The 5 Best High-Resolution Photo Printers for Stunning Photos

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Want to take your photography to the next level? Investing in a high-quality photo printer will allow you to produce gorgeous, gallery-worthy photographic prints right at home.

Unlike standard inkjet printers designed for documents, high-resolution photo printers are engineered specifically for photographic printing. They combine advanced ink technologies, precision print heads, and high printer resolutions to create stunning photographic prints with incredible fine detail, accurate colors, and sharp image quality.

When searching for the best high-resolution photo printer, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Print resolution – Measured in dots per inch (dpi), the print resolution determines the amount of detail in your prints. For photographic prints, you’ll want at least 600 x 600 dpi.
  • Ink technology – Photo printers use either dye-based or pigment-based inks. Pigment inks are preferable for prints that will be displayed as they are more fade resistant.
  • Color accuracy – To achieve accurate colors, your printer needs a wide color gamut and may need calibration tools.
  • Paper handling – Review the compatible media types, paper tray capacities, and availability of rear paper feeds.
  • Print sizes – The maximum print width determines the largest print size possible. Standard sizes range from 13″ up to 17″ or more.
  • Connectivity – Check that your printer has the connections you need such as WiFi, USB, Ethernet, and memory card slots.
  • Operating costs – The costs of ink and paper can really add up! Make sure to understand the long term operating costs.

To help you select the right high-resolution photo printer for your needs and budget, we’ve rounded up the top models on the market. Read on for our picks for the 5 best high-resolution photo printers along with key features and considerations for each one.

What is a High-Resolution Photo Printer?

Before diving into the printers, let’s take a quick look at what defines a high-resolution photo printer and why you’d want one over a standard inkjet document printer.

High-resolution photo printers are specialty printers designed specifically for photographic printing applications. They combine a high resolution print head with specially formulated inks to produce prints with much finer detail, smoother gradients, and more accurate colors compared to standard printers.

The key advantages of high-resolution photo printers include:

  • Higher print resolution – Photo printers have resolutions from 600 x 600 dpi on up to 4800 x 2400 dpi. The higher resolution allows for finer detail in prints.
  • Better color accuracy – Using 6 or more ink colors and advanced driver technology, photo printers can achieve a wider printable color gamut and more accurate colors.
  • Specialty inks – Pigment-based inks provide better longevity for displaying finished prints compared to dye-based inks. Some printers offer additional inks like gray, matte black, or red for expanded tonality.
  • Photography workflow software – Dedicated image processing software provides controls for color management, cropping, and image adjustments tailored for photographers.
  • Media handling – Photo printers support thicker fine art paper stocks and often include dual paper paths or rear paper feeds to easily print on specialty media.

The key uses of high-resolution photo printers include:

  • Photography proofs and test prints
  • Gallery-quality fine art photographic prints
  • Printing product prototypes, swatches, and marketing materials with photographs
  • Creating photographic prints for display, albums, framing or sale
  • On-demand photo printing services

Now let’s take a closer look at 5 of the best high-resolution photo printers on the market today. We’ll compare key features and specs to help you determine which model best fits your printing needs and budget.

Key Factors to Consider in a High-Resolution Photo Printer

There are several important specifications and features to keep in mind when shopping for a high-resolution photo printer. Considering the following factors will help you select the right model for your specific printing needs:

Print Resolution

One of the most important factors for photographic printing is the print resolution. This is measured in dots per inch or dpi.

Higher print resolutions allow for more detailed prints with finer gradations and smoother transitions between tones. Consumer grade photo printers have resolutions of approximately 600 x 600 dpi. High-end professional models offer up to 4800 x 2400 dpi for the absolute finest detail.

For photographic printing, you’ll want to look for a printer with at least 600 x 600 dpi resolution. Most users will find resolutions in the range of 1200-2400 dpi sufficient for even fine art print applications. Just keep in mind that higher resolutions require more data and thus larger file sizes.

Ink Technology

Photo printers use either dye-based or pigment-based inks. Each has advantages and disadvantages to consider.

Dye-based inks produce more vibrant colors but are more prone to fading over time, especially in bright lighting conditions. Pigment inks are more fade resistant and create longer lasting prints. However, they typically don’t produce quite the same color gamut and saturation as dye-based inks.

Most photo printers utilize pigment inks as they provide better longevity for displaying finished prints. Just be aware that pigment inks can have issues with clogging if not used regularly.

Many printers offer additional ink colors beyond the standard CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) to provide expanded tonality and accuracy. Common additional inks are gray, light gray, matte black, photo black or red.

Color Accuracy

To achieve accurate color reproduction, a photo printer needs to have both a wide printable color gamut and calibration tools and technologies to achieve consistent colors.

Some key things to look for include:

  • 6 or more ink colors
  • Grayscale printing capability
  • Inkjet printing heads with small droplet sizes (4 picoliters or less) for smoother color transitions
  • Advanced driver technology for print profiling and color management
  • Availability of ICC color profiles for your printer and paper types

Paper Handling

One advantage of photo printers over standard document inkjets is the ability to print on a wide range of media types, including fine art papers.

When evaluating the paper handling capabilities, there are a few things to check:

  • The printable paper sizes – this determines the maximum print size possible
  • Paper trays and their capacities – larger is better for higher volume printing
  • Rear paper feeds – allows printing thick media and fine art papers
  • Compatible paper types – look for compatibility with fine art stock and canvas
  • Borderless printing support – ideal for snapshots and enlargements

Print Sizes

The maximum print width determines what size prints you can produce. Standard printer models often support widths between 13″ and 17″. Larger format professional models can print widths over 40″ or more.

Consider what print sizes you are likely to need for your photography. Standard print sizes include:

  • 5 x 7 inches
  • 8 x 10 inches
  • 8.5 x 11 inches
  • 11 x 14 inches
  • 13 x 19 inches
  • 17 x 22 inches

If you want the ability to create very large gallery wraps or murals, look for larger format printers that support 24″ and greater print lengths.

Connectivity

There are several types of connectivity to consider in a photo printer:

  • USB – Simple plug-and-play connection directly to your computer
  • WiFi – Allows printing wirelessly from anywhere in your office or home network
  • Ethernet – For connecting your printer directly to a wired network
  • Memory card slot – Allows direct printing from SD or CF media
  • Bluetooth – For wireless printing from mobile devices
  • AirPrint – Print direct from Apple devices

Think about your workflow needs and how you will get image files to your printer when assessing connectivity options. WiFi and Ethernet provide the most flexibility for shared office settings.

Operating Costs

The cost of high-quality inks and papers can really add up, especially with larger or higher volume printing. When factoring in the long-term costs, consider:

  • Ink yields from the cartridges – this varies quite a bit between printer models
  • Ink costs per ml – compare ink prices between brands
  • Cost of replacement ink cartridges over time
  • Cost of papers – factor in any preferred fine art brands

Calculating the operating costs per print for your expected volumes can prevent sticker shock down the road. Be sure to factor in long-term costs when comparing printer models.

Now that we’ve covered the key factors to consider, let’s take a look at 5 top contenders for the best high-resolution photo printer…

The 5 Best High-Resolution Photo Printers

1. Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300

The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 is a professional 13″ inkjet photo printer designed for photography and fine art applications. Offering gorgeous prints up to 13″ x 19″, this is an outstanding choice for photographers and artists alike.

Key Specs:

  • Print Resolution: 4800 x 2400 dpi
  • Ink Technology: 5 Pigment ink system
  • Print Sizes: Up to 13″ x 19″
  • Connectivity: WiFi, USB, Ethernet, SD card slot
  • Print Speed: Up to 1 minute per 4″ x 6″ photo
  • Ink Tanks: 130ml capacity
  • Compatible Media Types: Photo, Fine Art, Canvas

The imagePROGRAF PRO-300’s 5-Color LUCIA PRO pigment ink system utilizes a Chroma Optimizer that allows for excellent black density and print longevity. It can achieve a color gamut up to 99% Pantone coverage.

Built-in calibration tools and Canon’s advanced print driver technology allow for excellent color accuracy and consistency. The prints have remarkable fine detail that truly look like photographic prints.

This printer has plenty of connectivity choices with WiFi, LAN, USB 2.0, and SD card slot. The paper handling capabilities are robust, with rear paper feed that allows printing on fine art media up to 1.3 mm thick.

The Canon imagePROGRAF is ideal for:

  • Photographers who need to create high quality exhibition prints from a home studio
  • Creative professionals who need accurate proofs of photographs
  • Designers printing prototypes involving photographic images
  • Art reproduction and scanning applications

Pros:

  • Stunning image quality and resolution
  • Built-in calibration for color accuracy
  • Robust paper handling capabilities
  • Affordable for a 13″ professional printer

Cons:

  • Limited wireless printing support
  • Significant ink costs over time
  • Software takes some learning

2. Epson SureColor P900

Epson’s photo printers consistently earn high praise, and the SureColor P900 is no exception. This 13″ wide printer includes advanced imaging technologies found on Epson’s high-end commercial photo models but at a more affordable price point.

Key Features:

  • Print Resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi
  • Ink Technology: 9 color UltraChrome HD system
  • Print Sizes: Up to 13″ x 19″
  • Connectivity: WiFi, USB, Ethernet
  • Print Speed: ~2 minutes per 4″ x 6″ photo
  • Ink Cartridge Capacity: 50ml
  • Media Types: Photo, fine art, roll paper option

The 9-ink UltraChrome HD inkset provides an incredibly wide color gamut with smoother gradations. It also includes a Violet ink for expanded color and three levels of black ink for neutral, photo, and matte applications.

For photographers, the Epson Vivid Light Magenta and Vivid Light Cyan allow for vivid blues and greens that really make landscape images pop with color. The P900 also includes advanced technologies like a color calibration sensor and Epson’s MicroPiezo AMC printhead for precision printing.

The SureColor P900 is the perfect choice for:

  • Photographers printing gallery-quality exhibition prints
  • Graphic artists who value accurate, vivid color
  • Print shops offering high quality photographic services

Pros:

  • Amazing color quality with UltraChrome HD inkset
  • High resolution prints with remarkable fine detail
  • Roll paper support for panoramas
  • Fast print speeds for efficiency

Cons:

  • Very high operating costs over time
  • Significant learning curve for color management
  • Larger footprint than some 13″ printers

3. Canon PIXMA Pro-100

The Canon PIXMA Pro-100 is a photo printer that offers exceptional quality and speed in a more compact and affordable package. Ideal for advanced amateurs, it can print stunning photos up to 13 inches wide.

Key Features:

  • Print Resolution: 4800 x 2400 dpi
  • 8 Dye-based ChromaLife 100+ ink system
  • Print Sizes: Up to 13″ x 19″
  • Connectivity: WiFi, USB, Ethernet
  • Print Speed: Under 2 minutes for 8″ x 10″
  • Ink Tanks: 12 – 26ml capacity
  • Media Types: Photo, Fine Art, Canvas

Utilizing a 8-color dye ink system, the PIXMA Pro-100 has a wide color gamut with enhanced reds and oranges (particularly good for landscapes and sunset photos). The ChromaLife 100+ inks are fade and water resistant when printed on Canon photo papers.

It offers excellent detail thanks to the 4800 x 2400 dpi FINE print head. Built-in calibration tools help maintain color accuracy. The Pro-100 has a more compact footprint than many 13″ printers yet retains robust paper handling abilities.

The Canon PIXMA Pro-100 is ideal for:

  • Advanced amateur photographers
  • Student photography labs
  • Home photography studios
  • Graphic artists on a budget

Pros:

  • Excellent detail and color accuracy
  • Fast print speeds for efficiency
  • Compact 13″ printer takes up minimal space
  • More affordable than commercial photo printers

Cons:

  • Higher operating costs than larger models
  • Maximum print size limited to 13″
  • No roll paper support

4. Epson Stylus Photo R2000

The Epson Stylus Photo R2000 is a mid-range 13″ desktop photo printer with exceptional printing capabilities. Utilizing Epson’s Advanced MicroPiezo AMC printhead and UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 inkset, it delivers stunning photographic prints.

Key Features:

  • Print Resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi
  • Ink Technology: 8 dye-based inks
  • Print Sizes: Up to 13″ x 44″ panoramas
  • Connectivity: USB, Ethernet, WiFi, Memory card slot
  • Print Speed: Approx. 3.5 minutes for 8″x10″ print
  • Ink Cartridge Capacity: 25ml
  • Media Types: Photo paper, Fine Art, Canvas

This printer has extremely high resolution paired with an 8-color UltraChrome inkset that produces gorgeous photographic prints with smooth gradients and tons of detail. The wide gamut inkset also has improved reds for remarkably vivid landscape images.

The R2000 has a unique white ink option that allows borderless printing on metallic and other dark media types. It supports roll paper for panoramic prints up to 44 inches long. Automatic switching between Matte and Photo Black inks make it easy to print on both paper types.

The Epson Stylus Photo R2000 is ideal for:

  • Photographers who print a high volume of exhibition quality prints
  • Professional portrait photographers
  • Architectural photographers
  • Schools and universities with photography programs

Pros:

  • Extremely high print resolution
  • Vivid color reproduction and accuracy
  • Versatile media handling with roll paper support
  • Optional white ink for creative applications

Cons:

  • Slightly slower print speeds
  • Significant ink consumption and cost
  • Software not as user friendly as competitors

5. HP DesignJet Z9+ PostScript Printer

For artists and photographers needing large high-resolution prints up to 24 inches wide, the HP DesignJet Z9+ is a top choice. This robust printer can handle large volumes easily while still offering studio-quality prints.

Key Features:

  • Print Resolution: 2400 x 1200 dpi
  • Ink Technology: 8 dye & pigment-based inks
  • Print Sizes: Up to 24″ x 63″
  • Connectivity: Ethernet, WiFi, USB 2.0
  • Print Speeds: Approx. 3.2 minutes per 24″ print
  • Ink Cartridges: 300ml capacity
  • Media Types: Photo, Fine Art, Canvas

With an 8-ink printing system combining both dye and pigment inks, this printer achieves a very wide color gamut with smooth gradients. It has excellent black density thanks to the Photo Black ink.

The large ink tanks reduce interventions, and acclaimed HP printheads provide consistent, reliable performance even with heavy use. With support for rolls up to 100 feet, this printer can easily handle banners and murals.

The HP DesignJet Z9+ is the top choice for:

  • Professional photography studios
  • Graphic design firms
  • Architecture/engineering businesses
  • Commercial print providers

Pros:

  • Fast print speeds even for large prints
  • Reliable, robust for high volume printing
  • Expansive 24-inch print width
  • Affordable to operate per print

Cons:

  • Significant investment upfront
  • Large footprint – requires substantial space
  • Printer calibration can be tricky

How to Choose Which Printer is Right For You

With so many choices out there, selecting the right high-resolution photo printer for your needs can seem overwhelming. Here are some tips for zeroing in on the perfect model for your printing requirements:

  • Consider your average monthly print volume. If you’ll be printing a couple hundred images per month or more, a printer with lower operating costs may save you substantial amounts over time.
  • Take the time to calculate operating costs per print across different printers using your expected print sizes and volumes. This will reveal the true long term costs.
  • Factor in the types of media you plan to use – photo paper, fine art stock, canvas, etc. You want a printer that easily feeds the media you need.
  • Resolution requirements also play a role. Evaluate the print resolutions you are likely to need for most images and prints. Extremely high resolutions demand more processing power and storage.
  • Pay attention to the physical footprint – some large format models require a dedicated space. Be sure you have room to accommodate the printer you choose.

Consider your connectivity needs. Do you want to print wirelessly from phones and computers? Or will you primarily be printing from USB or SD cards?

  • If you’ll be printing high volumes frequently, print speed is an important consideration. Faster print times improve workflow efficiency.
  • Software is often overlooked. Make sure the printer software fits with your workflow and has the tools you need for optimal prints.
  • Don’t forget customer service. Having access to knowledgeable technical support can make a big difference in keeping your printer running smoothly.

Prioritizing your specific needs and requirements will make one model rise above the rest. And investing in a high-quality photo printer designed for photographic printing can truly take your images to the next level.

Whichever model you choose, using a specialized high-resolution photo printer will allow you to produce gallery-worthy photographic prints from the comfort of your own home studio.

FAQs About High-Resolution Photo Printers

What resolution do I need for high quality photographic prints?

For photographic printing, you’ll generally want a minimum print resolution of 600 x 600 dpi. Most high-end photo printers offer 1200 dpi and higher. Standard sizes like 8 x 10 inches don’t require extremely high resolutions. But for larger prints you may benefit from 2400+ dpi for more detailed enlargements.

What is the difference between dye and pigment inks?

Dye-based inks can produce an extremely wide color gamut. However, they tend to fade more quickly over time, especially when displayed in bright lighting or direct sunlight. Pigment-based inks are much more fade resistant. This makes them preferable for photographic printing. But pigment inks may not be capable of quite the same color saturation and vibrancy as dye-based options.

How often do ink cartridges need to be replaced?

Ink cartridge replacement frequency depends on the volume of printing you are doing. With moderate use, expect to replace ink cartridges approximately every 3-6 months. For frequent high-volume printing, ink may need to be changed every 1-3 months. To help estimate costs, note the ink yields the manufacturer provides for each cartridge.

What paper types work best for photographic printing?

For color photographs with a smooth glossy finish, look for papers specifically designed for traditional photographic prints. Fine art papers are ideal for black-and-white photo printing or when you want a textured matte surface. Canvas can create a unique look for displaying photos as wall art. Always check the printer’s compatible media for the best photo paper options.

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