what are the best quality instagram export settings for 2018? find out instagrams best lightroom export settings in this free tutorial

Best Lightroom Export Settings For Instagram 2018

The Best Lightroom Export Settings For Instagram in 2018

Exporting to Instagram from Lightroom?

Here’s the best Instagram export settings for Lightroom in 2018.

No, you’re not making things up. Uploading to instagram can very quickly turn your gorgeous photos into pixelated, grainy, ugly mush.

Instagram is the number one image sharing source on the planet. With BILLIONS of users, this represents a LOT of photos being uploaded. As such, instagram compresses every image to save on the massive amount of space it takes to store so many pictures. The problem is when you upload your high quality images to instagram without the best possible export settings, instagram will take your massive photo files and squish them down to something they feel more reasonable – Often at the expense of your photo quality.

We all want the best possible photo quality on Instagram, and exporting your photos from Lightroom makes this actually pretty easy, once you know the best settings to keep instagram’s compression algorithm from squishing your photos into something unrecognizable.

So lets dive in and check out the best ways to export your photos from Lightroom to Instagram! You can read the tech details here, or watch our video which shows you the best settings without the nitty gritty of what’s going on with instagram’s compression.

Best Image Settings For Instagram Explained

Instagram is all about sharing photography on the go. That’s why its only available on a mobile app. Being an on the go app means it uses data to load those images. Instagram users wouldn’t be very happy if using the app ran through all their data allowances after viewing only a small number of photos, so Instagram works very hard to keep image file size down by restricting the resolution and file size of each image uploaded.

They also have to manage hundreds of MILLIONS of images, so even a small reduction in the size of each image uploaded to instagram means they can store more photos and save a lot of money. In the end, their priority is smaller file sizes over highest image quality.

Makes sense? Of course. But that doesn’t make it ideal for professional photographers looking to post the best possible images to instagram. In the pursuit of the highest possible quality instagram photos, we’ve got to work around instagram’s limitations.

Avoid Image Compression.

It seems counterintuitive, but the smaller the file you upload to instagram, the better. The last thing you want to do is have instagram handle the compression (reducing file size) for you. If you compress your photos in lightroom to the smallest possible size and dimensions, you can control the quality and expect good results without Instagram interfering. Finding the ideal Lightroom and Photoshop export settings is critical. Once you’ve found the export settings in Lightroom that work best for instagram, you can save your settings as an export preset, and future you won’t have to worry about instagram making your photos look terrible any longer! The good news is LOTS of photographers have already done their own tests and research, saving you a ton of time in the process. Here’s EVERYTHING you need to know about exporting photos for instagram from Lightroom (Or photoshop)

Instagram Export Tips #1

Max Resolution for Instagram

On phones with retina displays, Instagram handles your images by displaying them with a max width of 1080px. Some photographers argue portrait images might allow for slightly higher resolution, but going off of Instagram’s current posted info, its best to size your image with a width of 1080px and play it safe. Your photos will still look crisp and awesome on instagram, and that way you’re guaranteeing compression won’t kick in.

Uploading any image with a width over 1080px risks it getting smushed by Instagram’s compression – Remember, we don’t won’t that.

Likewise, if your photo is a landscape image, the length shouldn’t be more than 1080px.


Instagram Export Tip #2

Choose The Best Crop / Aspect Ratio For Instagram

Because most people use instagram on their phones in portrait orientation, you should plan around this when posting photos. Since back in August of 2017 we’ve been allowed to post to instagram with many different Ratios, but we recommend portrait 4×5, as this will take up the ENTIRE screen on a users phone when browsing. So in Lightroom before exporting, crop your images using the 4×5 aspect ratio and you’ll be in the sweet spot.

If for whatever reason you don’t want to export your photos with this setting, Instagram allows 4 native aspect ratios:

  • Square – 1:1 (max length 1200px)
  • Landscape – 1.91:1 (max length 1080px)
  • Portrait – 4:5 (max length (1200px)
  • Versatile – 4:3/3:4 (max length 1200px if portrait, 1080px if landscape)

Lightroom Color Space For Instagram

You may not pay attention to color space when working in Lightroom, but it can make a big difference when uploading to instagram.

Here’s what you really need to know.

There are several options available when exporting images in Lightroom or Photoshop. Web browsers and images like instagram use the sRGB color space. So the short answer is make sure to use this one. If you don’t you might find your photos wind up looking tinted or desaturated when uploaded online.

*By default, Lightroom and Photoshop are normally set to sRGB. If you notice something looking funny when you export and post online, try double checking. But otherwise, you shouldn’t need to mess with color space.*


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Best Lightroom Export Settings For Instagram

Alright, bringing it together, here is the short list of the best possible export settings for instagram in 2018:

  1. Crop your images to one of instagram’s supported aspect ratios. We HIGHLY recommend 4×5
  2. Set your images with a max width of 1080px when exporting for Instagram.
  3. Compress the file size – Set Lightroom’s Quality slider to 76%, which seems to be the sweet spot between file size and image quality for instagram.Compress the file size - Set Lightroom's Quality slider to 76%, which seems to be the sweet spot between file size and image quality for instagram.
  4. Image format should be jpg
  5. Color Space should be sRGB (Set by default, but double check if something looks funny)
  6. Sharpening is up to you, we normally set it to Web – LOW
  7. Pixel Resolution really doesn’t matter –  Leave at 72ppi or set it to whatever you want. The reason for this is that ppi only applies to printed images, not to digital. It won’t make a difference in the image quality online or on instagram.
  8. Save your export settings as a preset, and save a ton of time in the future!Save your export settings as a preset, and save a ton of time in the future!

For more LR Instagram info, check out our other videos for the top 7 ways to export to Instagram from your computer + how to upload directly from Lightroom to Instagram

To download the LR presets used in this video, head to https://shop.signatureedits.com/genes…

Hopefully this helps you get the best quality instagram photos from Lightroom. Instagram is constantly changing their algorithms so keeping up to date with the best instagram image settings for 2018 is important.

For more LR Instagram info, check out our other videos for the top 7 ways to export to Instagram from your computer + how to upload directly from Lightroom to Instagram


Want Epic Free Lightroom Presets?

Try our $27 Genesis Lightroom Presets for FREE.


  • December 18, 2018

    THANK YOU I have been searching for this answer for hours…Literally hours. I am new to LR and was wondering why posting from my mobile app (android) was causing the grid photos to be so pixelated. I’ve been searching on a ton of forums that got super technical, but you broke it down so simply by just saying using the correct ratio in the app. Can’t thank you enough..honestly

  • October 31, 2020
    Benjamin Peres

    Thanks for this helpful article. I was always non-sure about how to do it properly.

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