a 4:5 ratio
Photography Tips and Techniques

Embracing Different Aspect Ratios: Rethinking the Standard for Landscape Photography

a 4:5 ratio

During the age of analog photography, the aspect ratio of an image was primarily determined by the film type. A 6:6 medium format would yield a square format, an 8:10 camera resulted in a 4:5 aspect ratio, and 35mm cameras like the Leica produced images with a 3:2 aspect ratio. Although post-shoot cropping was an option, it was seldom employed.

How Aspect Ratio Shapes Your Image

The aspect ratio of an image, which largely determines its final look, is predominantly a decision made pre-shoot. The photographer often composes and balances their image with a specific aspect ratio in mind. In fact, in only about 5 percent of situations is the aspect ratio adjusted during post-processing.

If you’re using a Full-frame or APC-sized digital camera, you’re dealing with a native aspect ratio of 3:2.

This format was introduced by Leica back in 1925 for its M-line cameras, which revolutionized photography with their compact sizes and ability to produce large prints. While this aspect ratio might be well-suited for portraits, documentaries, reportage, or street photography, does it hold the same effectiveness for landscape photography?

Historically, landscape photographers primarily used large format or medium format cameras with 8:10 or 6:6 films, translating to 4:5 or 1:1 aspect ratios. Some contemporary landscape photographers, such as Michael Kenna, who uses a Hasselblad 500cm, exclusively employ these aspect ratios.

Rethinking the Native Aspect Ratio for Landscape Photography

The universal native aspect ratio of 3:2 may not be the best fit for landscape photography. Especially for vertical images, the 4:5 ratio tends to work more effectively. The 3:2 ratio often results in an image that feels overly narrow and lengthy. While it may occasionally suit horizontal shots depending on the composition, it isn’t always ideal.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is aspect ratio in photography?
    The aspect ratio of an image is the ratio of its width to its height. It significantly impacts the image’s composition and overall look.
  2. Why should I consider changing the native aspect ratio for landscape photography?
    The 3:2 aspect ratio, although common, may not always be the best choice for landscape photography. Depending on the composition, different aspect ratios such as 4:5 or 1:1 may be more effective.
  3. Can I change the aspect ratio after shooting the image?
    Yes, you can change the aspect ratio during post-processing. However, it is typically best to compose the image with a specific aspect ratio in mind.


While the 3:2 aspect ratio has become a standard in photography, it may not be the ideal choice for all genres, particularly landscape photography. Exploring different aspect ratios could open new creative avenues and enhance your landscape photographs.