Saturday, May 8, 2010

Large detailed photos, small PDF

Your instructor wants you to create a PDF of your contact sheets. She has provided detailed steps on how to set up the Print Module in Lightroom to get the images in a grid. She has also provided instructions on how to get those contact sheets into Adobe Acrobat Pro. When you are all done, your PDF file size is in the tens to hundreds of megabytes (or worse) and takes a long time to upload and/or download from the college web site. What she has not provided are the instructions on getting the highest image quality without a large file size!

What do you do?
A) Panic!
B) Call student support.
C) Upload it anyway.
D) Tweak a few settings and end up with a nice small PDF but highly detailed images.

When faced with this problem, I chose 'D'. I will show you how I do it but feel free to change anything to your own personal preferences once you know the secrets.

So you either have your images selected or in a collection and you are in the Print Module. You have already configured out you want the images to look in the exported JPEGs and have actually selected Print To: JPEG File. Set File Resolution to 240 ppi, Print Sharpening to Standard, JPEG Quality to 100. Click Print to File and follow the rest of the instructions provided (including creating and saving your PDF).

Lightroom Print Module Settings

Now you will want to click on Document > Reduce File Size...

Reduce File Size...

You should see a Reduce File Size window open. Select Acrobat 7.0 and later (this is a fairly safe setting but you can chose a later version if you know your instructor has it). Click the OK button.

Acrobat 7.0 and later

The final step is to save the modified file under a new name.

Save as...

Now compare your file sizes.

I started with a 2.09 MB JPEG and a 2.19 MB JPEG file. The resulting PDF was 4.16 MB. After reducing the file size, it is 353 KB. That's a savings of 3.82 MB! Just imagine the difference it will make when you have more than two contact sheets.

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