Cropping vs. resizing: which is better/more acceptable?

by Mew   Last Updated February 06, 2019 11:18 AM

Say I have a photo with a 4:3 aspect ratio that is 18 MP, and I simply want to get rid of dead space on the lower third of the image. Which of the following would be the most used method for this?

  • Cropping the image from the bottom, to reach a 2:1 ratio, reducing the image to 12 MP;
  • Cropping the image from the bottom, and keeping the 4:3 ratio by cropping both left and right edges, reducing the image to less than 12 MP;
  • Resizing (enlarging) the image within the original window so that the dead space eventually falls out of frame, keeping the image at 18 MP, but losing overall quality of those 18 MP.

I struggle with this, because if I were to process a large amount of photos using the first technique (which I do already use fairly frequently for hobby shots) as to send them to a client, wouldn't it be annoying for said client if every image had a different and perhaps non-standard aspect ratio?

Say, thereby, that you'd only crop utilising standard ratios (3:2, 4:3, 2:1, 16:9 ...); would it be acceptable to mix all of them when delivering, or rather have a limited amount of used aspect ratios?

Say, thereby, that you'd only stick to cropping in 4:3 (or, by extent, 3:4 for vertical shots); would it bother a client if the resolution on all photos were inconsistent? In case it would, then the third method seems best, although it guarantees a loss in quality (of which I'm not quite sure how drastic the effect would be, as I'm guessing it works better with small resizes on high-MP images than large resizes on low-MP images) ...

Thanks in advance!

Answers 1

What aspect ratio you should use when cropping depends on how you will use the final image.

  • If images will be viewed only on screen or projected, use the screen or projector aspect ratio. Newer screens are usually 16:9. However, 16:10, 4:3, and 5:4 are also possible.
  • If images will be printed, use the print aspect ratio. Aspect ratios include 3:2, 7:5, 5:4, 14:11, 6:5. Aspect ratios that don't match standard print sizes may be used if you don't mind trimming.

Personally, I use 3:2 because that is what my camera produces and it matches the most common print size available to me. If I crop it to a different aspect ratio but decide to print to 3:2, I would have to crop even further which ruins the composition.

February 06, 2019 10:52 AM

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