I am creating a booklet with a hight resolutio (more than 4800 pixels height) and I am about to print it.

My question is, what is better in terms of quality:

  • Saving each page as a PDF with JPG compression with image quality maximum.
  • Saving it directly to JPG with quality 10.

I was currently saving them as PDF but the printer told me they can not deal with such a big files (32 files of 48Mb each = more than 700 Mb...)


  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ At first read, this look like a graphic design question, rather than a photographic one? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 12, 2013 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think they're likely to have the more specific expertise for creating booklets. And I think also that this will be strongly software dependant; see photo.stackexchange.com/questions/11544/… for some notes on JPEG quality levels and what they mean. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Apr 12, 2013 at 13:08
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @dpollitt you don't need a different printer, it's a matter of properly preparing the files for print. A D800 image should be less than 10 megabytes in the appropriate format (most print processes would not see zero benefit from any more than 8 bits per channel). And that would be for a full page, if you have a D800 image embedded in the corner of your document at a size of about two inches then embedding the entire file in the PDF is a complete waste and the printer has every right to tell you to get lost! \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is suppose to be a good printer. Is in London btw. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve
    Apr 12, 2013 at 15:00

2 Answers 2


The standard approach when I was last doing print work with InDesign was to export to PDF, resizing each image above 450 PPI to 300 PPI and compressing with JPEG, quality set to "maximum" (or sometimes "high"). I assume there are similar options for Quark.

The reason your PDF files are too large is most likely that you have embedded images at their native resolution which is far higher than is necessary.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding DPI, which should really be called PPI (as DPI is something different), it is best to use a ratio relative to the printer's native print resolution. In the case of Canon and most other printers, one would want to use 600, 300, 200, 150 PPI. In the case of Epson, one would want to use 720, 360, 240, 180 PPI. Using 450 PPI requires further scaling by the print driver or rasterization software, which do not always scale in the best way. If printing with a LAB, best to figure out what the native print resolution is, and scale to a ratio of that. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am currently using 300dpi for the image. (flattered image) When saving it as PDF, in the compression menu it says: "bicubic downsampling to 300 pixels/inch and 450 pixels/inch for images above." Btw, I am using CMYK profile. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Steve If all your images are around 300ppi in the document then I'm at a loss for how the filesize for a single page is 48MB - a full A4 page at 300 PPI is about 8 megapixels, I've never seen a 48MB JPEG from an 8MP camera! \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Apr 12, 2013 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MattGrum is not a JPEG, is a PDF. The file dimensions are 2469 x 2539 with 300 pixels/inch in CMYK (8 bits per pixel more) colors (not RGB) and the resulting PDF without compression was 24,3Mb for all the pages (it didnt mind the amount of images or colors, even white pages) \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve
    Apr 12, 2013 at 15:22
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Steve PDF files contain embedded images, in JPEG (or other formats), along with instructions about where to print them and how large. Thus if you created a document in most typesetting programs and placed a JPEG image in the page it would grab the original and stuff it straight into the PDF (unless you checked options to resample and compress the image). What software are you using, it seems like it's rasterising the entire page to an image, and then stuffing that image directly into a PDF, which is completely the wrong approach! When you zoom into the PDF does the text become pixelised? \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Apr 12, 2013 at 15:27

PDF is a Post Script based format that is designed to give far higher control of how pages are reproduced in print. An image file itself provides far less information to a printer about the intended way something should be reproduced.

As a container format, the resolution of an image held within a PDF will be no different from an image on it's own. The PDF will only add information and allow for vector and text information to appear natively around, over or behind the image. If there is any text or vector graphics in the booklet, then PDF or post script file would be a far superior choice since it would preserve the highest quality of non-raster content.

Even if it is only images, PDF or PostScript files would ensure proper formatting and placement within the booklet.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I forgot to mention that before saving it as PDF i flatter the image. Therefor, there are no layers and no text, just an image (with rasterized text and images). Im also using CMYK. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Steve - yeah, you would want to rasterize the images before including them in the PDF, I just wasn't sure if there was anything other than images in it (such as captions, titles, etc). Placement on the page is also still better controlled by a print document container like PDF or PostScript. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Apr 12, 2013 at 15:06

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