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What kind of printer and computer to use for a photo booth? Answered

I am planning on constructing a photo booth. I was wondering what kind of computer and printer to get that would be cheap and reliable. I need the computer to run XP and the computer will only have the photobooth software on it so it doesn't have to be super juiced up.  and the printer needs to hold 200 sheets of 4 by 6 glossy photo paper. Any ideas?


Computer - you can use just about anything, but if you're going to use a DSLR then you'll want a little more CPU power than the average netbook. The larger image sizes take a while to resize, procsess, etc. Even the smallest setting on newer DSLRs is pretty huge. If you're using a point & shot (ie. powershot), then you could get away with a netbook (atom CPU) for lower resolution shots. They'll still print out nicely.

I ended up getting refurbished lenovo thinkpads (smaller ones), and they've been great. I tried compact PCs and other laptops, but thinkpads are usually built better, and most compact PCs still weigh quite a bit more than the avg laptop (~22-25lb vs. ~5lb).

The printer is the trickiest - you have to choose according to budget. On the high end, there's the professional dye-sub printers. Dyesub prints are very different from inkjet prints. The benefits are they're waterproof, more fade/scratch resistant, print much faster (about 16 second prints), they have huge paper capacities (I have one with 700 prints) and some even cut the paper in half for you (so you can get two thin photostrips out of a 4x6 sheet. In this range, you can find the Hiti P510s ($850), Sony UPDR200 ($1500 if you can even find one), and also the high-end Mitsubishi and Shinko printers. All >$900.

On the bottom, you can use just about any photo inkjet printer. The prints can be very nice, especially for some of the nicer printers. Most will not hold 200+ sheets of photo paper - you'll need to restock it. Many will also not hold enough ink to last 200+ prints, so you'll also need to plan on changing ink cartridges (and they wont all end at once, so it'll be staggered throughout the event). They will be less fade resistant than dyesub prints, but with OEM ink & paper you can get very good longevity (albeit not in the sun, but that's true for most prints). Many inkjets will be slower, about 30-90 seconds. None of them cut the prints for you, though you can perforate the paper beforehand.

In the middle, you could get a cheap dye-sub like the Canon Selphy CP800. It's about $100, prints in about 50-60 seconds, needs to be perforated, and has a tiny paper tray (about 18 sheets!). But the paper & ink are coordinated, so you run out of both at the same time. It's small. It's cheap. And most of all, it's dye-sub... which is worth the hassle.

Unless you spring the $1000 or so for a pro printer, you'll probably need to have someone attend this thing. Just assign a friend to look over it, check it every 5-10 minutes or so, and you'll be set.

If you're doing a birthday party or just having fun, then just get an ink jet, leave out a pair of scissors, have someone change ink & paper periodically, and just have fun.

If you're doing anything more serious, I'd recommend the selphy printer, someone who'll check in on it once in a while, and a pair of scissors. If you're going pro, get a pro printer.

Any other questions? This is fun.

jumpfroggy thanks for your comments about the Selphy CP800. I'm making a photo booth for my own wedding and I wasn't sure whether a €100 inkjet would be better then €100 dye-sub. The advice on the web is mostly about >$900 dye-subs.

So I think I will go for the Selphy. It works out at around €0.28 per page.


6 years ago

hi, :) i would like to ask what kind of software do i need to have it's four shots per photo.. thank you guys. :)

Sorry I missed this one last year.

Hopefully you haven't fallen for the sucker comments by these other guys.

If you want a great photobooth at a SEVERELY reduced cost (compared to the industry guys quotes), follow these steps.

1. Use Sparkbooth. The BEST photobooth software out there. And on top of that it is only $59. I looked at the similar $400 offerings and this one is superior. Only consideration is that it is flash based so you need a moderately powerful computer. Mine is one of those AMD E-350 cpu's with built in video.

2. Use a inkjet printer that accomodates a continuous ink supply system. Look up a CISS on ebay or the web. Essentially you have very large and very cheap ink tanks on the side of the printer. These run tubes into your printer heads that continuously keep the printer head filled with ink. Epson is really good for CISS. I have probably printed 400-500 prints on my epson, and I still haven't had to refill the ink reservoirs.

3. Use an HD webcam. No reason for a DSLR when you are making a traditional style photobooth.

4. A touchscreen while not necessary really adds some spice to the whole experience.

I built a photobooth for my own wedding following those steps. It was a huge hit. If you want to see a read up on it you can see it here: http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=113220.0

hi davidtrw,

you seem like a very talented person building the photobooth from scratch very impressive. we would like to build one aswell. Can I just buy a touch screen all in one desktop and build a frame around it for the booth? or you can please suggest something to use for the computer, something more economical but no need to assemble on a very detailed way like you did, am not that smart like you...hehehe I would really appreciate if you can email me and help me out on this...for my son's birthday party... pls email me at racheal.ortiz@gmail.com

congratulations on your wedding..lucky woman... you are very creative and artistic...


Hello Raych, I hope this message has not gotten to you two late. I would not use a Webcam. They do ok and if your only using it for your sons party sure it would do ok. However if your doing this for a business that would not be the route I would have you go. Spark Booth as well is an OK software system however it only does so much. Don't forget you get what you pay for. Our software system that we paid a bit more for allows us to upload to FB, email, templates, etc.We have been Renting out Photo booths for a while and Have Built different photo booths with different printers, computers, and used both sparkbooth, Breeze, as well as Darkroom Booth. We use Darkroom Booth its the most user friendly as well as best to hook in with our Hiti 510 Ls which print out 300 photos or 600 2x6 strips. If anyone has any questions feel ree to ask or email.

Jamie Hill

Ziggy's Entertainment



Sorry, just noticed this question. I may have responded in a private message but I can't remember.

For a touchscreen, you definitely could buy an all-in-one desktop, but that is more money to spend. The cheaper alternative is to buy an ELO touchscreen monitor on ebay for $50-75. I believe most on ebay actually came out of stuff like old ATM machines. Basically they are commercial grade. I am using a 15" ELO LCD I picked up for $50.

Then you just plug in the power and USB cables to your computer and you are set. My computer alone was about $200 since I had a spare hard drive laying around. So in the end if you build your own computer you are talking $300 for the complete package.

Thanks for posting this - I'm also building a photobooth for my wedding and this exactly what I was looking for!

guys yung canon mp270 pde bang gamitin printer para sa photobooth..kung di pde pkiexplain,,,tnx

My company has been in the photobooth industry for years. We can help you choose a printer for your photobooth. Some of the previous comments above are right on the mark, in terms of which technology to go with. Dye Sub is the way to go for the reasons stated. The printers cost more but what you get in terms of reliability and quality are worth it if you are going to do this at a professional level. Usually the cost per print is competitive if not lower than consumer inkjet media. Consumer inket printers are not made for a professional workloads and you almost have to view them as a consumable item, as they usually do not stand the test of time.

Up until recently the most popular printer for the professional photobooth market has been the Sony UPCX1 (which is now discontinued as Sony no longer sells dye subs), however, the market is trending to the DNP DS40 as it is lightweight (33 lbs), fast and has a low per print cost (4x6 @ 14 cents a print). Super reliable with a head rating of 40,000 prints under the warranty.
We also have some used professional dye subs which will work in the photobooth environment. Have a look at the comparison chart. These are all of the modern day pro dye subs used in booths today. http://www.imagingspectrum.com/printer-comparison-chart.html

Feel free to email or call me with questions. I would be glad to help as the photobooth market is a good part of what I deal with on a daily basis.
steve@imagingspectrum.com or 800-342-9294


Steve Behen
Photobooth Printer Guru
Imaging Spectrum

Steve, great chart! You guys need to add "2x6 support" as a separate column to that chart... very useful for us boothers. And yes - I did get my Hiti P510s from you guys (seemonkey photobooth). It's worked well for the 200+ print show we did the other weekend. Going to test it again this weekend on a wedding, and then probably order another one.

IS are good guys. Good service.


7 years ago

Probably any mid size notebook will work. I am looking at portability. Add an extra 24 inch LCD screen so people can see the results and to make it easier to edit. A Wacom 4x5 art pad would be a real plus, and if not that then you need a trackball or a good mouse. Touch pads won't work that good for an external monitor.
As far as a printer, I love Canon printers. One of the features I really like about them is their use of inktanks.
By far the very best photo paper is made by a company called Illford. (ILLFORD) Its amazing paper and usually costs less than most other stuff. One of its remarkable features is that its waterproof. Straight out of the printer it will not smudge. You can put it under water and it will not run. I use it for business cards. I print out a whole sheet and then cut it up with a paper cutter. Its makes fantastic photo business cards. And they are durable. Its fantastic paper. Sam's club carries it. I don't know if you can get it on line.

Thanks for the pointer to the Ilford paper. I know them as a photo materials manufacturer; I guess I'm not surprised that they've gone into "digital photo" as well.

Yes, that is how I first knew their stuff. Ilford photo paper and film were far better than Kodak. So one day I was wandering around Sam's and saw this photo paper with their name on it. I thought, what can I loose? Its the best paper I have ever used, period. And everybody I have introduced it to has felt the same way. I had one friend who got a Sam's club membership just so he could get the Ilford paper. Another guy had me buy him 6 100 sheet boxes of it.

Look at the "related" instructables at the lower right part of your screen.