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If you are serious about printing your photographs or your fine art prints yourself, or if you just want to print professional-looking images of your work for your portfolio, it’s a good idea to invest in an inkjet printer that uses pigment inks. Formulated with solid pigment powder rather than with dye, these inks are more vibrant, more stable, and more archival (albeit also more expensive). Pigment inks must be used with pigment printers, which tend to be much larger and, aptly, pricier than the run-of-the-mill dye-ink machines usually found in home offices. Still, they can be smart investments for artists who often display or sell their works.
Best Overall: Epson SureColor P700
The Epson SureColor P700 does so many things right, we’ve picked it as the best overall photo printer for artists. While the P700 can churn out gorgeous photo prints up to 13 inches wide, the printer is surprisingly compact and lightweight, easily fitting on a desk or small table in your studio. The P700’s uses Epson’s 10-ink UltraChrome PRO10 pigment ink set, which produces a stunning range of color for both landscapes and portraits. The P700 has professional-level features, but you don’t need to be a print wiz to use them. You access the P700’s functions via an intuitive and customizable 4.3-inch flip-up touch screen on top. There’s also improved support for wireless printing. Another nice feature: The P700 has an interior light so you can watch your photo as it prints out.
Purchase: Epson SureColor P700, $799.99 on B&H
Best for Black-and-White Photos: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300
The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 is another solid 13-inch printer, but where it really shines is in printing black-and-white photos. The PRO-300’s 10-color Lucia Pro pigment ink set includes both photo and matte black inks, producing deeper and more intense blacks that look fantastic on fine art photo paper. And because the Canon PRO-300 has separate nozzles for the two types of black ink, it doesn’t need to switch tanks while printing (a common annoyance), reducing ink waste and saving time. The PRO-300 also has a dedicated Chroma Optimizer channel that layers on a clear coating for a smoother finish, enhancing glossiness and reducing bronzing.
Purchase: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300, $899.00 on B&H
Best 17-inch Printer: Epson SureColor P900
If you want bigger photo prints, we recommend the 17-inch Epson SureColor P900, which is the big brother to our top overall pick. Like the P700, the P900 boasts Epson’s 10-ink UltraChrome PRO 10 ink set, which produces vivid yet true-to-life color. The P900 adds a Carbon Black mode that increases the density of black in prints for greater contrast in both color and monochrome photos, making them really pop. The P900’s 10-channel Micro Piezo AMC printhead can lay down ink droplets as small as 1.5 picoliters to produce precise detail. Along with printing 17-by-19-inch cut sheet photos, you can output on roll paper using the included media adapter, which is great for extra-long panoramas.
Purchase: Epson SureColor P900, $1195.00 on B&H
Best Large-Format Printer: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100
Printing on a floor-standing, large-format printer is a great way to take your photo prints to the next level, and for that we recommend the 24-inch Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100. This 223-pound beast will eat up a chunk of your studio space, and you’ll need a few friends to assemble it, but the resulting large-format photos are worth it. It produces outstanding image quality thanks to its 11-color pigment LUCIA PRO ink set (plus a Chroma Optimizer) and an impressive printhead with nearly 18,500 nozzles that outputs photos at up to 2400 x 1200 dots per inch. It also has a variety of handy, user-friendly features. We like the automatic paper feeding and media reading system, which loads and recognizes paper without human intervention. Just set the roll holder in the printer and walk away; the printer automatically feeds the paper and picks the right media settings.
Purchase: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100, $2840.00 on B&H
Best Budget Photo Printer: Epson Expression Photo XP-8700
The Epson Expression Photo XP-8700 does it all for less than one-third the price of our top pick. Along with printing high-quality photos using Epson’s six-color Claria Photo HD ink cartridges, the XP-8700 can scan and copy photos or documents, making this a handy assistant to have around the studio or office. There are a few trade-offs, however. This is not a true pigment printer since only the black ink is pigment based; the rest are dye-based, so photo prints won’t be truly archival. Also, print size maxes out at 8.5 by 11 inches—though my photos still looked great at that size. This compact and lightweight all-in-one is extremely easy to use, with a large 4.3-inch touch screen and intuitive controls along with router-free Wi-Fi direct printing. We also liked the Epson Smart Panel app, which lets you control the XP-8700 from your mobile device. In addition, there’s a voice-activated printing option, so you can output photos and documents hands-free.
Purchase: Epson Expression Photo XP-8700, $249.99 on Blick