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Aspect Ratio



I consider Aspect Ratio the dirty secret of digital photography.  Aspect Ratio expresses the proportions of the screen width and height. It is expressed as [width]:[length], usually either 4:3 (for traditional NTSC television signals) or 16:9 for widescreen DVDs or HDTV signals.  In photography, the standard print is 4x6, meaning it has an Aspect Ration of 3:2 (i.e. for every 3 inches on the long side, you will have 2 inches on the short side).  The problem with most digicams on the market is that they use a 4:3 Aspect Ratio, the same as on your standard TV and computer monitor, but different than standard photo prints.

This becomes a problem when you try to print your pictures from your digicam: If you do not “trim/crop” your 4:3 Aspect Ratio picture, your printer will do it for you automatically which can result in missing critical details on the edge of a picture including arms, legs, faces, dog tails, your Aunt Bertha… get the picture.  (Pun intended).   Here’s an example:


On the left you have a 4:3 Aspect Ratio picture.   On the right, the same picture has been cropped to a 3:2 Aspect Ratio in the manner a printer will do it for you to make it ready for printing on to 4x6 photo paper.  If you do not trim the 4:3 picture manually, your printer will automatically do it for you, clipping equally from the top and the bottom.  If I had manually trimmed the picture, I would have clipped off the bottom, thus losing some of the backpack, but keeping my eldest daughter’s head intact.

The solution is to only buy digicams that have a 3:2 Aspect Ratio mode.  Not all do, so you have to check carefully.  After four years of using digicams, I have forever sworn off any digicam that does not come with a 3:2 Aspect Ratio mode.

Here are some good choices of cameras with 3:2 Aspect Ratio, and reviews of each one.

Canon Digital Rebel

Sony F828

Olympus C-750 Ultra-Zoom

Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom

Kodak DX4530

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