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Reader Comment: “is 4:3 image ratio is better suited for landscape photography?”

Helge R writes:

I check your site occasionally and although I don't consider myself part of your target group I enjoy reading your blog. I quite like the images you took with the Fujifilm GFX100.

My impression is that the 4:3 image ratio is clearly better suited for landscape photography than 3:2.

I am personally considering to replace my Sony A7R II with the Sony A7R IV because Sony has finally implemented a 4:3 crop mode.

Is aspect ratio part of your consideration when reviewing a camera?

DIGLLOYD: aspect ratio has never been a consideration for me because medium format has never really been an attractive option (price, size/weight/portability/resolution difference). That has now changed with the Fujifilm GFX100, though price remains a barrier to me*. As for review purposes, a camera is what it is and that is for the buyer to prefer or not.

I have long preferred the 4:3 aspect ratio, and I noted that with Micro Four Thirds also. It just works so well for so many things, and having shot 4X5 film as well as 6X17, I don’t like either of those as much as 4:3 or 3:2. The 4:3 aspect ratio works better for many shots, and IMO is superior for stitching. Plus it puts marginally less demand on optical design in terms of image circle.

Cropping the Sony A7R IV to 4:3 would yield 8448 X 6336 images (53.5MP) versus 9504 X 6336 images (60.2MP), a 12% loss of megapixels, no big deal and still more pixels than the Fujifilm GFX-50S/R.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm medium format System

CLICK TO VIEW: Sony A7R IV + Highly Recommended Lenses (landscape oriented)

Masking off the sensor to achieve the aspect ratio of 4:3 from a 3:2 sensor would not be my preference, as I would just rather shoot 3:2 and crop as needed (or not) and not be constrained to 4:3—same idea as street shooters who want to see outside the capture area. Plus there are some scenes better suited to 3:2 than 4:3, so I’d not want to mask off the viewfinder.

And unless Sony has done it differently than other vendors, the raw file will still be recorded in full 3:2 capture. However, if Sony provides a mode with lines delineating the 4:3 area instead of masking-off (blacking out) the excess area, that might be a nice feature.

* There is another more difficult barrier: I make my living reviewing the latest gear, which means I can’t just go out and shoot what I want with what gear I want. This last trip, I enjoyed shooting with the GFX100 more than I have in a long time (I did not enjoy its bugs and operational problems though!). I was hard-core about it (many many more fine images I have not even evaluated), knowing that my imaging efforts would be rewarded more than they ever have. It will be hard to downgrade to the Sony A7R IV, a camera that needs a lot of review attention in a few weeks. Though that may not be entirely fair, the A7R IV already looks flawed for my purposes: no focus stacking support and no lossless compressed raw, that is, an operational nightmare and a huge space wasting turd for focus stacking though I hope I am mistaken on one or both of those points. Also, shooting for 60MP instead of 100MP just feels like a stupid waste of time.

Below, a 3:2 aspect ratio might have been better for a feeling of expansiveness.

Just before sunrise, high above Patriarch Grove
f8 @ 2.0 sec electronic shutter focus stack 4 frames, ISO 100; 2019-08-17 05:51:47
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 R LM WR @ 18mm equiv (23mm)
ENV: White Mountains above Patriarch Grove, altitude 11650 ft / 3551 m, 48°F / 8°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, USM {10,50,0}, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]
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