While individual photographers and videographers are free to use any aspect ratio they like, the industry as a whole has settled on a few standard options. Here, we explore some of the most common aspect ratios in photography and video, explaining why they were chosen and when they are typically used.

What is aspect ratio in photography and video?

Aspect ratio in photography and video is the relationship between the width and height of the image or video being displayed.

These are most commonly shown as units of width and height separated by a colon. However, they can also be displayed as a single number that equates to the width divided by the height.

For example, an aspect ratio of 3:2 could be displayed as 1.50 (3 divided by 2). Oftentimes, this number is then put back into ratio form – for example, 1.50:1.

It’s important to note that, when using the colon separation, aspect ratios are always arranged with the width first. So, if the above example is displayed in portrait orientation, the ratio would change to 2:3.

Why use different aspect ratios?

Several different factors dictate the use of a specific aspect ratio in digital photography or video.  

The camera sensor

Different cameras use different sensors, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes and this is important because the camera’s sensor shape affects the image or video it makes.

For example, a photo from a full-frame camera looks wider than one from a medium-format camera. The reason for this is that full-frame sensors have a 3:2 ratio, whereas medium format sensors usually have an aspect ratio that results in images closer in shape to a square than a rectangle.

The display

Another reason is to optimize the image or video for the container in which it will be shown.

Examples of different displays could be a TV screen, computer monitor, social media feed, or even a printed picture frame.

A responsive website, for example, might require your content to be 16:9 because that’s the most common sizing of desktop monitors. On the other hand, a smartphone app might advise sizing more similar to 9:16 to suit the portrait orientation of smartphone screens.

Personal preference

Photographers and videographers may choose a particular ratio to suit the photograph or video they are trying to create.

In photography, for example, portraiture might lend itself to a 2:3 aspect ratio, while panoramic landscapes might work better in a much wider 3:1.

In most cases, this is done using post-production software, which makes it easy to crop content to your desired size. However, many cameras will allow you to select a specific aspect ratio at the point of capture. 

What are the most used aspect rati