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What is aspect ratio on DSLR camera

As a photographer, it’s key to understand aspect ratio. This is the ratio of width to height, which decides the shape of the image. Landscape, portrait, or square – you name it!

Knowing the basics of aspect ratio will help you take amazing pics with your DSLR camera.

Definition of Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio is the ratio between width and height of a digital image.

It is expressed as two numbers divided by a colon, like 16:9. This means for each 16 units of width, there is 9 units of height. The aspect ratio can range from 1:1 to 4,000:1 or more.

Today’s DSLR cameras can usually capture pictures in 3 sizes: Small (S), Medium (M), and Large (L).

The aspect ratios for these sizes are 3×2 for S and M, and 16×9 for L. The best quality images come from L format.

Some cameras offer advanced features that let you take multiple shots with different aspect ratios at once.

Types of Aspect Ratios

Aspect ratio is a term for describing the proportions of an image. In photography, it’s used to define the width and height. There are multiple aspect ratios used on DSLR cameras.

In this guide, you’ll learn the different types of aspect ratios and how they impact your photos.

Standard Aspect Ratios

Aspect ratios give photographers a sense of composition for visuals. 4:3, 16:9, 2.35:1 and 3:2 are the four standard ones.

4:3 is ‘traditional’ and dates back to early cameras. 16:9 is popular in modern movies and DSLR photography. 2.35 is ‘widescreen’ and used in 35mm film. 3:2 is mostly used by DSLRs as it fits APS-C sensors.

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Digital Aspect Ratios

Talking about aspect ratios in digital photography? We’re talking about the ratio of width to height of the image frame. Ratios come in standard sizes and shape the end result. There are two main types: 3:2 and 4:3.

The default is 3:2, which comes from 35mm film size. It’s perfect for modern cameras with rectangular sensors, which capture more info and make larger prints. You get a square (1:1), portrait (4:5) or landscape (16:9) mode if desired.

4:3 (aka 4×3 or 1.33) is the second popular ratio and was traditionally used on small sensor cameras. They have more distortion so a defined height gives them more control. Modes available: portrait (3:4) and panoramic (2:17).

Best not to switch between ratios too often. Changes can disrupt composition in a series. Find a routine to avoid drastic changes when switching between shots.

How to Change Aspect Ratio on DSLR Camera

Photographers – be sure to know how to adjust your DSLR camera’s aspect ratio! It’s the ratio of the photo’s width to its height. Switching the aspect ratio can turn a good snap into an amazing one. Here’s how to change it:

Accessing the Aspect Ratio Menu

It is important to know what type of camera you have to access the aspect ratio menu on your DSLR camera.

This menu may be different depending on the mode dial setting and camera type.

Certain cameras will have a button labeled “aspect ratio” while others require you to access the shooting menu or live view configuration setting.

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For most Canon cameras in movie mode, press “Disp/Set” and use the main dial to select “Aspect Ratio”. For Nikon cameras in movie mode, press “INFO” and use either control dial to choose “Aspect Ratio”.

The 4:3 and 16:9 HDTV format (HD stands for High Definition) are two of the options available. Digital photography usually has a 3:2 aspect ratio seen at 6MP (megapixel) resolutions or higher.

The 1:1 aspect ratio is found in mid range 5DMK3/7D series with Canon and similar models with Nikon cameras.

This aspect ratio helps capture better quality images than standard ones when filming documentaries or scenic photography where quality is more important than quantity.

Selecting the Desired Aspect Ratio

Ready to go? Identify the aspect ratio of your DSLR camera first. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Press the Menu button on your camera body.
  2. Choose ‘Shooting Menu’ from the list.
  3. Look for the ‘Image Quality’ sub-menu.
  4. In the sub-menu, select ‘Aspect Ratio.’
  5. Pick one from the given options (4:3, 3:2, 16:9, etc.).
  6. You’ll see it in the LCD panel.

You’re done! To change it back, refer to your manual.

Benefits of Using Different Aspect Ratios

Photographers must grasp aspect ratios used in DSLR cameras. This ratio decides if the image frame is wide or tall. The result alters depending on the ratio picked.

Why use different aspect ratios? It can be advantageous!

Creative Control

Aspect ratio is essential in photography and videography. It provides freedom to be creative and craft shots that have a purpose or look. Different aspect ratios will have different effects when displayed on different devices.

Choosing an aspect ratio can help you decide how to divide the frame, what to capture and where to place it.

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For example, in portrait photography, using an anamorphic aspect ratio (2×1) will give a landscape feel by exaggerating vertical items like trees, buildings and people.

A square format (1×1) takes away from having to choose between horizontal or vertical orientation and encourages you to use both axes evenly.

This is helpful when taking group shots with multiple people. Deciding the format before shooting helps avoid cropping and keep original image fidelity.

It is vital for photographers and videographers to grasp how aspect ratios can influence their work. This way, they can make informed choices about which one works best for their projects and schedules!

Image Quality

The aspect ratio of a camera impacts image quality. This is the ratio of width to height when capturing images. Different aspect ratios have different benefits and drawbacks, depending on the type of photography.

For example, 4:3 is great for landscape photos as it provides a wide angle view. 3:2, common in DSLRs, is best for people or other still objects as it focuses more on the subject.

16:9 is great for action shots and sports, as it captures more area. This makes it perfect for fast movement from close quarters.

It’s important to understand the capabilities of different cameras. Experimentation can help you find the best one for your style and provide consistent results.


To wrap things up, the aspect ratio on a DSLR camera is the relationship between the width and height of your photos. It’s a key factor in how your images look when displayed on screens or printed.

Common aspect ratios include 3:2, 4:3, and 16:9, each giving your photos a different feel.

As you get more comfortable with your DSLR, experiment with various aspect ratios to see which one works best for your style. Keep snapping away and have fun exploring the world of photography!

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