Photography Aspect Ratio: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

In photography, what are aspect ratios? What effect does the aspect ratio have on your images? What if you want to adjust the aspect ratio after you’ve shot a picture?

I’m going to offer you a fast introduction to photography aspect ratios in this post so that by the end, you’ll know what they are and how to utilize them to better your own photographs.

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Let’s start…

What is the definition of a photography aspect ratio?

modelling photoshoot

The dimensions of a picture presented in a ratio form are known as aspect ratios. The common aspect ratio is calculated by measuring the image’s width and height and then writing it as width: height ratio (such as 3:2 or 4:5).

The image dimensions of your camera’s sensor define the aspect ratio of your photographs at first. It’s easy to take the aspect ratio of your photographs for granted because sensor dimensions are set.

When capturing images, however, it is critical to consider the aspect ratio. Your camera’s different aspect ratio has compositional ramifications, and I strongly advise you to keep this in mind when shooting.

Also, though the popular aspect ratio of your camera is theoretically fixed, many newer digital cameras allow you to modify it in the camera’s settings. Plus, you can change the aspect ratio of an image in post-production, so it’s more versatile than you may imagine.

The Importance of Aspect Ratio

Aspect Ratio
  1. Due to technical constraints

When you’re uploading photos to the internet, you’ll need to know about the original aspect ratio.

For example, the best aspect ratio of your Facebook profile picture will alter depending on whether you’re viewing it on your phone or on your desktop. As a result, you’ll be forced to adapt your photographs into certain aspect ratios by numerous social networking sites and website builders. If you don’t want your profile photo to be twisted, stretched, or cut off, make sure the ratio is the same as their standard aspect ratio.

If you’re going to print your images, the same principle applies. You can wind up with a cropped or stretched photo if your native aspect ratio doesn’t match the size of your print.

  1. For the sake of aesthetics
  • Changing the camera aspect ratio will affect where your topic is placed in reference to the frame’s sides. If you have an important feature near an edge, the improper ratio could cause it to be lost entirely.
  • You can use your specific aspect ratio to convey emotion. A 2:35 ratio, for example, allows for negative space in a photograph. In your landscape, you can use this space to create an expansive quality, or in your portrait, you might utilize it to induce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • If you have any additional “space” in your photo, changing the aspect ratio might help (this often applies more to vertical images). At a ratio of 2:3, a vertical image may be overly wide, whereas a ratio of 4:5 may give the shot a tighter frame, resulting in a more pleasing arrangement.
  1. Avoiding Ratio Issues
  • If you shot with a 4:3 ratio according to the rule of thirds and then wanted to print with a 3:2 ratio, the composition of the shot may no longer correspond to the rule of thirds.
  • When shooting a ratio that is greater than the ratio of your camera’s sensor, you may notice a significant drop in quality:

If you have a 4:3 sensor (a micro four-thirds camera), you should shoot in 4:3 or 1:1. If you try to photograph in 3:2 or 16:9 with this sensor, you might have to crop your image a lot (which will mean a drop in image quality).

To overcome this problem, you should consider buying a camera with a larger sensor. Purchasing a camera with a larger sensor will not only provide you with more ratio possibilities, but it will also provide you with other advantages (including better low-light photos, increased dynamic range, and more background blur).

What Are the Most Frequently Used Aspect Ratios?

A girl with a horse

There are different aspect ratios available these days in digital cameras.

Let’s take a look at why they’ve become so popular. And when you should use which aspect ratio.

  1. 3 2 Aspect Ratio

To begin with, it is the most similar to the golden ratio, which makes it more visually beautiful and balanced. It was used by painters and artists long before photography was conceived. It’s also the aspect ratio of a 35mm movie.

Although the 4:3 aspect ratio is gaining popularity, 3:2 remains the industry norm. Because they are designed for the same ratios, you can use your old film lenses on new DSLRs.

  1. 4 3 Aspect Ratio

Modern monitors and screens have a 4:3 aspect ratio as standard. As a result, on displays, this ratio appears to be considerably more appealing.

Advertisers frequently employ this ratio in digital advertising. This ratio is also used as a standard by micro four-thirds cameras.

  1. 1 1 Aspect Ratio

In the past, medium format cameras used to have this aspect ratio. When Instagram became a craze among photographers, it was gaining popularity.

It’s pretty much standard in today’s social media. The image is unaffected by the aspect ratio, regardless of the orientation in which it is seen.

  1. 16 9 Aspect Ratio

This is the industry standard for HDTV and movies. As a result, it has a cinematic feel to it. In this ratio, certain types of photographs look extremely lovely.  Although it is not a regularly utilized aspect ratio in still photography.

Now let’s look at how to select the most popular aspect ratio for a specific project. And what to consider while deciding between two aspect ratios.

What Effect Does Composition Have on Aspect Ratio?

Aspect ratio composition

The aspect ratio is sometimes determined by the composition. The 3:2 aspect ratio is the greatest choice if you’re shooting a landscape in horizontal orientation.

You have complete control over your camera sensor. It’s much easier to locate the horizon. It’s also better balanced because it’s so near to the golden ratio.

The 3:2 aspect ratio, on the other hand, is a little problematic if you desire a vertical position. There is an excessive amount of empty space in both the sky and the foreground. If there aren’t many features in the foreground or background, 4:3 is a much better option.

Consider the composition you want to achieve and adjust your aspect ratio accordingly. This will allow you to frame your subjects more evenly.

Keep in mind the platform you want to use

Gone are the days when a photograph’s only output was a wall-mounted print. You now have a variety of platforms to choose from, and you must adjust your shots to each one. Unless you have a very clear goal in mind, such as shooting billboards.

Instagram is best suited to the square (11) aspect ratio. Although the app now also supports rectangular formats. However, your first impression is still based on the main grid and the square aspect ratio.

Instagram stories are another example of a format that relies on the 9:16 aspect ratio, which is ideal for mobile screens.

The aspect ratio of Youtube thumbnail images is 16:9. With a 2:3 aspect ratio, Google+ and Pinterest perform well. The importance of gaining popularity on social media for a photographer cannot be overstated.

Because photography is a visual medium, the only way to acquire more exposure is to show your photographs in the best possible light on social media.

What Is the Best Aspect Ratio for Prints?

Girls looking at the dslr

It’s always a treat to see a photograph in its original, physical form. Nothing can take the place of a physical scrapbook or photo frame.

Any wedding photographer will tell you about the issues they have with aspect ratios when sending their photos to be printed.

The default aspect ratios in cameras these days do not match the aspect ratios of most standard printing sheets and photo frames. There are many photo frames on the market that are compatible with the most common aspect ratios such as 5:4, 5:7, and 8.5:11.

It’s a good idea to double-check with your client and find out what aspect ratios they prefer. As a result, you’ll be able to deliver outcomes that are specifically matched to their requirements.

What’s the Best Way to Deal with the Elephant in the Room?

Photographer taking pictures

There are several options for resolving this problem. One method is to leave enough room around the margins when shooting so that you can crop later in post-production. This is useful for aspect ratios that are close to one another, such as 3:2 and 4:3.

But what if you want to shoot a square format in addition to a 16:9 or 9:16 aspect ratio? Visually, there is a significant difference between these two common aspect ratios.

Shooting distinct photos with different aspect ratios is always a better idea. You’ll lose very little image resolution this way, and you’ll be able to fine-tune each composition to perfection.

When you can’t shoot several own images and square images for each aspect ratio, opt for Raw+JPEG. In JPEG, you’ll get a precise composition. The RAW file will give you some leeway in post-production to experiment with ratios that are near to your actual one.


In the past, controlling the aspect ratio was a difficult task. It was primarily determined by the camera you were using.

Nowadays, though, rather than being a physical limitation, this is more of a creative decision.

There isn’t such a thing as the optimal aspect ratio. If at all possible, it’s always a good idea to shoot at a precise aspect ratio. A photograph, on the other hand, is more than simply pixels.

Whatever aspect ratio you choose, make sure it’s visually pleasing. After all, photography is primarily concerned with aesthetics.

But first, here’s a video about aspect ratios that we found really useful.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Melva

    It’s hard to come by educated people in this particular subject, but you sound like
    you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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