For a run down on the best photo printers of 2020, we asked our friend and photo printer guru Steve Behen to weigh in. Steve is passionate about the photography industry and has made it his career for over 30 years. After graduating from college with a degree in photography he started his career with Kodak. For the last fifteen years he has worked with Imaging Spectrum providing photo printing solutions for the government, corporate clients, photo booth companies and professional photographers. Take it away Steve…
With a number of new event and photo booth printers introduced this year, there are more options than ever when it comes to choosing the perfect printer for your business. Whether you are upgrading, searching for features to up-sell to your clients, or even buying your first printer, we do our best to test the products and help you make the right decision.
The Economy Class
DNP QW410 Compact Printer
DNP really changed the game with this little beauty. This printer ranks among the most compact and lightest printers available in the global market today. Weighing in at only 13lbs! That is amazing given its awesome output quality. The QW410 is perfect for mobile photo booth operations! The new photo printer is our smallest and lightest printer to date. If you only need smaller print sizes and like creative options in formats, this one is truly unique. It can do 4×4, 4×6, 4.5×4.5 and 4.5 x 8. If you buy the DNP wireless print module accessory it is the perfect printer for iPad printing direct from Airprint. See our video review on YouTube.
Mitsubishi designed the CP-K60DW-S to be used as a photo booth printer. It’s not the fastest printer out there but it is fast enough and it has some very cool features. The K60 is compact so it’s great for smaller photo booth builds. Much like its big brother the CP70, the K60 is solid with a metal body. Front loading makes changing the media out a very simple operation. One of our favorite features of this printer is that it can make a square 6×6 inch print. This feature has been popular with event photographers and now it is starting to catch on with some photo booth companies allowing users to offer Instagram style prints.
You have heard me say before that what I like about this model is the fact that Sinfonia did not sacrifice quality with the build. The outer shell of the printer is very durable considering the weight of the printer. This is the perfect fit for photo booth designs that require a small footprint.
Improved print speeds allow you to produce 290 4×6 prints per hour. With its faster print time it remains unique relative to weight and size in its class. This unique personality makes this printer a popular choice with photo booth builders. If you are into high capacity printers then this is a solid choice. It can output 700 4×6 prints on a single roll before it needs to be reloaded. Usually printers with this kind of capacity are bulky and heavy, however, the DS-RX1HS is only 30 pounds.
We love the fact that Hiti has put a LCD to the front panel of the printer to allow the user to check print counts on the fly. The printer is super easy to load (front loading) and is a reasonable size for its 500 count 4×6 print yield per roll. You can print via USB or use the WiFi dongle for wireless print options. We like the fact that the wireless functionality is easy to set up (emphasis on easy) and allows you to print wirelessly from your computer or phone camera using the HiTi printing app (available free for iPhone or Android). The printer also has the option to connect a card reader allowing you to print from your camera’s storage card which can be a huge benefit for event companies that also shoot outside of the booth. If wireless is your thing, then this is the printer to have. This model was formerly known as the P520L.
Mitsubishi CP-M1A High Capacity Printer
The CP-M1A Mitsubishi has something no other printer has, a pre-assembled ink ribbon and printer paper designed for easy and fast loading. You can see the CP-M1A in action here. This printer is know as a high volume printer and hold 750 prints on a 4×6 roll. They also managed to keep the printer weight down to 30 pounds without sacrificing quality. This is a great value buy for all that it brings to the event.
The Performance Class
We’re lucky to be one of the first here in the U.S. market to test this printer. The first thing we noticed is it has a slightly smaller footprint than the DS40. So if you are trying to save on space this may be the printer for you. DNP has improved its printer driver on this model, which will allow users to check remaining media, media format, printer status, printer life counter, color control data, firmware version and serial number. This driver change is a dramatic improvement over other DNP printer drivers. This model also has the most variety of alternative media types of any printer on the market. Metallic paper, several perforated papers and the ability to do large panoramic prints make this printer exceptional.
According to Mitsubishi, this printer was designed for the booth market. There are a lot of really neat features in this printer we like. They moved the ventilation system to the bottom of the printer to save on space and help with hot environments. The unique “roll back” feature is another one we are really fond of. Not only can it print 3 2×6 strips at a time (no other printer does this), it can also do single unique 3.5 x 5 without wasting media. Another unique bonus is an additional USB connection for powering other devices. As if that isn’t enough, the print quality on the printer is outstanding. The built in print optimization feature analyzes every print from highlight to shadow and tunes the print speed to make the best print possible. If they had an innovation award for a printer, this one would win.
If you are willing to spend the extra money for a best of class product, the DNP DS40 photo printer is an excellent choice. (note: as of this blog posting the DS40 is officially discontinued, however, there are many new units still in stock and a lot of refurbished units too). This printer has proven to be a champion in terms it ability to take a beating on the road, as well as having exceptional print head life. To this day, one of the most compelling testimonials about the DS40 quality was from a customer who hit almost 200k prints! With the DNP DS40 you can also print to social media sized perforated paper opening opportunities to create new products for your customers. The printer has definitely earned its top position in the marketplace as nothing short of iconic.
The Portable “Dry Lab” Class
The FujiFilm Frontier-S DX100
If you are in need of a printer that produces a true high quality professional lab print, this is your printer. There is no dye sub printer that comes close to this printer in terms of versatility, print quality and format options. Dry lab technology rocks! It is classified as a portable printer and is all the rage in the high end event market. We love the printer!!!
From a market segment perspective, the versatility is unrivaled. The Frontier-S DX100 meets the diverse needs and challenges of the retail minilab, retail kiosk, high-volume portrait studio, Sports, Event and photo booth photography. The output is the same quality you would expect from a professional grade lab print. Skin tones are outstanding!