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11-27-2016, 03:26 PM   #1
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LR - best export practices for web/social media

I know many online services (fb, instagram, Flickr, etc....) Will resize and alter images. (For thumbnails, to conserve bandwidth, etc ...)

I'm using a K5 and DA35 macro for product shots, and FA77 for other details and the 'vibe' I do some slight adjustment in LR (exposure/vibrance, etc..) to keep a natural but more pleasing punch and then export

I'm noticing the thumbnails and images look noticeably worse online than in LR ... I'm sure there will always be a slight difference . . . But how I can keep the most control with it, and export correctly?

I export at maximum quality and keep file size to under 5mb (the limit for these online services)

11-27-2016, 03:40 PM   #2
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I always export full-size, full-quality files to Flickr with my K-1, so I'm pretty sure it doesn't have a 5mb limit, same with Facebook and Instagram (though the latter crushes my poor digital files into a shadow of their former selves). Twitter does have a file limit of 5mb, maybe that's what you're thinking of?
11-27-2016, 04:23 PM   #3
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Google is your friend

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet of Photo & Image Sizes on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Other Social Networks [Infographic]
11-27-2016, 05:06 PM   #4
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My internet provider is Frontier DSL. It's OK for downloading and I can stream video just fine but upload speeds are dismal so I downsize everything I upload unless it absolutely has to be full sized. I size my exports at 1000 pixels. I was originally uploading to Picasa which became Google +. Now, I'm uploading to mostly to Facebook. I find that if I size them at the 1000 x 1000 in Lightroom, they look pretty good. Generally, Facebook resizes them for the news feed but if you click on the photo, it loads the size you exported and the shots look very good. Much of what I post in the forum is linked off my Facebook.

11-27-2016, 06:31 PM   #5
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Check the colour space you're using. I shoot in Adobe RGB and it looks terrible online. I still capture in Adobe RGB but for exporting and posting to the web I ensure the file is exported as sRGB.
11-27-2016, 06:34 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tas Quote
Check the colour space you're using. I shoot in Adobe RGB and it looks terrible online. I still capture in Adobe RGB but for exporting and posting to the web I ensure the file is exported as sRGB.
If you use Photoshop, 'Save as...' will retain your working colour space while 'Export as...' will offer to convert sRGB.
11-27-2016, 06:47 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithedreamer Quote
If you use Photoshop, 'Save as...' will retain your working colour space while 'Export as...' will offer to convert sRGB.
Yep, I have Photoshop CS6, not CC and there's an option to 'Save for Web' and this is what I use if exporting from CS6 to post to the web. The OP asked about LR export and there's a drop down menu with the colour space options and if I'm right it will default to the image colour space until you select a different space to export in.
11-27-2016, 06:49 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tas Quote
Yep, I have Photoshop CS6, not CC and there's an option to 'Save for Web' and this is what I use if exporting from CS6 to post to the web. The OP asked about LR export and there's a drop down menu with the colour space options and if I'm right it will default to the image colour space until you select a different space to export in.
Yeah, I'm sure you're right about Lightroom's export. I've been without my Lightroom drive for a few weeks, so I thought I'd share.

11-27-2016, 09:31 PM   #9
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Several matters are at play here.


The best display quality of an image intended for viewing via an Internet browsing session is one that is exported at the resolution that it will subsequently be displayed at in the browser window of your 'average viewer', and with output sharpening being applied at this final resolution ie it will ideally be rendered 1:1 pixel for pixel to avoid on the fly rescaling and quality losses that come from that.


So the first problem is what resolution with the average viewer see the image. And sadly you have already lost control of this:


(1) users use various devices with different screen resolutions Think cheap low res phones through to high end screens hooked to pcs or iMacs. So a viewer's browser will be rendering the photo at different resolutions to address display differences.


(2) the user may set their browser to a zoom level other than 100% again introducing rescaling quality losses.


(3) as the OP notes, Facebook, Google Photos and all make their own decisions regarding what resolution they send the image down to the browser and this can be dynamic so no set 'rules' can be assumed. It is also getting harder to control the resolution of images stored in these sort of apps that are embedded in pages elsewhere eg this forum due to unfriendly revisions to the embedding code for some of these sites (I'm looking at you Google!).


You do have a bit more control if you host your own photo blog as you will come to know the standard image sizes blogs like Wordpress like to use. Provided your resolution selection suits your chosen blog theme and the resultant standard page is no more than the width of the lowest likely common deminator of screen resolutions for your viewing community, you have some reasonable chance of getting the photo rendered pixel for pixel provided the user is not zooming at other than 100%.


If your viewers use device apps rather than browsers to view your photos eg Facebook, Instagram phone apps, you'll need to do you own research on what size images they like to deal with. But unfortunately one size fits all may be elusive.


If the viewer can click through on an image to bring up the image at original resolution, then unless you want the user to be scrolling about to view the image, limit the original to the resolution of the average display you expect users to have, agian whatever that may be!


So , with the above in mind, the next decisions are technical.


(1) sharpen the final image you will be uploading to the net. If using LR's export function, you have two main sharpening options should you export at other than original image size: screen or printing, and amount. Print sharpening is the more aggressive of the two as printing needs a sharper file to start with. Then low, medium or high amounts of sharpening is available under either the screen or printing option. Output sharpening is needed as the process of down-resolving your images for the net re-introduces edge blur as the rescaling tries to align what might have been sharp edges in the full res image to a lot fewer pixels. The Export output sharpening option seeks to address this. If you don't like the export module's sharpening, export without output sharpening, then re-import the lower res file to LR (or other software), manually sharpen to taste, then re-export with unchanged resolution and again output sharpening off. This is more work that I can be bothered with, so my files are typically exported with output sharpening set to screen/medium. For some reason, the print module of LR (which I used for a while to add borders for my net destined photos) in my view renders a noticably poorer image IMO and I now avoid it and just use the Export function.

(2) Export image quality. There is no need to max out the quality setting on the LR export function. LR's export quality settings are a bit weird and do not align at all with the Jpeg quality parameter you can see in file EXIF data. This article summarises it very well: Jeffrey Friedl's Blog An Analysis of Lightroom JPEG Export Quality Settings Basically, a LR Export quality setting of 70 produces perfectly good rendering for most circumstances and with reasonable file size. At this quality setting, the JPEG quality parameter in the EXIF data reports in the 90-95 range which is pretty good. Pushing the LR quaility setting much past 70 just produces an explosion in file size for very little practical gain for online viewing. I might go to a high quality setting for a file intended for a large print but that is another topic.


So what do I do?


For images intended for my blog, I export 1200 pixels on the long edge as I have made the assumption for better or worse that viewers will be at home and probably have a screen at least 1380 pixels wide so the browser won't be down scaling a 1200 pixel image, and I have selected a theme and removed margins so I know the Wordpress page will be a bit over 1200 pixels wide and will fit the image. Wordpress doesn't default render at this resolution but a BB code tweak fixes that.


For this forum I export at 1240 pixels or whatever the forum photo albums maximum size is, so preventing the forum photo uploader re-rendering the photos to a different resolution.


For my personal use, my home editing screen and my phone I have both standardised on 2560 pixles width so I export personal viewing images at that resolution. These images are uploaded to Google Photos and downloaded and stored locally at 2560 pixel resolution to the phone and also an Ipad using a couple of third party apps. Ok, for the Ipad this isn't 1:1 but the iPad rescales 2560 pixels to 2048 pixles with good results.


The common factor through the above: output sharpening set to screen/medium (high is also mostly ok) and jpeg quality is set to 70.


Edit: Oh, and as others have commented, always use sRBG for images intended for the Internet. Many devices and apps are not colour space aware and simply assume sRBG. Anything else will not be correctly rendered.


Simple topic really, isn't it? Gotta love the 'net!

Last edited by southlander; 11-27-2016 at 10:45 PM.
11-28-2016, 11:37 AM   #10
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interesting ...

I was leaving them at 4000x whatever as comes out of the camera .. I'll have to check and do some experiments ..

So basically, I'm being crafty and ultra-efficient. . (or trying)

I'm doing product photography for my business for the holidays, hence buying the Pentax : Resolute Star Handmade Gifts in Wood Poetry and by ResoluteStar

and I set up an IFTTT so when there is a new etsy listing, it automatically pushes it to twitter, flickr, tumblr, and pintrest .. no clicks or work on my part.

So these streams are a mix of LR edited product photos, and cell-phone intsagram pics, etc ... ie: social media marketing without spending 10000x hours at it.


for instance here's the flickr : Resolute Star | Flickr
and the twitter : Resolute Star (@ResoluteStarNYC) | Twitter


... one thing I noticed if flickr is only grabbing the etsy thumb-nail .. not the full sized uploaded image. (probably a IFTTT issue, it just grabs from an RSS feed)

They just all look soft comparatively .. Is this form the re-size? or should I be sharpening more for screen? ..

If you look a this listing : Gift Cigarette Case & Roller Machine : Dream big by ResoluteStar
and click the little 'zoom' button,


I really want to keep a natural feel to the products, to understand the texture of the wood and make the photo feel 'touchable' without over-sharpening. I also need it to pop in a busy visual feed ..

(btw: these listings are a mix of new pentax photos (mostly the limited 35 macro,) and an older point and shot Nikon. You may be able to tell which are which

I'm also still trying to nail my contrast and color balance in LR ... making things look exciting, but not over-saturated. .
11-28-2016, 11:46 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by loji Quote
If you look a this listing : Gift Cigarette Case & Roller Machine : Dream big by ResoluteStar
and click the little 'zoom' button,
I think the tiny sliver of this photo that's in the depth of field seems 'sharp enough' for the average consumer.
11-28-2016, 02:13 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by loji Quote
If you look a this listing : Gift Cigarette Case & Roller Machine : Dream big by ResoluteStar
and click the little 'zoom' button,
I compared this 570x378 etsy image (what you see before you hit the 'zoom' button) to the flickr and twitter versions.

The Flickr version is identical down to the pixel. It is just grabbing the 'thumbnail' with a resolution of 570x378.

The twitter version is almost identical to the 570x378 etsy version, they've changed the subsampling part of the jpeg compression to be of lower quality. But this is not something you're likely to notice, even if you're comparing very, very closely.

So, if you're unhappy with the end quality, I think you have to blame Etsy's reduction to this size and the other sites grabbing this version.

I think a bigger problem (regarding overall feel of the sharpness) is the small slice of focus you have. For a product photo, I'm personally more interested in seeing all of the object before I buy it, artistic blur doesn't help. You might try stopping down more or look into focus stacking with something like CombineZP (free and pretty easy to use). Just my opinion. Colour balance does look off, are the lights you're using all the same temperature?

Last edited by BrianR; 11-28-2016 at 03:07 PM. Reason: simplifying!
11-28-2016, 04:52 PM   #13
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ha! Thanks for the details .. and yes, the DOF is a sliver in this shot .. probably not the best for an example. The other pics in the listings show more traditional full-field views.

Good to know the main issue is with etsy creating the thumbnail , I can concentrate on optimizing for that process, and the rest should follow suit, btw : how did you check those technical details on the twitter sub sampling? (just curios to learn more)>

and yes, I am vastly still learning. pulling more depth of field will help, also getting the right color balance. (some of those shots are naturally lit from a window, some had a lamp on as well ... i've gotten some small LED lights that seem to do a decent job . will experiment more with those as well to keep it more controlled and repeatable. . Been busy building for the holidays! working 8am-1am on the weekends for markets .... FHEW! (and started a new regular job to boot). . . at least this camera kit will pay itself off quickly .... not sure if it's the holidays starting, or the better pictures :: but online sales have picked up! (and I got 4x wholesale orders in a week after a year of not having any) ... maybe people did funny focus and mixed light :-p (jk)
11-29-2016, 09:18 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by loji Quote
Good to know the main issue is with etsy creating the thumbnail , I can concentrate on optimizing for that process, and the rest should follow suit, btw : how did you check those technical details on the twitter sub sampling? (just curios to learn more)>
Laying two images in Photoshop or the Gimp and setting the blend mode to "Difference" can help you see any changes that were made, or if the images are a dead match. A free program called JPEGSnoop can bring up the compression settings- subsampling, quantization matrices used, and more detail than anyone needs to worry about for practical applications.

QuoteOriginally posted by loji Quote
and yes, I am vastly still learning. pulling more depth of field will help, also getting the right color balance. (some of those shots are naturally lit from a window, some had a lamp on as well ... i've gotten some small LED lights that seem to do a decent job . will experiment more with those as well to keep it more controlled and repeatable. . Been busy building for the holidays! working 8am-1am on the weekends for markets .... FHEW! (and started a new regular job to boot). . . at least this camera kit will pay itself off quickly .... not sure if it's the holidays starting, or the better pictures :: but online sales have picked up! (and I got 4x wholesale orders in a week after a year of not having any) ... maybe people did funny focus and mixed light :-p (jk)
Great that it's picking up! Definitely keep experimenting for consistency and quality
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