Instagram Can’t Beat Twitter at Photo Quality

A Comparison of Shared Photos

Exact same photo shared to Instagram (left) and Twitter (right). Twitter’s quality is much better.

The quality of Instagram photos has gone downhill, fast

I don’t mean the quality of photographers. I mean Instagram’s ability to keep high resolution images looking, well, high resolution.

The most popular photo sharing service in the world is one of the worst when it comes to showing off your images. Yet, it still attracts millions of users each and every day. I’ve tried giving up on it in the past but I’ve always found it hard to replace because not that many people are willing to make the switch to something else.

So the next best thing to do about the problem is simple: complain about it online!

Let’s begin

I started off with the following photo in its original, unedited state. The camera used was a Sony a6000. The photo was uploaded to Google Photos at “original quality” and then downloaded to my phone.

Original image shot on a Sony a6000. Most would say I should have never edited or applied filters to this photo in the first place. Probably right, they are.

I opened Instagram, selected the photo from my phone’s gallery, made some manual edits, applied a filter, and then shared it.

Full photo on Instagram after my edits and filter

Looks ok to most people. But I’m not most people and there are plenty of others out there like me. I can instantly tell that the photo quality went downhill.

To verify, all I need to do is zoom in on the photo and it instantly becomes noticeable.

Instagram post zoomed in

There’s also another way to verify the photo was degraded. After sharing a photo on Instagram, a copy of that photo with its edits is also added to your phone’s gallery. Essentially it’s the exact same photo posted, but at higher quality.

Zoomed in, this is what Instagram saved to my phone after I posted the photo. Not bad. Why didn’t it share this version? Isn’t that the point?

It’s pretty night and day. The saved image to my phone looks pretty good. The online image (which is really what counts here), however, looks horrible.

I understand that some degradation is needed to save on bandwidth costs and what not. But this much? This is the most popular photo sharing service in the world but it shares all images at a terrible quality.

Now comes the fun part

I take the photo that Instagram saved to my phone’s gallery and I post it on Twitter.

Twitter post

There’s very little difference in quality from the gallery photo and the posted photo. Meaning….Twitter shares higher quality photos than Instagram. It shares Instagram’s very own edited photo of mine at a higher quality than Instagram does!

Exact same photo shared to Twitter, zoomed in

Conclusion

Instagram photos suck at quality when it comes to resolution. For being the most popular photo sharing service out there, it’s pretty disappointing. And I’m not the only one who thinks this. Take a look at these search results on Twitter.

Something that I find really odd is the fact that Instagram recently added the ability to zoom in on photos. The quality is already at a level of meh before zooming in. meh drops to omfg-now-I’m-really-pissed once you start pinching your fingers on the screen. But then again, maybe (hopefully) it’s an indication that they’re preparing to up the quality of photos in the future.

I like Instagram — its enormous user base is mostly why. I just wish they’d make improvements to the core of the service instead of going in the opposite direction.