digital photography printingPhotography is quite interesting in and of itself and when you print your photos, to see the fruits of your labor take shape and physical form is even much more fulfilling. When you print your photographs on traditional paper, these photographs are either cropped or  it could be that there are some areas in your paper that are left blank. That is due to the present aspect ratio of the photograph. Here, we inspect just what aspect ratio means and how important it is to digital photography.

Before you go about in understand digital paper sizes and why they are different that the traditional ones, you should first have a solid understanding of what aspect ratio is. This term describes the relation between the horizontal and the vertical aspects of the photograph. It can also be applied to videos, paintings or just about any two-dimensional rectangle. The aspect ratio is obtained by dividing the width of a photograph by its height.

One example you could take is the aspect ratio of a television screen in normal mode. Any normal TV would have an aspect ratio of 4:3. Simply put, if you were to divide the width of the screen by its height, the result would be 4:3. There are different aspect ratios for other screens such as that of widescreen televisions which is similarly stretched out to be like that of a movie theater screen. This has an aspect ratio of 16:9.

The sensor of the camera actually replaces the traditional film but it is also a rectangle with physical attributes such as height, width and resolution.

So you then inquisitively ask: what does aspect ratio has to do with paper sizes? The paper photographs also have an aspect ratio. When a photograph is printed, the aspect ratio of the paper must equal to the aspect ratio of the photography or in the case of digital photography, the aspect ratio of the sensor of the camera which was used to take the photograph.

If they are different, the resulting areas would come out as blank areas on the paper. A photograph could be cropped or maybe even stretched to fit the paper but doing so will eventually distort the image on the paper when printed.

With digital cameras, the sensors have different aspect ratios when compared to traditional film. Here are a few examples of the different popular sensor sizes with their corresponding aspect ratios.

2MP 1600 X 1200 4:3

3MP 2048 X 1536 4:3

4MP 2272 X 1704 4:3

5MP 2592 X 1944 4:3

6MP 2816 X 2112 4:3

8MP 3200 X 2400 4:3

The first value in the first example, (2MP) stands for two megapixels. The second one, which is 1600×1200 is the resulting height and width of the picture and lastly, the aspect ratio. These aspect ratios of digital cameras are quite different from the 3:2 aspect ratio of traditional photographs.

If your dimensions are any different from the aspect ratio, then it will probably be cropped out. So be specific about your aspect ratio so that whenever you print your photographs, they come out looking exactly as you want them to be.