If you want to print your photos, you must consider their size. It determines the quality of photos and the cost of printing. But with so many image sizes, choosing the right one for you can be overwhelming.
4×6 and 5×7 are popular photo sizes used by everyone. The main difference between the two is the aspect ratio. 4×6 matches the 2:3 aspect ratio you get from the camera, unlike a 5×7 picture. The former is cheaper to print and requires no cropping, but smaller is not always better.
This article will cover the differences between 4×6 and 5×7 photos in more detail. We will teach you the benefits of both image sizes to help you decide which one to choose.
What Are The Differences Between 4×6 And 5×7 Photos?
4×6 and 5×7 photos differ in several ways, including size, aspect ratio, cost factor, and more.
4×6 vs. 5×7: Size
The notable difference between 4×6 and 5×7 photos is their size.
A 4×6 image is smaller than a 5×7 print, which is slightly larger. To give you a precise comparison, the former is an inch smaller than a 5×7 image in terms of height and width.
Size is an important factor to consider before printing your photos. If you want to display a collage, choose a 5×7 print because you have more space to work with. Having larger pictures can also be more appealing to the eyes. However, choose a 4×6 print if you intend to display the photo on a desk or shelf.
4×6 vs. 5×7: Aspect Ratio Examples
All digital cameras capture images in a particular aspect ratio. They let you choose between 3:2, 4:3, and 16:9.
The default aspect ratio is 3:2, also known as 2:3. This ratio matches the 4×6 image size. That means you can print the image directly from the camera without cropping.
However, if you want the 5×7 photo print size, you must first crop it to fit the 2:3 aspect ratio. If you do not like to crop your image, you can put a white border to match the said ratio. You can use any photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, to do these tasks.
Of course, you can always print the picture using a standard 5×7 paper size. You won’t get a crop or white borders.
What Is Aspect Ratio?
To better understand aspect ratio, it is important to know its definition.
The aspect ratio is the ratio of a photo’s width to its height. It contains two numbers separated by a colon, such as 3:2 or three-to-two. The first number refers to the width, while the second one is the height of the image.
When it comes to printing photos, you must consider two different aspect ratios. The first is the camera aspect ratio, which we already covered. The other is the aspect ratio of the printed photo, which differs depending on the printer’s settings.
4×6 vs. 5×7: Image Composition
Now that you understand the aspect ratio, let us take a look at the image composition. It simply describes the positioning of elements within a frame.
As mentioned, you probably capture photos in a 3:2 camera aspect ratio. If you wish to print an image with a 4×6 size, you would not have issues because it has the same aspect ratio.
However, if you want to print a 3:2 image in a 5×7 paper, you will need to crop some parts. That is because the aspect ratio of 5×7 is 1.4:1, lower than a 4×6 image. You will see the differences between these print sizes if you place them next to each other. They would not match up evenly on their sides or in the middle.
Meanwhile, the image composition factor of a 4×6 photo is 1.5. It offers a “full view” of the subject compared to the crop you get from a 5×7 picture. Think of these images as digital camera sensor sizes. 4×6 is equivalent to a full-frame camera (24x36mm), whereas 5×7 is an APS-C camera (22.2×14.8mm).
4×6 vs. 5×7: Cost
Cost is another important consideration for photo prints.
Both 4×6 and 5×7 are standard photo print sizes. However, the 4×6 image size is more popular than the latter. It is also smaller, which uses less ink and paper. As a result, the cost of printing a 4×6 is cheaper.
In contrast, a 5×7 photo is more expensive to print because of the larger canvas and ink required.
To further compare the 4×6 vs. 5×7 cost factor, let us look at the Walmart prices below.
A single 4×6 image costs around $0.12, regardless if it uses glossy or matte photo paper. Meanwhile, a 5×7 picture is priced at about $0.68 each. While the 50-cent difference may seem small at first, it adds up if you print several images at once. A 5×7 photo is even more expensive if you want a rush order to be picked up in an hour.
4×6 vs. 5×7: Image Clarity
Since the 5×7 image is larger than 4×6, it contains more details of the subjects. The result is more clarity compared to a smaller 4×6 photo.
A larger photo like the 5×7 is also easier to see from a distance. It is a great display piece for your wall or table.
4×6 vs. 5×7: Picture Frame Size
A 4×6 image can fit in a frame of the same size. It is a standard photo size, so you can easily find picture frames with the exact dimensions. The small frame is an ideal display on your desk or bookcase.
There is also a frame for a 5×7 image since it is a common photo size. It can fit many purposes, such as a wall or tabletop display. However, a larger frame is usually more expensive.
4×6 vs. 5×7: Possibility of Printed Borders
You can add a printed border to your images for elegance. You can choose from a plain white or a colored one. You can even customize the edges and add stickers for personalization.
However, introducing a border to a 4×6 print can make the image seem smaller. It is already tiny compared to a 5×7 picture. The last thing you want is to diminish it.
As an alternative, print a 5×7 image with a border instead. You can get a touch of elegance without making your picture seem too small.
4×6 vs. 5×7: Album Print Size Examples
Most photo albums are designed with the 4×6 print size in mind. So if you intend to preserve memories, stick to the 4×6 image.
That said, some albums and scrapbooks can now cater to the 5×7 size. Note that this image is larger, so it takes up more space. You also get a larger and bulkier photo album to accommodate the image size.
4×6 vs. 5×7: Home Print Size Examples
If you want to print pictures on your own, opt for the 4×6 size. Since it is smaller, it uses less ink and paper. That can save you money in the long run.
You can still print a 5×7 image at your home. But be prepared for regular ink refilling and more expensive costs.
Which Photo Size Is The Better Choice?
By now, you know the main differences between a 4×6 and a 5×7 image. So, which size should you choose?
The answer depends on the purpose of the print and your personal preferences.
Smaller 4×6 images are cheaper and easier to print. Since they already match the camera ratio size, they eliminate the need for cropping. They can deliver an accurate image without affecting its composition. 4×6 photos are also suited for a bookcase or shelf display.
Meanwhile, larger 5×7 prints might be more expensive, but they offer greater image clarity. They also let you add a border without resulting in a tiny picture. Plus, they look great as a framed display on the wall or a table.
Size is an important factor to consider when printing your photos. 4×6 and 5×7 are two of the most popular image sizes to choose from.
The 4×6 image is smaller, which requires less ink and paper to print. It is also the standard size for photo albums and frames. That said, a 5×7 photo is still worth considering for its better image clarity and more flexible border designs.
So, which photo size is your favorite? Let us know below in the comments!