### Pop quiz

What is the aspect ratio of a photo taken by a 3:2 camera in portrait orientation?

An aspect ratio is the proportion of an object’s width to its height, most commonly written as W:H, with W representing simplified units of width and H represents simplified units of height. Aspect ratios may also be written as N:1, where N = W/H. For example, a 16:9 aspect ratio can also be written as 1.78:1 (16/9:1).

Aspect ratios are most commonly used for digital images, videos, or display screens. The primary unit of measurement for aspect ratios is pixels, but they can be measured in other units such as feet, meters, LED panels, or square (1:1) widgets.

A 2:1 aspect ratio indicates 2 parts of width for every 1 part of height. Examples of 2:1 aspect ratios are 1,000 pixels x 500 pixels (1000×500), 600 ft. x 300 ft., and 20 led panels x 10 led panels (1:1 panels).

2:1 aspect ratios are classified as wide or landscape, since the width is greater than the height. Additional examples of landscape ratios would be 3:1, 16:9, and 4:3.

A 1:1, or square aspect ratio indicates a width equal to height. Examples of square aspect ratios include 200 pixels x 200 pixels (200×200), 1m x 1m, and 50 widgets x 50 widgets.

A 1:2 aspect ratio indicates a height that is double the width. Examples of 1:2 ratios are 100 pixels x 200 pixels, 450 ft. x 900 ft. and 12 square tiles x 24 square tiles (i.e. LED panels).

A 1:2 aspect ratio is considered a tall or portrait ratio. Any aspect ratio with a height greater than width is classified as such. Additional portrait ratios include 2:3, 9:16 and 1:5.

Aspect ratios are independent of size, so a 3 ft. wide by 3 ft. tall box would have the same aspect ratio as a 1mm wide by 1mm high pixel (1:1, square).

Here are the most common real world aspect ratios and their applications.

16:9 ratios (1.78:1) are the most commonly seen and used aspect ratio. They are today’s standard ratio for TV’s, monitors and portable devices. Most video is shot in a 16:9 resolution or close variation.

- 1024×576
- 1152×648
- 1280×720 (HD)
- 1366×768
- 1600×900
- 1920×1080 (full HD)
- 2560×1440
- 3840×2160 (4K UHD)
- 7,680 x 4,320 (8K UHD)

1.85:1 (37:20) and 2.39:1 (239:100) are the 2 most commonly used aspect ratios for movies. 1.85:1 is sometimes called widescreen and 2.39:1 is called anamorphic widescreen. These 2 ratios are wider than the 16:9 ratio, allowing videographers to capture a wider horizontal frame.

If you have ever noticed black horizontal bars on the screen when watching a movie at home, that is because your TV is 16:9 and your film is a wider aspect ratio.

The process of scaling down a picture that is wider than 16:9 onto a 16:9 display screen is referred to as padding or letterboxing.

21:9 aspect ratios are the common ratio used for ultrawide or panoramic monitors, and it is very close in ratio to the anamorphic wide screen ratio (2.39:1) used in cinema.

The exact aspect ratio of these monitors actually tends to be 64:27 (2.37:1), but they are advertised as 21:9 (2.33:1), likely for consistency with the well-known 16:9 ratio.

The panoramic ultrawide screen monitor allows for a seamless wide field of vision, great for multitasking and gaming.

Common ultrawide monitor resolutions are 2560×1080 and 3440×1440.

4:3*, *or 1.33:1 was the standard for video up until the late 90s/early 2000s before being replaced by 16:9. The most common 4:3 resolution on older TV’s was 640×480.

If you watch an old film on a new display screen, it will likely look like this:

The display of 4:3 footage onto a 16:9 display screen results in black vertical boxes on either side. This effect is also referred to as pillarboxing or reverse letterboxing.

While the 4:3 aspect ratio has become virtually obsolete with video, it is still a common aspect ratio today for cameras and photography.

Odds are that most of your photos are in the 3:2 ratio. Popularized by 35mm film, it is the most common aspect ratio in photography today.

What is the aspect ratio of a photo taken by a 3:2 camera in portrait orientation?

Click for answer

2:3

While video and image aspect ratios vary greatly across social media platforms, the 1:1 square aspect ratio is a very common one. It is also the most common ratio for icon and profile images.

These ratios also tend to change. To stay up-to-date on the latest social media aspect ratios, check out these useful links from Sprout Social:

Aspect ratios can be written as W:H or N:1. Here’s how to calculate aspect ratios both ways.

To calculate an aspect ratio as W:H, divide your width and your height by their greatest common factor (GCF), and write it as W:H, where W is units of width divided by the GCF and H is units of height divided by the GCF.

A greatest common factor is the highest whole number that will evenly divide by a set of numbers.

## Formula

W:H = Width divided by the GCF of width and height : Height divided by the GCF of width and height.

## Example

640×480

The GCF of 640 and 480 is 160

640 divided by 160 = 4

480 divided by 160 = 3

Aspect ratio = 4:3

In this example, the highest number that will divide evenly by both 640 and 480 is 160. So both numbers are divided by this GCF and written as W:H.

While an aspect ratio is not a fraction per se, calculating an aspect ratio as W:H uses the same math as simplifying a fraction.

If you were to simplify the fraction 550/75, you would get 22/3 (by dividing both 500 and 50 by the GCF of 25).

Similarly, if you have an LED video wall that is 550 pixels wide by 75 pixels high (550x75p), then its aspect ratio is 22:3.

An aspect ratio written in the format W:H is a simplified set of numbers where W is the units of width and H is the units of height.

Calculating aspect ratios as N:1 is a bit simpler. Just divide the width by the height and put “:1” after it.

## Formula

N:1 = Width divided by height : 1

## Example

1920×1080

1920 divided by 1080 = 1.78

Aspect ratio = 1.78:1

Many LED video walls are built into the common 16:9 aspect ratio. However, part of the allure of video walls is their ability to be built into custom aspect ratios.

Video walls that are wider than 16:9 may be referred to as panoramic or wide. Video walls with a height greater than their width are called portrait. Ultra-wide ratio video walls are often called ribbon boards, and ultra-tall ratio video walls are often called pillars.

Custom aspect ratio displays allow for unique viewing experiences outside of the 16:9 box.

Aspect ratios are the proportion of an object’s width to height, written as W:H or N:1. They are important to understand when properly sizing images, videos, and video walls. Use our handy calculator to calculate any aspect ratio with a breeze, or calculate them yourself with some simple math.

If you are looking for taking advantage of an LED video wall for your venue or your next event, we can help. Click here to reach out to an LED expert.