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As a content creator, the questions I get asked most are “how do I upload high quality Instagram Reels?” or “how do I stop Instagram compressing the quality of my videos?”. Trust me, I have asked myself the same questions, but over the years I have figured out a few methods that have helped me keep my Instagram videos looking sharp.

1. The best resolution for Instagram Reels

If your phone or camera has the ability to shoot in 4k, make sure you are using it BUT only upload your videos in 1080p. This is because 4k files are much larger than a 1080p file so when you upload it the file size will be significantly reduced by the dreaded process know “Instagram compression”. So why shoot in 4k to begin with? When you downscale 4k video to 1080p, you retain more data per pixel, resulting in a shaper, higher quality image with less visible noise or grain. Another reason to shoot 4k and downscale to 1080p is that you still have the ability to crop and keyframe your video (a great way to make your videos more engaging) without a significant loss in quality.

Export Settings

As long as you are editing your videos with a third party editing app or software, you will be able to customise your export settings to control the file size and quality of your videos. My personal preference for most of my social media content is to export at 1080 x 1920 (vertical) at around 25 Mbps (with CBR encoding if I am using Premiere Pro).

Photo by James Feaver

2. High Quality Uploads Feature

This is a really simple one but it could make all the difference! By default Instagram will adjust the quality of your uploads depending on your internet speed, but there is a hidden setting that ensures that your videos are always uploaded at the highest possible quality. To make sure this is turned on, click on the “hamburger” icon in the top right of your profile page, followed by settings, account then data usage and turn on “Upload at highest quality”.

3. LUTs

LUTs are one of the best ways to increase the perceived quality of your content, giving your videos a professional look and signature style. If you don’t already know what LUTs are, they are basically colour presets that can be easily applied over you video footage (like a filter) to give you video a specific look or feel. My own LUTs are a collection of cinematic looks that match my personal style, designed to work with any camera, phone, drone or editing software, I use them for almost everything to help my content stand out!

4. Don't Draft

I don’t know this one for sure so I am only speculating, but I have noticed on more than one occasion that when I have posted a video from my drafts, it has noticeably reduced the quality of my upload. I’ve tested this by deleting the low quality drafted videos and reposting them directly and as expected the quality has improved. I suspect that when you safe a draft, Instagram is actually saving a lower quality video than the original, depending on the network speed, much like it would do if you had the high quality uploads turned off. So if all else fails, this might be something to keep in mind.