Cropping to 1:1 image ratio

Started Sep 30, 2012 | Discussions thread
Olaf Ulrich
Contributing MemberPosts: 942
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Re: Cropping to 1:1 image ratio
In reply to gordonisbell, Oct 1, 2012

gordonisbell wrote:

I really prefer "square" cropped photos but, unfortunately most cameras I'm interested in don't have that option {most are 4:3 or 3:2}. Of those two, which is the better format to compose while intending to crop to 1:1 post process?

That's easy—4:3, of course, because it's closer to the target ratio and hence will lose less pixels.

A 10 MP camera with a native aspect ratio of 4:3 will end up with 7.5 MP in the final image when cropped to square format. You'll lose one quarter of the original pixels.

A 10 MP camera with a native aspect ratio of 3:2 will end up with 6.7 MP in the final image when cropped to square format. You'll lose one third of the original pixels.

Don't let anyone tell you that using the camera's native aspect ratio always was the only way to go. Don't let the tool dictate how to do your job! Always use the ratio that you like best or that suits your subject best, even if that means some cropping.

Of course, when you're having a strong preference for a certain aspect ratio then it makes sense to choose a camera with a native aspect ratio that is equal or close to what you're having in mind. So it's easier to compose in the viewfinder, and you'll lose less of those precious pixels (or film area). Unfortunately for those who prefer squares, there are no digital cameras with square sensors on the market today. Those which offer 1:1 aspect ratio as one option out of three or four also have rectangular (not square) sensors and just do the same cropping in-camera that you would do in post-processing, losing some of the sensor's original pixels. It's easy to determine such a camera's native aspect ratio; it's the one that leads to the highest megapixel count—see the camera's tech specs.

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