The native aspect ratio of Fujifilm GFX cameras is 4:3. An aspect ratio is simply a mathematical expression of the shape of a sensor, film, picture, or screen. I’ve mostly shot with the 3:2 aspect ratio, which is the shape of 35mm film and many digital camera sensors, including Fujifilm X cameras, so the native GFX ratio isn’t something I’m used to.
The 4:3 aspect ratio has been around for a long time, and was the original shape of motion picture film beginning in the 1890’s. It would later become the standard shape of television screens and computer monitors for many decades, and today is the aspect ratio of most tablets, such as the iPad. It’s also the standard aspect ratio of Micro-Four-Thirds and digital medium-format cameras, and most old digicams and cellphone cameras use this ratio. 120 medium-format film can be (but isn’t always) shot in this aspect ratio, too.
While 4:3 is more square-like than 3:2, it is still a rectangle, yet I find it more challenging to compose within its shape. I personally like 3:2 and I’m quite comfortable with it. I even prefer to shoot 1:1 square instead of 4:3. The GFX aspect ratio just isn’t natural to me. It doesn’t seem like this should be a big deal, but for some reason it is for me. Over the last year I’ve challenged myself to use 4:3 more, so that I can be better at it.
Mainly I’ve used the 4:3 aspect ratio on my iPhone, which is the native shape of most cellphone cameras. My RitchieCam iPhone camera app does have many other ratios to choose from, and I don’t always use 4:3, but I’ve forced myself to use it more than ever before. This has certainly helped me not only refine my compositions within that shape, but become more accustomed to using it and seeing it. It has been becoming a bit more normalized for me. If you’ve used this ratio for years, that might seem like an odd statement, but I haven’t used it much ever (especially when compared to 3:2), so it has been outside of my comfort zone.
Fujifilm should add 4:3 as an aspect ratio choice on their X-series cameras. The current options are 3:2, 1:1, and 16:9. Why not add 4:3, 5:4, and 65:24? It doesn’t seem like it would take much programming effort to do so. Instead, if you want 4:3, you have to shoot GFX.
What about that top picture? What about the five pictures below? Which camera did I use for those to get a 4:3 aspect ratio? I didn’t crop them. They’re straight out of a Fujifilm camera—captured over the last two days and completely unedited—and they are all 4:3. Did I just buy a GFX camera, and, if so, which one? You’ll have to keep scrolling down to find out!
I did not buy a GFX camera, which you probably already guessed based on the photographs’ image quality. While I would certainly love to own one, it’s just not something that it’s in my budget. If Fujifilm ever wanted to give me one, I’d certainly accept the offer, but I’m definitely not holding my breath on that one!
So which Fujifilm camera did I shoot those images with? It couldn’t have been an X-series, right? Actually, the 2/3″ sensor X cameras—X10, X20, X30, XQ1, XQ2—do shoot naively in the 4:3 aspect ratio. But it wasn’t any of those models. And it wasn’t GFX. So what was it?
I used a lowly Fujifilm AX350 point-and-shoot digicam. This camera was number one in my The 5 Worst Fujifilm Cameras That You Should Never Own list, which was a tongue-in-cheek look at Fujifilm’s lesser appreciated models. Of course, any camera is “good enough” in the hands of a skilled photographer, including the AX350.
Interestingly, these old pocket point-and-shoot digicams are all the rage right now, particularly among Gen-Z. Why? There is a nostalgic aesthetic to their image quality. If you existed between 2000 and 2012, there’s a good chance that some of your most important or favorite life moments were captured on one of those cameras. These types of cameras were around before 2000, but film was still king by far. These types of cameras existed well after 2012, too, but more and more they were replaced by cellphones. If you were young between 2000 and 2012, you’re childhood memories are in part viewed through the aesthetic of cheap point-and-shoot digicams, so it makes sense that there would be some nostalgic feelings about it.
You can pick up these old digicams for next to nothing. If you don’t have one sitting in an old box or drawer somewhere, they commonly show up at thrift stores or yard sales for just a few dollars. I got mine from Goodwill about three-and-a-half years ago. It was in a box of various film and digital models, which I paid $40 for. I sold the two film cameras on eBay, and that paid for the lot. There were two kids cameras, which I kept—my youngest two children still play with them. There were two other point-and-shoot digital cameras that didn’t work, so they got tossed in the trash. The AX350 is the only thing that I kept for myself. I don’t use it often at all, but it’s fun to dust off every once in awhile. Although simple to operate, it’s a challenge to get quality results, so I find it to be a good photographic exercise.