Is an 8×10 print a standard in photography industry and why professional photographers work with 8×10 prints rather than with 8×12 prints? This question usually brings a smile to my face. You see, when I started taking photography classes, I was not aware that professional, full-frame (FX), cameras can actually take images at a 5:4 aspect ratio (an 8×10 print) while my DX camera was limited to taking images at DX 1.5x aspect ratio (8×12) only. With a DX camera, I had to crop my 8×12 images in Photoshop.
The Nikon DX format is an alternative name used by Nikon corporation for APS-C image sensor format being about 24×16 mm. Full Frame (FX) camera typically has a 36×24 mm sensor.
The reason for smile is a statement I made to my first photography instructor. She asked me to prepare a few of my photos for an event she was organizing and asked me to make them 8x10s. I proudly said that my camera takes only 8x12s and I cannot crop my images, as that would ruin the composition. She was polite enough to tell me to, in that case, bring 8x12s. At that time, I had no idea that 8×10 images were the standard.
The aspect ratio of an image describes the proportional relationship between its width and its height. (Wikipedia)
Why 8×10 Prints?
8×10 prints are industry standard dating back to years of darkroom. Back then, the standard camera used for weddings and portraits used 4×5 sheets of film that enlarged nicely to 8×10 inch prints. Manufacturers got around too to produce 8×10 photo accessories including albums, frames, mats, etc. When you have an entire industry working with the same aspect ratio, it slowly becomes the standard. That’s why it is so much easier to find 8×10 pre-made frames and matting than it is to find 8×12 ones. Frames are just an example.
8×10 Prints vs 8×12 Prints
So, if you shoot with a DX camera, you think that an 8×12 image, compared to an 8×10, gives you a wider angle of view. And you are right …because the only way for you to get an 8×10 is to crop your original 8×12 image. However, if you are shooting with a FX camera, you should know that an 8×10 on a full frame camera has a wider angle of view than an 8×12 image on a DX camera does. The white line (DX 1.5) in the image below represents an 8×12 image taken with a DX camera while the black dotted line (5:4) represents an 8×10 image taken with a full frame (FX) camera.
Finally, the size of the image does not mean you will get more into the frame because the size of your camera sensor determines what gets into the frame, not the image size. According to Wikipedia: The 1/3 smaller diagonal size of the DX format amounts to a 1/3 narrower angle of view than would be achieved with the FX format.
This is one of many reasons why I love my Nikon D800 , I can shoot full frame, DX crop, 1.2x crop, or I can turn a knob and have the frame ready to shoot 5:4 aspect ratio to get my 8×10 prints. I understand that some people may not agree with me that 8×10 is industry standard, but when you have the entire industry working together to equip a photography business with 8×10 accessories (not 8×12) – what do you call that? For me, that’s a standard.
What do you think?
Disclaimer: I am a Nikon girl so this post was written from a Nikon perspective and while you can apply this post to other camera brands – every brand will have slightly different numbers.