Musings on Photography

PDF size, continued

Posted in PDF by Paul Butzi on February 22, 2010


After determining that I couldn’t see any change in image quality when dropping the ‘image quality’ control in InDesign down from ‘maximum’ to ‘medium’, I’ve gone and generated new PDF files for all the portfolios on my static website.

Based on the before/after sizes with those portfolios, it seems that this change results in PDF files that are from 32% to 37% of the files generated with the control set to ‘maximum’. Yes, you’re reading that right – one third the size, same visual quality.

On a related issue, I ran the shrink-it app by Panic Software (pointed out by Paul Bradforth in the comments). It didn’t result in a reduction in size for the PDF files I generated from InDesign. That might not mean much if you’re using ANY other PDF generation tool.

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  1. Alex Brikoff said, on February 22, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I’ve all the same things as you, Paul, to try and get my PDF portfolios down in size. But another thing I tried that worked for me that I’ve used on my site is to physically split up the portfolios into “volumes” or “parts”. For example, “Portfolio A, Part I”, “Portfolio A, Part II” and so on. That way I can get size of portfolios down to manageable size and reasonable download time per volume and still not compromise the quality of the images. My feeling is that if the viewer is that interested seeing my images, they won’t mind downloading subsequent volumes. Of course, there should be a practical limit on the number of “volumes”. There shouldn’t be like 20 volumes to a single portfolio. That can get ridiculous real fast. Sorry if I rambled on, but I thought I’d share with you and your readers another possibility for the portfolios.

  2. doonster said, on February 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    It always amazes me the clever number crunching that goes into the compression algorithms.

    On the shrink-it app, I’m not surprised. Given what it’s doing in terms of stripping out extraneous metadata, image & layer data etc, I wouldn’t expect much gain as there is not much of that in a single layer jpeg anyway. Somewhere in all that testing I did I looked at the metadata stripping thing (although I don’t think I ever reported it) and saw little or no benefit.

  3. Ed Richards said, on February 24, 2010 at 10:26 am

    The ghost light portfolios are beautiful. Whatever you are going with the PFDs is not affecting quality at reasonable screen sizes. Do you use gray scale files for Indesign, or RGB?

  4. Paul Butzi said, on February 24, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Do you use gray scale files for Indesign, or RGB?

    RGB, in sRGB space.

  5. Ed Richards said, on February 28, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Do you split tone the black and white for the PFDs?

  6. Paul Butzi said, on February 28, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Do you split tone the black and white for the PFDs?

    Um, I’m not sure that the term ‘split toning’ has much meaning in the digital domain except to denote a look that would be achieved by split toning in the conventional darkroom.

    There are varying amounts of toning depending on the value being toned, but that’s a natural constraint of the way the gamut narrows at the black point and the white point.

  7. Ed Richards said, on February 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Sorry, should have been more specific – there are techniques for making shadows a different color, not just a different saturation, than highlights, which I have seen called split toning. So you are toning, but with a single color, which gets deeper as the density increases – is this basically the same as the toning process you described on your static WWW site? I am curious because I have tended to not tone my black and white images for printing, but I can see some real value for it in both PDF files, esp. if the master is going to be used for on demand printing.

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