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It's a Great Time to Print Photos at Home: Here Are Some Ways to Get Started

My first experience with professional photo printers was in graduate school in the mid-2000s. Back then, whatever behemoth Epsons the school had would always jam, eat paper, spew ink, and generally make it incredibly difficult to make prints, though when they did work, those prints were beautiful. Fast forward more than a decade later, and that’s not the case anymore, for Epson or any other brand. Here are a few options to get started in the world of large format, professional printing.

Coming at you from Photography PX is a breakdown of the top ten starter photo printers from brands such as HP, Epson, and Canon. The list is definitely aimed at beginners, as the top printer in the bunch is the Canon PIXMA PRO-100, an aging but still awesome printer that sits at the bottom rung of Canon’s professional printers. If you don’t have time to watch the video, that’s all you need to know. The PRO-100 is a dye-based, 8-ink printer that creates beautiful prints up to 13x19”. I should know, as my part of my job required printing hundreds of 13x19” prints with this printer to send to dealers around the country. It’s why I ended up buying my own PIXMA PRO-10, a superb 10-ink, pigment based printer that, because of the type of ink used creates archival quality, long-lasting prints at the expense of the better pop of color from a dye-based printer like the PRO-100. Canon’s plugin for Photoshop, Print Studio Pro, worked to make printing easy, as did the AirPrint support that allowed for printing from the phone. The best part is that these modern printers just don’t have as many problems as they used to. I can leave my printer sitting for a while without any real problems.

That said, while the PIXMA PRO-100 is a great printer to start with, it’s age means it’s missing out on some of the newer or more useful tech that’s in some of the other printers on this list. For instance, the Epson Surecolor P400 can use roll paper and has a touch screen to run the printer much easier. I love the PIXMA PRO-100, but having a screen to see what I’m doing with it rather than relying on a computer or phone would make it much easier and more spontaneous to use. For some reason, Canon’s lower end TS-series printers have a touch screen, but it’s missing even from the newer PIXMA IP8720.

If you’re just looking to dip your toe into printing at home, affordable (Under $100) dye-sub printers for 4x6 prints are also a great option for professional quality. I use a Canon Selphy myself for that purpose, and while it’s not going to be as good as any of the inkjet printers on this list, it’s pretty close and the water-proof nature of dye-sub technology is a bonus.

I’ve printed out the same photo from pharmacy photo labs, Walmart, Amazon, Target, and other places. Other than professional labs online (my favorite is bayphoto.com) at-home printing will beat out most of your local, mass-market options. If you haven’t dipped your toe into home printing for a while, it’s worth checking out. Things have gotten a lot better.

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9 Comments

Adriano Brigante's picture

From time to time, someone asks me to sell them a print on Instagram, and I hated having to go through some company to make the prints I sold (and my own prints). So I finally bought a printer a few months ago (Pixma Pro10), and it's really worth it. I love being able to handle my whole workflow (shoot, develop, scan, and print) at home.

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

Your description of the video was better that the extremely annoying and poorly assembled video.
I have a Pro-10 and Pro-100 and totally agree with your assessment of them.

Fristen Lasten's picture

Yep. "Coming in at number nine..." and "Coming in at number nine..." the other number nine? But even the written article lacks clarity.

jim hughes's picture

Yeah I'm one of those guys you're talking about. Years ago, I had a big Epson. Sometimes, after a long session of "head cleaning" cycles, applications of Windex with paper towels, prints aborted due to driver bugs, a couple of big prints sprinkled with red dots at 90% complete, and a lot of luck, I might get a good print.

One day I threw it on a cardboard box, sold it cheap on Ebay, and told myself I'd never buy another printer.

I'm not ready to go back yet.

Ismail Shariff's picture

I feel you :)
I had an Epson 3885 and started printing from home for photographers. Other than high cost per print, it was and still a breeze! I scaled it up when I started my commercial Fine Art print studio, the first in my state, to Epson 11880. Relived what you mentioned dont know how many times. In the 9 years of usage, changed the head (which is exorbitantly high) at least about 5 times.
They (Epson India) look after their clients so well, that they took over a year to change a damper for the 11880, saying that it is not a 'running model'.
Moved to Canon IMAGEprograf 4100/541 PRO a few months back, and so far so good. I am loving the colour reproduction and the speed. Client service is yet to be tested, and hoping that i dont get to for at least a couple of years :D
Try their Canon PRO 1000. its an unbelievably great printer, but again, a bit costly on the ink side.

Jeremy Whetzel's picture

I've always wondered if it's cost-effective to do your own printing. I mean the Pixma Pro-100 is $7-800 new, and the one I prefer, the image Prograf Pro-1000 is $1300. Inks are in the hundreds for the sets. How many prints do you get per set of inks?

Wasim Ahmad's picture

The PIXMA Pro-100 is very frequently on sale for hundreds less - like a deal from B&H where you buy a bunch of paper and get the printer for $100 or something comes up a lot. At that price, it's definitely worth it, but even at the higher price of the Pro-10, the quality is leaps and bounds better than most readily available nearby solutions (such as drug stores, etc.)

Joe Martinez's picture

Great review and perfect timing as I'm looking for something that's not quite pro, not quite bottom rung. My favorite part of the article though? "If you don’t have time to watch the video, that’s all you need to know." Lol, wish more articles had this included!

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Haha, noted for my future articles.