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Thoughts on 4:3

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Luckypenguin, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. I thought that the Four Thirds system was (is) nice and think that the Micro Four Thirds system is great, but ironically one of the things that I have never been quite sure about is the 4:3 aspect ratio from which the two systems draw their names. I did and still do shoot Canon DSLRs which use a 3:2 ratio and so the wider format feels natural to me. A 3:2 image draws your eyes from left to right and back again (or up and down in potrait). In comparison a squarer image feels more static. This does not necessarily make 3:2 better, just...different.

    One of the coolest things about my GH1 is the multi-aspect sensor which allows me to shoot at 3:2 using the full image circle, with the loss of only about 0.5MP compared to using 4:3. It also helps to make full use of the ultra-wide lenses like the 9-18mm. Of course you can always crop a 4:3 image, but you don't get quite the same width. I wonder how much extra cost is involved in the multi-aspect sensor that would prevent it from being used in a wider range of models, and does the system name preclude a dedicated 3:2 sensor ever seeing the light of day?
  2. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I, too, prefer 3:2, but I know many have said they prefer 4:3, and that's it's closer in aspect ratio to common larger print formats, but to my eye, 3:2 feels better. But, I do also like the challenge of 1;1 format. That's one thing I always though Panny got right since the LX3: the multi-aspect sensor. I wish they would spread across all of m43. It's also helpful in movie mode at 16:9. There's no cropping!
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I like 3:2 and shoot everything in it. I sometimes crop down to square when there's too much extraneous stuff around the edges (particularly for street work) and I usually crop to 4:3 for portrait orientation shots because 3:2 turned on edge just seems too tall.

    Most commercial print outfits also have default sizes that work best with 3:2.

    The missed pixels don't seem to bother me much.

  4. mzd

    mzd Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 30, 2010
    when I initially was getting into :43: I looked into the different aspect ratios and decided 4:3 was best because it was the most flexible with regards to various print sizes (4x6, 5x7, 8x10).
    however, I have found I generally prefer the 3:2 ratio, compositionally. At least for landscape oriented photos. I think I still prefer 4:3 for portrait oriented photos. I was thinking about switching the aspect ratio in camera so I don't have to crop as much in post and I'll be getting the composition right during the time of shooting, but I haven't committed to that change yet.

    Ray, do you prefer 3:2 for portrait as well as landscape orientation?
  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Not to be rude, but read my previous post again. S L O W L Y this time :biggrin:

  6. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    4:3 almost exclusively.. Sometimes 16:9 for something different or square. 4:3 works better for printing, too...
  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Actually, the Four-Thirds name refers to the size of the image circle, which fits that of a 4/3 TV tube. ;)  The aspect ratio is more coincidental.

    I understand your feeling towards 3:2 aspect. In both portraits and landscapes, the extra length can better isolate your subject, be it the length of a person or the width of the horizon.

    However, I will also add that as a commercial photographer, who was previously an advertising designer, everything I shoot and design goes to commercial print sizes. For me, the 4:3 aspect feels a lot more natural and comfortable for that reason.

    All that aside though, I don't think the 4:3 aspect was chosen for any "perspective" reasons. The Four-Thirds aspect ratio is in almost every way more efficient for the camera, and optimization is what the Four-Thirds system was built on. Our lenses are round, not oval or oblong, and they expose onto a round image circle. The more you deviate from that round circle, the more you are required to make larger, more complex (which normally equates to heavier and more expensive) lenses in order to expose properly onto those extra ends... unless you compromise the quality of the image and allow the ends to remain underexposed and soft with no corner resolution. Four-Thirds basically exposes onto the same size sensor as APS-C within the center portion (where their aspect ratios cross and share a common height), but with the ends chopped off. Even though the lens has essentially the same sensor capture within its prime image circle area, the lenses for an APS-C sensor have to expose onto a much wider surface area and are thus made much bigger in order to complete that image circle which is largely wasted and not being captured by the sensor. Four-Thirds was developed from the ground up for efficiency, without wasting any of the precious light being captured.

    I believe that was the reason for the 4:3 aspect, to give us the highest, most optimum image quality without excess manufacturing and size. Square aspect would have been even more "efficient" of course, but until we have square paper it simply wouldn't be practical for most. ;) 
    • Like Like x 6
  8. s0nus

    s0nus Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 13, 2010
    I'm very much used to 4:3. My previous camera, an Olympus C3020, shot at 2048 x 1536, which is also 4:3. I shoot everything in 4:3, and tend to keep it that way in PP.

    I sometimes crop to a different ratio, but then it's generally an arbitrary one to taste.

    It hasn't even crossed my mind to use a different ratio. I should try 3:2 and see how I like it.

    Ray - You shoot in RAW, unapologetically. I know that when I change the ratio on my EPL1 to anything other than 4:3, the full 4:3 frame is actually captured and then cropped, but the full image remains in the RAW data. My question is, do you commit to the crop as shot, or do you sometimes shift the 3:2 frame within the 4:3 in post?
  9. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Those who shoot point-and-shoots will be more accustomed to 4:3 aspect, but also those who shoot Medium Format and Large Format. 35mm film is the one which deviated and went with a "weird" aspect from the rest. In fact, it was originally created by putting two frames together and was a "double frame" format. That's why the original Olympus Pen was called a "single frame" camera, whereas these days they call it a "half-frame" because of the popularity of the original "double frame" 35mm... which is now considered the "normal" 35mm.

    Here's an example of the terminology I'm talking about...
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Yet, even the Olympus website now calls the Pen F a "half-frame" camera, that's how much the popularity of the "double frame" 35mm grew.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    I almost never think of this because I always crop my pictures. I could probably be most happy with square.
  11. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    I prefer 3:2 as well, but as long as you stick to the rule of thirds, it's all about the same!
  12. mzd

    mzd Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 30, 2010
    sorry. I guess I caught the beginning and the end, but missed a rather important sentence in the middle. :wink:
    3 out of 4. 75% reading comprehension. that is not particularly good. :redface: maybe too much coffee this morning?
  13. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I had a preference for 3:2 but that has been changing over time. I now feel equally drawn to 3:2 and 4:3.
  14. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    3:2 has always been the hardest format I have worked in--it is either too wide or not wide enough. My favorite formats have been 2:1 and 1:1. I am getting on quite well with the 4:3. That is one of the things keeping me away from APS-C sensors.
  15. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    I haven't shot 3:2 since I last used film ... that would be over 10 years ago. Now 3:2 looks odd to me ... too long. I prefer 4:3. Clearly I visualize my pictures in 4:3 as well, because often when I'm forced to crop to 3:2 for making 4x6 prints, I end up with a composition that I'm unhappy with.
  16. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    I work in 3:2. Most of my clients are domestic ones and we are metric so paper sizes are close. But for my personal work I'm all over the place which is why I love the multi-aspect sensor in the GH2. In fact its the only reason I don't have a G3.

    But I'm drawn to the 16:9 ratio or wider. If I stitch images they'll usually end up at 2.5:1 or wider.

  17. Linh

    Linh Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Maryland, US
    I will shoot in 3:2 for events because most people want 4x6's. I could post crop, but in the midst of shooting, I'd rather lose pixels than realize I can't crop it because I framed it a bit off.

    Personally, I've always loved 1:1. In print anyway. On the web, 4:3 tends to work better, it seems more natural... unless i encounter someone doing full screen 16:9 web browsing.
  18. Markb

    Markb Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 9, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Or even "full frame" like it's the biggest you can get. If 24x36mm is full frame what does that make 6x6cm? Fuller frame? Sounds like an ad for clothes :smile:

    Anyway, blame Oscar Barnack for 24x36 on cine film. I believe his early prototype shot 24x24mm like a Kodak Instamatic. Now there's a thought!
  19. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I bet some time in the coming decade(s) that there will no longer be "Widescreen TV". Instead, our old 4:3 TV screens and monitors (currently called "Fullscreen") will then be called "Halfscreen".

    That will of course confuse people involved in the printing industry, but who cares... only printing and pre-press people know what a halfscreen is anyways, so they'll just have to change that name. :rofl:
  20. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Although I will crop to it on the odd occasion when the subject demands, I generally hate 3:2. It was one reason (obviously not the only one) why in film days I eventually dumped my 35mm SLR kit and moved to 645 Medium Format. It just seems more natural to me and suits the way I compose. I must admit it was one attraction of the standard 4/3 format when I bought my first DSLR, an E-500.

    I rarely print at 6x4, but often use 7x5, 8x6, 12x9 and 16x12, which is as big as I need to go.
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