Aspect Ratio

Aspect Ratio

If you’re a photographer, graphic designer, or blogger, you’ve probably heard the terms “aspect ratio” and “pixel size” thrown around. But what do they mean? And how do they relate to each other? What’s the best aspect ratio for your images?

What Is an Aspect Ratio?

Generally, it’s listed as x:y, where x is the width and y is the height. If you’ve watched old TV shows or movies on your modern TV or seen movies in theaters with black bars, that’s an aftereffect of different aspect ratios.When you change the size of an image without changing its aspect ratio, you get a different shape but not necessarily a larger or smaller image overall. For example, if you resize a square picture into an oblong shape while maintaining its original dimensions. In that case, all four sides will be longer than before but still equal in length–and therefore also equal in area! This means that every pixel will have more room to breathe in this new format compared with being squished into an already-packed rectangle; however, there may be some distortion along lines where two opposite corners meet each other at right angles due to perspective effects caused by changing from one shape into another over time instead overnight.

What Are the Most Common Aspect Ratios?

There are many aspect ratios in common use today. The most common ones include:

  • 4:3 – The previous standard for TV & films, this is the square format most older devices use. Also known as 1.33:1 or fullscreen, this was the universal video format of the 20th century, predominantly seen in older TVs and computer monitors.
  • 16:9 – The current standard for most displays today
  • 1:1 – A complete square, this is mainly used for high-end professional displays
  • 21:9 – Ultrawide monitors and longer displays use this aspect ratio since around 2010

Other common aspect ratios include 2.76:1, which is ideal for 70mm film formats and IMAX screens, as well as 2.35:1 (Cinemascope) and 2.39:1 (Anamorphic), both common in cinema production. Additional aspect ratios like 5:4, 16:10, 9:16, and 1.85:1 are also used in various contexts, offering a wide range of visual experiences.

What Is the Right Aspect Ratio for Social Media Images?

The most common aspect ratio for social media images is square. As you can see in the image below, the height and width of this image are equal. This means that if you were to take a screenshot of it, you’d get exactly what you see here: A photo with one hundred percent width and height.

Nemo Aspect Ratio,ar_1:1,c_fill,g_auto/v1676317619/neme.jpg

The next most common aspect ratio is 16:9. This is the aspect ratio that nearly all devices use today, including smartphones, TVs, and monitors. It’s perfect for video or streaming, as it can fill the entire screen.

Cloudinary and Aspect Ratios

You can use Cloudinary’s dynamic delivery feature to generate real-time adaptive bitrate media files for your users automatically. Dynamic delivery allows you to create an original, optimized image or video at any resolution and then automatically adapt it according to your viewer’s device, browser and, network conditions. Don’t have a Cloudinary account? Get started today for free!

See the documentation around Video Transformations and Cloudinary’s Adaptive Bitrate Streaming.

Last updated: Jan 8, 2024