I have a Nikon D5000 that shoots 4288 X 2848 pixels.

When I take pictures, I'm not thinking of how I may need to crop the picture later on or add a border / matting so that it fits into a common frame size sold in stores.

I'd like to think that the original picture as a whole can fit into a common frame size without worrying about adding / removing content from the original picture or adding a border. Meaning, the original shot and everything considered in the field of view when the picture was taken will be included in my print once it is framed at it's best possible quality. By best quality, I mean printing at 300 dpi since it is known as the best quality for viewing at an arms length distance (at least this is how I understand it after reading articles online).

However, printing at 300 dpi will result in a print of 14.293 X 9.493 inches. I certainly won't find a frame this precise. In order for my photo to fit at this quality into a common frame size that I can find at a store, it seems like I have no choice but to either use matting, adding a border via photo editing software, or crop the picture - all things that I'd like to avoid. It doesn't seem right that I'd have to get a custom frame for an untouched 300 dpi print of any of my photos.

Am I missing something here? I know it may sound a little picky, but I just can't seem to come to terms with this limitation. I'm kind of a a picky guy :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ See the accepted answer to this question for an exhaustive answer: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1715/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jul 30, 2016 at 20:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Is your concern actually with the ratio, or that the pixel density is higher than the 300dpi you are ascribing magic to? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Jul 30, 2016 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Consider that when framing your photo you'll likely lose a few mm each edge, so should always plan for a little margin around the edge of the image. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2016 at 9:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm - well I guess the answer is both, since the the pixel dimensions are not "exactly" a 3:2 ratio. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gort
    Jul 31, 2016 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HarryHarrison - yes, based on the answers and comments so far it looks like I'll just have to accept that I will lose a small amount of an edge. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gort
    Jul 31, 2016 at 14:25

2 Answers 2


The native aspect-ratio of nearly every DSLR is the same. This is actually 3:2 and is available in sizes from 4" x 6" to 24" x 36" quite commonly. There is usually a few extra pixels in one dimension but this is essentially negligible. Whether you lose those pixels while printing is slight distort them would not be much visible in a final print as it would account for a 0.3% change.


Considering you are using a D5000, I am rather surprised at your second paragraph. Your camera has a cropped viewfinder, so you cannot possibly see everything that will make it into the image. So, really, you should expect to crop each and every time if you wanted what you see when shooting. Someone who is really picky like me :) always buys cameras with a 100% coverage viewfinder.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow. I didn't know that the viewfinder is cropped (I'm assuming its exactly 3:2?). So yes, it appears I never really did see everything through the view finder and my statement "everything considered in the field of view when the picture was taken" should really say "everything I see in the final picture". Based on the comments and answers so far, it looks like I'll just have to accept that I will have to crop the picture if I want a framed borderless print at 300dpi with as much as the picture included as possible. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gort
    Jul 31, 2016 at 14:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ IIRC, It's cropped at 95% linearly in 3:2 aspect-ratio, so you are missing much more than that 0.3% and it is very noticeable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Jul 31, 2016 at 15:09

The idea that you will get better prints at exactly 300dpi — where one dot is also one pixel — is a misconception. There may have been a limited time and certain circumstances where it was true, but that's not the case now.

There is no harm in having more pixels. You should be able to find 12×9" prints and frames relatively easily, and print at around 350ppi with no concern. (Or you can crop to one of other historic aspect ratios.)

If your concern is that 4288:2848 is not exactly 2:3, I urge you to relax on that a little bit as well. There's "a little picky" and then there's "not reasonable given the real world". The difference is 52 extra pixels in the long dimension — or 1%. Not only is this not noticeable, it is likely well within the tolerances of a frame that's nominally 12×8" (or similar). More so, you'll have a hard time making prints with the border that precise — you certainly won't get it with a printer that has a borderless option. You'll need to print larger and carefully trim yourself.

  • \$\begingroup\$ 350dpi would give me 12.251 x 8.137 though - another inexact size. But I think I see what your saying. It looks like it really just depends on the picture I'm working with and how "picky" I want to be. Would I rather have a smaller print at better quality without cropping (increasing the ppi as you said)? Or a larger print with a half an inch or so cropped out / cut off? I'd just have to look at how the cropped version looks and if I can accept it or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gort
    Jul 31, 2016 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ And regarding better prints / quality and the misconception you mention - this brings up another questions I've been wondering about - what is the largest size (lowest dpi) I could print at with "acceptable quality". I'm thinking it may require trial and error to find out. Also, I'm sure I can find this question all over StackExchange so I'll stop here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gort
    Jul 31, 2016 at 14:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I only saw the first two paragraphs earlier - yes, looks like I need to relax on the idea of precisely 3:2. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Gort
    Jul 31, 2016 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Gort I wouldn't worry about 12.251 x 8.137. That's close enough to a relatively common 12x8 (you're only cropping 1/8" (1%) on each end of the long dimension, and a shade over 1/16" (.8%) on each end of the short dimension. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Jul 31, 2016 at 16:02

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