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Photo Tips > Aspect Ratios

Your photographs have aspect ratios.

Just divide the width and height of the photograph.

The width and height can be any measurement, such as pixels or inches.

What Are the Dimensions

Of Your Photographs?

Look in your camera instruction manual.

You may be able to choose from several aspect ratios, such as 3:2, 4:3, and 16:9.

Three Common Aspect Ratios

3:2 Aspect Ratio

Digital SLR cameras have an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Aspect Ratio Width Height

3:2

3

2

Oskar Barnack of Leica created the 3:2 aspect ratio for 35mm cameras.

4:3 Aspect Ratio

Olympus digital SLR cameras, and many point-and-shoot cameras, have an aspect ratio of 4:3.

4:3 photographs are not as wide as 3:2 photographs.

They're more square, not as rectangular.

16:9 Aspect Ratio

This aspect ratio corresponds to the aspect of many wide-screen monitors and televisions.

Printing & Aspect Ratios

3:2 Aspect Ratio Photographs

To print a 3:2 photograph, you need to use a print size with the same 3:2 aspect ratio.

Aspect Ratio Print Size

3:2

4" x 6"

8" x 12"

If you use a print size with an aspect ratio different than the photograph's aspect ratio, the image will be cropped.

For example, if you print a 3:2 photograph on 8" x 10" paper, two inches of the photograph will be cropped on the sides.

4:3 Aspect Ratio Photographs

If you're printing a 4:3 photograph, there are no common paper sizes with the 4:3 aspect ratio.

Some labs offer 4" x 5.33" prints, such as WinkFlash.

If you have a 4:3 aspect ratio camera, you can frame the scene expecting the top and bottom to be cropped when printed.

Some cameras can be set to gray-out the portion of the frame that will be cropped, if the photograph is printed on paper with a 3:2 aspect ratio.

Examples

Here is a visual presentation of how 4:3 photographs are printed on 3:2 paper, such as 4" x 6" prints.

Here's a 3:2 photograph.

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3:2 Photograph

Let's replace the 3:2 photograph with a 3:2 white rectangle.

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3:2 White Rectangle

Next, we'll "print" a 4:3 photograph on the 3:2 white rectangle.

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4:3 Photograph "Printed" on a 3:2 White Rectangle

Above, you can see that the 4:3 photograph doesn't fit on the 3:2 white rectangle.

There are borders on the left and right sides.

Below, the 4:3 photograph has been "printed" to fill the entire 3:2 white rectangle.

The image is widened to eliminate the white borders on the sides.

The top and bottom of the image then extend outside the area of the print, and are cropped (the cyan boxes below).

This is what a lab will do when a 4:3 photograph in printed on 3:2 paper, such as a 4" x 6" print.

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4:3 Photograph "Printed" on a 3:2 White Rectangle

Enlarged to Eliminate the Side Borders

However — the Top & Bottom Strips Are Cropped Out