#21 – Photopaper Sizes Rant

I was reminded of this particular annoyance of mine by a letter in Amateur Photographer magazine recently- why on earth is there such little correlation between photopaper size and photograph ratio.

I’ll explain. 35mm film (and DSLR sensors) are in a 3 x 2 format. This means that the whole image can be printed on paper that is in that ratio, e.g. 6 x 4, 9 x 6, 12 x 8, etc. Simples.

So why, when I get my prints done do I have a choice of 6 x 4, 7 x 5, 8 x 6, 10 x 8, and A4? And why can I only buy A3 and A4 printer paper? Sure, I realise that when I print my own, I can print the image and then crop it, but that is a waste of paper. To get images printed at a size larger than 6 x 4, I’ve ended up creating a Photoshop action that resize the image ‘canvas’ and puts white bars between the edge of the image and the edge of the paper. I then have to crop the excess paper off. This is the only option really unless I send the images off to a lab such as Photobox who off a huge variety of print sizes, but your regular high street lab or supermarket only offers these random sizes. Bizarre.

Does anyone know why? Or did some someone who didn’t understand photography just decide to increase print sizes by just adding an extra inch onto the traditional 6 x 4 format?

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