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. See our Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel here.

For people not using Lightroom check out our Luminar 4 review 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 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!

Ever disappointed with the level of detail in an image? Check out our Topaz Gigapixel AI review to see how you can add retail, megapixels and make your photos bigger!

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.

If you’re looking for the best tablet for photo editing then we recommend 6 here.

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 cataloguing 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 recognise 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 centred. Once done click the share button to send this image to 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. Check out the How to Convert RAW to JPEG with Topaz Raw to JPEG AI.

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!

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