Bored musings - why are digital sensors not square?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
saltydogstudios Senior Member • Posts: 2,145
Re: The Golden Ratio ain't

mount evans wrote:

jayrandomer wrote:

There's a general aesthetic preference for the golden ratio, approximately 1.6:1. I don't know if it's innate or handed down from antiquity, but it is something we have today.

I hear that claim from time to time, but that is a rather skinny rectangle as picture framing goes. Does anyone really frame artwork in the Golden Ratio? Full frame photos are 1.5, and to have an image format with an aspect ratio more extreme than that would be an awful waste of glass. It's a shame 4:3 or 1.333 didn't become the standard once it was clear that film was dead.

People make FAR too much of a deal over the golden ratio. Is it nice? Yes. But is it the perfect rectangle? No. There's also a reason when you google "golden ratio" there are ZERO hits in Google of just the rectangle itself - people are obsessed with the "conch shell" spiral - THAT's what elegant, not the rectangle itself.

Personally I much prefer the Lichtenberg ratio (√2:1) for its sheer practicality.

1.4142 : 1

Similar to the golden ratio, it has a recursive nature. If you cut it in half, the ratio stays the same.

Why is this useful?

If you produce paper - photographic or otherwise - in large sheets. It gives you the greatest yield.

You can get one giant A0 from a large sheet, or two A1's or four A2's etc. All with the same aspect ratio. There's zero waste.

A two page spread (landscape) is the same aspect ratio as a single page (portrait) page - you'd no longer have to re-think your framing when going from portrait to landscape for publication. (with portrait orientation being closer to 3:4 (8.5x11) and landscape being closer to 3:2 (11x17) in America).

Why Americans never moved to this system from our "letter" and "legal" system is beyond me.

That said - I do find the portrait orientation version of this aspect ratio to be a little unsettling. Too tall for me to take in the whole image at once.

I wonder if you average the canvas sizes used across the ages for portraits, what that would be.

The fact that video is expected to be 16:9 be is very unfortunate. What happened was, movies started out with a 4:3 ratio. Television followed suit. Movies, desperate to be something television couldn't be, went "widescreen." It took a few decades, but television eventually went widescreen too. For a lot of things that we shoot on video--interviewing people, cats doing something cute, even a lot of POV action--4:3 is much better suited.

I quite like wide aspect ratios - I do find them to be more immersive on the big screen.

Our field of view is much closer to 16:9 than 4:3.

But it is unfortunate that talking heads now take up very little of the screen and your composition must include more things in the periphery.

Interestingly, taking the dimensions of the below image it's 1.435:1 - close to the Lichtenberg Ratio or the 1.5:1 ratio of 35mm film.

Perhaps Oskar Barnack was onto something after all.

Edit: Historic portrait canvas sizes.

And a very math. heavy article

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