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How To Upload High Quality Photos To Instagram

This post will show you how to optimise your export settings so you can achieve high quality Instagram posts. 

You take these amazing pictures on your camera, edit them to look even better and you can’t wait to post it on Instagram to start racking up the likes and shares. 

BUT then you do upload it and it just looks…a bit off. 

Well this is a common problem that people find when they export to Instagram without understanding the optimal way to post. 

What is Shutter Speed ? - Photography Pursuits

What is Shutter Speed ? - Photogra... x
What is Shutter Speed ? - Photography Pursuits

Why Does Instagram Resize Files? 

Instagram is an app for a fast moving world where photos can be shared and consumed quickly and they’ve definitely succeeded as they’ve racked up over 50 billion photos posted.

Now with all of these photos Instagram needs a way to store them and show them in an efficient way which is both fast and cost effective.

To do this Instagram compresses images to certain dimensions if they are not aligned with it’s preferences.

So it is our job to match what Instagram wants so that your photos match their guidelines to have the highest quality uploads. 

Luckily Instagram is open about their compression and resizing so we can take a look at what they recommend for exporting photos. 

Instagram Guidelines

Instagram says that they upload photos at the best quality resolution possible up to a width of 1080 pixels.

This means they will keep your photo at its original resolution if you limit your width to 1080. 

But there is one thing to keep in mind. Your aspect ratio must be between 1.91:1 and 4:5 

Instagram also gives the following guidance: 

If you want to make sure that your photo is shared with a width of 1080 pixels:

– Download the most recent version of the Instagram app.

– Upload a photo with a width of at least 1080 pixels with an aspect ratio between 1.91:1 and 4:5.

– Make sure you’re using a phone with a high-quality camera as different phones have cameras of varying qualities

Taken from Instagram help centre, click here to see it in detail

We assume if you are on this site you probably care about your Instagram enough that your camera is already pretty decent so we can skip that, but we will discuss the aspect ratios in the next section. 

The Best Aspect Ratio To Use For Instagram  

So Instagram suggests you need to keep your aspect ratio between 1:91:1 and 4:5 to maintain highest resolution at a 1080px width

So what aspect ratio should you pick for the best engagement? 

Nowadays people don’t have much of an attention span. Especially when we are scrolling through social media. 

Because of this we need our Instagram posts to really catch attention and stand out. The best way to do this is to take up the most space on a screen! 

For this reason the 4:5 ratio is the best. Even though a 1.91:1 picture may be uploaded at full resolution if you set the width to 1080px, the space it takes up on the screen is very small. 

An alternative would be to post a 1:1 square as the next best thing.

The square aspect ratio can be useful since the appearance on the feed as a singular post will be the same as the appearance as a preview on a grid. Some people might prefer this for their grid. 

What Colour Space To Use

Colour space may be something that people forget but it is very important. 

There’s different colour spaces that exist but for the purposes of this quick guide you need to know that you will want to export in sRGB.

This is because sRGB is a colour space which most digital media devices can display so you know it will be consistently shown across different devices. 

How To Export Correctly For 4:5 Ratio

This should be fairly simple with most photo editing apps that are used. In lightroom for example you simply set the crop to 4:5 making sure that the longer side is the vertical edge.

Now go to export the image and do the following: 

Limit the short edge to 1080px.

Change the ppi to 72ppi since you won’t see any noticeable difference by putting it any higher than this.

Leave the quality at 100%. Instagram will upload at full resolution if the width is 1080px so you don’t need to worry about file size. 

Summary For The Best Export Settings For Instagram

  • Aspect ratio: 4:5
  • Image format : JPEG
  • Resolution: 72ppi
  • Colour space: sRGB
  • Resize to fit: short edge, 1080px

Try this out and watch your post quality improve! 

We hope you found this helpful! As always we appreciate your time for reading this.
– Photography Pursuits Team