The Canon SELPHY is a big step-up from the mini print category but maintains much of the same appeal. This machine produces respectable 4" x 6" prints from a Bluetooth-connected smartphone, tablet or computer. The machine itself is about the size of a thick novel. So, while it won't fit in your back pocket, it will fit into your handbag or backpack. We like to think of this photo printer as the kind of device that you would bring on your vacation so friends or family can share photographs on the spot.Editor's Note: We updated this review for the Canon SELPHY CP1300 on March 28, 2022, with an unbiased assessment of value and direct comparisons to other products.
Canon SELPHY CP1300 Review
Pros: User-friendly, sharp images, affordable, playful
Cons: Limited print sizes, limited tray capacity
Compare to Similar Products
Canon SELPHY CP1300
$129.00 at Amazon
$418.95 at Amazon
|Check Price at Amazon||$100 List|
$99.99 at Amazon
$74.99 at Amazon
|Pros||User-friendly, sharp images, affordable, playful||Consistent color, easy set-up, broad format options||Easy to use, decent resolution, prints common sizes||Convenient, simple, inexpensive, bluetooth connectivity||Relatively good image quality, easy to set up, useful app|
|Cons||Limited print sizes, limited tray capacity||Microbanding in grayscale, relatively low definition in dark areas||Microbanding in larger formats, off skin tones, over saturation||Relatively low resolution, single print dimension||Wasteful paper refills, limited dynamic range, single size format|
|Bottom Line||This portable printer kicks out quality 4" x 6" prints anytime, anywhere||This low-cost, full-sized machine delivers high-end results||An easy to use mid-size printer at a good price||This portable printer captures the fun of the old Polaroid cameras but with a fresh twist||This easy to use, portable printer has relatively few drawbacks and is a lot of fun|
|Rating Categories||Canon SELPHY CP1300||Epson Expression HD...||Canon PIXMA TR4520||Canon IVY||Kodak Mini 2 HD|
|Black and White (35%)|
|Print Capabilities (15%)|
|Operating Cost (10%)|
|Set up (5%)|
|Specs||Canon SELPHY CP1300||Epson Expression HD...||Canon PIXMA TR4520||Canon IVY||Kodak Mini 2 HD|
|Resolution (dots per inch)||300 x 300||5760 x 1440||4800 x 1200||314 x 400||Unspecified|
|Max photo dimensions||4" x 6"||13" x 44"||8" x 10"||2" x 3"||2.1" x 3.4"|
|Cost per print (4" x 6" or mini print)||$0.43||$0.45||$0.58||$0.50||$0.68|
|Machine dimensions||2.5" x 7.1" x 5.4"||6.3" x 18.7" x 14.5"||7.5" x 17.2" x 11.7"||0.7" x 3.2" x 4.7"||1" x 3" x 5.2"|
|Printing technology||Inkjet (Dye- sublimation)||Inkjet (Piezo DOD)||Inkjet (Theromal DOD)||In paper, thermal-activated dye||Dye sublimation thermal transfer|
|Print time per 4" x 6" (or mini print)||51 seconds||34 seconds||128 seconds||40 seconds||61 seconds|
|Color palette (ink cartridges)||N/A||Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Gray, Red||Black plus color cartridge||N/A||N/A|
|Battery||Yes (sold separately)||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Memory cards supported||SD, SDHC, SDXC, miniSD, miniSDHC, microSD microSDHC and microSDXC||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Ink type||Dye-based||Dye-based||Pigment (black) and dye-based (color)||N/A||N/A|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN, 2.4 GHz, IEEE 802.11b/g)
Memory Card Slot
PictBridge (USB) & Wireless PictBridge (Wireless LAN)
Hi-Speed USB (Cable not included)
USB Flash Memory
|iPad, iPhone and Android tablets, Alexa and smartphones; Ethernet networking, andard Connectivity:
Hi-Speed USB, USB Host, Wireless 802.11 b/g/n5, Wi-Fi Direct 5, Ethernet 10/100
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n wireless networking, 2.4 GHz)
|Blutooth||NFC, USB Port, Wi-Fi Direct|
|Operating system requirements||Windows:12 Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows 7 SP1
Mac:13 Mac OS X v10.10.x - macOS v10.12 (Sierra)
Mobile Operating Systems:14 iOS, Android™, Windows 10 Mobile, Amazon Fire devices15
|Windows 10 8/8.1/Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit)
Windows Vista (32-bit , 64-bit)
Mac OS X 10.6.8 — macOS 10.12.x6
|Windows:20 Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 SP1, Mac:21
Mac OS X v10.10.5 - macOS v10.13 (High Sierra)
Mobile Operating Systems:22 iOS, Android, Windows 10 Mobile, and Fire OS (Amazon Fire) devices
|Android, iOS||Android, iOS|
|Scanner||No||No||Yes (bed and feed)||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Canon SELPHY will leave you no excuses for not printing photos on your phone. This machine is petite, streamlined, easy to use with the accompanying app, and inexpensive to operate. Perhaps most importantly, the machine renders quality prints. Adding to the convenience is that auxiliary battery (sold separately) that will allow you to print from anywhere.
While this machine didn't top the charts in the color evaluation, it was nonetheless quite impressive for the size and cost of the printer. The skin tones of the humans in our test images were pleasing and reasonably accurate to the original.
This is a major plus, given that this machine is great for putting together family photo albums and the like. Moreover, the definition and resolution produced by this machine were quite good considering the hardware it's using.
Of course, there are some shortcomings, too. We observed some minor streaking, and the blues were a bit over-saturated. However, this machine remains a great option for the person looking to put four by six inchers on their fridge.
Black and White Prints
As was the case with the color evaluation, the black and white images proved to be very reasonable considering the nature of the machine that rendered them. The resolution was consistent from image to image. The fidelity of tone to the original was also pretty good — a statement that can't be made about some of the higher-end machines in this review. Finally, the dynamic range showed smooth tonal gradients from white to gray. This outcome is quite impressive, seeing that the SELPHY is only working with a single black ink cartridge.
While we were impressed with this machine's grayscale capabilities, it did slightly shade the prints in sepia. There are also some streaking and striations evident, particularly in the darkest areas of the images. Critiques aside, when considering the technology that this machine employs, it delivered impressive results in black and white.
The print capabilities metric is a look at the different types of mediums, the different dimensional formats, and the number of inks that the printer can utilize. Also, we timed how long it takes the machine to produce a color 4" x 6" photo. The SELPHY did poorly in this category because it is a basic printer that is not designed to excel in this area.
It can print in four dimensions up to 4" x 6". It prints on one type of proprietary glossy paper, and its color palette consists of just four dye-based inks. While the SELPHY struggled in this metric, it prints relatively fast at 51 seconds per 4" x 6" photo. Additionally, the printer's tray can manage 18 sheets of paper.
While this doesn't seem like a lot, it is about as much as you'll want to print at a go. This machine has all the appropriate capabilities to crank out quality 4" x 6" images.
To make the operating cost simple to understand, we worked out a price per 4" x 6" color print. This allows direct comparisons to other machines in the class and the cost of printing them at a pharmacy such as CVS.
Often, the price per print goes up when the size of the printer goes down. But this machine pumps four by sixers out at 43 cents a pop. The estimate of 43 cents per print is based on how much ink is consumed on average to print a 24 square inch color photo.
Several professional printing outfits have done long-term studies on ink consumption, and their numbers roughly matched up with what we recorded, printing several hundred images for this review. With the cost per square inch of ink, all you have to do is add in the cost of photo paper, and presto, you have your average cost per print.
The print set-up metric is simply an evaluation of how easy it is to go from a boxed up printer to printing your first picture on the machine. We set this model up using both a laptop and a smartphone. The latter was a breeze; the prior was more frustrating and involved than we thought it ought to have been.
The set-up using the app was as easy as downloading the app and permitting it to access our photos. The next step was a little wonky, as we had to follow the instructions on the LCD screen to connect via WiFi. Some of the selections are vague, and if you make a mistake, you have to go back to the beginning and start all over. The laptop method had the same problems, but added to them was the need to first download a driver to your computer that converts the image file to a format the printer can use. Once everything was properly connected, it was easy to select images and send them to the printer. The first images coming out of the machine were decent, putting a happy ending on the affair.
Should You Buy the Canon SELPHY CP1300?
The Canon SELPHY is a fantastic little printer. It punches above its weight in color and grayscale renderings. It's easy to transport and operate. If you're looking for many options in paper types and dimensions, this machine is not for you. However, if you want an efficient and inexpensive way to produce 4" x 6" photos, this machine will leave you looking like you just said "cheese!"
What Other Photo Printers Should You Consider?
If you are looking to put together a family photo album, or you want a portable printer but don't want a small format, poorly resolved images, then this machine will be a good value. If you don't fall into this category, or one akin to it, the value will decrease precipitously. The next step-up in print capabilities is the valuable, mid-sized Canon PIXMA TR4520. Or if you'd rather go the other direction and focus on instant-camera sized photos, the Canon IVY is our choice for instant gratification.
— Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer
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