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Hi Gang: Just a quick follow-up on yesterday’s post about the lack of framing and mat sizes for digital photographers.

(1) First, I learned something new about the origin of framing sizes from one of my readers: Paul Brooks, who wrote:

I agree Scott. But, you actually have missed a very important point. 4×5 and 8×10 are aspect ratios of View Cameras, which were translated somewhat with medium format 120 and 220 film sizes, but 35mm frames were approximately 1?x 1 1/2?, the same aspect ratio (1/1.5) that digital cameras have. So, that means that the framing industry was outdated when 35mm was popular. I hated to have to crop or do funny matting to print and frame full frame 35mm when I shot film. It doesn’t look like they will ever learn!

Thanks Paul. Of course, learning this makes the situation even worse than I thought.

(2) I sent emails about the article to the leading photo framing industry magazine, and to a framing industry organization as well. I have no idea if it will help, but I thought it was at least worth a try.

(3) Last night I saw a great comment from Josh Bartell from Craig Frames Inc. He sheds some light on the problem in his comment, which reads:

Hi All, I’m extremely glad that I’ve stumbled on this discussion. It seems that most of you agree that there is major issue in the retail framing industry. I too agree, but from the other side of things; I work for a frame manufacturer.

We have dealt with this issue in the very recent past. Many of our large retail customers seem to be a bit out of touch with the needs of digital photographers and are no longer meeting the needs of the majority of frame customers. So…..we have recently started selling as many sizes as possible online. Although we’re still working on our website, we’ve seen a great response on ebay.com and amazon.com.

I currently manage our e-commerce division and would love to hear more about what sizes and styles everyone is interested in. We’re offering any size between 3×3 and 24×36. We have 30 sizes that we offer as “stock” sizes, and everything else is considered custom. Again, I would LOVE any input regarding what you need/want for frames and mats. Check out our stuff, give me an idea of what else you need, and I’ll make it happen! The industry might not be listening….but I am.

(4) Also, thanks to my reader Wayne who posted a comment yesterday and suggested we check out FrameDestination.com. He noted that they sell complete framing kits in digital sizes. For example: 13 X 19, premade with glass, foam board and mounting kit for less that $20 (with quantity discounts). It says right on their home page that they offer “Digital Sizes” (of course, we now realize that it’s just “proper” non-cropped sizing, and not related to just digital, but hey—I’m not complaining—at least they offer the right sizes).

Anyway, thanks to everybody who commented, and shared their ideas. Now, if we can just get the rest of the framing industry to listen…..

About The Author

Scott is a Photographer, bestselling Author, Host of "The Grid" weekly photography show; Editor of Photoshop User magazine; Lightroom Guy; KelbyOne.com CEO; struggling guitarist. Loves Classic Rock and his arch-enemy is Cilantro. Devoted husband, dad to two super awesome kids, and pro-level babysitter to two crazy doggos.

51 Comments

  1. One thing to think about as well, btw I agree totally with you Scott, the point and shoot market is still based on 4×5. There are a few that are offering the 3:2 aspect ratio but most are still using 4×5.5. They aren’t even using regular 4×5 so you have to crop a p&s no matter what size you print. The major frame companies and the major camera companies all need to sit down and just decide what size to make standard. Hopefully it will be the 3:2 that 35mm format uses. Don’t even get me started on the 4:3 thing with Olympus and Panasonic.

    • I don’t usually leap in to defend market practice, and in general I agree with the tenor of the discussion, but the 8:11 ratio makes sense for an optically centred print with a matte surround. Let’s go for an approximately 13″ x 19″ print, and set it on a 16″ wide matte.

      if you follow the guidance at http://www.russellcottrell.com/photo/centering.htm you’ll wind up with an ideal vertical at about 22.5″ — very near the 8:11 ratio you’re unhappy with.

      Now it doesn’t work for unbordered mounts, I fully agree, but there are situations where it’s not as daft as it may look on first inspection

  2. Hmmm. Most any art store has Nielson frames in a wide variety of profiles, colors and sizes. All it takes to put it together is a simple screwdriver. Any hardware store will cut glass to size or use acrylic. The only problem is the mat and the size of the hole in the mat. I cut my own. I went through all of the aggravation that has been expressed here about frames until I decided to do it myself. The same frustration exists with paper sizes for inkjet printers unless one has the big bucks and a place to set up one of those monster printers.

  3. Now all we have to do is convince the paper makers for those of us that print at home.

  4. Here is a link to a custom and pre-made manufacturing company located throughout the US. I order all my framing materials from them. I order glass, frames, mats, foam core and hardware from them. If you live near one of their locations they used to deliver orders over $100, otherwise they ship very reasonably.

    http://www.cmimoulding.com/

  5. I personally crop my images to suit the image with no consideration to aspect ratio. So many images do not tend to fit any particular size, so I crop and print and then custom matt and frame each image. Just my 2 cents worth.

  6. On a kinda related note, does anyone know of a firm offering similar products to Mpix, but in the UK – I can’t see anything on Mpix’s site about shipping to the UK.

    Thanks!

  7. As far as I’m concerned, it is getting even worse. I am having a hard time even finding 8×10 paper, never mind 8×12. All I see now is 8 1/2 x 11. Sure I can trim it down to 8×10 but why should I have to. The only 8×10 that Epson Canada sells is glossy. No Lustre or other higher end papers.

  8. Check out http://www.americanframe.com. You can custom order any frame size you want with mats of any width. Prices are great, as is service. Not quite as easy as buying a frame in a stock size that meets your need, but a good alternative.

  9. I’m a bit surprised at the responses, but maybe I’m just different. After spending thousands of dollars on camera and printing equipment, I’m not going to let a $5 mat board dictate the boundaries of my finished image. Rather than trying to fit my subject matter to a standard aspect ratio, I crop the photo based on its subject matter. Then, I cut my own mat to fit the gap between the print and an off-the-shelf frame. Once you get over the fear factor, it’s really very easy to do, and frees you from standard sizes.

    I use the Logan Simplex 750 which you can find for $250. It has a good squaring arm and will cut the full 40 inch length of a standard 32 X 40 inch mat board. If that’s more than you want to spend, you can find a smaller solution for $75 or less.

  10. Thanks for the link to Frame Destination. Unfortunately, they do not ship out of the US (which frustrates me to no end every time I see it).

  11. Have you tried buying 5×7 paper lately?

  12. Hey Scott,
    On a different Subject. I’m so excited. I got my PhotoshopWorld stuff from you guys yesterday. Can’t wait 4 weeks from today is the Photo Safari pre con. I’ve been waiting since May when I signed up. A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N Almost makes me want to sing. However, I suck at singing. I’ll leave that up to folks like you & your Misses.
    See ya soon,
    Mike

  13. Scott,
    I too recieved my PSW credintials! :)

  14. Regarding paper sizes, I use (almost exclusively) Red River Paper for any of the prints I produce here. They offer a great variety, great prices and great sizes. I’m not getting any commission from them for this post by the way. They just came out with a new Polar Pearl Metallic paper that has the same look and feel of the Kodak Eudora paper, and it’s beautiful! Take a look http://www.redrivercatalog.com/browse/ Enjoy, Paul

  15. Scott, if you really want the frame industry to add items to their reasonably priced line-up you need to lobby the buyers at the big retailers like Wal-mart, etc. If a walmart buyer tells frame makers that he wants a line of “digital sized” frames for his company, believe me, within a year they would be on the shelves.
    If you could get a few buyers on board it would be a done deal.
    Just get the addresses for the buyers from Wal-mart, Target, Costco, etc., publish them so your readers could lobby them, get a couple more prominent leaders in the photo industry like yourself to lobby them too, and I’m sure the problem would be solved.
    All you have to do is convince them the demand is out there.

  16. Scott, thanks for the mention. As I eluded to, this is exactly the type of conversation I like to see. It has been my goal, within the company, to realize the needs of the current framing market. The collective “voice” I am hearing is that there is a need that isn’t being met. Because of this, we are working hard to provide viable framing and matting options that FIT what you, and others, need. Again, I am eager to hear suggestions from anyone regarding preferred sizes and styles. I think, together, we can create a new standard for frame sizing and solve these issues that everyone is having. Although our site is currently under construction, we do have link to some of our products. Additionally, I welcome any inquiries – info@craigframes.com.

  17. Scott

    I use pictureframes.com sometimes as well as documounts for matts and backing.

  18. I had a 645 medium format camera. those negatives go to 8×10, 11×14 with minimal cropping.

    I’ve been trying to experiment with square cropping too.

    FWIW I’ve used frame destination a lot. I’ve been happy, the site Works well for images, since they seem to design frames mainly for photographers. In fact one the frames I ordered from them is on exhibit at the Moakley Federal courthouse in Boston right now…

  19. I have a hard time believing that Scott didn’t know the origin of where 8×10 came from… that really dumbfounds me….

    • Hi Jeff:
      I can’t either. He’s so stupid.

      -Scott

      • Hey Scott, technically that’s not the right word! :)
        I’m just really surprised! Really surprised… with all the people you rub elbows with… but I guess that’s what happens when the people you rub elbows with never sell 8×10’s but rather 24×36 and bigger prints or have their work hacked by Life, Sports Illustrated, etc…! :) Those of us trying to peddle 8×10’s are permanently ruined because when we look through the DSLR viewfinder we see only an 8×10 crop…

      • Hey Scott… sorry… and that’s not the right word, as we all know FAR from the truth!
        I’m just surprised given who you rub elbows with on a routine basis. But I also guess that the 8×10 that we try to peddle isn’t the same size most of those guys are trying to sell…

  20. You’re welcome Scott. I’ve used a couple of Frame Destinations frames, and the are very good quality (they came with my second-hand Epson R1900). I’m going to check out Craig Frames as well.

  21. When you really dig into this problem, look at the paper sizes available.
    Same problem, different media

  22. Like Richard, I’d like to know if anyone knows of a site similar to Mpix in the UK. If I find one, I’ll make sure to come back here

    Scott, next quest for you? 16:9 digital photoframes made to fit only a minority of digital cameras.

  23. I’ve been using FrameDestination for about a year now and have found their website and products to be excellent. I particularly like that my previous orders (custom kits too) are saved to my account – reordering is as simple as changing the quantity and checking-out. S&H can be a bit pricey…

  24. Scott,
    The last PSuserTV was on July 1st (hint, hint) :)

  25. Uh, that’s quite a bummer! I see we are lucky here in Europe, at least in Germany. Here it is relatively easy to get 30×45 centimeter frames (which is more or less 8×12 inches if I’m not mistaken). Or should I say it was easy? I have seen several stores getting rid of their 3:2-ratio frames to replace them with “digital” format, which is 4:3 for the frame industry here, seems. P&S-Cameras are far more common here than DSLRs or 35mm film cameras.

  26. Great post, timely. I just ordered from Frame Destination. Anyone who has concerns regarding their commitment and products for the digital photographer, should read the letter from their president, who is a digital photographer/photoshop guy as well:

    http://www.framedestination.com/aboutus.html

    Cheers – Jeff

  27. I’ve found that Aaron Brothers is the only place that I can (locally) reliably find frames and mats in 8×12 and similar sizes. But, their selection in those sizes is about 1/3 the selection in other sizes.

    I’ve done quite a few large family gathering photos and having the 8×12 instead of 8×10 really helps to get the whole picture in.

  28. Scott… that’s a bit harsh… I would have figured with all the people you work with the origin of a 8×10 (4×5) would have come up…

  29. Has anyone checkrd out ”Light Impressions”? They have digital frame and mat sizes.

  30. I was surprised to see my comment about the origin of the 8×10 and 4×5 noted. I have been a member of NAPP for a couple of years and have learned a great deal from all of you. It was nice to see that I could also contribute.

    • I was going to say something, really I was, but I figured I didn’t know as much as Kelby so who was I to butt in.

      Also, I was looking for some 13×19 in frames and Googled it one of the responses was from a forum in 2004 asking the same questions. So it’s been around awhile.

  31. Forwarded a link to you blog to Aaron Brothers last night and already got back a very nice email. They’re listening.

  32. Thanks Wayne and Scott for the mention. Scott, I agree that the text on our website about “digital sizes” is less than ideal. It was when I got into digital photographer and printing when the 2200 first came out that I realize you can’t buy 13×19 frames. That is when I decided to form Frame Destination to help other photographers.

    The reason you are not likely to see much change in stores is inventory issues. There are already lots of styles and colors. If you have 5 styles and 5 colors then every size you add increases the selection by 25 frames. If you are going to stock each size just 10 deep that is 250 frames in stock for every additional size. If you want to add 12×18, 10×15, 13×19 and 8×12 you need to find room and cash for 1000 more frames to sit on a shelf. If you want to be able to sell a lot of product you need a low price and the only way to do that is to have them made in China which has a 3 month lead time. So you have to stock all of these options in high enough quantity that you won’t go out of stock for at least a couple months and longer depending on your volume since when you do order you need to order enough to fill a container. You also need to have every size and color run in a high volume so if you have certain sizes, styles or colors that not popular with everyone, you are not likely to be able to inventory it.

    In our case we have over 80 different sizes but we just stock raw material and have put in place a lot of automation that allows us to turn orders quickly even though we manufacture all of our frames to order.

  33. When I read the title of the original article (When Will We Finally Get Frames and Mats For Digital Camera Images?) I was thinking about P&S cameras. I think they often use a 4:3 format. I know the printer that I use offers 6 x 4.5 paper to print images from P&S cameras so that they don’t have to be cropped and I was thinking that he now wanted frames for those kinds of formats.

    It just goes to show that I’ve gotten used to the lack of 2:3 format frames and yes 2:3 format does go back to 35mm film which I started on 10 years ago.

  34. Is there a discussion somewhere related to this, or could you answer a few questions

  35. Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

  36. Amen!
    I have been saying this for years and it is part of most of my digital programs as well. It is also the most common question we get from our clients, we cannot print them a full frame 8×10 from some of their images.

    Maybe this idea will become “viral” and induce CHANGE. Hey, it is more useful than those squirrels that showed up in everyone’s photos…LOL

    I use mainly Epson paper — what paper are people using that would give them 8×12, etc. Thanks!

  37. Why not just get a mat cutter or go to the local framing store and have them cut a custom mat to whatever size you want.

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