Aspect Ratio for Dummies

print aspect ratio

I shouldn’t use the word dummy, aspect ratio is complicated, but when it finally clicks you’ll be like, “ohhhh, I get it now”!

One of the big challenges of digital imaging is aspect ratio & cropping for print. Not only are there thousands of ways to take a photo, but all hardware is not created equal. You may not even know what aspect ratio your camera is shooting in? 3:2 or 4:3?

3:2 is the aspect ratio of 35mm film cameras, and that has carried over to most DSLRs. Compact digital cameras and smartphones use 4:3.

The aspect ratio is expressed as two numbers separated by a colon (x:y). A common misunderstanding is that x and y represent actual length and height. This is false; they actually represent the relation between width and height.

Here, we provide a quick cheat sheet of common print sizes, the pixels needed for a sharp print and the aspect ratio for a full frame print.
If your photo was taken at a 3:2 ratio, you won’t have cropping for a 4×6 print.


Aspect ratio & cropping can change the entire composition of a photo and more importantly the print. If you’re unsure of your final print size, we always recommend to shoot “wide” leaving plenty of empty space around the subject giving you more options to crop to the print size needed.

Do not panic! Upload your photos as they are, choose your print size and our software will help you crop to fit.

Pressed on time? Choose the “auto” crop feature and let us do the cropping for you. Certified lab techs look at every single image before and after it is printed to ensure heads and toes stay in the photo. If the aspect ratio is impossible to fit the full frame image, we can add white on 2 sides. We’ll always contact you if we feel necessary.

Read more about Aspect Ratio on our website:


April 8, 2016
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