Not Your Everyday Banana

by Bart Arondson

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Every time I upload a photo to facebook I'm disappointed; the photos just look really bad. What size do you recommend, dpi, etc? If it helps, I'm using lightroom.

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closed as too localized by John Cavan Apr 7 '13 at 2:51

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Good question, though I fear they may be nothing you can do - it may depend on Facebook's aggressive JPEG compression settings. Post some examples! –  Reid Jul 15 '10 at 23:16
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Just to note, the resolution that Facebook uses has changed since July 2010. Many of the answers are now incorrect. –  dpollitt Jul 28 '11 at 14:39
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The there's a newer question with updated information. Normally, it's better to refresh the old question, but this one has so many answers that would need to be updated that I'm in favor of just marking this a duplicate of What are the optimal JPEG settings for high-resolution Facebook photos? –  mattdm Oct 3 '12 at 23:38
    
For a newer answer, see What are the optimal JPEG settings for high-resolution Facebook photos? –  mattdm Oct 22 '13 at 21:15
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9 Answers 9

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I use 72 dpi - Resize to fit checked - 720 pixels - Long Edge - Don't Enlarge checked. Sharpen for Screen - High. Quality 100 - sRGB - JPEG.

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I think the most important setting is the "700px long edge" as it probably keeps them from resizing it too much. –  chills42 Jul 15 '10 at 23:31
    
These are Lightroom settings, yes? What is the equivalent "Sharpen for Screen" in Photoshop CS4? –  Jon Jul 28 '11 at 14:39
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Actually Facebook's photo size is 720 pixels on the long edge, not 700. –  Nick Bedford Jul 28 '11 at 22:31
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Facebook apparently applies a low pass filter (slight blur) to your images to make sure they compress better (or at least they used to), and then recompresses them at a higher ratio. The reason for blurring is that for a given jpeg quality (quantization) setting the more fine details you have the higher the filesize ends up being as these high frequency components can't be removed by the jpeg compression algorithm.

I wrote a custom action to prep images for facebook which identifies the out of focus areas, and blurs these whilst increases sharpening of other areas. This works for any system which compresses images to a fixed final filesize, as bits saved from the blurred areas are put to use providing more detail to the important areas!

For photos with a shallow depth of field this dramatically improves the overall quality without increasing the filesize.

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Is there someplace to download this action? –  Jon Jul 28 '11 at 14:40
    
@Jon I'll dig it you when I get a chance and post it here, however it's horrifically slow and inefficient in it's current form (I tend to run it overnight on large image sets) and needs redoing... –  Matt Grum Jul 28 '11 at 16:19
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Facebook's current maximum image viewing size is 720 pixels on the long edge (or both edges for square images.

I export at 100% JPEG quality, 72 DPI (though this is mostly irrelevant), and use Sharpen for Screen - Standard to sharpen them subtly after Lightroom resizes them.

Here is an example of the result that Facebook ends up with a sharp, high dynamic range photograph. Saved from Facebook and re-uploaded to here.

The Monster Goes Rawr

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In this case, DPI is very likely irrelevant. DPI (dots per inch) is about how many pixels in each direction fit in a given physical distance, and that is mostly a function of the user's monitor.

If the picture is, say, 700 px wide, then it will always be 700 px wide regardless of whether the image claims 72 dpi or 300 dpi. A commonly cited number is that monitors have 72 dpi, but I'm not sure how accurate that is these days. Assuming for a second that it is accurate, the 700 px wide image would be 700 px / 72 dpi = about 9.72 inches wide, physically.

The DPI setting of the image might very well matter in desktop publishing software, word processors, and so on, that actually target their output primarily towards print, but I think it's pretty safe to say that web browsers ignore it.

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Why the downvote? The question does include asking about "recommended" DPI values (among other things). –  Michael Kjörling Jul 28 '11 at 14:49
    
Regarding monitor DPI, it's definitely changed these days. My 19" monitor is 10 inches tall and I use it at a 1440 x 900 resolution. 900 pixels by 10 inches gives a dpi of 90. I've heard 72 dpi quoted before, and I think it's an old standard referring to CRT monitors. –  Brian Jul 28 '11 at 22:48
    
I think Macs used 96 dpi for a long time, maybe even from the beginning. It gets even more interesting when you take into account things like web browsers with the now fairly common full-page zoom. Bottom line, when targetting computer screens, I think DPI is, at best, more of a distraction than anything else. Pixel size is much more important in that case. –  Michael Kjörling Jul 29 '11 at 6:27
    
A downvote seems... wrong. But without addressing the actual question and just narrowing in on one point, it's more a comment than an answer. –  mattdm Jul 29 '11 at 19:27
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Facebook has now increased the "long-edge" to 960 and all photos uploaded at 720 are "stuck" at the smaller rez.

Upload at the highest res you can because its most likely Facebook will increase the preview size in the future.

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You should find out how large the image ends up being, and make it that size. That way it won't be resized, which reduces the sharpness.

Try to find out the maximum file size allowed, and adjust the quality setting to get below that size. Otherwise just save at best quality and let them reduce it when uploaded.

The PPI setting (often called DPI) is irrelevant for images that is shown on the screen. They are always sized according to pixels, not inches.

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I'm skeptical - I'd assume that Facebook runs all images through its processing scheme, even if they don't need to be resized. Anyway, this would be easy to test - upload an image and then compare what comes out with what you uploaded. –  Reid Jul 16 '10 at 2:22
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@Reid: It's the resizing that reduces the sharpness. If it's processed but remains the same size, the result is a lot better. –  Guffa Jul 16 '10 at 2:27
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@Guffa, not so facebook recompresses JPEGs at a lower quality setting, and even appears to blur them slightly first to remove noise, or excess detail which would hurt the compression. –  Matt Grum Jul 28 '11 at 14:18
    
@Matt Grum: The JPEG compression also has a blurring effect at lower qualities, which might be what you see. –  Guffa Jul 28 '11 at 14:24
    
@Guffa It's possible, however as you take a sharp image and increase the JPEG compression you more often see a more artifacty result (specifically at block boundaries) rather than just a softer result, which is why I suspect they use a low pass filter first. –  Matt Grum Jul 28 '11 at 16:18
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I usually export at 1440px (longest side), with strong sharpening. This is a 2x oversampling of the 720px that will be visible on the Facebook page. I got the best results this way (better than uploading a sharpened 720px image).

Note that it is a recommended sharpening method, to sharpen an image at exactly twice the final size and then downsize it accordingly. That way you get a very detailed result. The downsampling in this case is done by Facebook itself.

Note that people will be able to download that higher-res 1440px image as it is made available by Facebook (don't know if this can be avoided), and perhaps you don't want to publish that higher resolution image...

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Today -- 2-29-12 -- I was messing around with Facebook's new Timeline conversion, since they're making us go there anyway, and could not get decent image quality AT ALL. What I finally did that seems to have worked really well is created an image that was exactly THREE TIMES the 72 ppi resolution -- 216 ppi -- and I left it at exactly five inches wide. (I wasn't going to screw around with also trying to figure out the physical size aspect.) Anyway, that worked really well and my final main Timeline image looked FAR sharper than it had before. FB definitely does some tweaking to the images we upload; this approach seems to have worked very well. Good luck....

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I am not a photographer but I have experience with images for the web, including uploading images to facebook. It is my experience that what facebook does is resize an image based on the ratio between its KB size and its dimension (similar to what @Guffa said). For example, if an image is 815x315 and under 60kb Facebook wont touch it (at least not that I could notice). But if you upload a 100 kb image with the same dimensions Facebook will run it thru its JPEG compression).

What I do is save it as 72dpi JPEG at 100% quality (optimize checked) then run it thru www.jpegmini.com. So I don't know if @Matt Grum will share his action, but what he is essentially doing is actually the heart of the JPEGmini "trick".

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