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It is often acceptable to leave RGB to CMYK conversion to InDesign when exporting a PDF. But this is best done in a colour managed workflow where the document has been given the proper CMYK profile and the image already contain the proper RGB profile, which is usually Adobe RGB (1998) or sRBG. If this is sounding Greek to you then you are likely not working in a colour managed workflow, so your images’ RGB > CMYK conversion will not be ideal.
You may prefer to do the conversion in Photoshop. Open each RGB image and go to Convert to Profile. Pick a CMYK profile that it appropriate to your output device or press. Your printer can help and may be able to provide a profile you can use. Use Save As or Save a Copy when saving from Photoshop so you can preserve the wider gamut and layering of your RGB images. Relink to the CMYK in InDesign. When you export a new PDF, in the Output setting, choose Convert to Destination (Preserve Numbers) under Color Conversion.
In researching today I've found this is due to the print gamut - many of the vivid RGB colors are not compatible in CMYK. Makes sense - I just need to figure out how to quickly get the vibrance of my photos back.
Keep in mind that the CMYK gamut is simply smaller than the RGB gamut. You may not be able to get back all the vibrance you hope for.
Also, your screen rendering of your CMYK PDF may not be accurate. If possible, try to get a printed proof of the CMYK if you can.
But above all, talk to your printer. They'll be able to advise you on particulars of the printing process that are deeply relevant but differ between every printer.
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when viewing on screen everything is SO dark - many of the images you can't even make out.
The Color Setting's Conversion Options can have an effect on the conversion to CMYK even when the colors are in gamut. Unchecking Use Black Point Compensation with a Relative Colormetric intent will often produce a darker separation than a conversion with black point checked.
Thanks everyone. This has been very helpful. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out.
Hi There --did you find a profile that worked for you? I'm having the exact same problem and am trying to find a solution. My book printer told me not to worry--they could fix and adjust--but that didn't happen. Any final solutions you found would be most appreciative.
Thanks so much...
Is the printer able to tell you what profile they use in house? If they can't, I'd seriously think about finding one that can.
Thank you Peter. I've already requested the profile from my printer. Hopefully this will work. Very frustrating as you know.