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[Lesson 12] Aspect Ratio

There are some camera models that allow the aspect ratio (ratio between the width and the height) of a photo to be changed during Live View shooting. By selecting a different aspect ratio from 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1 in addition to the standard 3:2 format, you will be able to alter the impression of your photo dramatically. (Reported by: Ryosuke Takahashi)

Select an aspect ratio according to your photographic intention

Switching to a different lens changes the angle of view, which in turn alters the impression of a photo. Yet another interesting technique you can challenge to make your photo turn out totally different is by changing the aspect ratio. At the same time, by setting the image-recording quality to [RAW+JPEG], the same photo will be saved as a JPEG image in the currently selected aspect ratio and as a RAW image in the 3:2 format. If you want to alter the aspect ratio after an image is captured, make use of the Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software programme that comes with Canon's EOS cameras.

Press the MENU button on the rear body to access the "Aspect Ratio" item in the Live View menu. During Live View shooting, the image will be displayed on the LCD monitor screen in the selected aspect ratio.

Types of Aspect Ratios

3:2 - Same aspect ratio as the CMOS sensor

3:2 is the standard aspect ratio format for Canon's EOS series that helps to produce photographic works easily in both the vertical and horizontal orientations. This is also the aspect ratio of the CMOS sensor, so you will be able to make full use of the area covered by the CMOS sensor.

4:3 - Eases composition for photo prints

This format is shorter on the long side compared to the 3:2 aspect ratio. The condensed feel of this aspect ratio creates a subdued impression, with the image unfolding in the direction of the short side. As 4:3 is close to that of A4 and B5 paper sizes, you can compose a shot easily in this format if you are intending to produce photo prints.

16:9 - Dramatic effect with a movie-like angle of view

This format is longest on the long side among the four aspect ratio types, creating an atmosphere with a movie-like touch. While most shots are composed horizontally in the 16:9 format, you can make use of the vertical orientation intentionally to emphasise the height of the subject, for example.

1:1 - Enhances the presence of the main theme

Also known as the square format, 1:1 is the aspect ratio used by medium-format cameras. It allows you to compose a compact shot and makes it easy to stress the presence of the main theme. 1:1 is also good for bringing out the retro atmosphere in an image, and matches well too with the Creative Filter effects, which I will explain in the next lesson.

Ryosuke Takahashi

Born in Aichi in 1960, Takahashi started his freelance career in 1987 after working with an advertising photo studio and a publishing house. Photographing for major magazines, he has travelled to many parts of the world from his bases in Japan and China. Takahashi is a member of the Japan Professional Photographers Society (JPS).