Mis-matched industry standards

How many people own a digital camera! There are basically two aspect ratios used for digital cameras. A 1.5 (3:2 crop) as used by most DSLR cameras and a 1.33 (4:3 crop) as used by digital compact cameras. This means most images produced from a DSLR camera will have the longer side 1.5 times longer than the shorter side of the picture. Without any post-production cropping this produces images of sizes like:

6 x 4″ (15 x 10 cm)
9 X 6″ (23 x 15 cm)
12 x 8″ (30 x 20 cm)
15 x 10″ (38 x 25 cm)
18 x 12″ (46 x 30 cm)
24 x 16″ (61 x 41 cm)

Considering that nearly every DSLR camera currently made produces images close to these sizes when enlarged direct from the camera, why are there no ready made frames conforming to this industry standard for DSLR cameras?????

The chances of finding a fit for 4:3 ratio compact cameras are no better, where the longer side of the picture is 1.33 times that of the shorter side. There is less likely to be such demand on the larger sizes here because these cameras are of poorer image quality than their DSLR brothers and struggle to produce anything acceptable past a certain size. Frames that would suit these size photos would include:

8 x 6″ (20 x 15 cm)
12 x 9″ (30 x 23 cm)
16 x 12″ (41 x 30 cm)
24 x 18 (61 x 46 cm)

You would start to struggle with professional image quality past 12 x 9″ (30 x 23 cm) sizes with these small compact camera sensors.

Now lets look at the frame manufacturing industry standards for ready made frames:

10 x 8″ (25 x 20 cm) No match. Matting will compensate for a DSLR 9 x 6″ or a compact camera 8 x 6″ print.
12 x 8″ (30 x 20 cm) A match with DSLR cameras (yes we have one!).
12 x 10″ (30 x 25 cm) No match.
14 x 11″ (35 x 28 cm) No match. Matting will compensate for a DSLR 12 x 8″ or a compact camera 12 x 9″ print.
16.5 x 12″ A3 (42 x 30 cm) No match. Matting will compensate for a DSLR 15 x 10 print.
20 x 16″ (51 x 41 cm) No match. Matting will compensate for a DSLR 18 x 12″ or a compact camera 16 x 12″ print.
23.5 x 16.5″ A2 (59.6 x 42 cm) Almost a match with the 24 x 16″ from a DSLR 1.5 crop, but not quite.
24 x 20″ (61 x 51 cm) No match. (Needs to be 26 x 20″ to be useful).

Apart from the A scale sizing, how can industry justify these sizes as standards any more (if they ever were!)

Lucky we have matting to compensate for the differences in some cases. Otherwise you have to resort to cropping your images, which means cutting away one or more edges of your image during digital editing. That is one reason why your subject should never fill the frame from edge-to-edge when composing your picture before pressing the shutter—it allows no room for cropping!

Another area of contention is the different standards in different countries. Most of the photo sizes given in inches are derived from the USA. However in many other countries frame sizes along with portfolio and stationary sizes are metric. In Australia it is hard to find a portfolio to hold your large prints in the US sizes. The most popular and readily available portfolios are in the A scale, A4, A3, A2 etc. This complicates matters even further, for now we have ready made frame sizes, uncropped photo sizes and portfolio sizes all to different standards.

If you start with a ready made 500mm x 400mm frame and want your picture to have even matting all round that will fit in an A3 portfolio until you are ready to put it in the frame, your picture is going to need cropping during post-production (editing) to the same aspect ratio of your frame minus the matting space. However it can’t be enlarged greater than what will fit into an A3 portfolio pocket, which measures 420mm x 298mm. So if we make the shortest side of the picture 290mm, that is 110mm smaller than the short side of the frame, the longer side must also be 110mm less than the longer side of the frame, which is 500mm – 110mm = 390mm.

So to meet our criteria of the print fitting into an A3 portfolio until needed for framing and having an even spacing around the frame that the mat takes up, we are going to need to enlarge, then crop our print to 390mm x 290mm (16 x 11.5 in), or have custom size frames produced.

So there you have it, a 390mm x 290mm print is the biggest that will fit in an A3 portfolio and into a 500mm x 400mm frame with an even space on all sides that will be taken up by a mat.


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