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Digital Cameras - 2:3 or 3:4

I am considering buying a digital camera.

The majority of camera seem to have a height to width ratio of 3:4 - for example 1200x1600 or 1536x2048.

I would assume this would print well (for example) at 6x8.

But the majority of prints I will print will be at 4x6 at a photo shop (which is 2:3 ratio rather than 3:4). But not many cameras do a 2:3 ratio. The Kodak Easyshare LS443 is one of very few that I have found that are 2:3.

So, my question is - for those people who use a digital camera and print them at 4x6 - what do you do? Do you manually crop it yourself? Let the photo shop do it for you? Or use a 2:3 camera?

Thanks

Anonymous
Sunday, February 09, 2003

I've now had a digital camera for about 6 months and to be honest I almost never get prints done! It's (relatively) expensive and doesn't look as impressive as viewing them on a screen!

The original idea was to upload to a print provider but it just didn't seem worth doing in the end. If we want to look at the photos or sohow some friends then we just grab the laptop and run a slideshow.

Incidentally I bought a Fujifilm Finepix F401 and it's excellent. It's light and small, has as many features as I would want and produces great photos. One of the main reasons for chosing it though was that it has a docking cradle which you just drop it in and it recharges the batteries if they need it... I figured if I got a camera where I had to take the batteries out then I'd always end up with flat batteries in it!

Gwyn
Sunday, February 09, 2003

Anonymous,

you need 300 dpi to print true picture quality. If your camera is 1200x1600 the best you have without interpolation is 4x6. With the 15?? x 20?? you get up to 5x7.

For a 8x10 you need 2400 x 3000 pixel camera (7MP).

Interpolation is ok, but introduces distorsions in the image and the more you interpolate the bigger the distorsion.

Cheers
Dino

Dino
Sunday, February 09, 2003

Dino,

<quote>
you need 300 dpi to print true picture quality. If your camera is 1200x1600 the best you have without interpolation is 4x6.
</quote>

You miss the point of my question. I am not asking about quality or anything like that. I am asking how people who print at 4x6 manage the fact that the picture is TAKEN at 3:4 (eg 1200x1600) yet PRINTED at 2:3 (assuming it is printed at 4x6).

Thanks

Anonymous
Sunday, February 09, 2003

The whole digital photography industry is way behind where it should be in terms of customer experience. I have a Canon Elph 100 which takes very nice pictures for 2 megapixel and the size is great (was looking at the Casio Exilim which has an even better form but doesn't have as good a picture quality). I just got an HP Photosmart 130 printer which seems to be one of only a very few printers that focuses on the thing that virtually anyone who prints out digital phots wants: 4x6s. I can't for the life of me figure out why there are so few printers in this category. Do people really print out their pics on 8x11 and cut them? This seems insane. And "borderless" really isn't that big a deal considering how much better bordered pics look. And everything is still way too expensive. It's criminal that Ofoto, et. al. charge 50 cents per picture. And self printing with my setup looks to be about that cost as well. Costco seems to be able to do it for 19 cents. What give?

So to answer your question, I have to manually crop to 4x6 in iPhoto before printing. My printer will print 4x6 directly from flash memory but I haven't tried it yet. I didn't like that at first but have since found that it's not too difficult and you get slightly better designed prints because you do get to crop each one.

pb
Sunday, February 09, 2003

I print photos at home with Epson Stylus Photo and always crop images before printing. Also, I don't care much whether it is 3:2 or 4:3 ratio. It depends on picture. Some photos look better cropped to square shape, for example.

From the other hand, for people printing at Ofoto, Wallmart, Costco, etc. it might be a problem.  The printers will crop the photo for you, but you might prefer the other way to crop.

Many higher-end consumer cameras (Nikon Coolpix, Sony) support both 4:3 and 3:2 ratio. Of course, all the digital SLRs support 3:2.

raindog
Sunday, February 09, 2003

Anonymous,

It doesn't matter how you print 2:3 or 3:4. A picture can be cropped or rescalled to fit the proportions. Most printing shops will crop your pictures. The good ones will ask you how you want it cropped (e.g. printroom.com).

And remeber an 8x10 or 8x12 will look pretty bad out of a 2Mp camera. Decide first if you ever want to print anything bigger than 4x6 - in which case you need more than 2MP.

Cheers
Dino

Dino
Monday, February 10, 2003

For printing images at home, try QImage Pro (www.ddisoftware.com/qimage).  The program allows you to print multiple pictures/sizes on a page and to crop the pictures to the correct proportions.

Where QImage really shines is in upsizing the image to the appropiate pixel size to necessary for the print (on your printer).  Their software does a much better job than simply sending the image as it exists to the print driver and having the driver interpolate the image.  I have found this software does a better job than the bicubic interpolation used by Photoshop 7.

I think the software costs about $39.

Good luck,

Eric Budd
Monday, February 10, 2003

Does anyone really ever want anything other than 4x6? That's what I don't get. The over-whelming majority of photographers want 4x6 and yet the digital photography market is not even remotely optimized for such.

pb
Monday, February 10, 2003

The 4x6 print is an artifact of the proportions of a 35 mm print.  It will show the entire frame of the negative without cropping.  4x6's are popular because 35 mm in popular with consumers.

Professional photographers often use medium format negatives sized 6x45 cm, 6x6 cm, 6x7 cm and even 6x9 cm.  Proofs made from those frames tend to be either 4x5 or 5x5.

It should be noted that while a 35 mm = 4x6 print, you loos two inches when you print to a 8x10 which is a very popular size.  6x4.5 cm and 6x7 cm scale much better to an 8x10 picture.

Eric Budd
Monday, February 10, 2003

By popular, do you mean for every 99 4x6's there's 1 8x10?

pb
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

I don't know exactly what the proportion 0f 4x6 to 8x10 prints is.  I know, with the Wedding Photography business that my wife and I run, that we provide 4x6 and 5x5 proofs of al the photos to our clients.  Most orders contain a high proportion of 5x7 and 8x10 photographs.  (The fun part is when the bride wants a group shot that covers the 6in length of a 4x6 as a 8x10.  Doesn't work.  You need a 8x12 to keep the proportions).

Anyway, if you expect to do enlargements with a 35 mm, you need to take the loss into account. 

I, personally, tend to think that the 1 hour instant lab as conditioned people to expect the 4x6 print.  Personally, I dislike the size for anything but proofs or snapshots.

Just my $.02.

Eric Budd
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

"the 1 hour instant lab as conditioned people to expect the 4x6 print"

Exactly! So why can't the digital photo vendors buy a clue and give us what we want?

pb
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

I have a 3:4 digital camera and often get my prints done at Ofoto.com. 98% of the time the cropping that they suggest (an even trimming of the top and bottom) is just fine. However, they make it pretty easy to override if you want to only trim the top for instance. I hardly ever do the cropping on my own computer.

Tom Mack
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

You don't have to use every pixel on the CCD, just crop it to the correct proportions.

Motion picture and video production are the same way - a lot of pixels/areas on the negative are cropped away or never displayed in the final product

Dan Maas
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

I have the Nikon 4500. It has an option to record images in 2:3, that is, 2200xsomething. When that mode is on, the picture on the viewfinder screen is (very) slightly cropped, there are some thin black bands on top and bottom.

I think I will use that option from now on, since it saves some memory, and I plan to print them at the photo store.

If you print them yourself otoh, this is not a problem anymore, only an aesthetic decision. Personally, I don't very much like either of the formats.

Dimitri
Thursday, February 13, 2003

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