Postcard Printer or similar
February 19, 2021 9:19 AM   Subscribe

I need a machine that has the following as its only goal in life. It prints photo-sized photos. I plug in my camera or non-smartphone-that-takes-photos, use it to grab a photo, and it prints the photo.

Requirements: not Amazon, not a full-size printer, not a service
posted by aniola to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They exist (or existed), at least in Japan - a student brought one to class for the last-day party several years ago, and at the end they presented me with a souvenir photo-book which included color photos of the actual party! The printer was the size of a smaller paperback book, and the print size was 6 cm x 4.5 cm.
posted by Rash at 9:25 AM on February 19, 2021

If you search any electronics retail site (or Amazon) for "Photo Printer", there are lots.

The only experience I had was years ago with one which seemed expensive, hard to use and unreliable though, can't remember the brand.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:29 AM on February 19, 2021

What kind of camera, or non-smartphone? Most of this business has moved to wireless printers for smartphone photos, so if you can specify the brand you use it may be easier to find the product you want.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:37 AM on February 19, 2021

There are a couple options in the roughly-Polaroid size instant photo market:

-Fuji Instax
-Canon IVY (this one makes stickers if you're in to that)
-Polaroid Zip

Note that I believe all of these require an app to print from your phone, but honestly I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "non-smartphone-that-takes-photos." If you have a recent Fuji camera it will probably connect to the Instax without any other support required.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:42 AM on February 19, 2021

Also check out the Polaroid Hi-Print and Kodak Dock. I don't have experience with either but I probably think too much about purchasing something like this.

Big thing to be aware of is any special paper or ink / ink packs required. Mini photo printers are often a bit different than traditional paper printers, which can result it better quality but may require more expensive consumables than you expect.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:44 AM on February 19, 2021

Kodak's Dock Plus will print 4x6 photos. It works with smartphones, but I'm not 100% sure if/how it interacts with non-smart cameras. I used to have a similar photo printer that had slots for memory cards.
posted by hydra77 at 9:47 AM on February 19, 2021

Best answer: Canon SELPHY CP800 printer: Don't feel like using a computer? No problem. Just insert a compatible memory card2 into the built-in card slot, or a USB Flash Drive into the USB port, select images on the LCD display, and print! Thanks to a PictBridge connection you can also print photos directly from your compatible digital camera, DV camcorder or camera phone.

Here are a couple of ebay listings, if the device you use has this PictBridge capability -- but I've no idea as to the ongoing availability of ink/toner/paper supplies for PictBridge-enabled printers.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:52 AM on February 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Canon's current model is the SELPHY CP1300. Looks like it's SD Card, USB (PictBridge, most likely) and AirPrint compatible.
posted by scruss at 10:03 AM on February 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

I can vouch for the Selphy and i like the colour quality over the Instax which is more for the Polaroid aesthetics (so a bit more of that washed out or blown out contrast/white balance issues). Kodak and HP were harder to come by here so it was a fairly easy choice. Selphy prints are the closest to getting photos developed at the store ime. I've done my passport photos on them too.
posted by cendawanita at 10:42 AM on February 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Thirding the Selphy. We have one and use it for AirPrint from an iPhone and for direct print from an SD card. Both of them work a treat.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:18 AM on February 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Had a Selphy it was very close to a photo lab print but word of warning - the photos faded. After three to five years almost completely faded. Location was pinned up indoors away from direct light. So if longevity or archive is the option it is not a good choice.
posted by sol at 11:37 AM on February 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Another happy Canon Selphy owner. Can't speak to sol's issue, but we've been using it for ~2 years without any noticeable issue.
posted by wile e at 12:40 PM on February 19, 2021

I would also recommend the Canon Selphy CP1300. It is a dye-sublimation printer that produces prints that look similar to lab prints. These photos will fade due to UV exposure — if you want them to last put them behind UV glass. I've heard that you can also spray them with a UV-Resistant clear coat like Krylon K01305, but I haven't tried that myself.
posted by RichardP at 12:53 PM on February 19, 2021

Response by poster: Wow! It sounds like these are basically using Polaroid-style technology instead of normal paper. Is there any reason to not just get a printer/camera combo, like a Polaroid? It looks like they cost about the same as these printers I'm seeing recommended. This will mostly be used for making recipe cards, if that's helpful. Would sacrifice some photo quality for cost-effectiveness.
posted by aniola at 6:12 PM on February 19, 2021

Response by poster: I have a Sonim XP5 phone and an early model of a Canon DSLR camera that is not smart enough for apps.
posted by aniola at 6:19 PM on February 19, 2021

Canon's normal printers should usually also prints photos quite well, if you feed it photo stock, and often have direct connections like PictBridge
posted by kschang at 6:21 PM on February 19, 2021

Response by poster: I am looking for a normal printer, but photo-sized.
posted by aniola at 9:18 AM on February 20, 2021

Dye-sub, as used in the Selphy is a normal process — for photo printers. That technology, plus Zink (a thermal process similar to dye-sub) and Instax (actual analogue film, in the cameras, at least) are all you get in small printers. There used to be mini-inkjets, but I haven't seen them for a while. It sounds like small is important to you. HP used to make inkjets that had a separate 4x6 photo caddy that made printing easy, but I don't know if those are still a thing.

Most DSLRs support PictBridge over USB - my ancient Nikon D90 does. Not sure if that phone does PictBridge, and I don't think the Selphy does Bluetooth.

Photo media is quite expensive no matter what system you use.
posted by scruss at 2:19 PM on February 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: An older model of the Selphy looks like it was the best answer to the question as I asked it.

But as I looked around at my options and what I want it for, my parameters changed slightly. I ended up getting a used KODAK Smile instant print digital camera for about the same price. It doesn't print postcard-size photos, but I can make do with 2x3s.
posted by aniola at 7:44 PM on March 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

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