With time, the basic concepts of digital photography, filmmaking, and video creation have undergone a tremendous change. Frame compositions, screen proportions, color temperatures, and frame rates are no longer dependent on the footage shot in the first go. 

Instead, technological innovation has brought the entire video production and editing landscape, right to the comfort of your computer screens!

What is Aspect Ratio and all there is to know

However, despite the continuous transformations, there remains a methodology that casts a huge impact on the way a particular video is shot, edited, and showcased. 

This technique, being time-tested, doesn’t just beef up your overall video creation process, but it also helps you make an enormous difference in efficiently framing and composing your images. 

This method is called the Aspect Ratio. 

What Is Aspect Ratio?

Aspect ratio, commonly known as aspect definition, is essentially the relationship that exists between the height and width of an image. This ratio doesn’t just define the shape, size, and dimensions of the picture you click, but it also indicates the picture’s ability to conform to a specific screen. 

This is to say that if the ratio of your image and screen is different, the image will simply not fit into your screen! 

You will end up seeing pictures and videos which are either too narrow or too broad. In some cases, the image might even be cropped from the top and bottom. In other cases, black bars might appear on the sides.

The aspect ratio is generally symbolized with the help of two numbers, separated by a colon (:). The first number suggests the width of the image, while the second number represents its height. So, if you see a ratio of 16:2, it means that your picture is 16 mm wide and 2 mm tall. 

What Are The Most Popular Aspect Ratio Formats?

In a strictly technical way, it wouldn’t be incorrect to state that there currently exists a wide variety of aspect ratios. Each ratio has a specific function to perform and a well-defined service to render.

Nonetheless, there are five major ratio formats which are primarily used by photographers, filmmakers, and content creators across the world. These include: 


The 1:1 aspect ratio is employed by most social media websites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The images in this ratio are usually formatted in a square shape, which has been cut down in equal proportions from all ends. 


Tracing its origins to 35 mm photography, the 3:2 aspect ratio, often called the ‘Golden ratio,’ is quite popular with several camera brands today. Images with a size of about 1020 x 720 tend to fall in this category. This ratio also co-relates with the rule of thirds for your picture composition. 


The 4:3 aspect ratio remained the choice of display in millions of film and TV cameras, for more than three decades. However, with changing times, this ratio was discarded in favor of widescreen. At present, 4:3 is the favored ratio for most laptops, computers, and monitors. 


If you are familiar with printed photographs of various hues, colors, and sizes, you have most likely witnessed the 5:4 ratio in action. Whether it is a size of 4×5, 8×10, 11×14, or 16×20, all printing standards subscribe to the 5:4 aspect ratio. 


Last but not least, the 16:9 ratio is the most common aspect ratio, which is used in both HDTV and motion pictures. It displays images in a widescreen format, thus lending them a remarkable cinematic feel. The 16:9 ratio, however, is not used in still photography. 

Why Does Aspect Ratio Matter? 

An aspect ratio is not just a group of numbers that you can choose to simply overlook. This ratio is, in fact, the building block of every single image or video that you intend to click or shoot. 

Whether you are using a post-production software or are employing the best free video editor for windows, possessing knowledge about aspect ratios will make a lot of difference because: 

  • An aspect ratio represents the relationship between the subject of your image and the background. This helps you strike the perfect balance between both these elements.
  • The aspect ratio works wonders in enabling you to improve the composition of your images. As a result, each frame of your image/video appears carefully designed and meticulously considered.
  • If you intend to want to print your images on paper, you will need to know all about aspect ratios in detail. For instance, a picture clicked on a 3:2 camera will appear totally out of proportion in a 4:3 print!
  • The aspect ratio can help craft perfect websites for both individuals and businesses. Ratios that adapt to desktops and mobile screens hold the key to creating user-friendly and customer-oriented web pages.
  • In the digital era, aspect ratios offer an excellent way to enhance user experience. They give rise to images/videos/frames that are relatable, natural, and in most cases, devised for user delight.

It is primarily owing to such humongous importance of aspect ratios, that choosing the most appropriate ratio for your project, becomes vital. This choice, ultimately, can help determine what your image or video would genuinely look and feel like! 

In Closing

About fifty years ago, there was a time when black and white film reels were literally cut with scissors and then arranged in a specific format so that a decent pictorial composition could be produced. 

However, since then, video production processes, technological insertions, and essential job functions have changed enormously. From cameras to software – every tool and technique required to create good quality frames, has witnessed an exponential progression. 

In such a tumultuous time, gaining a complete understanding of what aspect ratio is and how it can influence images and videos becomes exceptionally critical. Anyone who does not fully comprehend this important concept would have to face everyday frustrations like distorted images, skewed pictures, and misshapen frames. 

So, whether you plan to click digital photographs, use a free youtube video editor or experiment with a 35 mm lens – learn about aspect ratio and gain a better photographic perspective coupled with a more comprehensive technical outlook now! 


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