Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > General Discussion

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jul 4, 2003, 1:22 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2
Default Aspect ratio in Consumer vs. Pro cameras

I've never seen anything written about the following: Why is it that pretty much all pro digital cameras have an aspect ratio 2:3 (which is what your 4 x 6 prints are) while most consumer digital cameras (except Kodak, Toshiba, Sony, maybe others?) have a 4:5 aspect ratio? Is this on account of monitors sizes or possibly patent issues?

What I can't wrap my head around is that I can't see 4:5 vs. 2:3 being a cost in manufacturing, and 4 x 6 was already standard in consumer photos and film, so why was the format introduced in the first place (yea, I know you have 4:5 for larger negatives, but I've never seen anything in print linking the two ideas)? By now, it's inertia, but what was the basis for project management approving it in the first place?

Thanks for any enlightenment,
Csaba Gabor from New York
csaba is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Jul 4, 2003, 3:48 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 116

I'm not able to answer that as well as some of the other folks on this board, but I'll give it a shot...hopefully my answers will be at least close...

The original CCD's for consumer digicams were descended from the CCD's for camcorders...back when digital was poor quality it was used primarily for video, and video and computer monitors are at 4x5 ratio...

Even now digital photos are, I would guess, viewed more on monitors than prints.

Some digicams will let you take a 2:3 ratio, but it is done by cropping out in the camera.

Professional digital SLR's use the same lens systems as 35mm film cameras, and therefore have CCD's that are the same size as 35mm frame, thus the 2:3 ratio.

I'm sure there's more to it than that, but that's my take, as a newbie to digital.
rych26 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 4, 2003, 4:03 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 2,162

I tried to have a similar discussion about aspect ratio in the context of EU adoption of widescreen 16X9, as the future standard for TV displays and program production.

If you think back to movie film and Hollywood, there has been a plethora of aspect ratio standards and other things, even down to perf holes and sound standards. So much so that cinemas just use projectors and bolt on different film gates, lenses, and have electrically operated curtains to get the screen right.

Whilst there have been many debates about the aesthetics of one format over another, the main reason has probably been commercial dominance by each Film house and by the camera/projection suppliers to patent and be sole supplier. You guys in the States should know all about this - we have horizontal market principals, open standards objectives and competition practice laws in the EU!

Digicams have their roots in the pc and 4X3 TV industry - rather than the movie film business. So for pc techies, 4X3 is OK. But composition wise, this is not supposed to be good for our eye perspective. It's not surprising that the aspect to print is not a perfect match, except on Fuji printers which print 41/2X6. Along comes 16X9. for TV. Soon we will all have a flat panel in our homes and moan about the black bands or cropping of our digi-pics. We'll also moan about the same thing and screen burn when we use the same plasma panels for web surfing. Multimedia convergence may happen one day - when media from any source in any format or aspect can be displayed as it was intended - at least that's the theory! Film has always given us much more resolution than we needed, and we could afford to crop and still get the aspect we wanted (look at 21/4 square).

Today we pay a lot for pixel density in our cameras. The whole chain from sensor capture through to print and display is still dominated by the 4X3 frame aspect. As far as I know, Kodak who you'd expect to know about these things, is a supplier of a 1.5:1 aspect consumer cam. Thats closer to 16X9 than 1.33:1 of most digicams.

The problem with most in the digicam world, is there is this bad perception that aspect ratio is something lower down the value chain than Megapixels and often not thought about. Also aspect ratio is something that software can get right by magic (without understanding the losses or geometry distortion which results)

Eventually, when he have 20 Mega pixel+ cameras, manufacturers will build optional safe area graticules or image scaling into viewfinders and we won't worry about throwing away sensor pixels or processing and storing bigger files than necessary. Who knows, even ccd sensors in different aspects that plug in like flash memory!!

A few years ago we didn't have digicams, so we shouldn't knock progress - it just needs to converge in a common sense way, without restrictive practices and still bring competition and business opportunities, VOX
voxmagna is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:01 AM.