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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Consumer Hardware & Components > Recommend a Photo Printer

Recommend a Photo Printer
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ghporter
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Apr 14, 2023, 05:41 PM
 
I’ve gotten a bunch of negatives scanned, and now I’d like to print them, mostly as 4X6, or 5x7. My old color printer, a Canon MX310 is so far out of date that I can’t find a modern, functioning driver.

I’m a big fan of Canon printers, and a non-fan of Epson color printers. Epson has given me lots of reasons for that, like drying out if you don’t print daily, etc. I’m open to other brands, if they are really good.

I’d like to hear from folks who use their printers for PHOTOs. What do you use, what do you like about it, and what do you not like?

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Thorzdad
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Apr 14, 2023, 06:15 PM
 
We gave up printing photos at home ages ago. The wife uploads the files to, I think, Wallgreen’s website and has them printed there. I suspect you might be looking for somewhat better quality, though, yes?

I’m kind of surprised MacOS doesn’t have a driver that works for you. We have an ages-old Canon printer that my wife can print to without an issue. I’m pretty sure she’s up-to-date on her laptop OS.
     
reader50
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Apr 14, 2023, 07:14 PM
 
I got tired of inkjets awhile back. Though my old Canon did well until it finally died. I didn't like the small ink cartridges, or the DRM chips most had. Or the wet paper after printing, or how a single drop of water would run the picture. Inkjet ink has improved with time - they're far more water-resistant than they used to be.

Personally, I bought a color laser by Okidata. The occasional photo looks good on glossy photo paper. Note that I don't print many photos, and am not a serious photographer. I find my prints to look good, but a photo pro might think otherwise. Also note that the printer market hasn't finished straightening out from pandemic supply chain issues - economy color laser printers haven't returned yet.

You might consider a tank inkjet, especially if you print a lot of photos. No DRM - you can refill with ink bottles from anyone.

note: never buy a printer from HP or Lexmark.
HP - does sneaky firmware updates regularly. To lock out generic ink cartridges. Some lockout updates are cranked up so much, they reject older genuine HP cartridges.
Lexmark - spent millions trying to sue generic ink suppliers out of business. Took one case to the SCOTUS. Took 2nd case to Federal Circuit - either didn't appeal to SCOTUS, or the Supremes turned down the appeal. If they're that determined to screw you over, they'll find a way.
     
subego
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Apr 15, 2023, 02:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
My old color printer, a Canon MX310 is so far out of date that I can’t find a modern, functioning driver.
I gave up on Canon inkjets because they do this. Loved them when they worked.

Ultimately gave up on inkjets in general, except for my (HP) plotter, which isn’t a bad option if you need 24” wide. This must be used every two weeks or so, or it’ll be nearly half the cost of the printer for a head replacement… or the entire cost if you’re like me and bought one to replace the one I wrecked, and then a spare for emergencies. Kudos to the Apple Reminders app for helping me make sure I print something on it regularly.

Any FedEx Office store that used to be a Kinko’s should have good photo printers availabile.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Apr 18, 2023, 08:37 PM
 
The latest scanner driver Canon has for this maxes out at OS 10.9. My Big Sur MBP doesn't even believe there's anything there. It "sees" the printer, but I'm not impressed by the resolution it can print, compared to newer machines.

Plus, ink technology has moved ahead quite a bit, so options like affordable dye sublimation exist.

I'm not giving up on my laser, but I'm also not looking to buy a color laser. The supply cost is just too steep compared to ink or dye printers. And I am loathe to share my digital files with Walgreens...I just don't feel I can trust them.

So I'm looking at inexpensive Canon color printers, like the Pixma MG3620, or the TS3520. Or maybe the photo-only printers, like their Selphy line. Any experience with any of these?

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
reader50
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Apr 18, 2023, 11:43 PM
 
No recent experience. But beware low-priced inkjet printers. The cheaper the printer, the heavier the DRM. On the low end, they give away the printers to get you on the cartridge carousel.

Also - cheap inkjets often use only 2x cartridges. A black, and a tri-color. Both the Canon printers you mention (MG3620 and TS3520) use a tri-color cartridge, instead of individual colors. Whenever any single color runs out, the whole color cartridge refuses to work. You have to toss it (or recycle) even if the other 2x colors are full.

For a bit more dough, you could consider the Canon G3260 - a tank printer. No DRM, refill with bottles. $150 on Newegg.

Research any model before buying. Download the user manual, and read it. Printer manufacturers are out to get you - so do the homework before committing. Check the cartridge prices on ebay, make sure generics are available for any model you consider (inapplicable to tank models).
     
ghporter  (op)
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Apr 19, 2023, 01:35 PM
 
Great advice, reader. The MX310 suffers from a tricolor cartridge; if you don’t use all of the cyan or yellow, but the magenta is “empty” (per software, not per actual contents), the whole cartridge is “empty.” I had looked at the separate tank printers, but hadn’t done much research yet. I will start hitting the books on this issue.

The G3260 is also about the same price on Amazon, at Best Buy, and at B&H Photo, so I have options for that particular model, and probably a number of others.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
OreoCookie
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Apr 20, 2023, 03:29 AM
 
Reader is spot-on: I have only bought “single ink tank printers” since the early 2000s. My father stuck to HP with tricolor tanks for a bit longer and wasted tons of money. Even if the primary purpose of your printer were something other than printing photos, I would still second reader's suggestions to simply forgo all such printers.

Modern inkjets are the better choice for photos than color laser printers. The latter is great for text, graphics and the like. But if you want nice photos, they cannot touch an inkjet printer with good photo paper.

You can get dedicated photo printers with more inks, but these cost more. They print with more inks, typically lighter shades of CMYK and some add green and other colors to the mix. But then you'd spend much more.

I haven't bought an inkjet printer in years, so I am not up to speed anymore. Basically, though, almost all cheap printers have gotten worse over time. Even manufacturers like Kyocera have reduced the capacity of their toner cartridges in their entry- to mid-level laser printers. AFAIK Epson also makes inkjet printers with ink tanks.

In my experience, dye sublimation printers offer really great image quality for photos. I have had a small photo printer (10x15 cm^2) from Olympus and the image quality was great. I have also used bigger ones by Tektronix (I think) about 20ish years ago. Because you don't have to dither and each printed pixel has a true color depth of 24 bit, the image quality is much better than the resolution suggests. However, it seems that most manufacturers have given up on dye sublimation printing (for photos). I did find a few, but most seem to be meant for printing on T-shirts, mugs and the like.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Apr 20, 2023, 11:42 AM
 
The dye sublimation printers I’ve looked at seem to all be photo-only, and max out at 4x6 media. While I don’t mind the idea of a dedicated photo-only printer, the option for other media sizes is a better choice for me.

I’ve been looking at the G3260’s specs and manual, and it looks like a good choice. I’m going to look at similar printers for comparisons.

I remember way back when “tank printers” were unsupported mods. I guess that sort of stuck and kept them from coming to mind until mentioned here. I’m reeducating myself…

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
OreoCookie
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Apr 20, 2023, 10:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
The dye sublimation printers I’ve looked at seem to all be photo-only, and max out at 4x6 media. While I don’t mind the idea of a dedicated photo-only printer, the option for other media sizes is a better choice for me.
I have had one of those, and it worked really well. I don't think I could distinguish the quality between that and a printout from Costco et al.

Epson makes the SureColor F170, which looks like a regular inkjet printer. It prints up to Din A4/Letter.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Apr 22, 2023, 11:38 AM
 
Given not-unlimited funds, I went with the Canon G7020. It’s a tank-style all-in-one that features “photolithography” print heads (which are replaceable), and has great specs for print and scan resolution.

I decided against a photo-only printer because all of them that are not stratospherically expensive max out at 4x6 prints, and I don’t want that kind of limit.

I plan to unbox and set it up today, events depending. I’ll chime in with what I think of it once I get to play with it some.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
ghporter  (op)
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Apr 24, 2023, 11:10 AM
 
The unbox and setup were amazingly painless. This machine does AirPrint natively, in fact it’s ALL wireless, with some cool security stuff going on that makes it feel comfortable to this security-minded guy.

One thing that had me worried was how you fill the ink tanks without making a mess. My experience with refilling ink cartridges was not encouraging. It turns out that Canon figured that out; the ink bottles have a valve gadget that the ink tank filler end opens. As long as you don’t mess with the bottle while it’s pouring into the tank, it’s essentially mess-free.

The color on the test page is stunning. It’s bright and clear and crisp. I haven’t done any photos yet, as I’m waiting for 4x6 photo paper (due to be delivered today). I have 5x7 on hand, but at the moment I don’t have a great “5x7 framed print” candidate…or any 5x7 frames, while I do have some 4x6 frames and several candidates.

I’m glad I didn’t go with the lower priced models, like the 3260. The G7020’s specs include better scanning resolution and much better print resolution - not just HxW, but finer printed dots thanks to the photolithography print heads.

So once today’s scheduled real life is taken care of, I’ll be able to do a few photo prints and see what the printer can do.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
   
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