print out your best selfies and candid shots from your smartphone gallery, using this portable printer. The produced images are small – 2.4x1.8 inches – so they can easily fit into your wallet or on the refrigerator with the help of magnets. And the best part is that the printer never runs out of ink, since the inserted film does all the work to develop the picture. A full charge lets you print out 100 selfies. All you need is the INSTAX Mini Link app on your phone, where you can edit, zoom in and create collages. Our pick comes as a bundle with 20 films for out-of-the-box printing.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year of extended warranty for Dh23.20 and two years for Dh37.60.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.