Instagram remains the most popular social media platform for photographers to show off their work. While you are limited in terms of resolution and formatting options, Instagram’s user base and daily activity rates can’t be ignored.
While uploading photographs taken on your phone is encouraged, it’s also a great place to share images taken with an actual camera and edited in third-party software like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when exporting your final edits in Lightroom to share on Instagram.
In this post, I’m going to cover everything you need to know about the best Lightroom export settings for Instagram. Follow along and incorporate these suggestions into your workflow to optimize the photographs you share from now on.
Lightroom Crop Setting for Instagram
To take full advantage of people noticing your image in their feed, you should use a 4×5 width to height ratio (portrait orientation). This can easily be selected in Lightroom from the crop defaults.
This gives you the tallest photo that Instagram will display, letting your image take up more screen real estate.
While square photos were the only option in Instagram’s early days, continuing to use this ratio allows people to see parts of the photo above/below your post.
By using the max height Instagram allows, you eliminate distractions of other users’ posts. Eliminating these distractions is the best way to let scrollers focus on your image and gives you higher chances of engagement.
Lightroom File Format Export Setting for Instagram
Exporting your photo for Instagram in either a JPEG or PNG format is best. PNG is normally used if images contain transparency, but Instagram doesn’t display transparency, so the choice is up to your preference. Either format should deliver the same overall image quality.
Lightroom Color Space Export Setting for Instagram
When exporting your images from Lightroom to post to Instagram, you’ll want to change the Color Space to sRGB in the Export dialog box. This will make sure that the colors Instagram displays are accurate and vibrant.
Lightroom Quality Export Setting for Instagram
There’s been a lot of debate on the absolute best export quality for images from Lightroom that will be shared on Instagram. Some say 100% and others say 76%.
When you upload a photo to Instagram, it runs the photo through a compression algorithm. Feel free to experiment with any setting from 76–100%, but the difference in results will most likely be negligible. I personally opt for 100%.
Lightroom Image Sizing Export Setting for Instagram
If you plan on posting a 4×5 image in portrait orientation, you’ll want to export your photo at 1080x1350px dimensions. If you post different orientations, the easiest export setting to keep as a default for image size is checking the Resize to Fit box and make sure the Short Edge option is set to 1080 pixels.
This makes sure that any image you export for Instagram will have the maximum resolution that Instagram allows.
If you push these numbers any higher, you are at risk of reduced quality when Instagram’s compression algorithm does its thing.
Lightroom Image Resolution Export Setting for Instagram
In the Image Sizing dialog box, you’ll see an option for Resolution. For screens, you can always use 72 pixels per inch as your resolution. Higher resolutions will only apply to images that you’re printing.
Lightroom Output Sharpening Export Setting for Instagram
Since you’re most likely resizing your photo to export for Instagram, adding Output Sharpening is advised. While you may have set your sharpening in the Develop module already, resizing can lead to a slight loss in sharpness.
Feel free to experiment with the Amount setting under the Output Sharpening module, but check the box next to Sharpen For: and select Screen first. I personally would be wary of selecting anything higher than Standard for the Amount.
Free Lightroom Export Preset for Instagram
While it’s pretty easy for you to take the settings above and create an export preset, I also wanted to include my personal free Lightroom export preset for Instagram. Click here to download the file now.
To import this preset, follow these instructions:
- Open Lightroom and head to Preferences (Lightroom > Preferences on Mac or Edit > Preferences on Windows).
- Select the Presets tab.
- Click the button to Show All Other Lightroom Presets to open the correct location on your hard drive.
- Unzip the download and drag the folder named The Creativv into the Export Presets folder.
- Close and re-open Lightroom.
When you’re ready to export, select File > Export with Preset > Insta1080. You’ll then choose where to save the image and that’s it!