The Joy of Shooting 4:3 Aspect Ratio

For my whole photographic life, I’ve always stuck to shooting a 3:2 aspect ratio (the standard 35mm aspect ratio). But one day, I accidentally switched my Lumix G9 (Micro 43rds camera) into the native 4:3 format. And I’ve been shooting with 4:3rds aspect ratio, and have been having a ton of fun! Some of my thoughts:

Similar to shooting square-format

For a while, I shot square-format (on my smartphone vs medium-format film). I actually had a ton of fun, because when you are framing with a different aspect ratio, you see the world differently, you experience it differently, and you photograph it differently.

This is the interesting thing with 4:3rds

It is like shooting square-format (6×6), except you have a little more space on the sides.

Which makes it very interesting when shooting landscape (horizontal) or portrait-orientation (vertical). Shooting 4:3rds (I think) is actually easier than shooting 3:2 (in terms of framing very clean edges/corners).

4:3 aspect-ratio vs 3:2 aspect-ratio

RICOH GR II // 3:2 aspect ratio

Technically the 3:2 aspect-ratio is more dynamic (the dynamic range between the length vs height is more pronounced).

Lumix G9 // 4:3 Aspect Ratio

I think generally if you want more dynamic street photographs (of people running around and stuff), the 3:2 aspect ratio has more energy:

RICOH GR II // 3:2 Aspect Ratio
RICOH GR II // 3:2 Aspect Ratio

However, perhaps the 4:3rd format is better for photographing textures, still lives, buildings, and other (more static) subject-matter:

Lumix G9 // 4:3rd Aspect Ratio

But then again– the 4:3rd aspect ratio does make for some interesting street photos with people– giving you a little more to see in the frame:

Lumix G9 // 4:3 Aspect Ratio

Regardless of the visual effect of a 4:3rds aspect-ratio vs a 3:2 aspect-ratio, I can certainly say:

It has been a fun challenge shooting 4:3 aspect ratio– a new way to see, frame, and experience reality differently!

Practical thoughts

Lumix G9 // 4:3 Aspect Ratio
Lumix G9 // 4:3 Aspect Ratio
  1. I wonder if it is a good thing for us as photographers to switch-up our aspect ratios in photography: For example, I know that Josef Koudelka has stayed prolific in his photography way beyond his 80’s perhaps because he allowed himself to evolve from shooting 35mm film (3:2 aspect ratio) to shooting panoramic photos. Thus perhaps if we want more creative inspiration/challenge– switching-up our aspect-ratio in photography is a good thing!
  2. I think we should shoot whatever format is native to the camera/sensor/film we are shooting: For example, it always felt strange to change the setting of the camera to shoot a non-native format. For example, I will not switch my RICOH GR II to shooting 4:3rd format (it just feels strange, and perhaps inauthentic). It also feels inauthentic for me to shoot panoramic-format with a camera which is not natively-panoramic. Thus, if you want to experiment shooting with a new format, it seems best to just buy a new camera/format/film/sensor which has a natively-different aspect-ratio. For example, if you want to shoot 4:3rds, get a Micro-43rds digital camera. Or if you want to shoot panoramic-format, buy a film panoramic camera (Hasselblad Xpan, or the Fujifilm Panoramic camera). If you want to shoot squares, shoot with a 6×6 film camera.
  3. Of course you have the power to change the crop-setting inside your digital camera to change your aspect-ratio: And if you like doing this, please do it by all means! Ignore my advice — simply do what works for you! For example if you want to change your digital camera’s aspect-ratio to something non-standard, go for it! Photography is all about experimentation and fun — don’t let my advice get in your way.
  4. Photography is most fun when we continue to challenge ourselves: The biggest enemy to our photography and art is when it becomes boring. And what is boring? When we are no longer being challenged! And thus perhaps switching up our aspect ratio is a positive challenge we can add to our photographic lives.
  5. Create collages: I’m a big fan of the ’tiled gallery’ function in WordPress (you can see it below), which automatically collages/tiles our photographs. Doing it with 4:3 aspect ratio photos is a great visual joy!

Let us continue to experiment with our photography, to innovate with new approaches, and delight in the never-ending creative bliss of photographic/art output and expression!


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