Having established yesterday that most camera sensors follow a 2 x 3 ratio, we can now understand a very common problem digital photographers face these days.
If you double a 2 x 3 ratio, you get a 4 x 6 ratio. Which means any image you take with a 2 x 3 ratio camera will fit perfectly onto a 4 x 6 print. If we are to double this again, we would get a ratio of 8 x 12, and until recently, it was very difficult to find 8 x 12 size prints, frames or mats, what was more common was 8″ x 10″. So the dilemma became, how do you fit an 8 x 12 image into an 8 x 10 Print? There were a few strategies, none of them were ideal:

1. You could make an 8 x 10 print and cut off 2 inches. Many photographers intentionally shoot this way, knowing they will lose part of the image.
2. You could “fit” the entire image within the frame of the 8 x 10 print, such as using photoshops “fit to print” feature, and this would print the entire image with an extra white border on either long side of the print.
3. You could try to “fix” it in PS, using something like the Content Aware Scaling tool.

What do I do these days? I have been asked this question several times, and this is what I am telling students now: I just shoot for 4 x 6’s and 8 x 12’s. I don’t do any resizing or re-cropping or any planning in camera if I can help it. There are enough print companies out there that are supporting 8 x 12 prints and any framing company worth their salt will be able to matte and frame anything of any size.

An interesting question is “Why was it so hard to find anything other than 8×10’s for the first 5-8 years of the digital era (really becoming mainstream around 1997 or 1998). My understanding was this was that 4 x 5, which when doubled would be 8 x10, was the traditional print size for magazines, as well as the aspect ratio of Medium Format cameras, in fact its been this way for about 90-100 years.

So what I am suggesting is, don’t stress it or fight it too much. If you are doing your own prints, take the time to find vendors who support the 8 x 12 size, it will make things easier for everyone and reduce your work flow time. Additionally, as the 8 x 12 is supported, vendors will lower prices and have more products available for this aspect ratio.