Instagram is the most popular image sharing platform on the planet, and it continues to grow! In this article, we guide you through the best Lightroom export settings for Instagram to ensure your personal or your business Instagram feed looks amazing.
One of the biggest concerns when preparing photos for Instagram is whether the platform will compress your image when you upload it - making some images look really bad. The fact that you can now zoom in on an image on Instagram has made our mission to upload perfect looking photos even tougher!
According to Instagram, the preferred size of an image is 1080 pixels wide, with an aspect ratio between 1.91:1 or 4:5. Anything you upload that is outside one of these parameters, will fall victim to Instagrams algorithm and will be re-sized until it fits. This will eventually lead to your images not looking as great as they did when you exported them from Lightroom.
Back in the day, you could only upload images in a square 1:1 ratio. These days however, we’re able to upload in 4 different ratios - any ratio not supported will be resized by Instagram.
Tip: Instagram accepts images in the following ratios: 1:1, 1.91:1, 4:5 and 4:3/3:4.
The recommended ratio for most photographers is 4:5. This is more of a portrait orientation, and will ensure that when a user is browsing through your feed that your images will take up as much screen real-estate as possible.
Best Lightroom Export Settings For Instagram
Once you have your image edited to perfection in Adobe Lightroom, the first thing we need to do is to get your crop right!
From the Develop module (Keyboard ‘D’), click on the crop tool, and then the dropdown menu ‘Original’. Here you will be presented with a list of possible crop ratios. Click on 4x5/8x10 - this will give you a 5:4 ratio.
Drag the corner of the crop overlay up to change the aspect of the crop to portrait. You now have a nice 4:5 crop.
Tip: If you’re working on an image for your Instagram Stories feed, then use the crop ration 9x16.
Next, click File>Export. From the Export dialogue box, select the location that you want your image to be saved to, and open the ‘File Settings’ tab.
Here, we need to ensure JPEG is selected, and bring the quality down to around 75%. This will ensure your end file size is not so big that it takes an age to upload. The difference between 75% and 100% quality is not really noticeable.
Next, in the Image Sizing tab, check the ‘Resize to Fit’ box and from the dropdown menu select ‘Short Edge’.
In the box below, enter 1080 and make sure Pixels is selected. Resolution is a matter of choice. The default is 300ppi, however your image will look fine at a resolution of 72ppi. Pixels per Inch only really applies to images being printed.
Finally, if you’d like to save your export settings for future use; click on the ‘Add’ button, give the preset a name and click ‘Create’.
Your preset will be saved under the ‘User Presets’ tab.
Moving Instagram Images to your Smartphone
Once you have your perfectly cropped image exported, the next hurdle is getting that photo on to your smartphone in the same high quality so that you can upload it to Instagram.
Mac users have it easier here! Use Airdrop to move your image between your Mac and iPhone. Your photo will be in the original resolution, with no compression or loss of quality.
Alternative methods include uploading your image from your computer to a cloud service such as dropbox, and then using a third-party app to download the image in it’s exported resolution to your smartphone.