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I’ve run into a couple situations over the past month that have inspired this blog post. The topic is something I didn’t know until I became a photographer, and I’m guessing a lot of you may not know about it either.
Have you ever gone to print one of your photos into an 8×10″ print and when you get it back, you wonder why it looks different that the photo did in your camera? Or maybe someone on the edge of the photo was cut out of the 8×10 print?
What the heck happened, right? I’m here to tell you why that happened!
Here’s the explanation in the simplest terms I can come up with. Hold on to your hats:
Most cameras take photos that will print as perfect 4×6 sized prints. That’s the most commonly printed size, so that’s why most cameras have their print ratio as a 4×6 size.
Here’s where the math comes in. A 4×6 print can be enlarged into an 8×12 print right? Each side is just doubled in length. 4[x2] by 6[x2] = 8×12. That means that an 8×12 inch print should look exactly like your 4×6 print does, except it’s just 4 times bigger.
Flash back to junior high math?? Each side is 2 times longer, so the whole photo is 2×2 or 4 times larger.
So! What does that mean for an 8×10 inch photo?
You got it! The 8×12 inch photo has to have 2 inches cut off in order to make it an 8×10.
Here are some visual examples.
Here is a 4×6 photo from one of this summer’s sessions. This is what the print looked like without any cropping; it came out of my camera framed like this.
Great post Laura! Thanks! Ummm if you have a DSLR or maybe some other camera with more options, can you change the picture ratio when you take the pic so it comes out looking exactly right in a 8X10? Like lets say with that group shot with 50 people….do some cameras have the option of changing the settings so they pic will print perfectly as an 8X10 if that’s what you know you would want the picture printed as? Hmmm hope that made sense, I’m not sure how else to describe it. LOL! I however thought your explanation was crystal clear!!!
Ooooohh! Awesome! Thanks for answering! So this leads me to another question. Does cropping or resizing a photo change the quality? Like lets say you have an 8 megapixel camera….when you crop or re-size does it change the quality or clarity of the photo?
Hi Bonnie! Great question!
To my knowledge, the 4×6 ratio is built into the cameras. I believe it’s maybe Pentax or Olympus that has a different photo ratio; one closer to an 8×10 size. The alternative to that though is if they want to have a 4×6 print, they will require cropping to make the 4×6.
So the short answer is no, there isn’t any way to set that as a setting. It’s built into your camera.
I think. 🙂
My best suggestion is if you are shooting something that you think might be made into an 8×10, to include some extra on the edges of the photo. Especially if it’s a large group shot, like the 50 people. Don’t stretch them from the right to the left all the way to the edges.
When I’m shooting weddings, I’ll take two shots. One that is further back with lots of extra space to be cropped off if they want to make an 8×10. And a second that is nice and close. Best of both worlds!
You are so right,Laura. Last year I had a 5×7 photo made of the picture you took of my parents and their children with their spouses, their grandchildren and spouses and their great-grandchildren at their 60th wedding anniversary. (There were 51 of us.)On the 5×7 each person on the end was clipped off. I was told at the photo dept. at Walgreens it was because the picture was made in a 4×6 format.
Thank you for your advice on framing 8×10 with your camera while reading your blog we got inspired and put black tape on the sides of our lcd display and framed the camera ourselves now we can train ourselves to keep the photo in the box so we can crop later and not crop off any main parts your website is inspiring i am saving you to my favorites so i will deffentaly explore it more.. Josh `n` Charity Smith
Thanks, guys! Your idea of the tape to train yourself is genius!! It’s hard to train yourself to think that way at first but it gets easier. Glad you stopped by the blog and I hope you’ll be back! xo!