Photo formats: what they are and how to choose the right size

What to remember

  1. You can use any makeup that does not distort the proportions of the face. Freckles and moles should not be covered up or painted on.
  2. You can wear any comfortable clothes, except for outerwear and uniforms. It should not cover the chin. Important: fabric that is too light will blend into the background, the fine pattern may be blurred, and clothing with straps will create the effect of a naked body.
  3. Any hairstyle that does not cover the face will do. You can hide your ears behind your hair.
  4. Headwear is prohibited. An exception will be made only if you cannot be photographed with your head uncovered due to religious beliefs.
  5. You can wear any jewelry that does not cover your face and chin.
  6. When posing, try to relax your face so that its expression is natural. You can slightly lift the corners of your lips up so as not to look sullen. Do not tilt your head to avoid distorting the proportions.
  7. Choose a studio with comfortable lighting. Then you won’t squint in the frame.
  8. But it is not necessary to take photos in the studio. You can contact a professional photographer or take pictures at home.
  9. The regulations prohibit photo retouching.

Cover collage and illustrations: Olga Lisovskaya

*Activities of Meta Platforms Inc. and its social networks Facebook and Instagram are prohibited in the Russian Federation.

What to do with your hair? Is it possible to leave them loose?

Passport photo requirements dictate that the face must be in focus from the tip of the chin to the hairline and from the nose to the ears. The bangs should not cover your eyes or fall on your cheekbones—the photo salon may ask you to pull them back.

Фото на паспорт: требования. Какой должна быть причёска
The hairstyle should not hide the oval of the face. Illustration by Olga Lisovskaya

The hairstyle is not regulated in any way: the hair can be left loose if the strands do not overlap the face. In some photo salons, employees may ask you to remove your hair behind your ears. But you are not obliged to do this, since it is not stated anywhere that the ears themselves must be visible: the main thing is to open the cheekbones and the oval of the face.

Basic terms for understanding the topic

Pixels are small square dots, colored in a certain light, that make up a single whole – an image.

When you look at a photograph, the eye does not notice specific dots of the raster, since they are very small and their number can reach tens of thousands; they merge to form one picture. Only with magnification will you be able to see them.

There is a peculiarity: the higher the number of raster dots, the more details are drawn and the better the quality of the photograph.

Linear size is data on the width and height of the printed image, expressed in millimeters. They can be recognized using a regular ruler. For example, the linear size of an image with parameters 10*15 cm is 102*152 mm.

Parameters in pixels are data on the width and height of a digital image.

There is one peculiarity. Digital cameras take pictures of the same sizes: 640*480, 1600*1200, but on the monitor we see 800*600,1024*768,1280*1024. That is a significant discrepancy.

Let’s look at examples. If the picture has a size of 450×300 raster pixels, then the picture will be rotated to fit the album, that is, positioned horizontally. What does this depend on? The width of the image is greater than the height.

If we take the picture size as 300*450, then it will be located in portrait orientation, that is, vertically. Why is this so? The width is less than the height.

Resolution is a number that relates values ​​in millimeters and pixels, measured in dpi (from the English “dots per inch” – the number of dots per inch).

Experts advise setting the resolution to 300 dpi, intended for obtaining high-quality photographs. Minimum resolution – 150 dpi.

The higher the indicator, the better the quality of the photo.

But it’s worth noting that if you take a photograph larger than the original, that is, “stretch the raster points,” then the quality drops.

Resolution may vary depending on different camera models. What’s the secret? Manufacturers of photographic equipment indicate an inaccurate number of megapixels, for example, 12 MP. In fact, it may turn out to be 12.3 or 12.5 MP. But the print quality will not deteriorate due to this fact.

What are minilabs?###

In modern photo laboratories, the bulk of photographs are printed on special machines called minilabs. This equipment is focused on printing small and medium formats – usually from 10 x 15 to 30 x 90 cm inclusive. The peculiarity of minilabs is the optimization of processes for mass photo printing of standard (not arbitrary) formats.

Using a special laser or LED head, the image from the RGB graphic file is exposed on photo paper with a photosensitive emulsion, then the print goes through the classic “wet” process. Modern minilabs, combined with technologies for working over a local network, make it possible to print 1000-1800 digital prints of 10 x 15 per hour or more.

When printing from photographic film, the negative or slide is scanned with a special built-in scanner, then work with the image is done in the same way as with a regular file. In small laboratories, where stopping production is not too critical for the business, there is usually one machine. In medium and large laboratories, less than 2-3 high-performance minilabs are rarely installed.

The photo printing operator makes color correction.

Over the past few years, the market for minilab manufacturers has narrowed to two giants – Noritsu and Fuji. According to unofficial data, at this time attempts were made to unite the relevant divisions into a single corporation, but the Antimonopoly Committee of Japan did not allow this.

As a result, today both companies produce almost identical minilabs, but under different logos. All other minilab manufacturers have ceased operations. Recently, Chinese manufacturers, in particular Sophia, have begun to appear on the market.

Despite the fact that their minilabs actually copy Noritsu, the quality of these machines leaves much to be desired, so such machines are used mainly in laboratories without any significant requirements for print quality. Apparently, the share of such machines in the world is still insignificant.

In addition to minilabs, there are printing machines for large formats. The leader of “large format” in our time is the Italian manufacturer Durst. In general, the printing technologies on these machines are the same as on minilabs. The main differences are the possible print formats, resolution and color gamut, which tends to be slightly higher for larger machines.

11 questions about digital photo printing (part one)

Envelopes with printed photographs.

Digital photography allows you to view the results of your shooting directly on your computer, so today we print much less often than in film days. However, precisely because of the “exclusivity” of the task, the requirements for the quality of hard copies also increase: having spent time selecting and processing the best photographs, we expect to see an equally high-quality result on paper.

  • What methods of printing photos are there?
  • What are minilabs?
  • What is the maximum file size that can be printed?
  • What is the difference between 10 x 15 and 11 x 15?
  • Bleed frame or whole frame – how to set the print mode?
  • How to control the sharpness of a print?
  • Which paper should I choose – matte or glossy?
  • How to make the print match the picture on the monitor?
  • What is color correction in printing and why is it needed?
  • How can I find out the color correction parameters made by the operator during printing?
  • Is it possible to print real black and white?

35mm format – 6:4 or so-called 3:2

This ratio is the default for 35mm film, and therefore the full frame and APS-C format sensors used in most Nikon and Canon cameras. In this case, the width of the image is much greater than the height, which again helps the image be read from left to right, meaning diagonal leading lines can work well.

The limitation of this ratio is that the height is much shorter than the width. Therefore, capturing fine details in the foreground with a wide-angle lens becomes increasingly difficult due to the limited vertical space with which to work.

A 6:4 aspect ratio is used here as there is no nearby detail to capture in the foreground and the scene benefits from a wide shot.

Is it possible to take pictures with glasses and lenses?

If you wear glasses all the time, the regulations indicate that you should wear them, because it is part of your everyday appearance. It is important that your eyes are visible: they should not be hidden by glare, tinted glass or thick frames. There is no need to wear glasses for reading or working on a computer.

Фото на паспорт: требования. Можно ли надевать очки
If you wear glasses all the time, take pictures with them on. But in the photo the glass should not glare. Illustration by Olga Lisovskaya

Lenses can be worn as long as they do not change the natural color of the eyes.

What is the maximum file size you can print in?###

Before sending photographs for printing, many photographers begin to search the Internet for tables of correspondence between matrix megapixels and possible print sizes. Such tables do exist, but it is important to understand that they are conditional. The fact is that the perception of the image directly depends on the viewing conditions and, in particular, on the distance from which we will look at the picture.

Remember street billboards on the walls of nine-story buildings: if you get close to them, you will see grain or pixels the size of a horse’s head. Moreover, we will not see anything except a few such spots. But is such an image meant to be nose-to-nose? Of course not.

Can we actually get that close? Hardly. Therefore, before we begin compiling a table of sizes, let’s wrap it up: it can only help us navigate for viewing conditions at close range. From close up, because only in this case can we evaluate the optical resolution of the print.

Approximate print size table

Number of megapixels of the matrix Recommended maximum print size for point-blank viewing*
2 15 x 20 cm
4 20 x 30 cm
6 25 x 35 cm
8 30 x 40 cm
10 35 x 45 cm
12 40 x 50 cm

* Practice shows that in the case of chemical photo printing, due to the optical properties of the photo paper emulsion, 200 dpi is a sufficient resolution for high-quality printing. Based on this resolution, the table below was calculated. Let me remind you that the larger the print format, the greater the distance we look at it – accordingly, the lower the optical resolution of the print can be.

In practice, printing resolutions, for example, for street billboards, sometimes reach 20-30 dpi and lower. And I have more than once had the opportunity to print my photographs from an 8-megapixel camera in the 76 x 112 cm format. If you look at such a picture point-blank, the pixelation effect will be noticeable.

What is the difference between 10 x 15 and 11 x 15?###

Initially, print formats were designed for the most common frame formats. At the dawn of the film era, most amateur cameras shot with 135-type film in a 24 x 36 mm frame format. The aspect ratio of such a frame is 2:3 – it was for this that print formats 10 x 15, 20 x 30, 30 x 45, etc. were created

With the advent of digital cameras, manufacturers began to focus on the format of computer monitors, which in most cases is close to the 3:4 aspect ratio. Today, both types of cameras are common: * with an aspect ratio of 2:

If you print a 3:4 frame in a 10 x 15 format, a significant portion of the image will either be left out of print or wide white margins will appear in the image (depending on the print mode). To eliminate this misunderstanding, photo laboratories began to actively offer clients a new print format – 11 x 15, the aspect ratio of which is close to 3:4. Today it has already become standard – photo albums, frames, envelopes, boxes, and various accessories are made for it.

If you print photographs without preliminary cropping, then to select the most optimal print formats you need to find out (calculate) the aspect ratio of the frame in your camera.

Below are some common print formats based on aspect ratios:

2:3 aspect ratio Aspect ratio 3:4
10 x 15 cm 11 x 15 cm
15 x 20 cm 15 x 22 cm
30 x 45 cm 30 x 40 cm

Depth of field

This is the range of distances at which objects appear sharp in the frame. This is one of the key parameters of photography, which, among other things, can cause a blurry picture.

A wide aperture (F/2.8) results in a shallow depth of field. Conversely, a smaller aperture (for example, F/16) increases the area of ​​focus.

You can also control the depth of field using the focal length and the distance to the subject. The closer to the subject you shoot or the longer the lens you use, the shallower the depth of field – only a narrow strip of the image will be in focus. And vice versa.

Therefore, when choosing a lens for shooting, think about how it will affect the depth of field. If necessary, adjust the aperture and/or distance to the subject being photographed.

If it’s so strict with headdresses, perhaps jewelry isn’t allowed either?

There are no restrictions on accessories in the regulations: they can be of any size and style. But if, for example, large earrings block the oval of the face, such a photo may not be accepted.

Фото на паспорт: требования. Можно ли надевать украшения
Accessories should not block the oval of the face, and necklaces that are too long can be cut off unattractively in the frame. Illustration by Olga Lisovskaya

Due to the fact that a very small area of ​​the body will be visible in the photo, long chains and large necklaces may not fit entirely into the frame and will be cut off unsightly. You can wear a short chain or choker: it is not forbidden to cover your neck, as long as your chin is open.

What is the best way to dress?

The regulations prohibit wearing outerwear such as coats or jackets in the photo. New requirements for passport photos stipulate that clothing should not hide the chin: wearing a voluminous scarf, for example, is prohibited.

It is also prohibited to be photographed in uniform. Business-style clothing is not considered a uniform and can be worn.

Фото на паспорт: требования. Какой должна быть одежда
Passport photo requirements state that clothing must not hide the chin. Illustration by Olga Lisovskaya

In addition to the requirements of the regulations, it is worth remembering other nuances of the frame:

  • Since the background is completely white, light-colored clothing can blend in with it.
  • The photo in the passport is very small: because of this, small patterns can merge into a hodgepodge when printed.
  • Only a small part of the chest and shoulders are visible in the photo. A tank top may leave only the straps in the frame, while sleeveless clothing can create a bare-body effect.

How to calculate dimensions for high resolution

You can calculate the parameters in pixels, which will result in a resolution of 300 units or more.

Let’s take a closer look at the photo with parameters 10*15 cm.

  • Linear values ​​of these parameters (usually indicated in special tables) – 102*152 mm.
  • Let’s multiply the width of the image (102 mm) by the resolution we want to achieve, in our case it is 300 dpi.
  • Divide the result of the last step by the number of mm in one inch – 25.4.
  • We get the number of raster points of the original image in width 102*300/25.4 =1205.

We will carry out the same algorithm for height.

152*300/25.4 = 1795.

So, we conclude that for any photograph, the size of which will be greater than 1205 * 1795 raster pixels, when printed on a 10 * 15 cm format, the resolution will be more than 300 units.

Sometimes it turns out that images with resolutions of 150 and 300 units look exactly the same. Why is this and what does it depend on? Depends on the genre of the picture and the distance from which it will be viewed.

What should a passport photo look like from a legal point of view?

The requirements for passport photos are set out in paragraph 36 of the administrative regulations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on the issues of issuing and replacing passports. This is what an ideal photo looks like from a legal point of view:

  • photo size 35 × 45 mm;
  • the background is white, smooth, without shadows, stripes, spots or foreign objects near you;
  • you can bring both color and black and white photos. Both options are allowed;
  • it doesn’t matter whether the photo texture is matte or glossy;
  • Photos must be brought in two copies. The second photo will be needed for the Ministry of Internal Affairs registration card.

There are also clear requirements for the image of the face and body:

  • the head and upper part of the shoulders are visible in the photo;
  • the head takes up no more than 80% of the image;
  • there is a free space of 5 mm above the head.

Square format – 1:1

The square format can often be used to simplify an image and gives the striking effect of having the subject in the center of the frame. Keeping your photo’s width equal to its height will reduce the need to move left or right in the frame.

In addition, the square format provides excellent opportunities to break the rules. For example, you can place the horizon in the center of the image or an object in the middle of the frame, and the composition will only be enhanced. Often the 1:1 aspect ratio is used to emphasize minimalism, that is, to simplify.

Aspect ratio of 1:1 is used to simplify this image

Can I wear hats for passport photos?

A headdress can only be worn in one case: your religious beliefs do not allow you to remove it. But even then, the oval of the face should be completely visible. Ears may be closed. It is permissible to wear a hijab that covers the hair, but a veil that partially covers the chin and cheekbones, or a niqab in which only the eyes are visible, is not allowed.

Interestingly, there are known cases in the world when representatives of the parody religion of Pastafarianism, who believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, were allowed to be photographed for documents in a colander. There were similar cases in Russia. But this is rather an exception to the rule: such a photo may well be refused.

If you are not religious or your beliefs allow you to walk around with your hair uncovered, you cannot put anything on your head: you will have to leave a scarf or a spectacular hat for another time.

Is it possible to edit a photo in a photo editor? for example, just cover up a pimple.

Until 2020, passport photo requirements mainly regulated head position and clothing. But in January 2021, a new regulation came into force, which also includes rules for photo processing.

It clearly states that photos cannot be processed. Literally, it is not allowed to edit a photo “for the purpose of improving the appearance of the person depicted or its artistic treatment. The image must accurately depict all the facial features of the person being photographed.” That is, even covering up a pimple in Photoshop is unacceptable according to the regulations, not to mention serious retouching.

Many studios offer minimal photo processing. But the passport office employee has the right not to accept the photo if he notices retouching or considers that the appearance features are distorted.

Is it possible to smile?

According to the passport photo requirements, the person must look directly at the camera, have a neutral facial expression, and keep their mouth closed. This means that you can’t smile with all 32 teeth, but you can slightly raise the corners of your lips so as not to look gloomy or sad.

The main purpose of a passport portrait is to show your natural appearance. Your face will look natural if you try to relax the muscles. It is better not to tilt your head even minimally: this will distort the proportions, and a strong tilt will completely violate the requirements.

Фотография человека

Lee Eliseeva, photographer of the studio “Wow! Passport”

When taking photographs, a person does not see himself and cannot objectively assess whether he is positioned evenly in the frame. Therefore, it is better to ask the photographer to control the pose. He will also indicate if the face is slightly turned to the side, because the photograph must be strictly frontal.

To look neutral, but not gloomy, it is enough to relax your face as much as possible, do not frown eyebrows
, do not squint, focus your gaze on the camera lens and smile slightly at the corners of your mouth.

When choosing a studio, pay attention to the light they use. If there is constant bright light in the studio, when the lamp is pointed at your face, you will squint and the photo will turn out unsuccessful. With a regular on-camera flash, you can also get a bad shot: sharp shadows will appear on your face.

Good studios use professional pulsed lighting and softboxes that provide soft lighting. The flash will not appear until the camera shutter is released, so your eyes will be as comfortable as possible.

I don’t want to go to a photo studio. Can I take a photo at home or with a professional photographer?

The regulations do not prohibit this.

A professional photographer can make shooting more comfortable and use high-quality equipment and lighting, which not every photo studio has. If you choose this option, discuss whether the professional is familiar with all the necessary passport photo requirements. It is important that the photo has the required proportions, and that the body is positioned in the frame as specified in the rules.

Be sure to keep in mind that the background must be perfectly white without stripes, spots or shadows. Shadows and highlights are not allowed on the face, so you will need a large amount of white light. One ring light may not be enough for photography.

If you decide to take a photo yourself, you can also take it on your phone by setting the shooting on a timer. Just don’t use the front camera: it can distort the proportions of your face.

You can print such a photo in a printing salon or at home. In the second case, you will have to get a little confused. To check whether all parameters are met, it is better to use a special service where you can check the frame with millimeter markings, for example, “Profi” or Offnote. You need to print on photo paper.

Panorama format – 12:6 or 18:6 (2:1 or 3:1)

2:1 is a panoramic format supported by a number of medium format film cameras, 3:1 is typical for APS sensors. Typically, panoramic images are created by stitching 2 or more images together. Capture an image with aspect ratio 3:

An ultra wide 18:6 (3:1) aspect ratio was used to present this panorama of 7 stitched photographs captured using a focal length of approx. 140 mm

Popular photo sizes for printing with format table

The generally accepted standard photo is the size of 10 by 15 cm. At the same time, the size of a commensurate digital photo is usually slightly larger (for example, 10.2 by 15.2 cm), and the pixel size of this photo will be 1205 by 1795 pixels.

Other formats are shown in the table below:

Photo formats: what they are and how to choose the right size

If you plan to work with large-format printing, then it has quite broad requirements for digital images:

Photo formats: what they are and how to choose the right size

If you know the dpi parameter and the number of pixels of your photo, then using the formula below, you can calculate the required dimensions of the sides of your photo:

In this formula:

x – the required size of one side of the photograph in centimeters; r – photo side resolution in pixels; d – 2.54 cm (standard inch); dpi – usually 300 (less often – 150). For example, let the image width be 1772 pixels and dpi=300. Then 1772*2.54/300=15.00 cm in print width.

Portrait photography: bokeh, focal length, aperture and distance

There is an update at the very bottom

Greetings, photo geeks! Portrait photography, in a good way, is an art. And art is a subjective thing.

But to take photographs, we use technical devices, which means we are inevitably “bound” by the laws to which this technology is subject. And I would like to talk about them, because… There are a lot of myths here…

Портрет девушки

Those who want to immediately read something new about blur can immediately scroll far below

To begin with, I would like to remember that we are often also limited by certain “genre conventions”. There are certain “classic” shot compositions. For example, a “chest-length” portrait, where an area of ​​space of approximately 75 cm diagonally fits in the frame. Or a “head and shoulders” portrait, where the diagonal is approximately 50 cm. These two options are the most common “templates” of photographs. In the future, we will talk specifically about frames with 50 and 75 cm diagonally.

Now a little geometry… Strong perspective distortions of the face are considered aesthetically unattractive, “disfiguring”. Because of this, taking portraits from a distance of less than 1 m is considered incorrect. Of course, what is considered ugliness and what is “the artist’s vision” is a controversial issue, but still, many special portrait lenses simply cannot be focused much closer than this distance. The professional portrait lens Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM, for example, focuses no closer than 95 cm.

But the complete absence of perspective distortion is also considered… Distortion! They say “the face looks too flat”, because with the naked eye from a great distance the face is already difficult to see, so we are not used to seeing a large face with absolutely “no perspective”. Because of this, taking portraits from a distance of more than 3 m is also not recommended.

It is considered optimal to photograph people from a distance of approximately 1.5-2.0 m.

What focal length should the lens have in order to capture 75 cm diagonally from a distance of 1.5-2.0 m? If we have a classic film frame of 36×24 mm or a “full frame” matrix, then 80-100 mm.

What focal length is needed to capture 50 cm diagonally from a distance of 1.5-2.0 m? 110-145 mm.

What are our classic focal lengths for portrait lenses? 85 and 135 mm… I think it should now be quite obvious why these particular numbers were chosen. It’s just that these focal lengths ensure the shooting of frames that are “standard” in composition from an optimal distance.

Often people misunderstand the meaning of the phrase “these lenses provide minimal facial distortion”, believing that the focal length itself affects the distortion. But no, this is a mistake, distortion is determined by distance. Of course, lenses themselves introduce distortion and distortion. But the opinion that it is minimal in 85 and 135 mm lenses is absolutely not true. For example, the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM wide-angle lens has a barrel-shaped distortion (it makes the face look “plump”) of 0.1%. Is that why it’s not suitable for portraits? No, the 85mm Canon portrait mentioned above also has a barrel shape, and even 0.2%!

So when choosing exactly the focal length of the lens, you need to look at what viewing angle it has on the matrix of your camera. On the Nikon 1, with its tiny sensor, a 35mm lens will be an excellent lens that, if designed correctly, will not create any facial distortions. All the talk “the crop factor doesn’t matter, the lens was and still is wide-angle” is simply an indicator of people’s lack of understanding of optics and geometry.

Here you need to scroll to here

Now let’s move on to another interesting aspect of shooting portraits – bokeh…


There are many holivars on the topic “Wow! What a gorgeous background blur! It’s great!” VS “Only stupid beginners shoot with an open aperture; a professional chooses a beautiful background.” We won’t get into them, we’ll just take it for granted that there is a significant layer of people who want to see a “blurred out” background in portraits, and we’ll try to help them choose the right lens.

It is well known that the lower the aperture number, the more blurred the background will be. f/1.4 is better than f/2.0. And f/1.2 is absolutely great.

It is also known that the greater the focal length (but do not forget what was said in the first part of the article!), the more the background is blurred.

But which will blur the background more, 50 mm f/1.4 or 85 mm f/2.0?! What if they are also on cameras with different matrix sizes?

Actually, the whole article came out of this question. Taking about ten different lenses and “running” them through several cameras with different matrices, taking different portraits in different conditions – an interesting experiment, but long and expensive. So I decided to get into mathematical modeling…

The “sphericity” of the “horse in a vacuum” in my case was that I considered the lens to be one single lens that moves back and forth to focus. I simply had no other options, because I wanted to find out how the background blur is affected by focal length and aperture in general, and not by a specific lens. And lenses of completely different designs can have the same focal length and aperture… So the background blur (and even the distance at which it will give the desired frame diagonal!) for a specific real lens may be slightly different. So, for example, in the photograph above you can clearly see that an out-of-focus point source of light can be depicted in the photograph not even as a circle, but as an oval… But, nevertheless, in most cases, the differences between my calculations and the results of a real lens will be insignificant.

What did I actually do? Having covered an A4 sheet on both sides with transformations of the basic formula for a thin lens, I received a calculation of at what distance (from the plane of the matrix/film, it is from this that the distances on the lens focusing scale are measured) the object needs to be placed in order to obtain the desired frame diagonal at a given focal length and the size of the matrix, as well as into what size circle a point light source located at a given distance behind the subject will be blurred (I counted the distance from the subject, because usually, after changing the lens, the photographer himself moves away/comes closer, and does not ask to come closer/ move away the person being portrayed). I expressed this size as a percentage of the frame diagonal so that it could be directly compared for cameras with different matrices.

Next, this Excel file was created
. Orange cells are what we specify (frame diagonal, matrix dimensions, distance from the object to the background), yellow are the main results of calculations (distance to evaluate whether this focal length is suitable for such a portrait, and background blur), gray – intermediate calculation results (for example, “background defocus” is the distance from the plane in which the background was focused to the plane of the matrix).

I sincerely believed that the results of the calculation would be simple conclusions like “50 mm f/1.4 blurs the background worse than 85 mm f/2.0.” But no!

If you shoot a portrait “chest-length” (75 cm), installing both lenses on a camera with a 23.5×15.6 mm matrix (the most common APS-C format), then 50 mm f/1.4 will give a blur of 2.76% , and 85 mm f/2.0 – 2.56%, i.e. 50 mm “won”. But at the same time
50mm f/1.4 will give 4.30% blur, and 85mm f/2.0 will give 4.91% blur, i.e. “ahead” 85 mm!

How so? It’s very simple: the first pair of numbers is given for the case when the background is only a couple of meters behind the person’s back (which usually happens indoors), and the second pair – when the background is already 20 meters away (which regularly happens in nature).

I.e. when choosing which of the available lenses to take in order to blur the background as much as possible, you need to be guided not only by their focal lengths and aperture sizes, but also by the distance from the subject to the background

And how exactly to be guided – download the file and “play”. I will give here only a few heavily “truncated” tables.


focal length (focusing distance): aperture number (1.2, 1.4, etc.) – blur (percentage)

Full frame (36×24 mm), 50 cm diagonal, 2 m to background
85 mm (1.16 m): 1.2 – 8.75; 1.4 – 7.50; 1.8 – 5.83
135 mm (1.84 m): 2.0 – 6.99; 2.8 – 4.99; 3.5 – 3.99

Full frame (36×24 mm), 50 cm diagonal, 20 m to the background
85 mm (1.16 m): 1.2 – 12.43; 1.4 – 10.65; 1.8 – 8.29
135 mm (1.84 m): 2.0 – 11.53; 2.8 – 8.23; 3.5 – 6.59

Full frame (36×24 mm), 75 cm diagonal, 2 m to background
85 mm (1.65 m): 1.2 – 5.14; 1.4 – 4.41; 1.8 – 3.43
135 mm (2.62 m): 2.0 – 3.92; 2.8 – 2.80; 3.5 – 2.24

Full frame (36×24 mm), 75 cm diagonal, 20 m to the background
85 mm (1.65 m): 1.2 – 8.32; 1.4 – 7.13; 1.8 – 5.54
135 mm (2.62 m): 2.0 – 7.62; 2.8 – 5.44; 3.5 – 4.35

APS-C matrix (22.3×14.9 mm, crop 1.61), 50 cm diagonal, 2 m to background
50 mm (1.03 m): 1.2 – 5.40; 1.4 – 4.63; 1.8 – 3.60
85 mm (1.76 m): 1.2 – 7.51; 1.4 – 6.43; 1.8 – 5.00

APS-C matrix (22.3×14.9 mm, crop 1.61), 50 cm diagonal, 20 m to background
50 mm (1.03 m): 1.2 – 7.56; 1.4 – 6.48; 1.8 – 5.04
85 mm (1.76 m): 1.2 – 12.46; 1.4 – 10.68; 1.8 – 8.31

APS-C matrix (22.3×14.9 mm, crop 1.61), 75 cm diagonal, 2 m to background
50 mm (1.50 m): 1.2 – 3.16; 1.4 – 2.71; 1.8 – 2.10
85 mm (2.55 m): 1.2 – 4.17; 1.4 – 3.57; 1.8 – 2.78

APS-C matrix (22.3×14.9 mm, crop 1.61), 75 cm diagonal, 20 m to background
50 mm (1.50 m): 1.2 – 5.01; 1.4 – 4.30; 1.8 – 3.24
85 mm (2.55 m): 1.2 – 8.15; 1.4 – 6.99; 1.8 – 5.43

I hope this helps at least someone a little with choosing a lens for portrait photography 🙂


I updated Excel file
Now, for a number of lenses, he plots the dependence of background blur on the distance to it. Like this:
Графики размытия фона

The graph clearly demonstrates the capabilities of different lenses at different distances to the background.

Well, a comparison of the theoretical model with practice…
Canon EOS M5, 22.3×14.9 mm sensor, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens, focusing distance – 1.5 m, LED located at a distance of 3.5 m from the camera (2 m behind the focusing plane).
The LED image in the photograph turned out to be approximately (it is not perfectly round and does not have perfectly clear edges, so there is an error of ± 2-3 pixels) 150 pixels.
The matrix resolution is 6000×4000 pixels, which gives 7211 conventional pixels along the frame diagonal.
150/7211 = 2.08%
The mathematical model predicted 2.10%. Within the limits of measurement error, the experimental result coincided with the predictions of the theory.

Rule of Thirds

This is a compositional technique invented at the end of the 18th century and originally used in painting.

According to the laws of perception, a person cannot maintain attention on the entire picture at once. “Attention Knot” catches the eye and forces the viewer to concentrate. Therefore, the rule of thirds not only streamlines the composition, but also simplifies perception.

The viewfinders of many modern cameras are equipped with a grid based on the rule of thirds. In this case, all you need to do (for example, when shooting landscapes) is to make sure that the horizon is parallel to the horizontal grid line, and the key objects (trees, mountain, etc.) are at the intersection of the thirds.

The rule of thirds is simple and quite universal (even suitable for portraits). But don’t get carried away. There are shots where the subject just begs to be in the center; and sometimes it is better to place it at the edge.

Arranging a composition is one of the components of the photographic process. It should be thought through in advance. But if you don’t have time or ideas, then feel free to use the rule of thirds.

Problem 35mm

A 35mm frame (or golden rectangle) works well if the camera is in panoramic format, but not so good in a vertical position. The rectangle is too elongated, it is difficult to fill it beautifully and correctly.

I call this feature the “35mm problem.” It can be problematic with any subject, but especially with landscape photography: there is too much sky if the format is vertical (portrait). For this reason, I take most of my photographs in this genre horizontally.

The difference is clearly visible in the two photographs above. The first one is too “high” and the frame looks much better when cropped to a smaller rectangle. This example shows the difference between the 2:3 aspect ratio (remember that the width parameter is always listed first) and the 4:5 aspect ratio used in 5×4 inch wide format cameras.

This problem was one of the reasons why many landscape photographers worked with medium or large format film cameras in the days before digital SLR cameras became the norm. The 4:3, 7:6 and 5:4 formats are “shorter” rectangles when held upright, making them easier to compose.

Modes for automatically cropping photos when printing

  1. When printing photographs, photos are usually cropped because the print size does not always match the original frame size. For example, if the aspect ratio of your camera’s matrix is ​​3:4, and you ordered a 10×15 print (aspect ratio 2:3), then a small cropping of the image inevitably occurs during printing.
    When an order is received, the print operator looks at the image, and if important elements of the photo fall into the cropping zones, a decision is made to crop manually to avoid cutting off important elements of the photo. In other situations, cropping is done automatically when printing.
    Photo formats: what they are and how to choose the right size

    In the figure, dark stripes indicate parts of the frame that will be cropped during printing.

The photo was taken with a Canon PowerShot G5 digital camera, image size 2592×1944 pixels. A 10×15 print with a print resolution of 300 dpi has a size of 1795×1205 pixels. Accordingly, if the original image was not previously brought to the required size, then the print will only produce a fragment of the image relative to the center.
Photo formats: what they are and how to choose the right size

The light area in the photo is the part that will appear on the print. The area highlighted in dark will be cropped.

Aspect ratio in the composition

Today, the 3:2 format in 35 mm cameras remains the most widely used. The reasons why Oskar Barnack chose it for Leica are not recorded; Perhaps it was chosen because this aspect ratio is almost the same size as the golden rectangle.

The history of the Golden Rectangle dates back to Ancient Greece; it is aesthetically attractive for use in photography, drawing, painting, and architecture. Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who was renowned for his mastery of composition, used the golden rectangle theory in the 35mm frame.

The Rule of Thirds, also known as the Law of Composition, is a simplification of some ideas for ideal composition within a golden rectangle.

Frame aspect ratio

Usually photos look good at their native aspect ratio (usually 2:3 or 4:3). But an alternative ratio can have an unexpected effect and significantly improve the picture.

Instead of leaving thinking about the aspect ratio and playing with crop to post-processing, it is better to take a closer look at the subject of the photo and decide which aspect ratio is suitable at the shooting stage.

Many cameras let you set the aspect ratio in-camera, but if you shoot RAW and JPEG at the same time, you’ll still have the original to crop during editing.

The main advantage of this is that you will see the picture in the selected aspect ratio and move the camera or subject to improve the composition.

It is not recommended to crop images arbitrarily; when cropping, it is also better to maintain a certain aspect ratio.

Gradually you will learn to see which aspect ratio best emphasizes the composition.

Standard color correction

When printing photo images, the color gamut of the photo is corrected. When correcting, several basic principles are used:

  1. If people are the main subject of the photograph, adjustments are made to achieve the most correct skin tone possible, but the overall color scheme may change and some colors may not be displayed accurately.
  2. When correcting landscapes, the basis is the correct display of the greenery of plants, or the color of the sky, if the main content of the image is the sky. For winter landscapes, the basis is to obtain the whiteness of the snow.

If you want to color correct your photographs yourself, when ordering you must specify the option “without correction”, but you must remember that the image you see on your monitor may not match the print due to inconsistency in color reproduction characteristics Your monitor and printing machine.

Print Quality Chart

Resolution Mpx Size
9×13 10×15 13×18 15×20 20×30 30×40
640×480 0.3 Very bad Very bad Very bad Very bad Very bad Very bad
1280×1024 1.3 Good Normal Poor Poor Very bad Very bad
2048×1536 3.1 Excellent Excellent Good Good Poor Very bad
2304×1729 4.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Good Normal Very bad
2592×1944 5.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Normal Bad
3000×2000 6.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Good Poor
3200×2200 7.0 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Good Normal
3600×2300 8.3 Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Good Good
  • Print photos
  • T-shirt printing
  • Print on cup
  • Photo puzzle
  • Large format printing

Photo printing sizes and formats

Our professional equipment makes it possible to process and edit files only with the JPG extension; other formats are not accepted. In order for the image in the photo to be contrasty and clear, the resolution must vary from 72 to 300 dpi, in other words, the quality of the print depends on the number of dots per inch.

The size of the photo matters; sometimes a minimum number of pixels is enough, but for large-format printing of large sizes (a1, a2, a3) the optimal number is required. The sizes and formats of photo printing do not always correspond to the frame format in a digital camera, therefore, in order to avoid cropping the main elements of the overall plot, you should take into account the aspect ratios.

When placing an order, the print operator previews the image and, if necessary, crops it manually. For the convenience of consumers, on our website the sizes and formats for printing photographs are presented in table form. The standard format is a clearly defined linear dimension.

In one order, you can choose a completely different print format for each image.

The color rendition of the client’s monitor and our equipment may differ significantly, so it is better to entrust color correction to professionals or order a test print to adjust the balance of brightness and color.

Spot metering

Exposure metering is a measure of the brightness of an image based on the amount of light entering the camera. It allows you to avoid darkening or brightening your photos. There are three types of exposure metering: center-weighted, matrix and spot.

With spot metering, brightness is usually determined at the center of the frame or at the active focus point. Spot metering is used when the brightness of the subject is very different from the brightness of the background, and also when there are very light or very dark objects in the frame.

Spot metering is typically used to take photographs with the main subject correctly exposed. The brightness of other objects is ignored.

The more you use spot metering, the more you will understand about exposure.

Four-thirds format – 4:3

This format is the default for cameras that use four-thirds of the sensor. In this case, the image is wider than it is tall, which means that the viewer’s eyes involuntarily tend to move left and right across the image. Given the fact that the height is still relatively large in relation to the width, this image is great for leading lines that lead the eye across the scene from the foreground to the main interest.

The 4:3 aspect ratio allows you to capture the finest details of the plan and leading lines to draw attention to the image


Most cameras, with a few exceptions, use one or two formats. 3:2 is usually found on 35mm digital cameras, while 4:3 is used on compact cameras and micro cameras. If you look at the photo above, you will see that it was taken in 4:3 format and cropped more.

Film camera enthusiasts have more options to choose from thanks to the existence of medium format, large format and panoramic cameras.

Below is a brief overview of the formats that exist today. Then I’ll explain how aspect ratio affects composition.

Photo formats and sizes for printing. comparison of photo formats with A4

We are often asked: “Can you print A4 photos?”

Of course, we can print photos in almost any size, but this issue requires clarification.

Photo paper formats differ from international ISO formats, but most often in everyday life we ​​operate with terms and sizes that are familiar to us, such as A4, Whatman paper, etc. Although photo paper formats and regular paper formats are quite similar, they are still different from each other.

Major photo formats have aspect ratios similar to those of modern digital cameras, 1:1.5 (2/3) or 1:1.33 (3/4). Standard international paper sizes have an aspect ratio of 1:1.4142, meaning they are not the same proportions. When printing on Noritsu minilabs, photo standards are used. The familiar photo frames and photo albums for storing photographs also meet photo standards.

This table shows the ratio of the photo formats that we print to standard paper.





Photo format we print Photo size in px Photo size in mm Aspect Ratio ISO standard ISO size in mm
10×15 1217×1807 103×153 2:3 ≈A6 105×148
15×21 1807×2492 153×211 3:4 ≈A5 148×210
20×30 2409×3614 204×306 2:3 ≈A4 210×297
30×40 3614×4972 306×421 3:4 ≈A3 297×420



30×60 3614×7217 306×611 1:2

≈A2 420×594
Now let’s look at each of the photo formats in detail. The popular 10×15 format is 2 mm smaller on one side than standard A6, and 5 mm larger on the other. Therefore, if you need exactly A6, you should order a 15×21 photo and trim off the excess manually. Below you see how the 10×15 format compares with the well-known A4.

A 15×21 photograph will be slightly larger than an A5 sheet. On one side by 5 mm, on the other by 1 mm. Therefore, if you need A5, feel free to order a 15×21 photo, you will cut off the excess.

Below you see the ratio of 15×21 to A4.

The 20×30 format is almost A4, but the photo on one side is 6 mm smaller, and on the other it is 9 mm larger than A4. 20×30 and A4 are disproportionate.

Below is the ratio of a 20×30 photo to A4.

If you need A3, then choose a 30×40 photo. 30×40 is 9 mm on one side and 1 mm on the other more than A3. Feel free to order and cut it yourself =).

Below you see the ratio of 30×40 and A3.

Photo 30×45 larger than A3. This can be seen in the picture below.

A 30×60 photo is difficult to compare with regular paper. 30×60 is significantly smaller than A2 (whatman paper) and significantly larger than A3. But this does not prevent 30×60 images from being popular among photographers.

Below you see the ratio of a 30×60 photo to A3.

Below is the relationship between photo formats.