How To Upload High Quality Photos to Facebook And Fix A Common Mistake

We've all been there, we work so hard preparing, shooting, editing or whatever it may be when we're involved in taking photos. After everything is finished and the photos look amazing, we cannot wait to share our photos to the world. But are they the highest quality possible?

Too often as I scroll through Facebook, I see photographers, model, makeup/hair stylists, etc sharing their hard work... all to be left with compressed and rather pixilated photos. It is well documented that Facebook "destroys" or compresses image quality when uploaded to the platform. So what is the root to this problem?

Exporting Photos from Lightroom for Facebook 

The root of this problem is better known as "compression artifacts." While we all enjoy the ease of posting unlimited images free of charge to our friends and followers, Facebook compresses their images in order to reduce file size, hence save bandwidth space.

Since you're probably already aware of this issue, how do we overcome this? After experimenting with different uploading methods to the platform, I've found a solid export preset on Lightroom that I use on a daily basis. Before I share the preset I've made for Lightroom, I’d like to make clear that there are multiple ways to get to the same desired result of high quality photos for Facebook. This is simply the method I’ve found more suitable for my workflow.

The key here is set the pixels to the longest side at 2048 px. This is what Facebook considers the "high quality" dimensions when uploaded to their platform. I have read in other places that setting your "Quality" option at 60 renders good results, but from what I have found, setting at 100 works fine. The final crucial setting is the "Color Space," setting at sRGB is important because if the Color Space option is set to a different color profile, you may see color shifts when exported.

An additional method I found useful was from photographer, Erich Caparas, and how he exports his photo from Photoshop. 

Another GREAT resource from here at Fstoppers is Nino Batista's in-depth article from last year about how he experimented uploading his photos to Facebook and how to render great results! 

Uploading Photos to Facebook

Now that we've exported our photos via Lightroom, what is a common mistake to avoid when uploading to Facebook? Simple. Post your images from your desktop or laptop opposed to your mobile device. 

Below is a comparison of the same image file, one uploaded from my desktop and the other uploaded from my iPhone onto Facebook. Look closely, can you see the difference? 

There's a significant difference in size when uploading from your phone vs. uploading from your computer. The smaller photo was uploaded from my mobile device onto Facebook, while the larger, crisper photo was uploaded from my desktop. These images were both at 100% and untouched.

The difference between sharpness quality is night and day. Even though most photographers upload from their desktops, I see this all too common from other team members involved in the creative process. Just make sure to make a friendly reminder on why this is important. We all work very hard on creating the best imagery as possible; we shouldn't leave out the presentation of our work as part of that process. 

Do you have your own method use? Share your thoughts!

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55 Comments

Jordan Randall's picture

I got sick of Instagram doing something similar to my photos so I eventually tinkered around and came up with 2000 pixels on the long edge, good to see I got pretty close to this on my own!

Although: "Even though most photographers upload from their desktops..." how? I've seen articles about this but they always seem to center around the same workflow in the end anyway, getting images to your phone.

Nick Pecori's picture

The quote that you referred to from the article was regarding uploading to Facebook, not Instagram. Thanks for reading! -Nick

Jordan Randall's picture

Ah yeah good point

Stepan Maxa's picture

But Instagram's default size is now 1800 px

Jordan Randall's picture

Good to know, I was just eyeballing things and got close enough with the 2k I'd say :). But I'll try 1800 and see what that looks like now

Sergio Vavilchencoff's picture

Instagram's resolution is actually 1080

Stepan Maxa's picture

Sorry, my mistake, mistype

Nicolas Racine's picture

The article talks about Facebook, not Instagram...

Dr. Dominik Muench's picture

Its also much better to use PNG files instead of Jpeg: http://havecamerawilltravel.com/photographer/sharp-text-facebook-image

Nick Pecori's picture

Thanks for the resource Dominik!

Mike Dee's picture

That video of Erich Caparas: he suggests using "assign profile" when mentioning srgb. That's just plain wrong, when assigning srgb to an argb file you just get the same color shift which you would get from posting argb files on the web. You should use CONVERT to profile instead.

Kyle Ford's picture

Exactly this. If you assign, it's just like the browser interpreting the colorspace incorrectly.

Peter Mueller's picture

Actually he DOES convert the profile. That is what I saw in the video.

Rui Bandeira's picture

I now prefer not to have images uploaded to Facebook...
Let's face it... I prefer having tragic on my site instead of having tragic on Facebook, so I upload the images to my site, on the blog page and I share the link to it on Facebook, users will see one image on the post and they will be redirected to my site.

Anders Madsen's picture

Agreed, but that just opens an almost just as nasty can of worms: How to crop an image on your website so Facebook doesn't perform additional cropping and presents a thumbnail with parts of your original image missing.

Considering that the crop may be different on mobile and desktop devices, that quickly turns just as ugly as resizing and compressing an image for posting directly on Facebook...

Rui Bandeira's picture

I crop the images with 1200px on the larger side and it works fine for me.
If I font like how Facebook presents the thumbnail I will make one image just for the Facebook sharing.
You can check it out on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/ruibandeirafotografia

Scott S's picture

That all depends on what your analytics say. In general, my research shows links get far less engagement than photos posted with a link pasted into the post. Not all people are this way obviously since there are outliers, but it's important to also measure how different forms of content drive engagement and click throughs to your ultimate goal for your website.

Tor Ivan Boine's picture

True. But I measure this as how many really cares about the image. it's easier to "like" an image on facebook than to click the link. So they who really want to see the image, will click the link. That's one way to measure "real" engagement.

Scott S's picture

True. I guess my research just tends to find that the display of an image with a link inserted is more preferable than a link in general. Therefore, it's important to maximize any potential advantages for a photograph :). The big thing is that we're all paying attention to the metrics, so good job :)

Jay Huron's picture

I did that for awhile and got A LOT less views/likes/etc. (engagement) FB is a jerk like that. Not only do they limit your content views (especially page posts) but it's even less if it's not something you directly posted to FB. (with out paying for views of course)

Rui Bandeira's picture

for me it works.
first Facebook is not were most os my new clients come from, the new clients usualy come from my web site and google seartch, i ask to almost all new clients were they found me...
but also i see that whem i share these links in to my facebook page i get lots of vizits to my site coming from facebook...
so for now its working fine for me

Tor Ivan Boine's picture

"they limit your content views"
Now why do you think they do that? I have liked almost 2000 pages since I joined facebook. How on earth can I see every update from all those pages every time I log on? So of course not every post is getting a view from every follower ;)

Sada Domonkos's picture

@Nick Pecori : 100% jpeg compress dont work ... facebook always resize jpg and pngs too to ~78% jpeg compression level.
Just upload a black to white gradient test image and you will see....

David Oakill's picture

You should not have to do all this to get a decent image posted. Most people don't have the ability or technical skill to do this. These companies need us more than we need them. When do we stop creating work-arounds for things that don't work the way they should out of the box.

Ben .'s picture

You guys posted an article only a few weeks back that was your "social media cheat sheet" that had all the info you need to resize for all social media aspects. The info in that contradicts the info in this. For example, facebook according to that facebook requires 2000px long edge yet this article says 2048.
So which of these supposedly has the correct information?

Tor Ivan Boine's picture

I post my images at 1000px on facebook, and 4000px on google+.

Adam Żyśko's picture

I personally use 1920px for Facebook uploads, exporting from Lightroom as PNG file, with Magic Export plug-in. No problem with image quality loss.

Kristaps Bardzins's picture

Clients usually prefer smaller file sizes. I set quality to 85 and it's fine, Facebook compress more than that anyways. I have also tried 60 without noticable quality issues. Photographylife has more detailed article on quality and resizing for facebook. When uploading image with text, .png is best. Facebook also accepts TIFF, but I haven't tried that yet.

Jay Huron's picture

Sorry, but there's no night and day to that phone vs. desktop. The phone is slightly lighter and cropped a bit different, but that's all I see. The eye is sharp in both. There's a bit of extra artifact in the phone, but I had to look really close to see it. It's more like a noon and 1 o'clock difference. :P

Nick Pecori's picture

This is only noticeable from viewing on a desktop. There is a big difference in sharpness. When I opened both mobile and desktop photos into Photoshop, the mobile upload was significantly smaller than the desktop upload.

Chet Meyerson's picture

Long side of 2048 has proven the best. However, 240 dpi is not necessary as 72 dpi is what the computer will display. Flie size will be considerably smaller as well. 240 is only of you are going to print (and then 300 dpi is recommended).

Ernie Basciano's picture

240 ppi @ 2048px is exactly the same as 72ppi @ 2048px. Browsers do not see ppi. it is total pixels that count.

Simpson Tien's picture

Great post, sorry if this is a stupid question, but has anyone had issues with uploading their photos to their mobile then to Instagram and losing colour? I upload it through Google Drive, or email the photo to myself, but when I upload the image to Instagram, the colours either go faded, lose contrast or go funky

Nick Pecori's picture

Have you color calibrated your screen?

Magnus Johansson's picture

I've done exactly as the author when i publish my pictures on Facebook. It works great. But to publish from your desktop not from your iPhone.

Nick Pecori's picture

Great to hear!

Sebastiano Del Gobbo's picture

No way! I'll never post a 2000 pixel sized image on a social! People can easily print it or use it in their commercial works. And just to gain some sharpness! No, thanks!

Nick Pecori's picture

Sebastiano, while I can see where you are coming from, there is a difference between "High Quality" and "High Resolution". I keep my high resolution photos safe and sound. Thanks for reading!

Sebastiano Del Gobbo's picture

Nick, I can understand the difference but... If you print a 2000 pixels sized image you can obtain a maximum quality 6.6 inches print. 13.2 inches at 150 DPI! Of course, if you print an "High quality" image, you'll get better result!

Nick Pecori's picture

Yea, I definitely understand your perspective. Posting photos on the web is a double edged sword, you just have to take the good with the bad. I've seen my photos on social media without my consent or credit. It is very aggravating, but it's just the nature of the beast and it's up to the photographer to decide what's best for them.

Sebastiano Del Gobbo's picture

I agree, Nick!

Ernie Basciano's picture

One of my largest concerns with putting photos on FB is image theft. I watermark all my images but try not to ruin the image by doing so. Usually I will fade my watermark to make it less obtrusive.

That being said, there are few people out there using screen resolution of higher than regular HD. (1920x1080) The actual viewable screen size for a photo in FB is even smaller, especially in the vertical orientation. So if the max size a photo can be viewed is about 850px tall, why the heck would anyone upload images that are 2048px tall for vertical when 850 would view the same (or better) ? Downsizing of images reduces sharpness. Why leave that up to FB? Why upload images that are large enough people can actually print a decent 8x10 from when they steal the image?

The whole 2048px on the long side thing is total overkill and just helping people to steal your images. I upload at 1200px wide or 850px tall and they still look fine at full screen. (and are much harder to steal and get a print from)

I would also like to add that since FB is very concerned about file size for photos because they handle billions of them, why upload an image that is over 2x as large as it can be viewed for vertical images? uploading big files like that are more likely to make FB want to compress images even more, making it worse for everyone.

I am all for image quality, but don't lose sight of common sense. If you are uploading a vertical image at 2048px you are wasting image quality and encouraging FB to use even more compression in the future.

My perfect solution would be for FB to offer a photographer option where I can pay $40 per year and upload images up to regular HD size without any compression.

Paul Shoopman's picture

I don't upload directly to Facebook because you open yourself up to photo theft. I upload to my website on Zendolio and share the link. Isn't the whole point of Facebook to get more traffic to your own website?
I only share snapshots on Facebook.

Randy Smith's picture

Do I see a difference? Yes. But 99.9% of people looking at photos on their phones while on instagram or Facebook will not notice.

Nick Pecori's picture

Actually...it's 47% FB users who only use mobile :)

Michael Clark's picture

Just because the other 53% *sometimes* use non-mobile devices to access fb doesn't mean they use them more often then they use mobile devices. What's the percentage that *only* use desktops? I bet it's a *lot* less than 47% that *only* use mobile!

Sergio Vavilchencoff's picture

Nice portrait Nick

John Jowett's picture

The post is very helpful but isn't it much easier to upload with the convenience of the Facebook publishing service in Lightroom rather than first exporting a file to the desktop? If you right click the Facebook service, you can adjust the export size and quality and get the same result, as far as I can see.

Justin Thiel's picture

I noticed after some tests that uploading an image to a Facebook Album in "High Quality" and the exact same image uploaded to the Timeline, both downloaded as the exact same file. All details and sizes were exactly the same. I thought the "High Quality" option in Albums was supposed to be better?

Binky Bass's picture

What happens to Flickr uploads? Same deal?

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