On test

  • 1 Canon PIXMA MG8250
  • 2 HP Photosmart 7520
  • 3 Epson Stylus Photo PX730WD

There is no shortage of photo-capable printers – in fact, you can pick up an entry-level Epson XP-30 for less than £40. However, having spent your cash on a decent camera and good lenses, you are probably going to want something that does justice to your equipment.

Most of today’s dedicated single-function photo printers are A3 or larger. However, large-format printers take up far too much desk space for the average hobbyist or home user and, anyway, the reality is that most of us do not need to produce large prints on a regular basis.

So, if you lack the space but still want to produce great-looking photos, look no further than a multifunction or all-in-one printer. These incorporate a flatbed scanner with sufficient resolution for most scanning and copying work, a memory-card reader, Wi-Fi and Ethernet, PictBridge, remote printing, CD/DVD label printing and perhaps a fax capability. These printers have become very popular due to their relative affordability, low running costs, versatility and high-quality photographic prints.

In this review we will be looking at photo-quality and photo-capable multifunction printers we consider worthy of your consideration. But first we should clarify the difference between ‘photo capable’ and ‘photo quality’. Photo-capable printers are usually supplied with the four colours of cyan, magenta, yellow and black, which are referred to as CMYK. Photo-capable printers are great for the day-to-day printing of a variety of document types, including text, greetings cards, graphics and photos.

Photo-quality printers generally have six or more inks, which include cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, light magenta and black. These are the printers that are going to reproduce the best-quality photos. Some of the more advanced single-function printers have eight or more inks, which may also include light black inks for cast-free black & white printing. However, regardless of which printer type you want to use, for the best-quality photos you need premium photo-quality paper.

The recommended retail price of multifunction printers can range from less than £50 up to £299. The higher-specified printers will cost more, but no doubt produce better-quality photographs. In this review we take a look at three printers, from Canon, Epson and HP, costing between £170 and £299.

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