What is the best aspect ratio to use?

Many times, photographers ask what aspect ratio is ideal for their photography. This is very difficult to answer because no one aspect ratio works in every situation. Primarily the aspect ratio depends on the kind of photography that you do. The second parameter that determines the aspect ratio is the natural aspect ratio of the sensor. Let’s elaborate on that.

Let’s say that you’re using a full-frame sensor. A full-frame sensor comes with dimensions 36mm x 24mm. This means the dimensions are 3:2. If you’re going to shoot with the natural aspect ratio of the camera, you’ve to shoot with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Now, there is something that you need to understand. The aspect ratio does not impact the dimensions of an image. If the image you have shot has the dimensions 6000 x 4000 pixels, the aspect ratio is 3:2. On the other hand, if the dimensions get shrunk to 3000 x 2000, the aspect ratio remains the same (3:2).

Coming back to the question of the best aspect ratio to use, much of it depends on the kind of photography you do. That’s apart from the size of the sensor. Let’s say you’re a landscape photographer. Landscape photography is invariably about capturing sweeping vistas and vast sceneries. To shoot these, you need a longer horizontal dimension than a more extended height. This offers a panoramic view of the scene. That also means you need to shoot with a wider aspect ratio. Something like 16:9 would be ideally suitable for you. 

It’s not that landscape photography cannot be done with the 3:2 or 5:4 aspect ratios. It can, but the frame will capture much of the scene’s height.

Let’s assume that you’re shooting portrait photos. The orientation would be well “portrait.” The best aspect ratio for this would allow you to capture a lot of height and less width. So, the ideal aspect ratio is 3:4 or even 2:3. When you turn your camera to portrait mode, the orientation changes; therefore, the default aspect ratio of 4:3 or 3:2 is reversed.

Social media also has a bearing on the aspect ratio that you choose to shoot with. Different social media has different guidelines in this regard. Instagram, for example, uses the 1:1 or square aspect ratio for posting images on the feeds. For stories, 9:16 is the ideal aspect ratio. For landscape posts, the best aspect ratio for Instagram is 1.91:1. The ideal aspect ratio for vertical images is 4:5.