Thursday, July 31, 2014

Photo Printing At Home | Paper Comparison

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It’s no secret that I love printing my photos at home.  I love having them instantly when I’m ready to scrapbook.  I love the precise control that I have over margins and colors.  I print almost all my photos for scrapbooking and Project Life at home, using a Canon Pixma MG5320.  This model is no longer being manufactured, but I’ve had two Canon Pixmas and they are both fantastic.  If I were to purchase one now, I would buy the Canon Pixma MG5520 or the Canon Pixma MG5420, which are both under $80!

Why do I love this printer?
  • I can print borderless 4x6 photos and sheets of 8.5x11 photos at home.
  • It prints true to the color I see on my screen.
  • I print all my digital journal cards at home using this printer and the Canon 4x6 Matte Paper
  • I print all my Silhouette print & cuts on this printer.
  • I can control the margins very precisely so that my photos never get cut off.
  • I can save print “presets” for various things, such as “4x6 printables”, “4x6 photos”, “8.5x11 photos”, “8.5x11 digital printables”, etc.  I set up these presets once and forget about it.  Then every time I want to print one of these items, I just choose the preset and the print software will automatically choose the right paper and settings for me.
  • It is wireless wifi, so you can print from a laptop somewhere else in the house. 
  • It has AirPrint for Apple iOS products, so you can print directly from your iPhone or iPad.
Some people say the ink usage on home printers is too expensive for them.  I’ve been keeping track of my ink cartridge changes and my print volume of different types of printing, and I’m very happy with how long the inks last! 

For example, I last changed the Magenta ink on 1/18/2014, six months ago.  I replaced the Cyan ink on 2/4/2014, and the yellow ink on 3/8/2014.  I haven’t had to replace either black ink cartridges this year yet.  Since January, I have printed 78 of 4x6 glossy photos, 17 of 8.5x11 sheets of glossy photos, 23 of 8.5x11 regular documents, 14 of 8.5x11 sheets of digital printables, 41 of 4x6 sheets of digital journal cards.  All together that’s a whole lot of printing for not having to change a set of inks yet!  (Although I will need to change the black and magenta soon.)

Anyways, enough about the printer itself.  Suffice to say, I love it.

I wanted to show you some photo paper comparisons that I’ve done.  I was running out of Canon 8.5x11 Canon Glossy Photo Paper, and I was at Target, so I thought I would try the Target Up & Up brand of photo paper because it was cheaper.  I opened it up to print my June Project Life photos, and noticed immediately that the paper was much thinner than my regular Canon photo paper.  After printing, I was not happy with how dull the photos looked at certain angles.  I printed the same sheet of photos on the Canon photo paper so I could compare.  I was surprised at how different they looked at an angle.

The left is Canon and the right is Target.

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Now, to be fair, the photos didn’t look too different when looking at them straight-on.  But the Target photo paper was still much thinner to the touch.

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I posted the comparison on Instagram and Facebook, and was surprised to hear from a great number of scrapbookers love to print their photos on Costco’s Kirkland brand professional glossy photo paper!  Even scrapbookers that I admire who are on multiple design teams told me that they love the Costco photo paper.  So I had to give it a try!


I also had some Canon Semi-Gloss papers on hand, so I threw that in.  I had a few sheets of 4x6 Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper that Peppermint gave me, so I threw that in too.

Here were the comparisons.  I was surprised that my beloved Canon photo papers looked slightly yellow compared to the Costco and Epson photo papers.


The Costco was the brightest white compared to the Canon and the Target.  The Costco was also very thick.


The Epson Ultra Premium seems to have the most bright white paper.  Costco’s white has a slight bluish undertone. 


In this photo below, you can see clearly how much brighter white the Costco photo paper was, compared to the Canon.  The Canon definitely has a warm yellowish undertone.


Another Canon vs Costco comparison.

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Again, the Canon papers had a slightly more yellowish undertone than the Costco or the Epson.

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In this comparison at an angle, you can definitely see the Target paper looks dull at an angle compared to the other ones.  And the Costco was the brightest.


One last comparison.


For me personally, I prefer the brightness of the Costco and Epson photo papers versus the Canon.  If you prefer a warmer photo, then Canon would be the choice.

Let’s take a look at the cost comparisons.

For 8.5x11 photo papers:
  • Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II:  $4.99/20 sheets = $0.25 per sheet
  • Target Up & Up Soft Gloss:  $5.99/30 sheets = $0.20 per sheet
  • Epson Ultra Premium Glossy:  $22.99/50 sheets = $0.46 per sheet
  • Costco Professional Glossy:  $18.99/150 sheets = $0.13 per sheet
My favorite was the Epson Ultra Premium Glossy, but it costs over 3x more than my second favorite Costco paper, so Costco wins!

For 4x6 photo papers:
Again, my favorite is the Epson Ultra Premium Glossy (which is whiter and brighter than the Epson Premium Glossy), but in the 4x6 size they cost 5x more than Costco, which was a very close second favorite for me.  Costco wins again. 

I hope that you found my home printing photo paper comparisons helpful.  What is your favorite photo paper for printing at home?  Did you learn anything new with these comparisons?  Do you have other printing questions that you would like me to address in a future blog post?


  1. Great post, Christine! I do a lot of printing at home, using an Epson printer and paper. Will have to try the Costco paper - that would be a huge savings. Thank you so much for spending the time (and money) to create this report!!

  2. Very interesting! I usually use Staples photo supreme paper printed on an Epson Artisan 50. I seem to go through ink so very fast though! Drives me crazy!

    1. Yea, I've noticed some people say they go through inks very fast. I have not had that problem. I almost never print on the "best" setting though. I use the regular setting even on my photo printing and I think my photos look good.

  3. Omg, I love you for posting this compare and just information on your printer in general! As much as I love my Selphy, I need to give it up. It keeps giving me problems! Totally going to look into getting the printers you suggested.. I love all the things you could do with it! :)

    1. Hi April! Yes, the Pixmas are more versatile than the Selphy because you can print different sizes and different things with them. I have a Selphy CP910 but mainly use it to take to crops or on trips. If I'm at home I use my Pixma.

  4. Great post! I also do a majority of my printing at home and that Epson paper sure adds up. Will definitely be grabbing some of that Costco paper on our next shopping trip. Thanks!

    1. You're welcome! When something is good and costs less, I have to share! :D

  5. Wow, great information here! :) Evie

  6. Thank you Christine! Very interesting results! Do you usually buy name brand ink or have you tried generic? I get my ink for my epson large format printer at which saves me $60 per set of cartridges however, I don't know how the quality of the ink compares to Epson. So I don't print my photos for scrapbooking at home because I don't know how long they will last. I do print a lot of photos for home decor, school projects and print and cuts and love the results.
    Another question do you print your print and cuts on photo paper? I use Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte and love the results. I try to get it when it is on sale at the local office supply stores but I wonder if costco has something similar. I'll have to check.
    I've been thinking about getting the Epson picturemate charm but like the fact that your printer is not limited to the 4x6 size. I don't know have to think it through again :)
    PS I think it is so awesome that Peppermint will have paper line with gossamer blue! Thanks again!

    1. Hi Lara! I've only purchased genuine Canon inks so far. Someone else on IG suggested for cheap ink refills. I'll check out too! For me it doesn't bother me if my photos don't last 100 years or however long they say it lasts when you print at home. It's not my intent to leave my album for posterity. I'm just having fun with scrapbooking.

      I do print my print & cuts on photo paper. Specifically Canon matte photo paper, and Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte. They both work beautifully. I have printed digital items on cardstock too. They look fine, but aren't as sharp as when I print them on photo paper.

      Yes, Peppermint's new line Gramercy Road is awesome! Can't wait to get my hands on it! :)

  7. I use the Epson because I have an Epson printer and I've found it does t work with other brands of paper, they get streaks through the photos. But, staples has the 50 packs of paper buy one get one free at times, so that helps with the cost!

  8. This is great! While we have a great printer, but the ink kills me!! This is great! Thank you so much!

  9. Thanks for taking the time to do this! I guess I need to stop at costco this week.

  10. Awesome. I currently use epson, which I love, but the costco seems so affordable! Now, if I only had a membership...

  11. I'm always looking for a bargain. But honestly, for me it's not the cost of the photo paper that kills me, it's the cost of ink. I replace all my inks, and it seems that when I go to print again, they are empty. UGH!

  12. Thanks for sharing this! I've always used Costco paper and swear by it but always wondered what good alternatives were out there in the event they discontinue it.


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