Top Menu

4×6 Printer Review: Canon Selphy vs. Epson PictureMate Show

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Persnickety Prints and have ordered hundreds of prints over the past few years. The quality is always spot-on and can’t be matched by 1-hour photo centers.

But sometimes I want a photo right now.

There’s an HP all-in-one in my closet that can technically print photos but I found it be more trouble that it was worth. I was always calibrating, testing, and cleaning the print heads.

A year ago I purchased the Canon Selphy CP-900 for my parents as a gift. When I saw the quality of the prints and that I could print from my iPhone, I had to order one for myself.

I was willing to deal with the odd print size (or so I thought). I used the Selphy mostly for layouts there the true size wasn’t important, printing 4×6-ish and 3×3-ish images most often. At first it was fine, but over time I grew frustrated.

As I started working even more with pocket pages, I didn’t want my prints swimming around or appearing so much smaller than 4×6 journal cards. I also noticed, when comparing a Selphy print to a Persnickety print, that the images were decidedly not crisp.

Last week I ordered the Epson PictureMate Show, based on the recommendation of Ali Edwards. When it arrived, I knew I had to compare it with the Selphy.

To begin I’ll say this was not a scientific comparison. I sent the same photo, below, to both printers and compared the results. I’ll also say in advance that I don’t think either printer is perfect, but one does perform better than the other. Since I set up both printers myself, I’ll also share a few notes on that process.

These printers are very similar in that they are single-function, designed to print only 4×6 prints using their own proprietary ink and paper packs. The speed is similar. Both can print images with borders as well as a number of multi-photo collages. The per-print is around 30 cents for both ($0.32 for Selphy and $0.27 for PictureMate) vs. $0.29 at Persnickety’s full price.

The price-points of the two machine, however, are very different. The MSRP on the Selphy is $99 and on the PictureMate, $299. And in this case, more does get your more.

This print, especially comparing it to the Epson, made the quality difference very clear. The Selphy prints are decidedly washed-out due to no true black ink in the processing. And while I’ve had spotless prints in the past, this one had both streaks and a light-leak spot. It is easy to see why the Selphy is so popular for Instagram prints, which use filters that add imperfection and a washed-out vintage look.

I have enjoyed how easy it is to print to the Selphy wirelessly from my iPhone as well as from my computer. I had no trouble installing it on Mac OSX 10.6, nor any trouble since upgrading to Mountain Lion and then Mavericks. I have, however, read of issues when installing the software for the first time on Mavericks. The software itself is very user-friendly.

My reaction to my first few prints, and this one, from the PictureMate was wow. The color is vibrant and the images very crisp. I noticed no imperfections in the print itself. My only complaint is that the prints have more contrast than my original, but this seems to be the case with lab prints as well.

I’ve read that while good printers can match colors fairly well, it is difficult to get the exposure just right on an LED-backlit display. That’s why it is always recommended to have your brightness set at 50% when editing photos. Digital images and prints are just different, so it’s important to edit with the destination in mind.

Set-up of the Epson took longer than I would have preferred, but it was mostly an issue of poor directions. As with the Selphy, there are issues of acquiring the right driver for the newest operation systems. However, in the end I had no trouble installing the bundled driver with OSX Mavericks. The Epson software seems clunkier than the Canon.

Color and quality issues aside, one of the biggest things I want to see first-hand was the size difference. Selphy prints are 3.94″ x 5.83″ while the Epson prints are true 4″ x 6″. The Selphy also prints on a larger sheet with perforated edges.

For layouts with one or two photos, it’s not a big deal. But when creating multi-photo two-page spreads, pocket pages, and other projects with exact-size needs, it just is. I am very happy that I now have a printer capable of delivering 4×6 prints.

And most of all, I didn’t like that there was such a big quality discrepancy between prints from my Selphy and from Persnickety. While a home printer will never offer pro results, the Epson PictureMate Show is a strong option for active scrapbookers who want prints instantly.

Canon Selphy CP-900

Pros

  • Affordable price (MSRP $99)
  • Water-resistant prints
  • Wireless printing included
  • Small footprint

Cons

  • Washed-out colors
  • Not true 4×6 prints

Epson PictureMate Show

Pros

  • True 4×6 prints
  • Crisp images with true colors
  • Small footprint

Cons

  • Expensive for a single-function printer (MSRP $299)
  • Prints are not water-resistant
  • Slightly over-saturated and contrasty
  • Must purchase adapter for wireless printing

Disclosure: Both printers were purchased by me. Affiliate links were not used in this post because Amazon doesn’t like that I run a membership program. However, if you’d like to thank Ali for discovering the PictureMate Show and sharing it with the scrapbooking community, here is her affiliate link

Need a creative boost?

You’ll feel more inspired and productive when you try this unconventional approach to scrapbook albums. Learn how in our exclusive PDF guide.

[embed_popupally_pro popup_id="5"]

43 Responses to 4×6 Printer Review: Canon Selphy vs. Epson PictureMate Show

  1. Janel January 13, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    Thanks for the review Jennifer! I purchased the Epson last Spring and have been loving it. Your review makes me more confident with my choice b/c of the price. One follow-up question . . . Did you purchase an adapter for the wireless printing? I haven’t bought one yet and am considering it. Thanks!

    • Jennifer Wilson January 13, 2014 at 8:35 am #

      Thanks Janel, I feel the same way!

      I have not purchased the adapter as I wanted to see if I could get on without it first. All of my photos are automatically sent to my computer (Eye-Fi for the camera and Dropbox for the iPhone), so I don’t think printing from the computer will be a big deal.

      I will note for others that a USB cable is not included, but can be purchased for only $3 these days. The default path of printing for the Epson is via a memory card.

  2. Cheri Stine January 13, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Jennifer, thank you so very much for taking the time to write this post. I’ve been contemplating buying a Selphy, mainly for the ease everyone talks about in printing from the iphone. I am NOT very tech-savy and even uploading my photos from my phone to my computer is a big job for me. Your pros/cons have convinced me that with my limited ability, I’ll stick with Persnickety! At some time, when you have extra time, would you be willing to write me an email (or comment here–whatever is easiest for you) and tell me a little about “dropbox”?Thanks again!

  3. Christine N January 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    Thanks for the comparison! I knew the Selphy wasn’t for me when I found out the prints are not exactly 4×6. With the price point of the Epson PictureMate Show, I think I will stick with my Canon multi-printer. It prints 4×6 perfectly, plus 8.5×11 perfectly for collages that I cut up. I do both kinds of printing (and I print documents), so a dedicated 4×6 photo printer seems redundant to me. Plus I can AirPrint to from my iOS devices to my printer already. Thanks for the review though. I’m so so glad I did not buy a Selphy when it was all the rage!

    • Jennifer Wilson January 13, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

      We print a lot of documents and have a black & white laser, so I didn’t want to devote the space to a second larger printer… but you raise an important point Christine. For many people having one regular 8.5×11 photo printer that does 4x6s – and maybe is even a scanner too – will work great.

  4. Claudia McDaniel January 13, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    I’m glad to know that I purchased a better printer, as I chose the Epson over the Canon. Unfortunately, I do not like the print quality and wonder if it is something I’m doing wrong. I bought mine because that’s what Ali uses, so it had to be good, right? The prints just seems washed out and streak-y and the end of the print comes out terrible. Do you have any suggestions to rectify this?

    • Jamie Leija January 13, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

      Claudia, I had an older version so I’m not sure that it’s exactly the same. But with mine, you could clean the nozzles. It was something you could navigate to on the screen and the printer would do the work. You just had to tell it to do that. Not sure if that helps or not, but just thought I’d share

    • Jennifer Wilson January 14, 2014 at 9:30 am #

      Has it always done that Claudia or did the quality change over time? If you press the Menu button and then go to Maintenance, there are several options that may help. If none of those fix it, or you’ve already tried them, I would contact the manufacturer as your machine may be defective.

      • Claudia McDaniel January 14, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

        It’s only a couple of months old. I bought it right before December to do my DD album. The quality has been less-than-Epson quality from the get go. I used my starter cartridge quickly just trying to get a good print and from cleaning the head. Emailed Epson and they sent me a new starter cartridge. I’m still using it. Haven’t finished it yet. The colors seem off and I can see the lines and the end of the print is not clean. I’m going to try to finish out the cartridge and hope that the first full cartridge works better. If not, I’ll have to work it out with Epson again. It’s very disappointing to spend $300 on a printer and it not work correctly right out of the box. I’ve never experienced this with Epson before, I’ve always had exceptional quality from them.

        • Jennifer Wilson January 16, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

          Oh what a bummer Claudia. If the second starter cartridge has the same results, I would assume it’s the printer itself causing a problem. Good luck, I hope Epson takes care of you.

  5. Jamie Leija January 13, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Thank you for doing this! You’ve answered a lot of my questions. So a long long time ago (really only 2009) I purchased a PictureMate Dash. And I loved it! I loved the ease of printing. I loved that I could print smaller sizes quickly. I liked the color and quality. But then in 2012 it died. And I was so sad! I opted at the time to replace it with a Wide Format printer, which I totally appreciate. But I do miss the ease of printing those tiny photos so quickly!

    Everyone has been raving about the Selphy these past few years and when I watched a demo of the multiple passes to create the image, I was shocked. I totally prefer the ease of the PictureMate. Oddly, that was the biggest deterrent for me.

    I’m planning to buy a new photo printer. But I’m opting for the PictureMate Charm instead. It’s cheaper and I felt that I didn’t need the digital photo display. Just wanted to flag that up in case anyone was wanting a cheaper option with, I’d wager, equivalent quality.

    One question, does the Show have a USB at the back? It was super easy for me to edit my photos, drag them onto a thumb drive and then just stick it in the back.

    • Jennifer Wilson January 14, 2014 at 9:28 am #

      Yes, the Show has a panel on the side that will accept USB drives plus SD/xD and CF cards. It also takes a male-to-female USB cable to connect it directly to the computer.

  6. melanie ritchie January 16, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    I have the PictureMate Charm and am thrilled with it. I believe the price point is around $150-$200. If you don’t require the photo display, I highly recommend it.

  7. Christine N May 7, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    I bought a Canon Selphy CP910 this week, because we will be taking road trips this summer and I wanted a portable small photo printer to take on the road to scrapbook. My first two prints looked like yours, very overblown and not detailed. Then I realized the “Auto Enhance” was set to “on” by default, and I turned it off. Then I printed more photos and they look really saturated and fantastic! I’m very happy with the print quality now that I figured out how to use it. The less than 4×6 won’t bother me for scrapbooking on the road, since mostly likely I’ll be creating smaller photo collages to print. Just thought I’d mention about the “Auto Enhance” just in case anyone has the overblown problem I had.

    • Jennifer Wilson May 7, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

      Thanks for this tip Christine! Where did you find that setting? I’m using the Selphy Photo Print Version 1.4.0.6 and don’t see any options like that.

  8. Christine N May 7, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    It is in the menu of the printer itself. I’m at work but I think it was the little button that looked like a menu, then something like “options/choices”, then there are menu options after that such as “Auto Enhance”, “Red Eye Reduction” etc. They were all “ON” by default and I turned them off.

    • Jennifer Wilson May 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

      Some developments, but likely a different path than you took….

      I found a setting (on the Selphy itself) for Image Optimize that was turned on but my photo was still washed out. I also found a setting for My Colors that was set to off. I tried Neutral and Vivid, with the essentially the same result.

      I also tried printing from Photoshop. There is a color panel under Print > Print Settings that I believe is controlled by the Selphy print driver where you can adjust the saturation (among other parameters) on a slider.

      Setting the saturation to +2 made a big difference.

      I’ll have to do another update post. Certainly the “it’s not the printer, it’s the software” applies here. However, it shouldn’t be that difficult to get a great print.

      • Witek January 3, 2016 at 10:07 am #

        Dear Jennifer, where did you find the saturation slider in print setting in Photoshop. I can’t find it in cc 2015 version. Did you develop any other ways to improve Selphy print quality through settings either on computer or printer itself. Thanks in advance for your reply, great post!

        • Jennifer Wilson January 5, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

          It was under the Print settings, but I wasn’t using CC 2015 at the time. I never used the Selphy again after these tests. Sorry!

  9. Christine N May 7, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    Since I already have a great at home Canon Pixma printer that I print photos to from my computer, I won’t be using the Selphy this way. I needed it to print from my phone and look nice while I’m away from home, without a computer. That’s why I was excited when I found that turning off the Auto Enhance made a big difference for me.

    • Jennifer Wilson May 7, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      Interesting and good to know. I was hopeful for a second, but there’s no difference for me between printing via iEPP app and the Selphy Photo Print on computer.

  10. alicia June 19, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    For the Selphy, have you discovered a way to print a true 4×6 when sending it via wifi from iPhone or iPad? I’m convinced there must me an app that allows you to ‘fit to size’ so that it doesn’t crop the image when you send it wirelessly.

    • Jennifer Wilson June 19, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      The limitation on printing true 4×6 is with the Selphy paper itself, not with the method of delivery. Does that answer your question Alicia?

  11. Christine June 19, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    The Selphy paper itself is not 4×6, that’s the limitation. You can only print on the Selphy using the special Selphy paper and ink.

  12. Jeremy July 9, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    If you’re looking for an app to take photos in 4×6 (6×9 same same) I have been having success with 645 PRO Mk II – I am able to take a photo in the proper format size and boost colors before the photo is taken, so I can see how it will look. I then take the photo and print it from the Canon Photo app (which is shockingly bad)

  13. Dani October 3, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    I love this post and I will sure keep it in my “to buy” list.

  14. Katie February 19, 2015 at 10:15 am #

    I was going to ask for a Selphy for my birthday next month, but now I’m not so sure. Since it’s relatively inexpensive versus the PictureMate it still might be a viable option for a smaller on the go printing. I like the idea of being able to take it with us on trips. I mainly want it for my iPhone photos and those aren’t exactly the best quality versus when I use my big Canon. So the compromised printing capabilities might be acceptable. I already have a Canon printer that I use when I want print quality images at home.

    Or maybe since I plan to use this relatively infrequently, I should just get a Instax and skip the need for a printer…Anyway, thanks for the comparison Jennifer. It gives me a lot to think about and was quite helpful.

    • Jennifer Wilson February 20, 2015 at 9:34 am #

      Katie, I’ve found the Instax doesn’t take photos that are nearly comparable to a phone.. so I think you would be disappointed. I do think the Selphy would be great for trips. The Instax Share printer (vs. the camera) might also be an option to consider.

  15. Sou August 28, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    I’m deciding between these two and just found your post. Thank you for taking the time to review these – I know which one I’m getting now!

  16. oya September 18, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

    I am using Canon Selphy for over a year now. I have also thought about buying an epson printer but my reservation is that selphy printouts are WATER RESISTANT while epson printouts are NOT. And I think we print photos to save the memories right? So I still prefer selphy over other printers.

    With regards to the print size, in printing preferences, there is this button you can check for borderless printing, so selphy would print on the whole photo paper without borders.

    Thanks for this review, though!

    • Jennifer Wilson September 18, 2015 at 11:10 pm #

      Epson’s website says that their prints are smudge, water, and fade-resistant. While I do agree that the coating on the Canon Selphy paper is more resistant to fingerprints, both are rated to last ~100 years.

      Also, the size issue is not related to the border. I’m referring to the actual dimensions of the paper not being 4×6.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  17. Vale December 9, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    I am having the same problem with the selphy (it does not print true 4×6), does anyone know if you can get a true 4×6 print if you use the postal print paper ?

    What is the diference between the postal 4×6 and a regular 4×6?

    • Jennifer Wilson December 11, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

      That’s a good question Vale. To me it looks like it would, but I don’t know for sure.

  18. Edith December 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Did anyone figure out how to use the Bluetooth on the Epson PictureMate? I have tried for about 5 hours and still can’t seem to get it to work on Bluetooth with the adaptor from Epson.

  19. Aniejune June 18, 2016 at 6:45 am #

    I have a Selphy CP900 and just bought a new laptop with windows 10, get home and discover it is not compatible with windows 10 go figure. Just checked and none of the newer Selphy’s are either, though the Epson picture mate latest model is. I have never worried about compatibility before, so there is something else to consider. Going to look at the Picture mates now and thank you for this comparison 🙂

    • Venky October 3, 2016 at 12:34 am #

      You can download the Windows 10 driver of Selphy from the Canon UK website.

  20. Anton February 23, 2017 at 12:11 am #

    You mentioned that the downside of printing with Epson PictureMate was that the prints were NOT water-resistant. Epson claims they are waterproof. Hae you tested this? I just wanted to know to make the right purchase. Thanks in advance!

    • Jennifer Wilson February 28, 2017 at 10:32 am #

      I cannot vouch for the new Epson paper for the PM-400, but I was not happy with the water resistance of the paper from the printer I had.

  21. Michele McCants March 5, 2017 at 1:55 pm #

    I’m struggling how to figure out how to control how the Epson PictureMate crops photos, since digital photos are actually 4×5.3. I find when I send a photo from my phone to the printer, that it is cutting off important parts of my photos. Does anyone know if there is a way to adjust this before the photo prints?

    • Jennifer Wilson March 5, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

      If you are using an Android phone you should be able to choose the aspect ratio of your photos. If you are using an iPhone, you can choose a collage app such as PicFrame or the Project Life app, to crop photos to 4×6 (2:3 ratio) on your phone. This will allow you to save a copy for printing.

  22. DR Pamit Tiwari May 13, 2017 at 11:53 pm #

    I am using Epson printmate 245 .It comes with a box of 150 papers and a cartridge.
    But after 50-60 prints the device asks to replace the cartridge.
    I usually print 4 images on a single paper for ultrasound images.
    Can anyone help me out why 100 papers are getting wasted all the time.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Software You Use for Printing Makes a Difference - Simple Scrapper - March 3, 2014

    […] January I shared a comparison of prints from the Canon Selphy and the Epson PictureMate Show. This side-by-side test affirmed my investment in the more expensive Epson […]

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.