Raise your hands if you have ever been excited to share a fabulous image on Facebook only to be disappointed once its loaded. It barely resembles the original image you created, the colors are washed out, and it looks horribly over sharpened. How many times have you quickly deleted the image so you could rework it, only to upload it and not have it look any better? How many times have you then just left it up and apologized for the terrible things Facebook seems to do to your images? Then, a little over a year ago we were told to try saving the image as a PNG instead of JPEG. What? It's true! Let's explain why this works, and why it is better if you want to share images on Facebook that actually look good. JPEG images are automatically compressed when we save them. So, when we upload those images to Facebook they have already been compressed once by us. Then Facebook does its own resizing and compresses them again. These images have now been compressed twice. Most often leaving them looking dull, and either over sharpened (crunchy) or really soft. It rarely ever looks like the image you originally intended to share. PNG (24-bit) images, on the other hand, use lossless compression. This means your image is not degraded when saved and will maintains its quality. Facebook will do its thing to these images too, but at the end of it all they are only compressed the one time. Keep in mind though, PNG files are larger than JPEGs (remember, they are uncompressed) so, be sure to use a strategically placed watermark. Current Facebook guidelines for page cover photos are 851px wide and 315px tall. Uploading a image that is smaller than this will result in the image being stretched to fit these dimensions. Yes, these guidelines are for the cover images but, we find that keeping the long side of ANY photo we share on Facebook at 851px and saving as a PNG (with little to no extra sharpening) works perfectly and the image ends up looking just as it was originally intended to be viewed.
Here's the How-To:
1. Start with a sRGB image. This is important. RGB images look washed out when posted online.
2. Resize your image.
3. Save your image as a PNG. We find that any extra sharpening is rarely needed, but if you feel your image is a little sharp try using "smart sharpen" and set it to a radius of .5px at 20-30%.
Comparison. These are close up screenshots of this image posted on Facebook. The image on the left was saved as a JPEG and the one on the right was saved as a PNG. There is clearly a huge difference between the two. The JPEG image looks crunchy and hard. The extra compression on the JPEG image really does a number on how soft and natural the color and texture of her skin looks in comparison to the PNG image.
We hope this helps you put your best foot forward on Facebook! There are likely various ways to upload images to Facebook that keeps them looking great but, this works wonderfully for now. That is, until Facebook changes everything again.
*Special thanks to Bowes Photography for the lovely image.