The Best settings for Exporting Instagram in Lightroom

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Gah! It looks like it was taken from an uncooked potato. Soft, pixelated, and with artefacts. Gross.

…or perhaps I was too harsh on myself once at a time.

In any case, if Instagram does not seem to be taking over your photos even after you’ve spent time perfecting them using Lightroom this article is ideal for you. I’ll help you learn the most efficient settings for exporting to Instagram in 2020. Also, If you stay there are some freebies to be found towards the conclusion.

So, Instagram has some recommended guidelines for images. Basically:

  • Aspect ratios should be in the range of 1.91:1 to 4:5.
  • They’ll always be cropped at 1080 pixels wide , unless it’s the exact size.

Another thing we know know, however, is Instagram also employs an algorithm to compress images for all photos which are transferred to the servers of Instagram.

The compression myth

The reason for doing it is similar to the reason that makes numerous websites slash images as well (including the one that you’re reading this article on!) – performance. Instagram is optimizing the images to download as quick as they can to provide the best user experience. Therefore, they strive to reduce the size of your images , resulting in less data to download, which makes your feeds load faster.

Warning: the following section is a bit technical.

Certain techniques for image compression are superior to others. To be truthful, Instagram’s compression is pretty good. It’s a decent quality for the size of the image. But some users have issues with this, and that’s why this article can help.

First, let’s dispel the myth of the ‘quality’ of a file size that you can be able to reach so that you can be able to avoid compressing algorithm.

I’ve heard some folks suggest that when you change an export setting to 75% of quality or if your files are less than 500kb, you’ll be able to get around compressing algorithms.

It’s a complete fabrication.

If you do this, you’re making your final image more bleak than it should be. Here’s why.

The upload process can look something like this:

  • The user creates and then shares their photo
  • The image is uploaded to the server.
  • The server compresses the image base
  • It then creates copies of the compressed image, and then resizes it to 150px and 320px. It also resizes at 240px, 1080px, 1080px, and 480px in what’s referred to as the source set (srcset) to ensure that it is able to show the appropriate size of the image based on where it’s being viewed.
  • In the feed you will typically get the wide version of 1080px.

All images has been compressed. It is necessary to do it this way as it’s not logical to conclude that the compression used by the user is superior to their own. There are too many variables so the best method is to standardize every image, regardless of whether it’s simply a test.

You can try it yourself. Upload an image with 50% quality and less than 500kb, then remove that image from Instagram’s desktop version Instagram (right Click > view the element of your image increase the size of your sibling DIIV Right click and open your photo in a new tab and save) and then compare it with the original image. The actual performance algorithms is impressive, reducing file size substantially with no loss of quality . So it’s hard to tell that there’s compression going on.

So If you upload at 75 high quality that means you’re compressing 75 of the quality. Alternatively, if you upload at 100% quality, you compress it to 100 percent.

The best settings for exporting Instagram in Lightroom

That being said there are 6 aspects to take into consideration when exporting for Instagram.


This is by far the biggest problem when it comes down to what appears like a premium image.

Sharpness is often perceived as details, and a more precise image will appear more appealing overall.

Like any other format, regardless of whether it’s digital or printed it is necessary to be sharp for your particular medium. In general, you’ll get different levels of sharpening if you’re printing the image or viewing it via an mobile device. This is because , depending on the medium you’re viewing your picture on, there will be variations in the quality of the experience you get when viewing.

How many pixels can your phone fit onto its screen? What number of dots are your printer printing your image? What is the material and size? What is the dimension that you display? What is the distance they are standing from the image? What size does it appear at? These variables as well as many more affect the quality of your image when someone is looking at it.

This is a long method of saying that you must sharpen for phone displays. Although you can accomplish this with the setting of your “Output Sharpening” setting to “Screen” however, you can achieve more.

Take a look at this article on the best ways to enhance images using Lightroom. The most interesting part is the number 5. Use masking.

After you’ve sharpened your image then send it to your smartphone. If it appears to be nearly excessively sharp, then you’re in the right place. This compression can dull it after the file is uploaded.


Although Instagram allows every ratio of 1.91:1 to 4:5, it’s just one size that you need to upload at the ratio of 4:5..

4:5 ends up being the largest size of pixel it is possible to upload. It’s not just giving you the biggest amount of digital real estate to utilize in your photo and is also the largest space in your feed.

Due to their aspect ratios in the smartphone’s portrait orientation When your viewers scroll through their feeds images that are pictures of the landscape – or the small images get lost in the process pretty quickly.

Images with squares are more appealing and images that are 4:5 are the best.

(For the truth, I like to show and shoot my landscape work primarily however, you must adapt to trends!)

pat kay away - instagram aspect ratios


If you haven’t take a look at the previous article on “The compress myth” This section is pretty simple.

Best quality. No limit. JPEG or PNG. Size is a dammed. This is what the algorithm for image compression is used for. It will be compressed no matter the actions you take.

Color space

There are several options of the colour space you are able to export to. A lot of printers prefer to print using AdobeRGB (1998) due to the fact that the color space is broad and diverse enough to allow for subtle variations in tonality. This is also compatible to the standard that most printers print in.

For digital, we’re looking for sRGB. Most digital images are in sRGB, which is what you should edit using and what you should export to ensure the best quality experience. What I refer to with “consistent” means that you have a lot of devices available today that use the P3 color range (and some even support it in the Instagram app itself). However, this doesn’t suggest all devices support it. every devices that display Instagram have the same colours. Therefore, when a P3 picture attempts to display itself on a device with an sRGB gamut due to its wider than the gamut of sRGB it gets squashed and the colours are compressed. It’s inevitable, but more than that, it’s uncontrollable and you’re not given a decision in this matter.

The best option is to edit and output the image using sRGB. This is the best way to ensure your image is as consistent as is possible across all devices.

Image sizing

Instagram displays images with a resolution of 1080 pixels. According to their rules, they mention that they don’t use the resizing process when your uploaded image is at or lower than this resolution.

There are two ways to approach this:

1) Export at 1080px wide. This means:

  • Square 1080px x 1080px
  • 4:5 1080px 1350px x 1080px

2.) Exports at precisely 1080px width, double.

One reason I make this choice is because the event that Instagram would like to increase sizes of images that they show in the near future there is an image that is 2x larger than my image which they can modify a source set.

The main reason is that precisely downsizing to 2x or 4x will always be tolerant and secure for any resizing activity happening behind the scenes. In some instances it’s even more sharp (for instance, cameras that reduce their resolution from 6k down to 4k to get an improved, sharper image as in Sony A6500). Sony A6500).

  • Square 2160px 2.160px x 2160px
  • 4:5 2160px x 2770px

It’s also a secure alternative, as opposed to using the resize algorithm to squish and then suddenly resize your image in a way that isn’t pleasing.

In terms of resolution, the DPI/PPI is irrelevant in digital. It doesn’t have any visual impact whether the setting is set at zero or 300. In the digital age the term “pixel” refers to a pixels. In the printing world, where these numbers actually matter Digital pixels can be seen as a variety of dimensions based on the method used by printing and the print machine itself.

For our purposes let’s set it to the default value, 72.


Instagram removes all your metadata. It’s up to you if would like to export any of it however, by the time that you post it on Instagram, the data is gone. it will never be seen again.

Recommendations on exporting in Lightroom

Okay, let’s connect everything!

  • Enhance your photo prior to exporting
  • Utilize a crop of 4:5.
  • Images format is: JPEG
  • Quality: 100
  • Color space: sRGB
  • No limit on the file size
  • Resize the size to suit the width and Height Don’t increase, Width = 2160px, H = empty
  • Resolution: default, 72 pixels per inch
  • Sharpening the output Sharpen for Screen Standard

Enjoy! I’m sure that your photos will look amazing following this.

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