Facebook and Image Quality

Search for “Facebook photo specs,” and the results will definitely underwhelm you. Knowing the limits of any graphic communication system is a critical specification, one that many social media sites poorly publish and document. Facebook is no different––search for “photo specs” or “image requirements,” and you will find nothing of any official or concrete value. Facebook does not clearly document image specifications for any of its three desktop-based image upload options (email, simple upload, and batch upload).

In September 2010, Facebook announced the availability of high-resolution image uploads. While the ability to upload and download high-resolution images is great, many users are capturing images on mobile devices from image censors that average 1536 x 2048 pixels.

A test conducted by UtterlyOrange in April 2011 using the Facebook email image upload application to submit a high-resolution (4762 x 3104 at 72 ppi) sRGB JPG file yielded the following results:

Original
Image Width (px) Height (px) ppi
001

4672

3104

72

002

100

66

72

003

4762

3104

300

004

1000

664

200

Facebook Download
Image Width (px) Height (px) ppi
001

2048

1361

72

002

100

66

72

003

2048

1361

72

004

1000

664

72

Facebook Preview
Image Width (px) Height (px) ppi
001

720

478

72

002

100

66

72

003

720

478

72

004

720

478

72

Images uploaded without selecting the high-resolution upload option that were over 2048 x 1361 pixels were down-sampled to an image with a maximum of 2048 x 1361 pixels for downloading and a 720 x 478 pixel preview.

Storage space is cheap these days, but with organizations capturing, storing, and archiving hundreds of thousands of images per day, knowing the boundaries of a system can allow greater storing efficiency.

What does this mean for you?

Uploading images larger than 720 x 478 pixels is unnecessary. Based on current Facebook upload specs, high-res images don’t provide any further value unless the end user plans to download the image.

Author: John Carew

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One response to “Facebook and Image Quality

  1. Thanks, that was very helpful. I don’t upload large numbers of photos to Facebook anymore – too many weird stories about people’s photos turning up in strange places. I trust the copyright on Flickr a bit more, and with a pro account you can view your images at original size.

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