Photo Aspect Ratio

What is Photo Aspect Ratio

A photo’s aspect ratio is the proportional measurement between the width and height of an image. In photography your most common aspect ratios are:

  • 3:2 (1.5:1)
  • 4:3 (1.3:1)
  • 5:3 (1.6:1)
  • 3:1
  • 16:9 (1.7:1)
  • 1:1

Photo Aspect Ratio

In your older standard definition television set was most likely a 4:3 (1.3:1) aspect ratio, today most high definition television sets are using a widescreen format, which is usually 16:9 (1.7:1). I’m sure you’ve watched a movie at one point and on the screen is says something like this movie has been modified from it’s original version to fit your screen. That is because the movie was recorded in a different aspect ratio and they needed to crop it to fit your screen. Also if you’ve watched a movie that was recorded in a different aspect ratio than your screen’s aspect ratio you’ve seen black borders at top and bottom or left and right depending on how the movie needed modified, this is another way they made movies fit your screen’s aspect ratio.

How Do You Know What Aspect Ratio to Crop Your Photos?

Each camera takes photos at different aspect ratios and you may or may not be printing on that aspect ratio. So either you will end up with the photo lab chopping off some of your photo, you’ll have to crop your photo to print to that photo size or aspect ratio, or your photo lab will scale and make your photo not proportioned properly. If you’re printing the photos yourself you may wonder why these same things are happening to your photos when you try printing them. You can look at Most Popular Photo Print Sizes and read the photo print size chart that shows each of the popular photo print sizes and their aspect ratios. Then you can crop your photos to that aspect ratio.

Do not crop photos as part of your photo editing process. You may need that bit of extra pixels when printing. I always try to crop only after I know what print size that photo will be printed at so I can maintain the same aspect ratio as the photo print size.

When composing your photos during your photo shoots, always zoom out just a tad in case you need to crop to a different aspect ratio.

One of my DSLR cameras has an aspect ratio of 3:2 so I can print 4×6, 8×12, 12×18, 20×30, and 24×36 without having to crop my photos to change the aspect ratio.

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