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Cropped Prints

When camera manufacturers moved from film to digital, they adopted a new standard image size. The dimensions of this new image size are in the ratio of 4:3 and do not fit evenly into many of the conventional size prints … the print areas are either a bit too wide on one side or too long on the other.

This is no different than watching an old movie on your widescreen TV!
You have the black bars at both ends of the widescreen TV when watching an old movie because the movie was formatted for a standard TV. In the normal version, the entire picture area is visible. If we zoom in to fill the entire screen, we lose some of the picture in the vertical direction.

A similar situation exists in photography, but we use different terms.
Normal (on TV) is called Crop to Fit in photography. This means that 100 percent of your image is on the print, but there may be white space that is not used because the image is a different shape.

Zoom (on TV) is called Crop to Fill in photography and means that your image has been enlarged to fill the entire print, so some of it may be off the edge of the print and not visible – just like zoom mode on TV.



  • When snapping a photo, make certain that important subject matter is not close to the bottom, top, or sides of your image.
  • Look for a print size that conforms exactly to your captured image size. Examples: 4” x 5 1/3”, 4.5” x 6”, or 6” x 8”.
  • Understand your camera and what print format best fits your camera’s output.
  • Check to see if your camera offers the capture of an image in a conventional print size format.
  • If seeing 100 percent of your image is crucial, make a larger Crop to Fit print and trim it to suit. Remember that the trimmed print will not fit a standard frame.
  • If you are in a retail store, ask to see a chart of the print sizes.
  • If you are submitting images for printing on the web, pay close attention to messages on the site. Most websites do an excellent job of alerting and explaining this problem.