Best Lightroom export settings for Instagram

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by David Em
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When you’re exporting images from Lightroom to Instagram, the most important settings to consider are aspect ratio and width. Here’s what and how to do it.

Screenshot of the Lightroom software.

Best Instagram aspect ratio

Before exporting your photo, you need to know what the best image sizes are for Instagram.

Related: Instagram image size guide

Currently, the best Instagram aspect ratio’s are 1.91:1 for horizontal images and 4:5 for vertical images. Of course, you can crop the image as a square or 1:1.

As far as width, Instagram recommends 1080 pixels wide.

Photo OrientationAspect Ratio
Square1:1
Vertical (Portrait)4:5
Horizontal (Landscape)1.91:1

Image resolution

The longest side of a vertical image can go up to 1,350 pixels on the Retina display, and the longest side for horizontal images is up to 1,080 pixels.

If you upload a photo wider than 1080 pixels, Instagram will automatically resize the image for you. This causes a loss in image quality which makes it look grainy or slightly blurry.

Related: 35mm vs. 50mm: Which prime lens is better?

If you share a photo at a lower resolution, Instagram will enlarge it to a width of 320 pixels automatically. This can cause your image to appear blurry because it’s enlarging a low-resolution image.

By following these guidelines, you can stop Instagram from ruining your photo quality and share great photos.

Related article: How to choose a camera battery

Color space

Color space is also known as a color model or color system. It defines a range of colors and in photography, these are the colors that your camera can capture.

Arrow pointing at sRGB color space.
Photo: Wikipedia

When you go to your camera’s settings, you’ll see sRGB and Adobe RGB. RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. All of the colors created in RGB are a combination of these colors.

sRGB is the default on your camera and is what all online colors are built around. It was created by HP and Microsoft in 1996 to use on monitors, printers, and the Internet.

The benefit of using sRGB is that regardless of where you upload the image, it’ll remain the same.

Related: Loop lighting guide for portrait photography

Adobe RGB is the other option and was created by Adobe Systems, Inc. in 1998 with the purpose to use the same colors that could be achieved with CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key which is Black) printers.

Although Adobe RGB has a larger color space, sRGB is more widely accepted which makes for a simple workflow. Adobe RGB should be used if it was specifically requested as it’s usually better for printing and needs to be converted to sRGB for the Internet.

Below, you can see where to change the color space setting in Lightroom when you export the image:

Color space export setting in Lightroom.
Color space file setting in Lightroom.

How do I change the crop?

Changing the crop to the right aspect ratio is essential to make sure your entire image is shown when you upload it. To change your aspect ratio crop, take the following steps:

Instructions to change aspect ratio in Lightroom.
How to crop an image in Lightroom.

Take the following steps to crop an image in Lightroom:

  1. Click on the dotted box on the right or press ‘R’ on your keyboard.
  2. Next to aspect click 4 x 5 for vertical or Enter Custom for horizontal.
    1. Change the aspect ratio to 1.91 x 1 if you clicked “Enter Custom…”
  3. Adjust the image to your liking.
  4. Press enter.
  5. Export

How to adjust the width

When you’re exporting images from Lightroom to Instagram, make sure you’re exporting the image with a width of 1080 pixels. This will ensure you get a high-quality image.

Screenshot of Lightroom export settings.

Take the following steps to export images from Lightroom:

  1. Right-click your image.
  2. Hover over Export.
  3. Click Export.
  4. Scroll down to image sizing.
  5. Make sure the drop-down says Width & Height.
  6. Next to “W:” type in 1080 which is the width.
  7. Delete anything that’s next to “H:”, which stands for height.
  8. Make sure the drop-down next to height says pixels.
  9. Click Export.

Conclusion

Here’s a brief summary of the best export settings from Lightroom to Instagram:

  • File type: JPG
  • Color Space: sRGB
  • Resolution: 96 pixels per inch
  • Quality slider: 76
  • Aspect ratio and width
    • Square is 1:1 (1080 x 1080 pixels)
    • Portrait is 4:5 (1080 x 1350 pixels)
    • Landscape is 1.91:1 (1080 x 566 pixels)

More resources:

Featured photo by David Em/Portraits Refined.

About David Em

David Em.

David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.

About Portraits Refined

Portraits Refined (PR) is a media company that publishes the latest expert-backed portrait photography tips, in-depth camera gear reviews, and helpful advice to grow your photography business.

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