The Right Picture Format

Depending on your camera model and settings, various photo formats may be available to you. Follow these tips to showcase your photos onscreen or on paper.

Different device, different photo size

If you have a DSLR or hybrid device, your photos will be in the same format as a regular 35 mm camera, i.e. 3:2. Most compact digital cameras will have a 4:3 image aspect ratio. Other formats—such as 6:6 (square) or 16:9—may also be options and can serve to bring out the subject in portraits or panoramic shots.

There are three solutions to choose from to get the format you want:

  • Camera settings: select “Aspect Ratio” in your device menu.
  • Apps like Camera+.
  • Image-editing software: in this case, you’d take pictures in standard format and crop them yourself using your computer.

Adjusting the format of your photos according to medium

  • 6:6 (square) is very much in vogue with apps like Instagram and is great for portraits.
  • 16:9 is ideal for slide shows and displaying your pictures on a TV screen.
  • 4:3 is the standard for most computer screens.
  • 1:2, 1:3 and 1:4 are perfect for panoramic shots; 1:3 being the most common.
Adjusting the format of your photos according to medium

Printing formats

The format of an image significantly influences how it’s rendered onscreen, as well as its print quality. A 3:2 print format suitable for regular 35 mm prints will cut off images taken with a compact digital camera (default format of 4:3)... choose the right print format for your camera instead and crop the photo manually afterwards. This will give you maximum control over the appearance of your photos.

Printing formats

Crop like a pro

Why bother with camera settings when you can crop a photo by hand or mouse? Actually, there are two good reasons to do so. Using your camera’s settings allows you to harmony in your pictures by maintaining aesthetic proportions and to ensure your photo isn’t cut off during developing. Admittedly, while picture format options may vary, using software is generally easier. In most cases, a simple click on the crop icon (a dotted rectangle) or selecting Crop from the Edit menu will allow you to choose your desired size—just make sure the "Maintain Aspect Ratio" check box is checked.

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The Right Picture Format

Depending on your camera model and settings, various photo formats may be available to you. Follow these tips to showcase your photos onscreen or on paper.
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