Remember the simpler times? When Instagram had one orientation for photos and videos? Publishing your post was as simple as uploading your photo, applying a few filters, adding hashtags, and you were done. However, we live in the era of Instagram Stories, Instagram Live, IGTV, and even Instagram Reels as the latest contender in the sub-platforms list.
Best Image Size for Instagram
Optimizing your content for each format can be a nightmare. Fortunately, we did the research and had an amazing guide for you. So, you can post your content in numerous ways and increase your reach with new followers while increasing engagement with your current follower base.
Image sizes on Instagram
There are several formats to post quality content on Instagram, and remembering all of them is challenging. You can use this cheat table for a glance and decide on the format that suits your photo.
Photos & Videos:
Since Instagram Live and Instagram Reels are both shots vertically, their aspect ratio should be 9:16.
Phew! Glad that’s over, or maybe not?
Sizes of Photo posts on Instagram
During its launch back in 2012, Instagram started with the square aspect ratio of 1:1. After three years of complaints and feedback, Instagram finally allowed its users to upload their beautiful pictures in vertical and horizontal orientations.
While that helps many people, it can be confusing since the wrong orientation may affect the way your pictures get uploaded to the platform and poorly reflect on your follower engagement metrics.
Photo Sizes for Instagram Posts
As you can see on the cheat table above, the ideal size of 1080 by 1080 pixels and the aspect ratio of 1:1 allows you to upload your pictures easily on Instagram. The feature of square cropping exists on many apps and on Instagram itself. Moreover, the iOS camera is designed to click square photos.
If you want to upload portrait pictures, the ideal resolution is 1080 by 350 pixels. However, the ideal aspect ratio is 4:5. If you upload something that exceeds that aspect ratio, for instance, 9:16 (The native aspect ratio supported by Snapchat), then you’ll be prompted for a crop. The same principle holds for horizontal or landscape photos where the ideal aspect ratio is 1.91:1, and the ideal resolution is 1080 by 608 pixels.
If you want to upload your image’s full size without cropping it to a square, you need to tap on the icon that looks like expanding arrows at the bottom left corner of your picture. That automatically adjusts your photo to the maximum aspect ratio in either portrait or landscape mode. Moreover, to crop it within that aspect ratio, you can pinch your photo to zoom in or out.
However, if you exceed the ideal aspect ratio of Instagram, black borders would automatically appear on the sides. If your followers are browsing Instagram in the dark mode, they may not notice it. However, those who do see the borders won’t be pleased with it. Hence, it is better to stick to the ideal aspect ratio of Instagram or upload your photos consistently with the same aspect ratio. Otherwise, followers may be distracted from scrolling through your mind-blowing clicks and edits.
Instagram image sizes impact on photo quality
By now, you may have noticed a pattern. Irrespective of the orientation or aspect ratio, Instagram wants you to upload your pictures with a width of 1080 pixels. That may as well be the culprit. When you upload an image that exceeds the width limit of 1080 pixels, Instagram compresses your pictures automatically. The compression engine of Instagram isn’t as good as the editing apps on your phone or computer.
That becomes more apparent when you upload images with 4K or higher resolution, and they go through extreme compression on the app. Your stellar high-quality images appear distorted on Instagram after they get uploaded and go through extreme compression. The same holds for the lower width limit of 320 pixels. When you upload images that have lesser width than 320 pixels, your images get expanded and pixelated.
Instagram image compression
Even when you upload images on Instagram in the ideal resolution, it doesn’t mean your images don’t get compressed. When you upload an image or video on Instagram, it gets stored in various sizes. The image that gets displayed on the app and the web will be smaller than your original photo.
So, even when you abide by 1080 pixels, the image gets compressed and displayed on a smaller size. This is done so that the servers can handle millions of images and show them on your phone with minimal downtime.
Does that mean image size is irrelevant? Nope! When you upload images at the optimal resolution and Instagram’s aspect ratio guidelines, your images get compressed without any adverse effect on quality. The square image you uploaded with 1080 by 1080 pixels resolution may get compressed to 598.02 by 598.02 pixels, but it would look as good as your original image.
Instagram Carousel Posts
Images or videos you upload in Instagram carousel posts may be in any orientation you want. However, the first photo or video rules, everything else. All the other photos or videos in your carousel post will be automatically cropped to the aspect ratio of the first picture or video. If the first image is in 4:5 format, the rest of your content will be in the same format. You need to curate your content carefully before you do carousel posts.
Well! That was a lot to digest. However, if you are ever confused, glance at the cheat table and stick to those aspect ratios and resolutions. You don’t need to bother about Instagram stories too much since the size guidelines aren’t as strict on your regular posts.