Tech Q&A: Are compact photo printers worth it?

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Camilla misses the days of having photos stored in an album and wants to know if she should buy a printer.

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Q. Camilla
I might be showing my age, but I still preferred the good old days when we had physical copies of out photos stored in albums that we could easily access and show the family. Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone, but the habit of endlessly scrolling through my camera roll to find a photo that I want to show someone has driven me a little crazy at times. This is why I still try and print out some of my important photos and still keep them in an album. This can sometimes be expensive after holidays overseas. I have seen small photo printers available to purchase but are they worth it? What do I need to look for if I buy a photo printer?

A. You are not alone in missing the glory days of photos as interest in compact photo printers is definitely going through a resurgence after first becoming popular in the early 2000s.

Many manufacturers advertise the cost per page of photos printed on their machines, which can give you a good guide as to whether this will be a cost-effective option for you in the long run. It is also an important point to consider when you are comparing printers.

Most compact photo printers share a similar design. They are small units, usually with large LCDs in order to allow people to browse and edit their photos, as can be done on a computer.

The editing options usually allow the user to crop photos, remove red eye, adjust colour settings as well as other functions.

Compact photo printers typically feature a large number of connection options, including USB and most memory card formats, but make sure you check that what’s on offer is compatible with the device you are planning to use.

Better still, some of the printers on the market are so small that you can consider taking them with you when you travel. This allows you to print out photos at the end of every night, which can be useful for jotting down notes to remember the moment and what you have seen that day.

The print quality of most of the photo printers is remarkably high, but if you are still getting your photos printed professionally you will probably still be able to notice the difference.

Most of the printers in this market are priced at under $200 (you can obviously pay a lot more for better quality printers) and deliver such good results that it sounds like it will probably be worth your while if you enjoy having hard copies of your memories.

Do you still print out photos? Do you own a compact photo printer? Which one would you recommend?

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Written by Ben

8 Comments

Total Comments: 8
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    Just a placer so I catch future comments on this topic.

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    When I travelled I transferred my photos from my camera (or phone last time ) onto my laptop. At home I’ print what I want on an ordinary Canon Printer (TS5060) which turns out excellent photos. You don’t have to use their ink either which is more expensive than gold, but use long lasting ink from a site like Inkstation. I scrapbook or frame the photos I want and keep the rest on disc.

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      Roger that Cat, I’ve been a customer of Inkstation for the past 12 years, never had a single problem with any of their products, over several different printers (always Canon).

  3. 0
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    I used to print out in A4 size om a good quality photo printer. When the printer cacked it I now view my photos on my 52″ TV and that is very satisfying as you can really see the fine detail. Instead of an album they can be viewed on a tablet which is really good, easy and portable.
    The problem with printed photos is that with time they fade. The old slides however retain all their vividness and are pleasure, altho’ tedious to set up a viewing, to view.

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      I don’t know about that with the slides Tanker, I have a load of slides from the early 1970s both Agfa (German with plastic surround) and Kodac (with the cardboard surround) all the Agfa ones have gone completely black nothing at all to see whilst the Kodac ones are still in good nick. A pity because most of my slides are of when I served overseas and I thought the Agfa would be the best.

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      Fred, a note on transparency storage. Kodachrome is possibly the most colour stable material, but must be stored away from light and in controlled humidity or they can be lost in a matter of days. I did a lot of Agfachrome 50 slide home processing in the ’70’s and with good storage, all are still good.

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    My wife is a long time scrapbooker and prints all her photos. We are also keen caravan’s and she takes her printer with her and every quiet time prints out what she wants to album and deletes the rest. She uses the Canon Selphy which provides 4 x6in exceptional and long lasting prints. A little more expensive but you get what you pay for. The big advantage is it also has WiFi connection so she can print from her phone or iPad cordless. My Canon camera also has WiFi so I can print on the printer cordless. The WiFi selphy retails from about $140-180. The ink dry instantly and the prints are waterproof.

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    No, buying one of the small format photo printers is not the solution to economical printing of favourite photos.
    One of the better options was either Harvey Norman or Office Works where you can email the photos and have them print them using a photo fast process. These are smudge and smear proof waterproof prints with good colour stability. Or you can simply load your wanted prints onto a flash drive and take them in and have them done while you wait. Pricing is often far cheaper than doing it on a home printer.
    Most of the home printers, even those under $50 can give very good results on photo paper in either the 4×6, 10×8 or A4 sizes. Note that these are bubble jet and are not waterproof as the old photo prints were. (original OEM inks turn out to be the more reliable here with better colour density than some of the cheaper non-genuine inks and dyes.) Yes, a replacement set of ink cartridges can cost much more than the printer did when purchased. (That’s what we pay for convenience.)
    Of course if a person has taken the photos on an iPhone and their friend also has an iPhone, the photos can be shared across the devices in only seconds. (This should be possible with androids, but I’m not a user of them, so cannot speak from experience.) The cameras in many of the good smart phones are everybit as good as an average compact camera with a significant suite of editing features usually available.


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