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Old Feb 20, 2004, 1:47 AM   #1
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Default Support for standard photo print sizes - 6*4 etc

Hi

I have been using digital cameras for a few years now. Having started with a Kodak DX3600 I just bought a Minolta Z1. The Kodak was a good point and click camera, and we could readily import and print 6*4 (and other standard size) photos with our printer. Now, with the Minolta, we get higher resolution images and many other bells and whistles. However, we are shocked to discover that the camera's pixel resolution settings produce non-standard sized images that require cropping! The resoution choices are:

640*480
1280*960
1600*1200 - which gives 6*4.5 prints - not too convenient.
2048*1536

What we want is 1800*1200 or similar proportions. This enables you to scale directly to stndard print sizes such as 6*4, 5*7 etc.
Why don't Minolta - a leading camera manufacturer - stick to the paper printing conventions - and international picture frame/ photo album sizes???? Have I missed something vital here?

If you have to crop or distort images, then this is a major problem with digital cameras! Can someone shed some light on this issue???

Thanks
Peter
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Old Feb 20, 2004, 4:54 AM   #2
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There's been lots of previous post under the heading 'Aspect Ratio' which you can search for on this Forum. The pixel formats you list come from the pc world and were specified for 4x3 pc monitors. Aspect ratio incompatibility is cropping up all the time in imaging, including TV.

Remember with 2 1/4" film YOU decided the most suitable aspect and orientation for your shot at the time of shooting, and threw away negative area in post processing.

The problem with digicams at the mo., is it becomes expensive to discard sensor area, because that's the label you are paying for and resolution over the ccd is expensive, impacting throughout the camera design.

Rather than asking for print paper/monitor standardisation, which true photographers may argue will never happen, I'd rather see the sensor Mpix pushed up further and for affordable cameras to have scaleable viewfinder 'safe area cages'.

Fortunately, if you look into it, the Fuji Frontier minilabs can print 6 X 41/2 and Fuji make their 'Crystal' paper to suit. Unfortunately, not every processing lab wants to be bothered to offer this option- and also your pics will not fit in standard album sleeves.

I agree that if you want go from point and shoot to lab processing in quantity, then an unreasonable amount of time is spent cropping - and it's better for you to do it rather than the labs who may make an arbitary decision. Eventually though, unless shooting with crop framing in mind, you will produce some pics that just aren't croppable. VOX
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Old Feb 20, 2004, 7:40 AM   #3
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Vox is right: a search for "aspect ratio" will pull up all kinds of threads on this subject.

IMHO, there are three "correct" aspect ratios:
1:1 - A square format maximizes the use of the lens.

(1+sqrt(5))/2 - Golden Ratio, considered the best since Ancient Greece.

6:17 - Or something close to that. A moderate panoramic aspect ratio mimics the mind/eye's tendency to see further to the sides than up/down.
______________
The only reason for a 2:3 aspect ratio is if you are never going to do anything with your images except print 4x6"s with no post processing. If that is the case, there is no reason to have a camera with more than 2Mpixels.
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Old Feb 21, 2004, 5:26 AM   #4
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Being a Kodak DX3900 owner (that camera has a 2160 x 1440 max resolution, corresponding to a 3:2 aspect ration, the same as a 4 inch by 6 inch print, I often wonder why other makers never followed Kodak's lead. These are camera, not TV sets afterall!
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Old Feb 21, 2004, 8:44 AM   #5
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RobotniK.....yes I think Kodak actually did good and had some foresight in breaking the pc aspect ratio mould, and it fits in better with new 16X9 plasma displays.

I keep moaning that one day I'll get one of these displays, then all my 4X3 pics will have black bars unless I can do yet another cropping excercise. I'm aware and tend to agree with all the composition arguments for widescreen - eye subtends and all that. When you sit watching widescreen for any length of time, going back to 4X3 seems unatural. The problem is, I just don't like Kodak digicams, so I'm hoping that one day Mpix, like memory, will be plentyful and affordable. Then I can throw some away on aspect ratio choices!

As BillDrew says, there are prefered ratios, but in a serial process from image capture to final print/display there are plenty of opportunities for a manufacturer to come up with a bespoke aspect ratio, somewhere in the photo chain to create a standard 'by widespread adoption'. This was rife in movie film -,Arri et al. In a way Kodak probably did this for the right reasons, whereas the majority sitting in front of pc's felt more comfortable with VGA specs. VOX
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Old Feb 21, 2004, 9:15 AM   #6
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When Mpixels become very cheap so no one feels bad about throwing a chunk of them away, I would really like to have a square format with a variable aspect ratio viewfinder for composition. With the choice of keeping all the pixels or doing an in camera crop to match the viewfinder. That way when I am in a happy-snap 4x6" mode, the camera will crop ready to print snapshots. The camera could even have a choice of portait or landscape 4:6 with self leveling so beach shots wouldn't look like the ocean was going to run off the right side of the picture.

With a variable aspect ratio viewfinder, I could compose with the final print in mind. 4:5 ratio for 8x10" prints, 4:10 for the cheap pano prints, 9:16 for HDTV, 1:1 with the intention of masking to a heart shaped valentine, 4:6 for happy-snaps, (1+sqrt(5))/2 for the classicist, ...

When Mpixels become cheap, good lenses will remain expensive. A square sensor will make maximum use of the lens and offer the most options with minimum loss of lens coverage. Other aspect ratios can be selected electronically.
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Old Feb 22, 2004, 4:44 PM   #7
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All that would be nice Bill, To add a further sophistocation - after all, firmware is cheap - they could tag the EXIF header with your chosen frame aspect in the square finder, then offer save the full image as an option. That way if you change your mind afterwards you've got more to go back to. Otherwise the happy snappy processing shops, or Photoshop, read the Exif flag and do a batch crop in post. The only downside is more memory used and slower uploads to processing websites.

I wonder if the autofocus would still be on track for your special heart frame cutouts! Who knows, these downloadable frame masks could be as popular as ring tones and make a lot of cash for somebody. It's funny how you could think of a number of business opportunities for downloadable customisations or fashion tweaking, But manufacturers seem to spend most of their time worrying about NOT offering any firmware upgrades, when somebody could be making money with licensed addons for those willing to buy into style and features. VOX
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