Best Image format for Instagram – all image types covered!

You leaned over dangerously on the ledge with your latest mobile device with its high end camera and took an amazingly hi resolution photo for Instagram only to see that the image did not upload to the quality your keen eyes were expecting. If only you had known what the best image format for Instagram was, you wouldn’t have this problem.

So what happened?

You may be trying to upload an image file that is not the best image format for Instagram and the app may be using its algorithm to downgrade your photo’s image quality.

What you need to be doing is using the correct image formats supported by Instagram.

As an artist snapping photos of my own artworks as well as those in art galleries, I’m sometimes left wondering – what went wrong?

Below we will go through the most common questions related to the image formats supported by Instagram.

Upload the best image type without Losing Quality

The best image format for Instagram is .JPG as it can support high resolutions while also being a smaller file size. The second best image format for Instagram is .PNG. It can support high resolutions but at the trade off of a larger file size.

  • Preferred Format for Instagram: JPG, JPEG
  • Instagram Other Supported Formats: JPG, JPEG, PNG, BMP, non-animated GIF
  • Aspect Ratios: 1:1 (Square), 4:5 (Instagram now supports non square images such as Portrait) through to 1.91:1 , 16:9 for Instagram Story
  • Images Resolutions: Min. 150×150, Max resolution: 1920×1080
  • Not allowed: animated GIF files
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash.
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash.

Does Instagram change the quality of your image upload?

It is not a conspiracy theory but more common knowledge and more often than not, if you use Instagram’s preferred image formats, file sizes and resolutions then the app will have no need to change the quality of your uploaded image or video.

Instagram will only change the quality of your image if you step outside these boundaries.

This happens when you try to upload a massive file size or too large a photo, then its algorithm will do its trick and change the quality of your image.

This is to ensure your content can be viewed by the majority of Instagram’s users and keep within their image quality guidelines.

According to Instagram in their own guidelines “When you share a photo on Instagram, regardless of whether you’re using Instagram for iOS or Android, we make sure to upload it at the best quality resolution possible (up to a width of 1080 pixels). 

When you share a photo that has a width between 320 and 1080 pixels, we keep that photo at its original resolution as long as the photo’s aspect ratio is between 1.91:1 and 4:5 (a height between 566 and 1350 pixels with a width of 1080 pixels).

If the aspect ratio of your photo isn’t supported, it will be cropped to fit a supported ratio. If you share a photo at a lower resolution, we enlarge it to a width of 320 pixels.

If you share a photo at a higher resolution, we size it down to a width of 1080 pixels.

If you want to make sure that your photo is shared with a width of 1080 pixels:

  • Download the most recent version of the Instagram app.
  • Upload a photo with a width of at least 1080 pixels with an aspect ratio between 1.91:1 and 4:5.
  • Make sure you’re using a phone with a high-quality camera as different phones have cameras of varying qualities.”

Ensure your photo is 1080 pixel wide and up to 1350 pixels tall. Instagram will reduce any larger photos when you post.

Can you upload RAW (.nef) file format to Instagram?

Though I have never tried myself, my research tells me that the raw files from a DSLR will need to be exported using a third party app or tool, to the pixels to suit the image size you desire:

  • Square Image: 1080px width by 1080px height
  • Vertical Image: 1080px width by 1350px height
  • Horizontal Image: 1080px width by 608px height
Instagram Image Size Guide. Instagram accepted video formats
Instagram Image Size Guide

If you try to export them to anything higher then they are cropped and the Instagram algorithm will start compressing the files.

Don’t forget the Quality Settings on Instagram

Check the quality settings on the Instagram app and ensure that you are saving photos as original photo and your quality settings are not downgrading them.

Now that you know what the best image format for Instagram is, try re-uploading any images you have using these supported formats.

Now that we have covered the best image format for Instagram covered, let’s take a look at the best video formats supported by Instagram.

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