Aspect Ratio Insanity

Just a quick holiday, at least here in the USA, thought before venturing off to the family dinner. I had a conversation the other day with an enthusiastic friend who had just acquired a brand new DSLR upgrade from a P&S digicam and I happened to mention that she would not have to worry as much about the crop anymore when printing to 4x6 paper (as she does most of the time). At that point she asked me what I was talking about. After a long deja vu like conversation and explanation. Here is a thought that I discussed with her that you may find amusing. Namely the insane, idiotic, full circle capture formats and popular consumer print formats have taken in over the decades. Sheet film was invented, paper formats followed, and 8x10, 5x7, and 4x5 prints/frames became popular. Roll film became popular with consumers, some cameras used frames that were appropriate or matched the aspect ratios of existing papers, some didn't. 35mm film caught on became much better, consumer photography exploded as did film processing and printing still using the same paper formats that didn't match the 35mm 3:2 aspect ratio. A few dozen years ago the 4x6 print size became the most popular final output for consumers and after a long long time consumer capture aspect ratio matched the most popular final output aspect ratio - ahhhhhh peace and harmony.

Hold on for a second - here comes the punchline - Digital explodes, consumers switch to P&S digicams, pretty much abandon 35mm in very short order. What do camera companies do? They decide that an aspect ratio for consumer cameras should be more 8x10'ish and voila - the popular consumer choice for final output, 4x6, doesn't match the capture ratio any more for the vast majority of consumers. Hey at least the more pro-oriented cameras match paper that people who use these cameras don't use. The irony is just too much.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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