I bought some photos and need to send them off for printing. The printing company asked for the final files to be in PDF format, so I've converted them using Illustrator and Photoshop. I also added a few lines of text in each of them.

The original files were an average of about 3MB. After saving as PDF (with no compression because I really want to retain full quality since the dpi after expanding to A3 size is less than 300, and converting text to outlines), my files are now as large as 100MB! Is this normal? Or am I doing something wrong? Will such heavy files cause problems during printing? I only have around 3 layers in each file.


You saved them with no compression, and given that the huge file size is unsurprising.

I'm not sure of the options for tuning compression when saving as PDF in Photoshop, but if it gives you a choice, try high-quality JPEG and then inspect the results for visible artifacts.

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  • Thanks! It really was that simple! I just used compression and saved without layers, and the PDF went down from close to 200MB to barely 15MB! – user961627 Oct 7 '12 at 15:45

Your file size is far larger than necessary.

A factor which can make a very significance difference is image dpi.
There has been much prior discussion on this site re acceptable printed dpi - for a high quality colour image 300 dpi is usually enough and may even be excessively high.
An A3 image at 300 dpi is about 15 megapixel.
File size will increase by about the square of the ratio dpi/300. So a 600 dpi image will be ~ 4 x as large as a 300 dpi image, and a 2400 dpi image will be about 64 x larger. So an image that is 100 MB at 2400 dpi will be very roughly 100 / (2400/300)^2 = 100/64 = 1.5 MB.

I just made a PDF from a 24 Mp image and set output size to A3 at 300 dpi. The pdf file size is 1.49 MB. If your files are 2400 dpi then there is a close match between what you are seeing and my result. My image was saved at jpg 90 quality originally. Thius is almost identical at the pixel peeping level to an out-of-camera JPG. AS file size 2 to 5 times larger may result for an 'out of camera' image and larger again for a RAW image.

You need to know what dpi size you are using and what is acceptable for your application.

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  • I'm completely new at this stuff. I'm actually not concerned with cameras - I'm referring to getting photos printed out by a printing shop for a wall poster. I used 300 dpi settings when I opened and saved the photos in Photoshop and Illustrator. The original photos were also 300 dpi, and the people at the printing shop say the final PDF should have images in 300dpi. Is there a setting I should be changing in Photoshop or Illustrator when I save the images as PDF? – user961627 Oct 7 '12 at 12:34

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