Most cameras — not including micro four-thirds — capture images in a standard 3:2 ratio, producing an 8×12 or a traditional 4×6 print. Normally this is fine, but did you know you can change the aspect ratio to 5:4 making it perfect for an 8×10 or 16×20 portrait? Here’s why you should consider changing the aspect ratio, essentially allowing you to crop in camera.

Saves time when editing

I shoot a lot of portraits and headshots. Instead of cropping during post-processing — an extra tedious step that adds up — I set my camera to capture the portrait in a 5:4 ratio. The image is now formatted to a perfect 8×10, saving time when editing a series of images. A word of caution: You have very little room for error.

What you see is what you get

A major benefit of changing the aspect ratio is seeing how the final image will actually look. Imagine shooting a portrait session tethered to a computer. As you shoot, the client can view and approve the image before they leave. Now combine that with a quick preset or look from your favorite image editing program and your entire shoot can be completed before the client makes it home!

It will take a little getting used to

My main challenge when first cropping in the camera was framing the shot. Nikon cameras display a full field of view with a thin red box representing the area that will be captured. This took a little getting used to. Some shots I took were framed perfect and others, well not so much. It’s best to practice before a major shoot and don’t forget to reset the aspect ratio after the shoot!

Since each camera is different, download your camera’s user manual — keep it on Google drive or Dropbox so you can access it from anywhere — and search for aspect ratio. Follow the instructions and start saving time by cropping in camera.