How do I print an 8x10 photo without it being cropped? : A lesson on crop ratios

crop ratio

A popular question I hear among photographers is "How can I print an 8x10 without it being cropped?! I am trying to order a print and it's cutting people off my photo, help!!!"

In order to answer this question, a thorough explanation must be made on crop and aspect ratios. What is an aspect ratio? In simple definition, it's the ratio of the width and height of an image, video, or screen. Have you ever noticed the blank screen around the movie you watched last? That just shows that the aspect ratio of the screen and the aspect ratio of the film are different, so the black compensates for the extra space without having to cut off parts of the film. This is just as true with photography. But with photography, instead of adding black around your photo to compensate for the various aspect ratios, we get into cropping to suit the image to the size we want.
crop ratio for printing
When you take a photo with your DSLR, the standard crop of your image is a 3:2 ratio. When you go to print a different ratio other than a 3:2, then you are going to get anywhere from minimal to extreme cropping depending on the size you are printing.

Make sense yet?

So while your 4x6 prints will have no cropping because they also share the same 3:2 ratio as your camera sensor, you'll get a slight crop when you go to print a 5x7 photo, which has 7:5 ratio.

Which comes to the answer of the question found at the beginning of this post: your 8x10 photos are being cropped so heavily because it does not share the same aspect ratio as your camera sensor.

To make it even easier to see all your options when it comes to printing, I have provided a condensed list of ratios. So next time you are wondering why your photos are being cropped, this infographic could help you sum up just how much cropping you are getting and why.

Have you run into crop issues when it came time to print? What did you do to resolve the issue??

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  • so is that why for years (in the film days) wedding proofs were in 4×5 not 4×6?
    because it is the same aspect as 8×10 and 16×20 for enlargements?

  • So mainly you are saying to shoot making sure you have a lot of margin around your object? The ratio thing still does not make sense to this non-math person.

  • what problem are you facing? Assuming you are using a DSLR, you will always get some sort of cropping if you print 8×10 photo OR any other photo size that doesn’t have the 3:2 ratio. There is no workaround, the images will get cropped.

    Heather Ford

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