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The aspect ratio is primarily determined by the size of the camera sensor, which is the width and height of an image (width:height). For example, if your camera sensor is 36mm wide and 24mm tall, the aspect ratio is 3:2 (not 36mm x 24mm). Back then, aspect ratios didn’t matter much to most photographers because they depended on the format of their gear. If they had a medium format camera, they took photos in a square format (1:1). Those with a 35mm camera took rectangular pictures (3:2). Some formats that became popular in the era of film photography have persisted in digital photography to this day. For example, modern full-frame DSLRs still use the 3:2 aspect ratio. But the 1:1 or 4:3 formats that were common in medium format have also been adopted in digital photography.
Everything you need to know about aspect ratio
How to measure aspect ratio
In a nutshell, aspect ratio is the ratio of width to height, where width is usually the first number and height is the second number. A 16:9 screen can be 16 inches long and 9 inches tall, or 32 inches long and 18 inches tall. Aspect ratio is just that, a ratio, and is independent of actual size.
Occasionally the aspect ratio is expressed as a single number, such as 1.33 or 1.78, in which case the ratio has simply been split: an aspect ratio of 4:3 can be expressed as 4/3 = 1, 33. Similarly, an aspect ratio of 16:9 can be expressed as 16/9 = 1.78. Even more rarely, this is converted to a ratio, such as 1.33:1 or 1.78:1. This may sound confusing, but mathematically, a length of 1.33 and a height of 1 is the same as a length of 4 and a height of 3.
Common aspect ratios
There are many aspect ratios in common use today because each aspect ratio has a specific use. Here are some of the most common:
- 1:1 – This is simply a square, and while there are many reasons to have a square image, it is commonly used in images on social media.
- 3:2 – This is a common size for sensors found in cameras and phones for capturing still images and video.
- 4:3: This was the aspect ratio used by broadcast television until the high definition era.
- 16:9: This has become the standard aspect ratio for computer and movie screens, although there are many exceptions to the rule.
- 2.35:1 – This extra-wide aspect ratio is known as CinemaScope and is often used to make theatrical movies.
Why aspect ratio is important
The aspect ratio can be important simply because there are so many standards. For example, software developers creating content for both smartphones and PCs need to take into account the fact that a smartphone screen has a different aspect ratio than a laptop screen (many iPhones, for example). , have a vertical aspect ratio of 9:19). as opposed to the 16:9 horizontal aspect ratio that is common on laptop screens).
The aspect ratio can even vary on a PC depending on the monitor it’s paired with. Older square-aspect monitors have a 4:3 aspect ratio, while regular monitors typically have a 16:9 aspect ratio. Super wide monitors can have an aspect ratio of up to 32:9. Fortunately, the computer’s operating system can support multiple aspect ratios and adapt to the connected monitor.
Photographers and videographers may need to change the aspect ratio of a photo by cropping it. For example, Adobe Photoshop’s crop tool allows you to change the aspect ratio after you take the photo.
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