Olympus E-M1 Journal: Entry 14: The useful 4:3 aspect ratio

I realized over the weekend how much I enjoy the native 4:3 aspect ratio found on the Olympus E-M1.

This aspect ratio isn't unique to this Olympus model, as it is the native aspect ratio used in all the interchangeable lens cameras (both dSLRs and mirrorless models) built by Olympus and Panasonic. It is also the most common format in point and shoot cameras. The more frequent aspect ratio found in interchangeable lens cameras is 3:2, which is a bit more rectangular. With some recent exceptions, the 3:2 is what you will find with interchangeable lens cameras from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Samsung, and Pentax.  This is also the aspect ratio of 35mm film and slides.

Both aspect ratios have their followers.  I find the 4:3 is excellent for people pictures. I like 3:2 for most landscapes.

I was thinking about the two aspect ratios this past weekend while taking many pictures indoors at a family gathering. In many ways this post is not a story about my Olympus, because instead of using my E-M1 with the 45mm (90mm-e) lens, I chose to use my Sony NEX6 with a Sigma 60 mm (90mm-e) F2.8 lens.  I love bouncing the little pop-up and pull-back flash of the Sony when all I need is a "hint" of flash.

[If I had been really serious, I would certainly have brought the Olympus with either my FL-36R flash or my Metz 50AF-1 flash.]

The Sony produces 3:2 aspect ratio images.  4:3 has to be cropped from this in post processing.
I decided to keep 55 images. I cropped most of them (40) to 4:3 in lightroom.  To my way of thinking, most of my family pictures can benefit from a bit cropped off the sides.

Like many people, I am often reluctant to crop a picture; after all, it means eliminating data which I had collected.  But when I am done, I find it best to look at a cropped image with a fresh perspective... by pretending it is the original.  I then ask myself, "Is there anything missing in the image".  Almost always the answer is "no".

Below are some examples, before and after.  Your mileage may vary, but I think the squarer 4:3 looks better.  Unfortunately the cropping reduces the 16mp image of the Sony to 14mp.  That's no big deal, especially since none of these will likely ever be printed... and if they were, I doubt the size would be any bigger than 8" x 10".  Nevertheless, if I had used the Olympus I would have a 16mp image with a 4:3 ratio right from the start.