What is aspect ratio?
Aspect ratio is the ratio between the width and height of an image or screen.
If an image uses a different aspect ratio than the screen it’s displayed on, it won’t fit properly.
Common aspect ratios in film and photography
Today’s films for cinema are presented in 1.85:1 and 2.39:1 formats. For television, 4:3 and 16:9 are the most popular. The Academy standard film aspect ratio is 1.375:1 or 11:8.
The aspect ratio of your picture is mainly determined by your camera’s sensor. As these physical dimensions are fixed, there isn’t much to consider in terms of aspect ratios when taking pictures.
Aspect ratios can be changed by cropping images in an editing software. Common cropped aspect ratios include 1:1, 4:4,16:9 and 3:1 as well.
How this affects you
35mm crop sensor and full-frame SLRs, mirrorless cameras, and high-end compacts all shoot in 3:2. Micro four-thirds and many compact cameras shoot in 4:3 aspect ratios.
Nowadays, newer digital cameras let you change the aspect ratio you’re shooting via manual settings.
Composition, framing, and the amount of empty space in the image should be carefully planned out, rather than considered as an afterthought. However, you might run into an issue after a shoot where the image didn’t turn out as you expected. These are the times cropping can be your friend. Loose framing is a good option, if you want to give yourself some options when editing.
The aspect ratio in which you work might seem like a small choice, but like everything, it does ultimately impact whatever you create. Making the decision consciously and early on will ensure that all aspects of your creative process contribute to the final result.