Shopping for a New Photo Printer? Here’s a Few Tips

Printer technology may not change as rapidly as camera and smartphone tech does, but every year you’ll find new enhancements (and some extraneous bells and whistles too), so here’s a few shopping tips before you set out a buy a new photo printer. 

You may not believe it, but the best way to preserve a digital photo for generations is to print it out at home. While there’s no sense in printing every photo you snap, a good home printer is a wise investment if you want to preserve some of your precious photographic memories.

Printer technology may not change as rapidly as camera and smartphone tech does, but every year you’ll find new enhancements (and some extraneous bells and whistles too). Seeing as we are all about photography here at Zoner, we’re strongly recommending you stick with an inkjet printer as they handle photo printing significantly better than laser printers do.

That being said, here’s a few other things you need to look out for:

Go Wireless

It’s increasingly difficult to find a printer that does not offer the ability to connect to a home network – either by Ethernet connection (a cable) or wirelessly, via Wi-Fi. We like Wi-Fi printers because they offer great flexibility – they can be placed anywhere in your home and connect to your undoubtedly growing collection of mobile devices.

Make Sure It Supports AirPrint

AirPrint is an Apple technology that lets you print wirelessly from your iPad and iPhone. If you’re an avid iPhone photographer, or just want to print out receipts from your iPad, a printer that supports AirPrint is a must. (The good news is that AirPrint is rapidly becoming a default feature, but it still pays to check the fine print just to be sure.)

But I Use Android…

Not to worry. Android relies on a similar technology to AirPrint, dubbed Cloud Print. It’s not as widely available yet on printers so if you own an Android tablet or smartphone and want to print from it, be sure to read the fine print before springing for your printer. Google maintains a list of Cloud Print-ready printers here.

Printer I

Multifunction vs. Single Function?

Most of us are multi-taskers, and we expect our electronics to be too. If you value versatility in addition to photo quality, a multifunction printer that combines a scanner is worth your time. Typically multifunction printers can produce very high quality, long-lasting photographs, but their true values lies in the ability to print, scan and copy.

However, if you’re really just looking to make the best possible photo print, you should look for a single function printer (i.e. one that cannot scan or copy, just print). These will be more expensive but they offer several benefits: they will produce better photo prints (in technical speak, they have a wider color gamut so they can reproduce a greater range of colors); they accept a range of different paper stock (so you can print to things like canvas); and finally, they come in wide sizes (so you can print larger pictures than the standard 8 x 10).

Pigmented Inks

Chemistry was never a strong subject for me, so what follows won’t be technical, I promise. But the type of ink your printer uses is a key factor in how long your photo prints will last. The basic rule of thumb: pigmented inks will last longer than dye inks.

Less expensive printers will often use a combination of dye and pigmented inks, and it’s often difficult to tell even in the fine print what kind of inks are being used. Still, it’s worth paying attention to, particularly if you’re purchasing a printer with the intention of printing out long-lasting photographic memories.

Find the Printer That’s Right for You

Still need some help? FindtheBest has a nice interactive search tool that can help you narrow down your printer options from current models in the market. Use the “filter” tool to select for features — like wireless connectivity — that you most desire.

And lastly, don’t forget the best way to help you enhance your photos and produce more images worthy of being printed is with Zoner Photo Studio, our award-winning photo editing and image management program for Windows. This A to Z suite of tools streamlines your photography workflow and truly helps you gain complete control of your image library.

 

 

 

Last updated 14. October 2014

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Author: Michael McEnaney

I am a veteran technology journalist with over 20 years experience covering consumer electronics and imaging tech as well as launching, editing/writing content, selling and marketing a variety of publications and websites. Most recently I helped NAPCO launch the Technologytell.com network of consumer tech websites and also helped launch the popular tech website TechTimes.com as well as launching his own website at www.your-digital-life.com that covers all consumers can do with their digital images and videos after they’ve captured them. My true passion has always been photography – both capturing life’s most precious moments as well as covering the pros that capture the world.

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Comments

  • Harry Reid

    Good, concise and sound advice,.thank you.

  • TerryB

    Michael,

    Two important areas you don’t mention and which potential purchases really do need to be aware of : the number of ink cartridges a printer uses, and how efficient at using, or dare I say, wasting ink they can sometimes be.

    Single combined colour cartridge printers can be extremely wasteful of ink because as soon as one colour runs out, irrespective of what is left of the others, the printer will stop working. The advice should be use a printer with a minimum of 4 separate CMYK cartridges for photo quality prints. For far better quality photo prints a printer or All-in-one with at least 6 cartridges is recommended

    Also what is not that readily discernible before purchase is just how much ink a printer can waste simply by switching it on. Manufacturers are very coy about this, especially when it is realised just how much ink can be wasted by some printers as they go through a full nozzle clean every time. I’m not mentioning names as I don’t have a knowledge of every printer out there, but I have two printers from the same manufacturer, one a wireless all-in-one and my top quality unit that isn’t.

    The newer wireless printer is very user friendly as I can print from many devices, but each time I use it I know I am throwing ink down the drain as it goes through its set up regime. So my advice would be if users have one of these printers, wait until you have a decent number of images to print off, and if you may be using the printer at various times throughout the day, leave it switched on.

  • Great advice Terry appreciate the comments as what you say is on the money. Thanks, and keep reading.