This article was last updated in January 2016.

Everybody’s complaining

It seems that everywhere I turn I see photographers complaining about the quality of their images when posted to Facebook.

Yes, we all know that Facebook compresses our images, and yes, it does damage their quality a bit. But please, let’s put things into perspective.

How many images do you think are being uploaded to Facebook, every minute of every day? Thousands? Millions? Can you imagine the storage space that must be needed for all of those? It’s mind-boggling. Who can possibly blame Facebook for compressing our files a bit?

C’mon folks, let’s cut Facebook some slack. Seriously.

color

Many people complain that Facebook changes the color of their photos.No, it does NOT.

Please go to this page to sort out the issue.

Size

The most common question floating around is “What is the correct size for Facebook images now?”

The answer is: There is no answer. Facebook will show images as big as the viewer’s screen allows, up to the maximum size of the uploaded file.

The largest file that Facebook can store is 2048 pixels. If you upload a file larger than that, Facebook will reduce it to that size.

Anyone who is lucky enough to own a massive 30″ screen will be able to view it at its full 2048px size. For the rest of us, Facebook resizes the image down to fit our screens. A photo will look a certain size on a 1024×768 screen, and a different size on a 1680×1050 screen, etc. It’s clever, sensible programming by Facebook.

If you upload a 1500px image, 1500px is as large as it will display, even on a 30″ screen. If you upload a 200px image, it will only display at 200px, no matter how big the screen. And so on.

Here is a group on Facebook regarding image sizing.

My thoughts

Here’s the question – are you really going to upload your photos at such a large size? I’m saying hell no.

2048 is BIG. Somebody could print an 8×10 out of that if they weren’t too fussy about perfect quality. And in the photography industry, we’re rarelyuploading photos to Facebook for people to print them. No way.

So me, I’m sticking to 720px or 960px (two standard FB sizes). That’s enough pixels for people to see my photo nice and clearly, but not enough to be printable. I see absolutely no reason to upload anything larger than that; and anyway, they upload nice and fast at that small size.

When I upload a 960px file, the largest anyone will be able to view it is at 960px. No matter how big their screen is, 960 is as large as the image will go. That’s fine by me.

AND, here’s the gravy. Since I know exactly what size my images will appear on most people’s screens, I can sharpen them accurately. And when you sharpen accurately, what happens? The quality is better.

Yes indeed. Keep ’em small, and keep ’em nice, I say.

PNG format

Facebook allow us to upload PNG files instead of jpegs, but this only applies to business pages, not personal pages or groups.

This is wonderful. PNG files aren’t compressed, so the quality of images is fantastic. Many people use this format for their biz page images.

However, there are some caveats:

  • If you use Photoshop’s “Save for web & devices” feature, you’ll notice it allows you the choice of PNG-8 or PNG-24. Make sure you use PNG-24. 8bit PNGs are very dotty, like GIFs. Not nice.
  • PNG-24 files are beautiful, but they’re much bigger than equivalent Jpegs. If you use PNG files (either on Facebook or your website) be aware that the load time will be longer. Make sure your potential clients aren’t getting annoyed by having to wait to view your photos. If you’re one of those folk who usually don’t bother resizing your photos down to web size before uploading, you’ll definitely need to change that habit if you switch to PNG format.
  • From what I can tell, if you upload a PNG file bigger than 1MB, Facebook will convert it to a Jpeg. So watch your file size when saving.