How to export images from Lightroom for online and print is a topic I get asked about often.
As a photographer, few things are more frustrating than wanting to share your perfectly edited images with friends and family on social media or in print, only to have them appear blurry, compressed, or poor quality when posted or printed.
I mean, how annoying is it to spend time making sure your images are flawless, and then they come out looking like a hot mess in the places where people are going to see them the most?
That’s why learning how to properly export your images from Lightroom is SO important before you set about publicizing them.
To help you out, I’ve put together a few expert tips on how to export your Ligthroom images so that they look super-diva perfect in print and online.
Note that all of the following settings will be found on Lightroom’s export dialogue box.
Exporting from Lightroom to Online:
File Settings- When it comes to sharing your image on a website or social media site, you’ll want to set your Image Format to JPEG and set the Color Space to sRGB, with the Quality fixed at 100. It’s important to note that Facebook and Instagram automatically compress your image to a lower quality, but I still recommend that you leave the Quality setting at 100, especially for sharing your images via email or on Flickr. Also, go ahead and leave the “Limit File Size To” box unchecked.
Image Sizing- To size your image for online sharing, you can start by checking the “Resize to Fit” box and selecting “Long Edge” from the drop-down menu. Next, you’ll want to set the pixel count to 2,048. In the box next to Resolution, type in 72 and make sure the drop down next to it says “pixels per inch.”
Output Sharpening- I highly recommend you do NOT use the export dialogue box to sharpen your images since it will apply an auto sharpen feature and is often exaggerated for web resolution images. I've had many images over sharpened at the export phase, so I created a sharpening action to give me more control over this step while still allowing me to get sharper images fast. You can download my sharpening presets for FREE here and use them at will.
Metadata- When it comes to the metadata section, I personally prefer to select "Include: Copyright & Contact Info Only" otherwise people will be able to see your settings and more info embedded in the photograph, but if you don't mind sharing that information then you can pick what you like. It's up to you.
Exporting from Lightroom to Print
File Settings- You can follow the same File Settings for exporting for print as you would for exporting for online publication: set Image Format to JPEG, Color Space to sRGB, and Quality to 100. Make sure you leave the “Limit File Size” box unchecked.
Image Sizing- When it comes to exporting for print, do not check the “Resize to Fit” box. Instead, you can set the Resolution to 300 and choose “pixels per inch” from the drop-down menu. You can use the chart below to help you match your camera's resolution to your desired print size. In most cases, your image's overall resolution should give you at least 150 DPI.
Output Sharpening- Just as with exporting for web, I suggest you sharpen your images yourself instead of applying the auto sharpening. You can download my free sharpening presets and apply them to your images for a quick, crisp finish.
Metadata- I recommend using the same as above: "Include: Copyright & Contact Info Only" if you want to protect your settings and info.
*Bonus Tip: Soft-proofing- Before sending your images off to print, use Lightroom’s Soft-proofing feature to simulate what you image will look like on paper.
By following these Lightroom exporting tips for online and print, you’ll ensure that your images will look gorgeous and evoke just the feel you want when you share them with others.