How "Aspect Ratio" Can Effect the Cropping of Your Images|
Most consumer digital cameras record images in a 3 to 4 (3:4) aspect ratio. This height to width ratio matches your television and computer screen's height and width. However, this 3:4 ratio does not match most standard photographic print sizes used by photo labs.
Print Size History
4x5 and 8x10 cameras (using 4"x5" and 8"x10" film) were the popular formats over a century ago. These cameras had a 4:5 aspect ratio, so the popular print sizes were 4"x5", 8"x10", 16"x20" and 24"x30". The 11" x 14" print size did not fit the 4:5 ratio perfectly, but it was very close. These popular print sizes, from over 100 years ago, are still widely used today.
35mm film cameras (beginning with the Leica camera in 1925) have a 2:3 image aspect ratio, so the 4" x 6" print size was developed for it. 8" x 12" prints and 20" x 30" prints also fit this format perfectly. Professional SLR (single lense reflex) digital cameras (usually 6 megapixels and above) also use this format. Standard 8x10, 11x14 and 16 x 20 print enlargement sizes, crop away part of the 35mm image's width.
Almost all consumer digital cameras use the 3:4 height to width aspect ratio. This means that a typical 4" x 6" print will crop away part of your digital image's height, as shown below:
To get "no-crop" or "FULL-FRAME" printing, you have to go to a professional photo lab. We recommend "Replicolor Lab". They are located on the ground floor of the same building as Big Digital Prints (no association us). Professional printing costs a little more, but their color and density control is also more accurate than regular consumer photo labs -- they'll make you look good! Professional "Full-Frame" prints, with no cropping will measure 4"x5.3" rather than 4" x 6".
When you have consumer digital camera images enlarged to 8"x10" prints at a typical photo lab, the 4:5 ratio of this print size will also crop away part of the digital image's height. Professional photo labs offer a Full-Frame or no-crop option.
When ordering 8"x10" enlargements from 35mm film camera images, the 4:5 ratio of this print size will crop away part of the film image's width. Professional photo labs offer a Full-Frame or no-crop option.
Avoiding Aspect Ratio Conflicts
To avoid cropping surprises, just choose your camera's proper aspect ratio, or if all this confuses you, just order "Full-Frame" (no-cropping), and you'll get everything your camera shoot (you can trim the print later, if you want to). Or, you can choose "best crop", and we'll do the choosing for you, allowing the greatest enlargement with the best artistic composition.
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