When I shoot portraits I sure like working in a square format. This will come as no revelation to people who have followed the blog for a while...
For most commercial stuff I've been shooting whatever the actual, full format of the sensor is. The reason, no doubt developed in earlier times (the era of insufficient resolution), it to take full advantage of the total number of pixels available.
But as I sat editing video and trying to add still photographs to it I discovered that it might be a better idea, going forward, to shoot the routine documentary work and corporate advertising work in a skinnier format; something like 16:9.
We now have ample resolution at our disposal and shooting with an aspect ratio like 16:9 means we're not losing much quality but we might be gaining a library of images with more flexibility for multi-media work.
Now I know that someone out there will tell me that they have a series of sub-routines hardwired in their massive brains that can immediately identify the intended future use of every image they create which then informs them exactly how much space to leave in their 3:2 composition for future cropping. The rest of us mere mortals would do better with a formal guideline.
The issue in video is that every 35mm, m4:3 and square frame will have to be chopped, top and bottom, to work in the much more horizontal video format. If we start by setting our cameras to the video crop (16:9) we can compose a shot that we know will work for both still and video. With a 24, 36, or 42 megapixel camera we can easily cropped off the ends of the frame without a visible reduction in quality.
For me frame lines in a finder are NOT enough. I want to see the frame, sitting in a field of black, that shows me the exact edges without my mind having to remember to stay "within the lines."
After my time in video editing this week I think I am about to become a photographer of extremes, with my Sony cameras set to 16:9 for general shooting and then set to 1:1 for portrait work and art that will never grace the moving screens. Can't think of a more practical way to do it.
While the a6300 and the A7R2 don't give me 1:1 they do both give me 16:9 and that's a good start. Both the RX10s provide a wider range of aspect ratios that also includes 1:1. I wonder if the RX10iii would also make a good portrait camera? Next experiment?
Just something I fell asleep thinking about last night...