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[photography] Why aren't we seeing more widescreen photos?

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[photography] Why aren't we seeing more widescreen photos?

Postby JPCJedi » Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:54 pm

I'd like to ask the serious and the casual photographers among us: is there some artsy and significant reason that cameras still take 4:3 squarish pictures by default--and some reason that most people use them, when it's easy to make any camera take 16:9 widescreen photos? Also, I gather that it has nothing to do with the old 4x6-inch photos, which would technically be a 3x2 aspect ratio--again, cameras are capable of 3x2, but not by default.

Are widescreen 16:9 monitors just not so common yet?
Do people really still prefer to print out their pictures?
Has it never even occurred to you that your flatscreen TV is also your biggest picture frame [using a VGA cord if it doesn't read memory cards]?
Is 16:9 widescreen just too wide and flat for still photos?

Personally, I don't get it. I've come to use the widescreen setting on my camera for everything except photographing documents. Am I alone in this thinking? What's your take?
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Re: [photography] Why aren't we seeing more widescreen photos?

Postby Solo » Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:36 pm

The pixels man, think of the pixels. When you take a normal photo on your digital camera, you're using the entire image sensor. When you click over to widescreen mode, you're not magically gaining more surface area or reconfiguring the internal components in the camera - you're just digitally excluding a strip at the top and bottom of a standard photo. Not that it matters much since most cameras are pretty gratuitous with the image resolutions these days, but the idea that you paid so much for a camera and you're not using it at full power just seems wasteful. This in my opinion is why most people don't bother switching over.

Now, as for why cameras still use 4:3, I expect it's a case of "if it ain't broke don't fix it" combined with pissed off engineers explaining the problems with forcing a widescreen image sensor into a ultraslim point and shoot camera. Ideally, pictures would be round, since they're coming through a round lens. Limiting the sensor to a rectangular shape leaves a lot of unused image that no one ever thinks about, and going from a 4:3 to 16:9 format with the same lens setup would limit the usable area further. The resolutions would drop, fisheye distortion would increase, and you know the dark corners you get from time to time in shots (which is called vignetting)? That'll only get worse.

So, to answer your initial question, no. There is no artsy reason to stick with one over the other, and there's no significant reason to change the tried and tested image ratio just so pictures will look prettier on those new fangle widescreen monitors.

Also, ever tried showing a portrait style widescreen photo on a wdescreen monitor? You're using like 1/3rd of the screen!
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Re: [photography] Why aren't we seeing more widescreen photos?

Postby HoboBob1138 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:46 am

It also has a lot to do with the lens you have on your camera. With the SLR and DSLR you need a wide angle lens, or fish eye, and as far as I've seen they don't make them for run of the mill digital.
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Re: [photography] Why aren't we seeing more widescreen photos?

Postby Draykov » Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:10 am

If I want widescreen, I just crop the raw image in a 1440x900 or 1920x1080 frame.
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Re: [photography] Why aren't we seeing more widescreen photo

Postby JPCJedi » Tue Jul 06, 2010 2:14 pm

Solo wrote:...not using it at full power just seems wasteful. This in my opinion is why most people don't bother switching over.

...The resolutions would drop, fisheye distortion would increase, and you know the dark corners you get from time to time in shots (which is called vignetting)? That'll only get worse.

So, to answer your initial question, no. There is no artsy reason to stick with one over the other, and there's no significant reason to change the tried and tested image ratio just so pictures will look prettier on those new fangle widescreen monitors.
Thanks for the answer; in fairness, I have thought of all of those things except for the vignetting.

I happily run my 14megapixel camera with the widescreen cropping, resulting in images that are a measly 2.1 megapixes. Why? Because 2.1 megapixels is exactly 1080p resolution: full HD! [And I can cram more pics onto a 4.7GB DVD for backup.]

So I take issue with the expression "new-fangle screens" --even if they are new-fangled, they're standard, and they are the biggest picture frames we have. If natively-widescreen sensors result in dark spots in the corners, then that explains it. There's no artsy reason; there's an engineering reason for squarish pictures. Now I know, so thank you for educatin' me.

That said, I just disagree with you: I find no reason to stick to 4:3 ratio, tried-and-true as it is.

And you're right: I hardly ever take portrait-style pictures for exactly that reason. In fact, I compensate by taking diagonal shots that can be viewed in landscape--to fit the monitor and TV.

In the end, this discussion probably falls back into a general discussion on TV aspect ratio--the way a 16:9 image put onto a 4:3 screen loses less screen area than a 4:3 image dropped into a 16:9 screen--and that old fight deserves its own thread. Someday.
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Re: [photography] Why aren't we seeing more widescreen photo

Postby onions » Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:55 am

JPCJedi wrote:That said, I just disagree with you: I find no reason to stick to 4:3 ratio, tried-and-true as it is.


you don't know jack about photography then to come to that conclusion. don's answer is pretty much spot on.

and yes people still print images, ever hear of magazines? newspapers? wedding albums? the output for photography isn't always destined to be a 16x9 widescreen monitor.
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Re: [photography] Why aren't we seeing more widescreen photo

Postby liquidcross » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:38 pm

Widescreen monitors are most certainly not standard.
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Re: [photography] Why aren't we seeing more widescreen photo

Postby JPCJedi » Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:33 pm

onions wrote:...and yes people still print images, ever hear of magazines? newspapers? wedding albums? the output for photography isn't always destined to be a 16x9 widescreen monitor.

Ha ha! Your medium is dying.... :p
Last edited by JPCJedi on Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [photography] Why aren't we seeing more widescreen photo

Postby dWhisper » Fri Jul 16, 2010 4:11 pm

liquidcross wrote:Widescreen monitors are most certainly not standard.


Yeah, they are. All of the major computer manufacturers went widescreen years ago. Same with laptops. The only current device I know of that does 4:3 is the iPad. All LCD and plasmas are also widescreen.

Standard screens are only standard if your stuff is old.
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