odd 5:4 aspect ratio of LCD monitors

Started May 6, 2005 | Discussions thread
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RichL
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odd 5:4 aspect ratio of LCD monitors
May 6, 2005

Aspect ratio is a bit confusing as so many
things we do we look at some screen or other.
Hollywood has it's myriad screen sizes going
back in time. TV's came along in the 1940's
with a screen standard of 4:3 which is still with
us today for TV, VGA computer monitors and
point and shoot digital cameras. Most digital
SLR's though are set up to match tradition
using the same aspect as 35mm film which is
3:2, more rectangular. A properly displayed
image from a digital SLR will have bars at the
top and bottom when viewed on a standard
computer monitor at 800*600.
Older LCD monitors and all CRT monitors
have aspect ratios of 4:3 which allow selecting
several common resolutions such as 640*480,
800*600, 1024*768, 1152*864 etc. These
common choices match the monitor and avoid
distorting images. HOWEVER, I have noticed all
the newer LCD monitors, if you measure them
out and do the math have a 5:4 aspect ratio
which is “squarer” than traditional CRT monitors.
Very few commonly used video cards have
many choices for resolutions that match this
and hence will distort images.
Theoretically, to avoid distortion, one
must MATCH the aspect ratio of the display
area used on a monitor to the aspect ratio of
the resolution selected. Monitors will naturally
stretch whatever is displayed to the edges of
the screen unless adjusted differently. Monitor
borders can be adjusted but typically monitors
will auto-adjust the image out to the edge of the
screen. And after plunking down big $$$ for an
LCD monitor we naturally want to take advantage
of the whole screen.
If you do the math for all the possible
resolution choices for common video cards, you
will find aspect ratios of 4:3, 5:4, 16:9, as well as
a few oddballs like 3:2, 5:3 and 8:5.
Be aware then, if the aspect ratio of the monitor
screen and that of the chosen resolution do not
match, whatever you are viewing will be distorted.
It makes a person look taller or fatter and a square
will appear rectangular. If you choose a setting
that has a 16:9 ratio, and view on a standard
monitor, the distortion will be very obvious as
the monitor stretches the image out vertically.
But all those other aspect ratios are much
closer to 4:3 and the distortion will be more
subtle and may be overlooked.

Questions:
-Will the video card makers soon be providing
more choices for resolutions that will accommodate
these newer 5:4 LCD monitors???
-Why do the card manufacturers give choices
for resolutions with oddball aspect ratios that
no monitors will accommodate without distortion???

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