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Review of Best Photo Printers (under $700)

written by: •edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 10/16/2008

With modern color inkjet printers you can now achieve photo lab quality results, right from the comfort of your own surroundings. Here we look at the best mid-range photo printers offering exceptional photo quality printing for the family, photography expert or small business.

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    Best Photo Printers Under $700

    Not sure what about choosing the right printer for you. Read >>> Buying the right printer

    Below is a list of the best Photo Printers you can buy for under $700. All offer highly impressive print quality (dare we say Photo Lab quality?), outstanding flexibility and control of print media, image editing and advanced features.

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    HP Photosmart Pro B9180

    HP Photosmart Pro B9180
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    Price at time of review - $650

    Rating Average

    The Good

    • Great looking printer, only creates a medium size footprint and delivers consistent results.
    • Professional pigment-ink photo quality, can easily deliver re-sellable prints.
    • Crystal clear image projection onto a wide variety of output media. Photo quality lasts.
    • Exceptional 8 color ink palette and color management, providing gallery level vibrancy, brightness and contrast.
    • Outstanding print speeds for such a high quality color inkjet printer.
    • High capacity ink cartridges are long lasting and practical to assemble. Making the unit cost effective.
    • Control panel is intuitive, with a great depth of service and configuration in one easy to navigate menu system.
    • The HP Color Centre tool is highly informative to help get the most from the printer.

    The Bad

    • Some drop off in quality with 'no name' brands of media. Thus, considering the price of the printer and quality it 'can' deliver, it is recommended you buy HP consumables.
    • Running costs can be high, especially if running constant or heavy duty print jobs.
    • Paper handling can be ‘clunky'; care needs to be taken when positioning trays and feeders.
    • Requires some level of manual calibration.
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    Canon Pixma Pro 9500

    Canon Pixma Pro 9500
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    Price at time of review - $650

    Rating Average

    The Good 

    • Solid design, pleasing on the eye, with a reasonably small footprint for such a high spec printer.
    • Robust and highly reliable. A real workhorse printer.
    • Professional photo quality for super fine, gallery quality printing.
    • An almost photo lab quality printer, best in class for pure B/W photo printing.
    • Outstanding color to on-screen matches. Vivid with perfect contrast and brightness.
    • Cartridges are reasonably priced for such a high spec printer.
    • Bets in class for large format print quality, and has extensive capabilities for a whole range of other media types.
    • Delivers great results with all major printer paper types, especially fine etching paper.

    The Bad

    • Doesn't provide truly photo lab quality with glossy paper, but the difference is very slight.
    • Deepest shades can appear matted, making gloss-optimized inks a must for the expert photo enthusiast.
    • Not for the novice user, setting up paper and color configuration is complicated for optimum/professional output.
    • Slow to print in comparison to HP Photosmart B9810.
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    Epson Stylus R2400

    Epson Stylus R2400
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    Price at time of review - $600

    Rating Average

    The Good

    • Outstanding design, a great little compact unit for such a quality printer. Small footprint, minimal eye-sore.
    • UltraChrome K3 inks produce stunning color and even more outstanding B/W.
    • Resilient print output (Epson say it's fade resistant for 200 years but is anyone going to test that in a lifetime!)
    • Excellent paper handling and paper paths provide superb results - matte, glossy, canvas, roll, posterboard, etc.

    The Bad

    • Cartridges are reasonably priced but don't have the longest lifespan once installed, i.e. can clog up if unused for a duration of time. As such not the most economical with ink usage.
    • Configuration and profiling could be more intuitive, troubleshooting guides not up to much.
    • Paper feed requires care when using non-standard media, although I've not heard of, nor come across problems with wasted ink or media.
    • The printer is not the quietest of those reviewed here, but for such a small and robust workhorse unit this is a marginal issue.
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    HP 2800DT Business Inkjet

    HP 2800DT Business Inkjet
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    Price at time of review - $550

    Rating Average

    The Good

    • Professional, slick design chassis - a superb compact printer, minimal footprint, optimum performance.
    • Print speeds are best in class for speed to quality comparisons. 18ppm color, 21ppm b/w, which isn't far off the manufacturers stated 24ppm color and 21ppm b/w.
    • Print quality of documents and presentation material is best in class, making this a sure winner for home office/small business users.
    • Exceptional print management and job scheduling, with a great bundle of software which helps deliver plug and play operability.
    • Does not require the hands on expertise of the other photo quality printers in this range.
    • All in all a superior business inkjet.

    The Bad 

    • Not the ultra smooth professional delivery of the Epson R2400 or Canon Pixma Pro 9500.
    • Photographic quality is ever so slightly grainier than those mentioned above, (it is marginal but to the professional eye, it is noticeable).
    • Duplex printing is slow when producing color copy, i.e. brochures, leaflets. As is wide format printing.
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    Xerox Phaser 8560N

    Xerox Phaser 8560N
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    Price at time of review - $500

    Rating Average

    The Good

    • Excellent design build, clean lines, professional look and feel but a large footprint.
    • Best in class for speed and resilience. Can withstand considerable use without the need for manual intervention or re-calibration. The Xerox Phaser range can churn out quality copy all day.
    • Outstanding input and output tray capacity, feeder for all types of media works a charm.
    • Duplex printing is impressively quick and of an excellent quality.
    • Crisp text based printing, professional b/w quality and vivid color printing.
    • Cost per page is around the cheapest in all the color inkjet ranges.
    • Replacing individual inks is simple and cost effective.

    The Bad

    • Xerox heat sensitive ink technology is not on a par with the Epson UltraKrome K3 inks.
    • Bulky printer, has the look and feel of a LaserJet. Needs to be viewed in person prior to purchase. Check dimensions before buying for the home or small office.
    • Ink distribution is not quite as sharp as the Canon or HP models reviewed above. Thus color photos are not photo lab quality.
    • A noisy printer, even in standby mode. Which you want to use to conserve ink.
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    ... and a special mention to...

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    Epson Stylus Photo R800

    Epson Stylus Photo R800
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    Price at time of review - $350

    Rating Average

    This printer is not in the top 5 photo printers, but for the price, and certainly for the intermediate photo enthusiast who thinks $500+ is a little too much to spend, this is the one for you...

    The Good

    • Solid design will stand considerable bumps and bruises.
    • Excellent A4 Printer for the photo enthusiast. Great plug-in and go printer.
    • Best in class picture quality, outstanding with watercolors. Superior to most printers even those in the higher price bracket.
    • General print quality is very sharp and lasts, with no considerable fade or smear.
    • Consumables and replacement costs are reasonable, in proportion to the cost of the printer.

    The Bad

    • Output is not as vivid in color or bright as the Epson dye-based ink printers.
    • The Configuration/control panel could be more intuitive.
    • But for half the price of those above it is a great buy, if not quite producing photo lab standard prints.

     Looking for a quality Color Inkjet Printer on a budget. Review of Best Photo Printers (under $150)