Printing photos: how can I print my photos in the right format?

Printing photos: how can I print my photos in the right format?

Printing photos can sometimes be trickier than you think. You know how it goes, you’ve made beautiful photos with your telephone or digital camera, but when you order prints and get them delivered at home, they don’t look as you had expected. Of course that’s not what you want. In this blog post, I’ll help you to better understand the aspect ratios of digital images, the different formats in which you can order prints and how you can prevent that somebody’s head (or in our case, a giraffe) gets cut off in your prints.

Printing photos then and now, what’s difference

In the past we took photos with an analogue camera and brought the roll of film back to the store to be developed. These photos were always printed in the same format: 10 x 15 cm (so always with an aspect ratio of 2:3).
This way the photos also automatically fit in the pages of photo albums that had 10 x 15 cm pockets.

In other words, what you saw through the viewfinder when you took the photo was the same as what you would get later after having the photo developed in the store.

But times have changed.  Nowadays we take pictures with a digital camera or with our smartphone (which often has an aspect ratio of 4:3) and we have more choices in what to do with the pictures: framed prints, wall decorations, a mosaic wall …

Why is my image cropped?

What your image turns out looking like depends on the size and the proportions of your photo. What do you consider the most important for your photo: do you want to retain the original format or would you like to have the image printed in, perhaps, panoramic format?

When you have a photo printed, you have two options:

  • You choose the same proportions as your image file: landscape (3:2 or 4:3), square, panoramic …
  • You crop the photo according to the proportions in which you want it to be printed.

Using the photo of the giraffe, I’ll explain a bit more about what I mean. This is our photo:

What part of the photo can be cropped out?

Let’s assume that you want to print this photo as a traditional image in the format 10 x 15 cm (aspect ratio 2:3). The image file with the giraffe is square and therefore it has an original aspect ratio of 1:1 (both edges of your image are of equal length). This means that a part of the photo will be cropped out.

When you want to print an image in a different aspect ratio than the original file, the image will be automatically cropped an equal amount on the top and the bottom (or left and right in the case of a vertically oriented print). Below you can see how the photo of the giraffe would be cropped if you do not make your own cropping choice: in this case the giraffe loses its head.

But you can also decide for yourself what you think is most important in your photo and move the selection frame accordingly. If you have an image with the most important part at the top, you can reposition the selection frame until the image that you want to print is inside the lines.

And it’s the same way with digital photos that have an aspect ratio of 4:3 (as a print, 10 x 13 cm). If you want to order it in a 3:2 format such as 10 x 15 cm, then this is only possible if you crop out a part of the photo, otherwise you will get a distorted image.

I do not want to crop the picture but I still want to print it with a different aspect ratio

If you don’t want to lose any part of your square image then I would recommend that you select square prints on our website. Because visually it’s not at all attractive to squeeze a square image into a rectangular shape. This would certainly make the giraffe look very strange …

So how do I choose the right format?

When you’re printing your photos, you have different options and formats. The first step is to upload the photos that you want to have printed:

On this page, you can make various choices. Below, you’ll find an overview of these options together with a brief explanation, so that next time you can receive photos that are exactly how you wanted them.

1. = number of copies

In this menu you can choose how many prints you want to have made of all your pictures. If you change the number here, then it will change the number of copies of all of the pictures you have uploaded. If you want to receive multiple prints of a single image, click on the pencil in the upper right corner of the photo. Here you can indicate per image how many prints you want and in which format.

Format 10 = the length of the short side of your image

Here you can determine the format of the images. The short side of the image is shown here in centimetres. You can choose between 10, 11 and 13 cm. Here, you can also order a separate image in a different format by clicking on the pencil in the upper right corner of the photo.

But how do I know how many centimetres the longest side of the print will be? To find out, read on..

Aspect ratio (1:1, 2:3, 3:4 …)

In this menu, choose the aspect ratio in which you want to have your pictures printed. The aspect ratio that best fits your image depends on:

  • The aspect ratio selected in your camera settings.
  • Whether or not it’s okay for you if the image gets cropped.

We have created an overview to make all of this a bit clearer.

Format 10 cm
1:1 = 10 x 10 cm
2:3 = 10 x 15 cm
3:4 = 10 x 13 cm
1:2 = 10 x 20 cm
Panorama (9:16) = 10 x 17.8 cm

Format 11 cm
1:1 = 11 x 11 cm
2:3 = 11 x 16.5 cm
3:4 = 11 x 14.7 cm
1:2 = 11 x 22 cm
Panorama (9:16) = 11 x 19.5 cm

Format 13 cm
1:1 = 13 x 13 cm
2:3 = 13 x 19.5 cm
3:4 = 13 x 17.3 cm
1:2 = 13 x 26 cm
Panorama (9:16) = 13 x 23 cm

If you choose the option Standard for all your photos, then the length of the image will be adjusted to your exact image file. But pay attention, if you have prints made of multiple photos at the same time that have been taken on different devices and therefore have different aspect ratio’s, it’s possible that the long sides of the photos will differ from one photo to the next. However, the short side will always be the same length (for example, 10 cm photos).

View how your image will be cropped

To view how your image will be cropped, click on the little pen in the upper ight-hand corner of the image and select Edit in the menu

Here, you can define which part of the photo will be printed – as in the example of the giraffe above – depending on what part of the image you consider most important. The dotted line shows where the image will be cropped:

There you go, from now on you’ll receive nothing but perfect prints in the post! And if you still have questions about printing photos after reading all this? Then you can also have a look at this page for more info.

And naturally, our customer service is always happy to help! 

By day Karen is a blogger at smartphoto, but after hours you’ll find her on the dance floor moving to a salsa beat or enjoying the company of her pets. She also likes to travel outside of Europe when she has the chance. Karen is your source for instructions and out-of-the-box ideas for ways to use smartphoto products. The more original, the more fun!

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