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