Photograph Settings for Posting to Instagram

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I’m quickly discovering that Instagram has a file size and resolution limit and if I’m over that limit then it compromises the quality of the photo as it appears on IG.

Up until now I’d been exporting my photographs from Lightroom at the highest settings possible to ensure that they looked crisp and clean, which they do on my laptop, but once I upload it to Instagram it loses its integrity and it ends up looking messy and blurry. Which is not ideal.

So, a quick search around the internet revealed that Instagram has a resolution limit of 1080ppi by 1080ppi and file size of 1.6MB, and that I need to export the photograph from Lightroom in a specific way in order to optimise it for use in Instagram.

I played around with the settings based upon what I found, and for me these settings were optimal when using the Export function in Lightroom:

  1. The Image Format should be set to JPEG
  2. The Colour Space should be set to sRGB.
  3. The Quality setting should be set to 50%. You can set this to 100% if you limit the file size to 1.6MB as noted below.
  4. Set both Width and Height to 1080 pixels per inch.
  5. Limit the file size to 1.6MB in the file settings window.
  6. Cropping the photo was incidental to the process as long as you used one of the 4 native aspect ratios (1:1, 1.91:1, 4:5, 4:3/3:4).

As always, you should check the photo before and after export to ensure that it looks clear and crisp, even when zooming into the photograph. As an extra step, I even view the photo on a handheld device after uploading it to Instagram to doublecheck that it looks okay. Once I’m satisfied that it looks acceptable then I’ll go ahead and add the hashtags and narrative to the photo.

I also discovered an alternative way to do this in the Microsoft Windows Photo app. These are pretty easy steps:

  1. Export the photo from Lightroom using the highest settings for maximum clarity, ensuring that it adheres to one of the 4 native aspect ratios (1:1, 1.91:1, 4:5, 4:3/3:4).
  2. Open the photograph using the pre-installed Microsoft Windows Photo app.
  3. In the top right-hand corner is a drop down menu. Click on that.
  4. Close to the top of the drop down menu you’ll see an option labelled “Resize”. Click on that.
  5. You’ll then be provided with an option to resize the image from the current file size (which it gives you) to either Small, Medium or Large. I typically select Large, which reduces the file size considerably while maintaining the integrity/quality of the photo.

Again, check the photo before and after resizing to ensure that it looks clear and crisp, even when zooming into the photograph.

On that note, one process was not better than the other. The end result of having a clear photograph on Instagram was the same for both processes.

So, there you have it. Lesson learned. Another step in the process of learning photography!

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