So why don't people ever talk about the 4/3 aspect ratio?

Started 7 months ago | Discussions thread
GeorgianBay1939
Senior MemberPosts: 2,193Gear list
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Re: To me it is a significant benefit
In reply to kenw, 7 months ago

kenw wrote:

I shot 3:2 in 35mm film for ages. Didn't think about the aspect ratio at all to be honest. When I took some time to shoot a 4x5 large format camera I finally became aware of aspect ratios and their impact on the final image. With that large a negative and only fixed focals to work with you are often cropping with the easel in the darkroom and suddenly aspect ratio is entirely up to you.

At that point I realized just how much I disliked 3:2 and what a rather poor aspect ratio it is. Useless in portrait for starters, you'll crop heavily. OK for landscape but it really looks awkward even there once you try framing both wider and squarer aspects. If you look to the history of cameras you'll see that when there was little constraint to the choice 4:5 and 5:7 were popular choices. The 3:2 aspect more or less came around by accident as a short cut to the design of the first small format cameras. Wasn't really based on aesthetics, just easier mechanical implementation of the camera.

When shooting with 4:3 compacts on long hikes is when I realized just how useful that aspect ratio is. Nothing too magical about 4:3, it could be anything in the neighborhood really, but it is in between 4:5 and 5:7 which I find to be my most common final aspect ratios. And it isn't too bad of a crop to 1:1 either. That's what makes 4:3 nice, it is a flexible starting point - much more so than 3:2.

Of course something like the LX3/GH1/GH2 with selectable aspect ratios is even better. On those cameras though I found I used 4:3 and 16:9 quite a bit and rarely if ever used 3:2.

I'm rarely around the forums any more, "life" intervened, but I've always sung the praises of 4:3 aspect ratio. There isn't a "right" answer really, but for me and I think for a lot of people once they experiment with aspect ratios and how the interact with the image contents begin to find 3:2 isn't so great and you just become familiar with it they way you might a stain in the corner of your carpet. It isn't desirable so much as it is just familiar.

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Ken W
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Well said!

I started 4:3 by shooting P&S cameras a few years ago.  Had occasional problems when I printed some stuff for friends at Walmarts.

Started to pay attention to AR and cropping when I got a GH2.  Was ruled by the presets in the camera and Lightroom until an architect/photographer friend suggested that AR is determined by the scene/photographer NOT by convention.

So, on occasion, I broke out of the frame, so to speak.  Had a bunch of stuff printed, mounted and frames as gifts last year.  Mainly conventional ARs (1:1, 4:5, 8.5:11, 5:7, 2:3, 4:3, 16:9 etc)  except for a few large images with custom ARs purely determined by the scene, as seen by me.

Here is a pic that I took yesterday during some blowing snow.  I will print and mount it as is for a friend who sees that vista, year around, from his front porch.  Hopefully it will substitute for Air Conditioning in the heat of summer:

I hope that this will help to remove the OP's fear of using an AR different from 3:2.

Tom

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