Framing for Printing – Digital Photography Tip of the Week

Last week I finished up my two part series on digital camera features. This week we discuss sensor proportion (aspect ratio) and framing your shot for printing.

Digital camera sensors come in basically two rectangular shapes. Digital SLR’s use a sensor that has an aspect of 2:3. Most other digital cameras use a ratio of 3:4, similiar to most computer screens. What does this mean to you?

When shooting with a regular digital camera (not an SLR) your image will fit on a computer screen and show all of the image. But what about your print the image? Because of the format of the sensor, there will be some cropping that will happen when you print to a standard size photographic print. The amount of cropping is determined by the size of the print. The following table show how much cropping is done on an image for both types of sensors when the image is oriented in landscape position, that is with the long side on the bottom. This is assuming the image is cropped to print as much of the image as possible. Values in the table represent how much is lost when cropped.

 
4×6
5×7
8×10
11×14
16×20
Digital SLR
(2:3)
No Cropping
1/4"
left and right
1"
left and right
1.25"
left and right
2"
left and right
Non-SLR
(3:4)
1/4"
top and bottom
1/8"
top and bottom
1/3"
left and right
1/3"
left and right
2/3"
left and right

This is further illustrated by the following illustration showing the amount of the photo cropped when printed on a 4×6, 5×7 or 8×10.

Cropping effects of printing standard size photos

With that in mind, when you take your picture, you will want to leave some room around your subject to account for any cropping you may have to do when you print the image. This is where a camera with higher resolution helps because you can then crop around your subject while still retaining enough data for a quality print.

The cropping for print sizes occurs with film camera’s as well. 35mm film uses the same 2:3 ratio so when shooting with film, follow the guidelines for the digital SLR sensor.

Next week I will talk about how to crop your images to maintain quality.

I have been receiving feedback from our readers on our digital photography tip of the week, keep them coming! Reader Leeor Geva sent me a note letting me know about smugmug.com which is an an online photo sharing and backup service. He also sent along a promotional code (26HHBTzZXP7E6) that will save you $5 off the yearly fee if you sign up. Simply enter the code in the referred by field. Another reader, Jim Kniskern sent along his excellent comments about digital printing. I have posted those on the blog for everyone to read and comment on.

 

The digital photography tip of the week is written by the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer and is currently the vice-president of the Niagara Falls Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography he can address in the newsletter, send it to chris@pcin.net.

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