Why Aren’t More Photos Taken in 16:9?

Matthew Lago asks:

Why do we still use pictures with 4:3 ratio and not 16:9, even though all the screens of modern PCs are in 16:9?

Why Aren't More Photos Taken in 16:9?This is an interesting question. Modern monitors are mostly in the 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratios, but still camera sensors haven’t changed to match the visual aspect ratio of computer monitors. 35 mm by 24 mm translates closely to the 4:3 and 3:2 standards. Cameras built specifically with video in mind may have a sensor that fits in the 16:9 aspect ratio in order to capture a more accurate image. Still images taken on a camcorder typically fit that profile, though not everyone uses a camcorder to take stills.

You can set cameras to crop photos at various aspect ratios (including 16:9), though a lot of photographers prefer to take full advantage of the sensor and capture as much of a scene as possible. If any cropping is done, then it’s likely done during post processing.

So why is this? Simply put, camera lenses and sensors are made to match each other. Cropping an image at the camera means throwing out part of the image you could have included. Many photographers prefer to keep their images as true to the original as possible, though some will willingly crop them as they see fit. It comes down to the photographer and application in which the image is being used.

Websites, for example, tend to adhere to the 4:3 standard when embedding images. When you view content on a webpage, much of what you’re seeing is vertical rather than horizontal. Having an image that plays to these strengths is a bit more aesthetically pleasing on some sites. LockerGnome uses 640 x 480 images to accompany our articles because they look better than a wider image that would cover the entire width of the text area. Being able to place the image slightly to the right or left and have text wrap around it makes for a more efficient use of space.

It’s entirely possible that you’ll see a lot more images taken in a wider standard over the next few years. For now, the 35 mm x 24 mm format is the look of choice for photographers and camera makers.

Image: Wikimedia

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.