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Printing a zine cheaply versus high quality photos

I was wondering if anybody has any tricks they know on how to balance thrift with photo quality when it comes to printing. I've got a web zine now and want to make the jump to print zine, but I only want to do it if my photos come out high quality (and in color). I'm so cheap, I doubt I can do that within my budget. Any tips?

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How many copies do you plan to print? Cheap is relative. If you do 1000+ copies I'd go offset press, your printing quality will be way better and it will be cheaper per issue as well. But if you are talking about a small run and doing it cheaply, pretty much the cheaper you go, the worse your photos will look. Photocopying they will be the worst, but it's generally the cheapest, although if you print the originals out with line screen or pixilated for dot gain, you can make them look OK. I'd probably do a small print run on a laser or inkjet printer though, lasers are cheaper per page. Black and white for the grayscale pages, color for the ones you really want color on. You can do things like make it half sized and do multiple pages on one color 8.5x11 sheet of paper (or jump to legal size for not much more). Or better yet, if you're cheap, scam prints at work, or your friend's work, or rip off a big box store. Scamming used to be an essential part of zine publishing on the cheap.
Everybody has their own aesthetic standards when it comes to print & photocopy, so I don't want to dismiss anyone who wants there photos a certain quality.

But I've gotten all kinds of zines in the past with cheap, photocopied, un-half-toned photos, and they looked absolutely cool to me. Chris Lentil (Hi Chris) apologized for the quality of the photos/images in his recent zine ALLiance, but they looked perfectly okay to me.

On a slight tangent: I wanted to run off some copies of an old zine I had a self photo in a year or two ago, and went in to make a copy of the original, which I hoped would be better than the one I had before, and could paste over the one in the master. Well, it turned out looking much worse than the one I had before, which I'd made about 7 to 8 years earlier. I've tried making other xeroxes of photos on these newer machines, and compared to the old ones, they look awful. All smudgy and ugly. I tried both half-toning and regular. Both were bad. Is there something different about today's photocopiers that make them turn out worse looking b&w picture copies than the older ones? Or is it just something I'm doing wrong?
Yeah! There used to be a "photo screen" setting on some copiers about 10-15 years ago. I'm not sure if I have the name right, but a setting specifically for photocopying photos that would in effect half tone it and adjust for dot gain, the machines I used made it look like very fine lines ran through the photo. It's not on photocopiers any more, my guess is when people had access to scanners, the feature wasn't really needed on copiers anymore.
"Yeah! There used to be a "photo screen" setting on some copiers about 10-15 years ago. I'm not sure if I have the name right, but a setting specifically for photocopying photos that would in effect half tone it and adjust for dot again."

Well, that may be true, but I don't remember ever making any special settings when I copied my photo before. In fact, I've never really bothered with half-toning on either the new or old machines.

I have to confess there's an element of vanity here---the old photocopiers made me LOOK better, even when I didn't half-tone. Maybe these new ones are more "honest" than I'd like them to be. Anyway, they make me look awful.
I haven't looked at a photocopier in a while but it may be that the newer machines automatically do it. But if they don't (or don't have the ability at all) I'd be willing to bet that the big copiers behind the counter can do it.

But I'm pretty sure there's still no good way to print high quality color photos for cheap...
It's true, cheap is relative... seems you'll have to toil away in an epic battle of quality vs quantity, especially in the arena of color.

Stankzine, I'm not sure where you are (Brazil, really?) in the world, but if you have access to big box stores, I second Dan's suggestion, although color copiers on the honor system are becoming more and more scarce. Alternately, depending on the scope of "cheap," I know some folks have had good luck with small, local printers doing the dirty work.

On that note, if anybody wants to pay to get their zines printed, I highly recommend 1984Printing in Oakland, CA. I'm not a spokesperson, nor have I had anything printed with them. Rather, everything I've seen printed by them has been top-notch, full color, B&W, and combinations of the two.
Hey lexxx, thanks for the tip on 1984Printing - their website looks great - everything listed clearly, no guessing! thanks!

lexxx said:
It's true, cheap is relative... seems you'll have to toil away in an epic battle of quality vs quantity, especially in the arena of color.

Stankzine, I'm not sure where you are (Brazil, really?) in the world, but if you have access to big box stores, I second Dan's suggestion, although color copiers on the honor system are becoming more and more scarce. Alternately, depending on the scope of "cheap," I know some folks have had good luck with small, local printers doing the dirty work.

On that note, if anybody wants to pay to get their zines printed, I highly recommend 1984Printing in Oakland, CA. I'm not a spokesperson, nor have I had anything printed with them. Rather, everything I've seen printed by them has been top-notch, full color, B&W, and combinations of the two.
I used to print mine on a copier. Now I do it at Printing USA...well they actually do it. So I get 30 for $40. for a 16 page zine with a full color cover, back cover and inside of them. I scan it in, email it to the printer and pick it up in a few days. I get fantastic color.
I'd say that using a real photo - that you got printed on glossy paper, not an image out of a printer - usually prints really great, even on black and white, whereas with many photos you would print out from the printer, they will be paler, have less contrast, and might even have lines. I also found, weirdly, that the "text" setting actually makes your pictures look better than selecting "photo" on copy machines. (according to my hands-on experience)
i agree about color copies, unless you have access to a laser color copier/printer at work--or someone's work. depending on what you mean by "quality" and what you mean by "cheap."

most copiers still have photo settings. the newer ones just have more settings and more control over how the image looks. but i'm also using a corporate machine. also, individual machines can very wildly in quality even in the same print shop, so i think once you find one you like, stick with it.

Rick Bradford said:
I haven't looked at a photocopier in a while but it may be that the newer machines automatically do it. But if they don't (or don't have the ability at all) I'd be willing to bet that the big copiers behind the counter can do it.

But I'm pretty sure there's still no good way to print high quality color photos for cheap...
you can't 'use' a copier at work...unless you pay for it... or the worker-friend
who gets permission from mgt pays for it............there ain't no fee lunch!!

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