Q. I thought Instagram now lets you post photos that aren’t in the standard square format, but it’s still cropping my pictures. Also, is it changing the resolution of my original image when I upload it?
A. Instagram supports photos in the rectangular landscape and portrait orientations — as long as you switch it from the default square shape before you upload the file. To do that, tap the round gray arrow icon in the bottom corner of the image preview.
Instagram’s help guide says the service supports photos and videos only with aspect ratios between 1.91:1 (a horizontal wide-screen/landscape shape) and 4:5 (a vertical portrait shape); the traditional square shape has an aspect ratio of 1:1. If the photo you upload is not in one of Instagram’s supported aspect ratios, it will be cropped automatically.
As for the image quality, Instagram does not change the picture resolution if the photo has a width from 320 to 1,080 pixels, as long as the file is in one of the supported aspect ratios. Small, low-resolution photos are enlarged to a width of 320 pixels when you upload them to the service, which may distort them.
Most decent smartphones these days take fairly high-resolution resolution photos — 12-megapixel (or better) cameras are common now in the flagship models from Apple, Google, LG, Samsung and other companies. The photos these mobile cameras can produce are typically much larger than 1,080 pixels wide, but if you upload a picture that is bigger than Instagram’s requirements, the service resizes the image to meet the maximum 1,080-pixel width.
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