All About Aspect Ratios
Your Fujifilm X camera has three aspect ratio options: 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1. You can see an example of each of those above. Have you ever wondered which one to use? Why these three? Why not others? Should you crop to a different aspect ratio? What do the numbers mean? I hope to answer these questions and more in this article!
Before moving on, I want to quickly discuss the aspect ratio numbers and what they mean. For instance, what does 3:2 stand for? It’s math, and it means that one side of the picture is 3 parts long (whatever the measure), and the other is two. It’s the shape of the image, and the shape matters when you print. A 3:2 image can be printed 4″ x 6″ without cropping, as well as 8″ x 12″, 12″ x 18″, 16″ x 24″ and 20″ x 30″. If you want to print at those sizes and don’t want to crop, the 3:2 aspect ratio is the right shape for you. The shape also matters for composition. What might look great with one aspect ratio might not with another. You will likely compose your pictures differently depending on the shape.
Let’s take a look at each of the three aspect ratios that Fujifilm gives you, plus some other common aspect ratios not found on your camera.
The 3:2 aspect ratio is the native ratio on your Fujifilm X camera, and that’s because it’s the shape of the sensor. It’s the common aspect ratio of full-frame and APS-C sensor cameras, and it’s also the aspect ratio of 35mm film. The 3:2 aspect ratio is one of the most used, if not the most used, aspect ratios in digital photography. It’s a very familiar shape that most of us use every day, and it conveniently matches a number of different print sizes.
While the 3:2 aspect ratio is a very common shape, for some it’s too wide, and for others not wide enough. There are other shapes that might suite your photography better.
The 16:9 aspect ratio might seem cinematic, and that’s because it’s the shape of wide-screen televisions. When you watch your favorite TV show or movie at home, you likely view it in this aspect ratio. This is a common shape for video.
While mainly intended for video, the 16:9 aspect ratio can be used for still photography. The long, thin proportions are almost panoramic, and can be especially great for landscape photography. In order to create this shape, your camera crops a little off the top and bottom of the image and doesn’t use the whole sensor.
The 1:1 aspect ratio is square, but that doesn’t mean it’s lame. In fact, it’s the original shape of Instagram. The square picture has been around nearly as long as photography itself. There have been numerous cameras over the years that capture square images, including many 120 and 126 film cameras.
Magazine and newspaper editors used to prefer square pictures because they could crop them tall or wide, whatever would best fit the available space. On your Fujifilm X camera, some of the picture is cropped off the ends to make it square, so it doesn’t use the whole sensor.
The 5:4 aspect ratio is not found on your Fujifilm X camera. In fact, none of the rest are, only the first three. In order to get this shape, which is almost square, you’ll need to crop your picture using software.
This aspect ratio is from large format film, which commonly come in 4″ x 5″ or 8″ x 10″ sheets. You might note that this is the shape of 8″ x 10″ and 16″ x 20″ prints, which are common sizes. While it’s not unusual to print in this aspect ratio, it is a bit unusual to find a camera that captures it.
The 4:3 aspect ratio, which has its origins in medium format film, is very common. Most digital cameras with sensors larger than full frame or smaller than APS-C use this aspect ratio, including Fujifilm GFX. It’s not as wide as 3:2, but wider than 5:4. I wish that Fujifilm offered this as an option on their X-Trans models. Since they don’t, if you want to use the 4:3 aspect ratio you’ll have to crop using software. If you print poster-sized, you might make a 30″ x 40″ print; otherwise, the 4:3 aspect ratio will require some cropping to print common sizes.
The 7:5 aspect ratio is very uncommon. It’s a not-especially-popular large format film size. You can make 5″ x 7″ prints, too. Outside of that, this is a pretty much forgotten aspect ratio. With that said, it’s a nice in-between to the 3:2 and 4:3 ratios, which might make it a good option if you’re looking for something different.
Your Fujifilm X camera has 3:2 as its standard aspect ratio, which is good because it won’t require cropping for many common print sizes. You also have the option of 16:9 if you want a wide picture, or 1:1 if you want a square picture, although the camera won’t use the whole sensor. Any other aspect ratio will require you to crop using software. You can make a picture any shape you want, but the more uncommon the aspect ratio, the more difficult it might be to print. Still, that shouldn’t stop you if that’s what you want to do. It can be tricky to discover what aspect ratio works best for your photography, so if you aren’t sure, I invite you to try different shapes until you find what you like best. You might find that you appreciate different shapes for different subjects or situations. There’s no one-size-fits-all aspect ratio, but the 3:2 aspect ratio is one-size-fits-most, which makes it ideal to have as the shape of your sensor.