If you have been experimenting with a highly-rated digital camera, you may be wondering about some of its functionalities. For instance, what is the aspect ratio on a digital camera? Keep reading to learn all about the various aspect ratios available with modern digicams, including medium format cameras.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Aspect ratio refers to the relationship between the width and height of an image.
  • Film cameras and most digital cameras excel with square images, and feature standard aspect ratios of either 4:3 or 3:2.
  • You can change an aspect ratio in a camera’s settings menu, but this will typically just crop the photo.

What is Aspect Ratio?

Aspect ratio represents the connection between the width and height of an image. For instance, if your iPhone’s camera shoots photos with an aspect ratio of 4:3, that means the image has four equal size units of width and three equal size units of height.

Why Does Aspect Ratio Matter?

A camera’s aspect ratio matters because it ultimately determines how the photo or video will look on various screens. A smartphone’s preferred aspect ratio may not look great on a television or computer screen, for instance.

Insider Tip

Widely used aspect ratios include 1.85:1 and 2.39:1 in film photography, 4:3 and 16:9 in television, and 3:2 in still camera photography.

What are Common Digital Camera Aspect Ratios?

A camera’s aspect ratio is primarily determined by its image sensor and the camera’s size. For these reasons, the most common aspect ratio you will encounter with digital cameras are 4:3 and 3:2, otherwise known as square format. As a reminder, these numbers do not represent an actual measurement, just equal units. The 4:3 could mean four inches and three inches, four centimeters and three centimeters, and so on. After all, you can easily resize an image once it has been taken.

In general, modern full-frame and APS-C DSLR cameras have 3:2 native aspect ratio sensors, whereas 4:3, otherwise known as the golden ratio, is a popular choice among smartphones, tablets and related gadgets.

Can You Change an Aspect Ratio?

Now the good news. You will not necessarily be tied to a particular aspect ratio, as many modern DSLR cameras allow for some fiddling. But you can always experiment with the aspect ratio of your camera if you want cool photos. You can also learn what is av mode on a digital camera if you want to up your photo taking skills. Here are two ways you can change up the aspect ratio.

Dive into the Settings

Head into the settings menu of your digital camera and look for an aspect ratio menu item. If you are having trouble finding it, consult the instruction manual. Many cameras will adjust the aspect ratio via crop, so take that into consideration before you shoot. Additionally, many cameras will only adjust the aspect ratio for a JPG, keeping the raw file in the original aspect ratio, otherwise known as the native aspect ratio.

Post-Processing

You can always fix it in post. Use Photoshop, a smartphone app, or any other preferred method of photo editing to fix an incorrect aspect ratio.

Also, you can check out what is an electronic viewfinder on a digital camera if you would love to explore your photography passion.

Warning

Even if you adjust the aspect ratio within your camera’s settings, the RAW files could still be saved as the standard aspect ratio.

F.A.Q.

What are the most common aspect ratios?

When it comes to photography, 4:3 and 3:2 are the most common aspect ratios. 4:3 is especially popular due to its adherence to the mathematical formula known as the golden ratio.


What are the best aspect ratios for social media?

Being as how smartphones tend to feature 3:2 image sensors, this will be the best aspect ratio for most social media sites. Or course, these sites are optimized to include all images.


How does composition affect aspect ratio?

They are intimately connected. For instance, if you are shooting landscape photography in a horizontal orientation, a 3:2 aspect ratio will be an absolute must. Going for a close-up in vertical orientation? 4:3 will be your go-to.



STAT: Projecting a digital still image having a 3:2 aspect ratio on a 16:9 projector employs 84.3% of available resolution in horizontal orientation, but only 37.5% in vertical orientation. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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