Anycubic Photon Resin 3D Printer Review


The Anycubic Photon was the printer that started the affordable resin 3D printing movement. Offering print quality that no FDM printer could hope to match at a very low price of (at the time) $500, the Photon quickly became the printer of choice for users looking to print miniatures, busts and other highly detailed models. The Photon has been discontinued for newer printers that offer faster printing or other quality of life improvements such as the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro and the Anycubic Mono. However, with its extremely large community support and price slashes putting it as low as $150, the Anycubic Photon is still worthy of consideration if you can find one in stock.


Manufacturer: Anycubic

The Pros
The Cons
Picture of Paul Chow
Paul Chow

Co-Founder & CTO

Amazon.com Disclosure: As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Before 2017, resin 3D printers were only accessible to manufacturing professionals, and any consumer-facing software was not yet available. Formlabs was among the first to offer a more affordable resin printer, but even then, it still costs thousands of dollars, putting it out of reach for most hobbyists.

Shortly after that, Anycubic took the 3D printing world by storm with the Anycubic Photon MSLA resin 3D printer. With a retail price of $499, Anycubic single-handedly created an affordable resin 3D printer and quickly became a large player in the consumer 3D printer industry. Over the course of the next several years, Anycubic, alongside its competitors Elegoo, EPAX and Phrozen, created several other 3D printers that accommodated different needs. Anycubic itself has iterated the Photon design with the Photon S and the Photon Mono SE and dropped the price of the original Photon to as low as $150.

2021 saw a new generation of monochromatic screen resin 3D printers, overtaking the affordable resin 3D printer market. With all of these changes, is the Anycubic Photon still a sound purchase? In this Anycubic Photon resin 3D printer review, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the pros and cons to help you decide if it’s worth buying.

Key Features To Look For In A Great 3D Printer

One of the main key features when looking for a great 3D printer is print quality. When we tested out the Anycubic Photon, we used fantasy figurines, swords, dragons & more. All complicated prints with a high level of detail to show off this printer’s abilities. The results came in and we scored the Anycubic Photon a 9/10 due to the ability to resolve details, z height consistency, and consistent UV exposure across the whole build plate.

After ensuring the print quality is up to par (or above, in this instance), you want to check print speed times. The Anycubic Photon is the slowest due to the weak 25W UV light source and non-monochromatic LCD display. Direct competitors such as the Elegoo Mars Pro, EPAX X1, & Photon S have slightly faster print times with their 50W UV light source and newer monochromatic screen, making them around 50% faster.

Another thing to consider when purchasing a 3D printer is maintenance, more specifically, replacement parts. The LCD screen and FEP film are consumables that need to be replaced, generally speaking, every 400 hours. However, the good news is that purchasing new parts is inexpensive and easy. You’re looking at between $20-$40 for replacements so you’ll be more worried about the manual work required.

Lastly, if this is the printer for you, you want to make sure you are able to set it up since some printers are DIY and require extensive knowledge to assemble. That said, the Anycubic Photon comes fully assembled from the factory so you can start printing ASAP. However, you do need to level the plate which requires some additional adjustments in comparison to competitors such as the Elegoo Mars & EPAX X1. The Photon plate uses 1 screw to tighten the build plate into the correction position. Make sure not to apply too much pressure otherwise you can throw the leveling off.


Overall Score

Ranked #7 of 10
SLA Printers

Learn more about our 3D printer review methodology.

How We Researched This Printer

The Anycubic Photon belongs to the budget small-form-factor MSLA resin 3d printer family that specialize in highly detailed prints. These types of printers are also known for their small size, ease of setting up, very low cost and large community support.

The original Anycubic Photon was put through a very rigorous set of test prints, placed in unideal printing conditions, we crawled through forums and support groups to get an idea behind its extensive community and more. To get a baseline on how well it performs, we pit it against its competitors like the EPAX X1 and Elegoo Mars.

This is a read that you would not want to miss. Your hard earned dollars should be put towards the right small form factor MSLA printer. Choosing the wrong one could lead to headaches with set up, poor quality resin prints and a long repair bill. With the ever evolving field of 3d printing, we made sure to get you the right information for the right 3d printer choice.

Printer Setup

The Anycubic Photon comes fully assembled from the factory and almost ready to print straight from the box. The resin printer itself is well packaged with protective foam all around the printer, build plate and resin vat. Users should make sure the resin vat and build plate are free from any particles of foam when setting up.

Leveling the build plate to the LCD is the only thing users need to do before printing with the Anycubic Photon S. While all budget resin printers require the user to level the build plate before use, the Anycubic Photon requires some adjustments, more so than we’ve seen in other affordable printers (i.e. Elegoo Mars, Phrozen Sonic Mini, EPAX X1 and Prusa SL1). The Photon’s build plate uses 1 screw to tighten the build plate into the correct position. However, if you apply too much pressure when tightening, the build plate could be skewed in one direction, throwing the printer off level. The Elegoo Mars Pro and Phrozen Sonic Mini avoids this by using 2 or 4 screws to distribute the tension and the EPAX X1 comes from the factory fully leveled. We found the best way to level the build plate is apply pressure on the build plate with our offhand while tightening the leveling screw to make sure that the build plate’s level stays correct.

Anycubic improved on this on their much newer Photon SE in which the build plate is spring loaded to keep the build plate in the correct position while the level screw is tightened.

Resin printers are capable of extremely detailed prints that FDM prints cannot hope to compete with. The limit of how much detail a resin printer can resolve is determined by the resolution of the LCD screen used. In the case with the Anycubic Photon’s 2k screen, it’s able to resolve details as small as 47um allowing the resin printer to print just about any detail.

We have tested the Photon in 3 major areas: ability to resolve detailed models, z height consistency and consistent UV exposure across the whole build plate.

To test the Photon’s ability to print detailed models we had it print several detailed figures both large and small. When printing a small and medium sized fantasy figure the printer had absolutely no issue printing details such as a thin sword and did a very good job at reproducing the scales and texture found on the dragon model. Next, we tried printing a much larger house model and robot figurine. While the Anycubic Photon had no issues printing these models, we did notice a slight pixelation artifact on the flat surfaces of the robot figure. This is a common issue with all resin 3D printers.

To test the Anycubic Photon’s ability to have consistent z layer alignment, we printed an eiffel tower. We were really pleased at how well the Photon could reproduce the small details of the model and found no issues with z layer alignment.

We finally printed a series of detailed tiles across the Photon to test how evenly the UV light is distributed across the build plate. If light distribution is uneven, then details on the edge will look different compared to the details in the middle. We found there was no difference between the tiles found on the edge and those found in the middle.

Overall, we were extremely pleased with the print quality coming out of the Photon and found it on par with all other resin printers in its class.

Setting Up Prints
The Anycubic Photon comes with Anycubic’s own slicer to create print files for the Photon S. While their software works, the user experience is far behind 3rd party slicers such as Chitubox and Lychee slicer (which we recommend). Unlike Anycubic’s newer printers, the Photon is fully compatible with 3rd party slicers like Chitubox and Lychee slicer.

Anycubic Workshop, Chitubox and Lychee slicer came with print profiles for the Anycubic Photon which makes getting prints ready extremely easy and takes all the guesswork out. In our tests we used the default print profiles for the Anycubic Photon in Anycubic Workshop.

Files are loaded into a USB flash drive which is inserted into the Photon’s USB port. Users navigate and control the Photon using large menu icons on its colour touchscreen. Some users may find the user interface basic, however, the menus are intuitive and text is large and easy to read.

Noise Levels
Unlike FDM printers, resin printers only have 1 stepper motor used to move the z axis. Like nearly all resin printers, the Anycubic Photon is incredibly quiet with it’s single moving z axis and always-on fan located at the bottom of the resin printer. While idle and in operation, the Anycubic Photon outputs around 40db of noise which is only slightly audible in a quiet office environment.

Print Speed
The Anycubic Photon is the slowest resin 3D printer currently on the market due to its relatively weak 25W UV light source and non-monochromatic LCD display. Direct competitors such as the Elegoo Mars Pro, EPAX X1 and Anycubic Photon S have slightly faster print times with their 40-50W UV light source and the new generation of resin printers equipped with monochromatic screens, making them at least 50% faster.

Photon Revisions
In 2019, Anycubic revised the Photon with a new control board similar to what is in the newer Photon S. This change resulted in a break of compatibility with the Photon with original Photon parts and slicer compatibility with Chitubox and Lychee slicer. Anycubic did not notify users of this change and as a result many new Photon owners were locked out of the original Photon ecosystem.


The Anycubic Photon is a compact desktop machine measuring 220mm (l) x 220mm (w) x 400mm (h) in size. The resin printer features a build volume of 115mm (l) x 65mm (w) x 155mm (h) putting it firmly in the small sized resin printer class.

A defining feature in the Anycubic Photon series is the gull-wing door that is used to access the build plate. While this does not affect the Photon’s operation or print quality, we prefer this over many of its competitors that use a simple acrylic lid that must be taken off and stored every time you need to access the build plate.

The Photon is constructed out of a sheet metal, which makes the printer feel very rigid and sturdy. We prefer sheet metal construction over Anycubic’s newer Photon S which replaces the metal with plastic, making it feel incredibly flimsy. However, the sturdy metal frame does come at the cost of weight, in which the Photon weighs in at 6.6kg.

Safety Highlights

It’s well known in the industry that MSLA resin printers are the safer choice since they need very little power to drive an LCD screen, UV light source and 1 stepper motor, removing the risk of electrocution. FDM printers on the other hand, require high power heaters to melt filament and heated beds which presents a risk of an electrical fire if the machine gets too hot.

Resin Health Concerns
The 405nm UV resin has a number of health hazard risks associated with it and users should operate with caution. For instance, 405nm UV resin is extremely toxic if ingested and can cause allergic reactions when coming in contact with bare skin. Several precautions should be taken when handling 405nm UV resin. Thankfully, the Anycubic Photon does a few things to address some of these safety concerns.

It’s best practice to wear nitrile gloves when handling resin and users should keep a few extra pairs of gloves to use when operating the resin 3D printer. Anycubic ships their resin printers with a few pairs of disposable gloves, which is common practice between most of the brands.

The 25w UV light source has the potential to harm your eyes if it is looked at without safety goggles on. This is why the acrylic windows on the gull-wing door are tinted to prevent any UV light exposure from harming your eyes. This serves as double duty to prevent UV light from the environment from reaching the UV sensitive resin within.

Built-in Charcoal Filter
405nm UV resin is known for having a foul odour and giving off potentially toxic fumes. This can happen even when the resin printer is not in operation, which makes it extremely important to properly ventilate the printer to avoid toxic fume buildup.

The Anycubic Photon is equipped with a charcoal filter that removes fumes coming from 405nm UV resin. Anycubic claims that its filter removes particulates and makes the Photon safe to operate in enclosed spaces.

In our inspection of the resin 3D printer, we found no indication that its filter is HEPA certified or any documentation on how well it removes harmful particulates, however, it does do a good job of reducing the resin smell while the printer is in operation. We highly recommend users to only use resin printers in a well ventilated area or attach a HEPA filtration system to remove any resin particles while the printer is in operation.


Finding Replacement Parts
The LCD screen and the FEP film in the resin vat are consumables and will need to be replaced roughly every 400 hours. Replacing these parts is both inexpensive and easy, so you need not worry. Replacement LCDs can be found in both 3D printing stores such as Matterhackers and large retailers such as Amazon between $20-$40. This is a huge advantage over the newer generation resin printers with a monochrome LCD as replacements are much more expensive at $80-100 or more.

Replacing the LCD can be intimidating as it requires the user to pry off the old LCD and worm the connector through a small slot to connect with the control board. However, Anycubic does provide video instructions on its website to guide the user through it.

Accessing the Control Board
Since there are very few moving parts on the Photon, opening up the resin printer should be a rare occurrence. However, if the user needs to access the control board or any other internal components, it can be done by removing a few screws on the top and base of the machine. Unfortunately, it is quite cramped as the machine’s footprint is very small, and the sides of the base cannot be removed. Competitors such as the Elegoo Mars get around this issue by having the sides of the base be removable.

Features & Upgrades

Since the Anycubic Photon is the first affordable resin 3D printer on the market, it does not offer much in terms of unique features and upgrades.

Linear Rails
The Anycubic Photon is equipped with a single linear rail on the z-axis which constrains the up and down movement of the Photon. This results in an extremely stable print platform and eliminates the chance for the build plate to wobble while the printer is in motion.

Community Support

The Anycubic Photon enjoys a large community following due to its popularity. Users can get information for issues, upgrades and mods on a variety of places such as forums, Facebook groups and subreddits. Some of them include:

Final Verdict

The Anycubic Photon was a revolutionary machine for its time because it created an entire affordable resin 3D printer market. However, in 2021, users now have a huge selection of choice from many different manufacturers. With dated hardware and recent compatibility issues with its new control board, we cannot recommend the original Anycubic Photon even at its current low price point when the new generation Elegoo Mars 2 Pro can be found as low as $209. We highly recommend users look at Anycubic’s newer Photon Mono, Elegoo’s Mars 2 Pro, Epax E6 or Phrozen Sonic Mini for an affordable resin printer.

Technical Specifications

  • Technology: DLP (Digital Light Processing)
  • Build Volume: 115 x 65 x 155mm
  • Layer Resolution: 25-100 microns
  • Connectivity: USB, SD Card
  • Touchscreen: 2.8-inch color screen
  • Input rating: 110V/220V AC
  • Working Voltage: 12V DC
  • Printer Dimensions: 220 x 220 x 400 mm

3DGearZone.com is a professional review site that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We don’t guarantee, however, that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services. 3DGearZone.com is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own. 

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

1. Anycubic.com, “Anycubic 3D Printing” Accessed July 26, 2022.

Share Article


Revolutionize your 3D printing game with incredible deals!

We get access to exclusive deals and discounts on latest 3D printers and accessories all the time. Subscribe to stay in touch! 

No thanks, I don't want to know about amazing deals
Scroll to Top