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When I want to turn a 4:3 photo to a wide picture I just randomly crop some part of the picture to make its height less. I don't have any idea what is the definition of wide pictures. What is its aspect ratio?

Is there a concrete rule for it? How do you take standard wide picture which is compatible with wide TVs, monitors, etc.

  • Hint: look up the dimensions of a tv screen. Or a movie screen. Then go to a museum and measure the dimensions of any 10 pictures hanging on the walls. – Carl Witthoft Nov 16 '16 at 12:21
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    @MonkeyZeus: Please don't answer questions in comments; doing so circumvents the StackExchange reputation system, and comments cannot be edited. Instead, please write an answer. See also: Short answers as comments — please resist the urge. Thanks! – scottbb Nov 16 '16 at 17:52
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There is no specific standard, but there are a few aspect ratios that turn up a lot.

  • Currently the 16:9 (1.77:1) ratio of HDTV (1920x1080) is probably the most common. Both 4K (3840x2160) and 8K (7680x4320) video also use the same aspect ratio. It is very likely that when someone references a widescreen TV this is the aspect ratio they mean.
  • Some widescreen computer monitors use a 16:10 (1.6:1) ratio such as 1920x1200.
  • The most common aspect ratios used for feature films in theaters is 1.85:1 and 2.39:1, but many films use their own aspect ratio outside of these two.
  • A cover photo for a facebook personal timeline displayed on a computer is 851x315 (2.70:1). A cover photo for a facebook group page displayed on a computer is 801x250 (3.2:1). When displayed on mobile devices the dimensions are different than when displayed on a desktop.
  • Heck, 3:2 is becoming more popular now, in tablets. – Bob Nov 16 '16 at 23:11
  • I guess 3:2 is wider than 4:3, but most wouldn't quite consider it widescreen as used in the question would they? – Michael C Nov 16 '16 at 23:15
  • Not all that wide, but if you're designing for screen use then it doesn't hurt to be aware of it. e.g. the entire Surface line uses it. If your photo comes in 3:2, you might not want to crop for those screens. – Bob Nov 16 '16 at 23:25
  • The question specifically asks, "What is the standard dimension of a picture to be viewed on a wide screen?" – Michael C Nov 17 '16 at 0:00
  • ...which is why I added it as a comment, as an "additional info" note, rather than an answer of any sort. If anything, it further supports your point that there are many aspect ratios in common use. Definition is a bit iffy anyway, apparently some will consider anything wider than 1.37:1 as widescreen, so it depends who you ask. – Bob Nov 17 '16 at 0:21
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There is no "standard" picture aspect ratio in photography, only some common ones. 35 mm frames are 3:2. Old TV was 4:3. HDTV is 16:9.

The way to pick the aspect ratio is to consider what the picture will be displayed on. If it will mostly be seen on a TV, then 16:9 is a obvious choice. If you will make a poster and hang it on a wall, then you can chose pretty much whatever you think is best for the picture.

Also, when converting pictures between aspect ratios, "randomly" cropping some height or width to get to the new aspect ratio is not a good strategy. Each picture is unique.

Some simply won't work as intended when cropped. In those cases, adding black (or whatever is background in your context) is better than cutting away the other dimension. Most of the time you can crop, but you should consider carefully what to crop out. Equal amounts top and bottom to make a wider aspect ratio, for example, is rarely the best answer.

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No, there is no rule for that. Do whatever suits your image.

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Like everyone else has said there is no concrete rule for this.

However I will attempt to answer the 'take standard wide picture which is compatible with wide TVs, monitors, etc.'

I find when taking photos, you shoot to fill the frame, and may not necessarily consider changing the aspect ratio until after. An example of this is your picture is 2:3. Instagram (as an example) used to only allow images which were 1:1. This will result in a heavy crop to upload it on there and part of the image could be lost.

A resolution to this is upload the image with an outer border or frame, so keep the image as is, but pad it to the specified ratio of length/height to fit the output dimension required. If you're more graphically inclined, you could do it with borders etc to make it look better then two black bars either side for example.

Create these various 'frames' for common dimensions you wish to use, so 16:9 for widescreen television or 16:10 for monitors.

it may not be the most glamourous approach but does result in the same image 'compatible' without distortion/crop/widened/shortened on various devices.

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Concrete rules: no, none, zilch, never, unless someone specifies them to you for a certain project.

My advice is to take the biggest and best picture you can with your camera and make sure there is enough uninteresting stuff around the subject so that you can crop it to fit your target medium.

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Long story short: It depends on how you want to publish and how you want it to look like. This is the rule.

  • Is everything you want in the picture in the picture?
  • Is everything you does not want in the picture out of the picture?
  • Does the picture look like you wanted it to look?

Are all answers Yes? Then you have found The Dimensions for This Particular picture.

If you want to publish on screen try to be reasonably close to standard screen ratios - superwide and supernarrow pictures will be hard to display.

If you want to print, it depends on where the print will be placed.

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