How to Upload High Quality Photos to Instagram

Instagram is becoming more and more of an artist’s platform than a daily life sharing platform. When you search through Instagram, the quality of photos they are improving all the time. If you aren’t up with the game you will be left behind. This of course excludes celebrities who can pretty much do whatever they like and get rewarded for it.

how to upload pictures to instagram from a computer

To compete with the best you need to learn how to upload high-quality photos to Instagram. Smartphone cameras are getting better and better each year. While they are good, there is really no substitute for a camera with a large sensor to capture all that detail. I use a canon 5d mark iii for most of my images but any mirrorless camera is an improvement over your smartphone. The secret is in the editing!

Chances are if you like posting to the Instagram app you probably are interested in a mirrorless camera for travel or perhaps you’re looking to go old school and want to try using a 35mm camera again.

For people not using Lightroom check out Luminar NEO for a one-time payment editing software. If you just want what you searched for and want me to give you what you asked for, then scroll past this first picture and get started! 

If you’re looking for a 35mm film camera, then check out our top picks of the Best Film Cameras here!

upload photos from camera to instagram

Instagram is becoming more and more of an artist’s platform than a “daily life” sharing platform. The quality of photos posted to Instagram is improving all the time. As attention spans dwindle, you will be quickly left behind if you aren’t up with the game. This, of course, excludes celebrities who can pretty much do whatever they like and get rewarded for it, sorry Kylie.

ben kepka instagram profile


The aim: To Upload High-Quality Photos to Instagram

I will teach you my workflow of how to upload DSLR to the Instagram app. Your camera doesn’t even need to have WiFI or NFC. You can check out my Instagram here, or click the image above. Feel free to shout out your account in the comments below and I will ensure to check you out!

Why is this an issue? The Instagram app is a unique platform that will only let you upload photos from a mobile platform. You can comment and like images from the web but uploading must be done from a mobile platform. So it requires a little bit of a workaround to get the high image quality pictures uploaded.

You can also post images taken with a wide-angle or telephoto lens. These images instantly stand out as they are obviously not taken with the standard iPhone camera. If you want to take it a few steps further, you need to learn how to sell photos on instagram!

ben kepka shooting film photography with Leica M6

What you will need:

  • Camera
  • Laptop / Desktop
  • Smartphone / Tablet
  • Dropbox / Google Drive

DSLR into Lightroom Workflow

Before you begin…

If you don’t have Dropbox or Google Drive then set this up now. Install the apps on both your computer and mobile device. This will ensure all our photos edited on a tablet are available in both places. Plus they are both free and you will find yourself using them a lot. It is the easiest and best way to get those photos from the camera to Instagram.

Link to download Dropbox     Link to download Google Drive

How to Upload Photos From DSLR To Instagram

Create an Instagram folder within your new Dropbox or Drive folder. This is where you will store all your final photos ready for publishing.

shooting photos with a canon 5d mark iii

Step One:

Take your photo. Remember to consider that Instagram is a 1:1 aspect ratio platform natively. So decide now if you want to shoot with the intention of cropping square. Instagram also accepts a 5:4 aspect ratio (or 4:5 aspect ratio) crop for vertical images (very popular). This will save you having to make editing sacrifices later. If you don’t want to shoot in a square aspect ratio then don’t worry we can use those regular photos.

Step Two:

Make sure to connect your camera to your computer via USB cable or card reader and upload your photo. Import into your photo editing software of choice. I use Lightroom for image cataloging and basic editing.

editing photos for instagram in lightroom

Step Three:

Make sure to edit your photo. This is an important step in the workflow. It is important that you keep a consistent style across your Instagram app feed. This will help make sure people recognize that the image is from you. I am currently conducting research into what works on Instagram and what doesn’t. This will lead to a future blog post to help you improve your Instagram performance.

If you’re looking for a computer that fits your editing needs, see our Best Computer For Photo Editing here.

square cropping images for instagram in lightroom

Step Four:

Determine what aspect ratio you want your photos in. Instagram is a native 1:1 (square aspect ratio) platform but it is possible to use photos at other dimensions. This just involves another step (make sure to see below).

upload images from camera to instagram

Step Five:

Export your photo at a smaller resolution. The largest image size that Instagram will accept is 2048 px on the longest side. I generally output them at 1920 px on the longest side and have not had any troubles to date. Ensure that the final JPG is exported to your Instagram folder on Dropbox or Drive. 

Note: A lot of other people are recommending you make sure to use 1080 pixels as the best quality max aspect ratio for the Instagram app. I have found this to work on other social media platforms but for the best quality on Instagram see my Lightroom export settings below:

image quality settings for lightroom

moving images from google drive to camera roll

Step Six:

Once the file has synced with the cloud then make sure you pick up your mobile device and open up the Dropbox or Drive app. With android, you can share the image directly to Instagram or the app in step eight. But, with iOS, you have to save the image to your camera roll first. If so do this now.

crop images with borders for instagram

Step Seven:

If you want to use an image that is in another format other than 1:1 (Square aspect ratio) then you will need to add borders to the image. I recommend downloading and installing this app for Android or this app for iPhone. These will allow you to output a square photo with your image nicely centered. Once done click the share button to send this image to the Instagram app.

how to add hash tags to images in instagram

Step Eight

Share this image to Instagram, add your sweet, witty comment and your hashtags then you are done.

That is too much work!!!

I bet you have read this article and are thinking, “Ben that is way too much work!”.

I say: don’t be lazy! It really isn’t. While setting it up can be daunting initially, it is simple once you get it going. Ask yourself: What do you do with the images from your camera now? If you already process your photos and store them on your laptop you are halfway there.

Just change the storage location of your final images from your laptop to Dropbox or Google drive. This gives you a backup in the cloud! All major cloud storage options provide easy ways to share through social media. Pretty much no downside! Soon you can go straight from your camera to Instagram.

Sit down and edit a bunch of photos on your laptop. You can walk around with your phone and drip feed the photos to your social networks. This lets you build a following and improve your chances to stand out from the Instagram noise. Even while you are commuting or on the toilet! Don’t lie you do it.

ben kepka london skyline


Once you have tried this workflow add #culturedkiwi to your image. Also, drop a link to your Instagram account in the comments below to show off your pictures. This will help you build your following, as these will remain there for the life of this article.

If you’ve ever taken a JPEG by mistake and wanted to convert it to a RAW then Topaz have a great piece of software where you can edit JPEGS as if they are raw images. 

I have been shooting 35mm slide film exclusively on the Canon F1, it has been a dream! If you want to know more about 35mm slide films, then check out our full 35mm Slide Film Guide here!

To get in direct contact with me send me a message on Instagram @benkepka or Facebook. I answer every question sent to me and love the opportunity to connect with the audience. Thanks for reading!

When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission.

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87 thoughts on “How to Upload High Quality Photos to Instagram”

  1. Interesting to see how others do it, I edit then email them to myself before saving to my iPhone. Plus I shoot a lot of square format film so I have the development and scanning process to add. It is worth it I think. I quite like the idea of shooting film specifically for Instagram. @moveleftslightly.

    Thanks for taking the time to post this up.

  2. Great article! I already had a similar workflow but I learnt a number of handy tips here which I will be implementing immediately! Mainly instead of emailing photos to myself I will be using dropbox, don’t know why I hadn’t done this sooner actually…

    Have a look at my insta if you are interested:

    Thanks again!

  3. Have you tried younity for uploading to IG? I found it a couple months ago and really love how it handles my LR catalog, but it also gives access to all your photos on your computer if you don’t use Lightroom. It has built-in Instagram intergration so going from LR to IG is just a matter of opening up the app on your phone and hitting "share"!

  4. I shoot with a Eos 7D and edit in lightroom on the worlds crappiest internet connection … I just want to upload once …to instagram , FB and any other social media/photo sites I choose … instagram seem to be going out of their way not to move into Flickr’s space by making it so awkward to get great pics on there

  5. Does anyone have suggestions for other popular platforms that support FTP/browser upload for photos that does not claim copyright even if you have to pay 5-25 bucks a year to host photos and does not need a bloody mobile phone to upload the photos

  6. Jerome P. Almonte

    How to crop photos without reducing its resolution/quality? Even if I put a border, it reduces its quality.


  7. Neelika Choudhury

    thank you this is a cool idea. I usually airdrop the image and then upload it. But this is a cleaner work flow. @neelika

  8. Great advice! I’m in the process of choosing a beginner DSLR although my Samung takes amazing photos. The zoom and low light pics really suffer. Thanks for the hints. My IG @drlisaallen.

  9. When I upload my photo it is still blurry when I try to zoom in on instagram? But when I zoom in on my phone or in photoshop elements the picture has much more information.

    Can you please help me?

  10. Thanks for the article!
    What I have been doing is using a mobilite backup device from Kingston, and I put the sd card in it, view the dslr image on my iphone, then screenshot the image. I am sure there is image degredation and its not as perfect as what you suggested, but it does work quickly! Hope that helps someone.

    If you are into ancient ruins, culture, and want to see travel done on the cheap… check out my channel "Graysdir"! Thanks!

  11. Thanks a heap Ben, super simple super clear guide. I’ve recently
    bought my first camera (Canon 7D) and am reading up on / practicing
    as much as I can before I road trip the Western U.S. in a few weeks.
    I didn’t think my previous uploads using iPhone 5 camera were going
    to do the scenery justice.

  12. Thanks so much for the pointers! I also am doing a huge road trip and didn’t want to rely on my old cell cam to capture the sights. Follow me for travel, nature, and other randomness. @a.travelling.surge

  13. Hi Ben

    A very useful article indeed. I have one slight issue which I still haven’t figured out. When I upload a photo on IG (thru’ dropbox), the image gets cropped or zoomed and in some cases loses the composition. Case in point is the latest flat lay image I posted on my account ( In this case the flat lay picture from my dslr was way zoomed out but then lost the effect when I uploaded on IG. Any suggestions when you get a quite moment? Ta.

  14. Guess I’m a bit late to the party. Great article! I am looking to buy my very first DSLR. I have zero experience with photo editing softwares, I’ve been editing my images on my iPhone. My insta if you want to check out is @

  15. I am probably one in a million people that do NOT want to have anything to do with a smartphone. I have a 15-20-year old Motorola that serves me as a telephone and that’s all I need it to do. It’s small and fits nicely in a belt pouch. I really hate the idea that instagram has introduced, that the platform is only addressing the needs of casual point-and-shoot photographers. I am using expensive and sophisticated gear to make real photos and not what would look like a Polaroid shot! I have seen masterpieces shot with smartphones but that is far from being the rule. Isn’t there really a software application intended for PCs or laptops that can bypass all this procedure that I even have difficulties understanding on account of the smartphone terminology I am not even familiar with?

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