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Grayscale contrast reduced in PDF - Affinity Publisher

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We have a book with images in grayscale (original, not converted). We tweaked the contrast of those images to look good in print.

In earlier editions of the book, the images rendered correctly in exported PDFs. The contrast was perfect. Now, however, images in exported PDFs from the same Publisher file have reduced contrast. We do not know how to correct this issue.

In the attached image, the page on the right is what we desire (and what appears in Publisher workspace). But what we get now in exported PDFs is what is shown in sample on the left.


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I have made some progress in diagnosing this problem. I have discovered that the image problem (low contrast) happens only when exporting using PDFX-1a:2003 or PDF/X-3:2003. When exporting using PDF 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, or 1.7 the problem does not occur and the images have the proper (high) contrast.

My printer, IngramSpark is recommending exporting using PDFX-1a:2003 or PDF/X-3:2003. I don't think I can do that.

Do you know why PDFX-1a:2003 or PDF/X-3:2003 cause this problem but not PDF 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, or 1.7?


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