Saturday, 11 August 2012

Digital Camera Sensor Size Comparison

Digital Camera Sensor Size
Digital Camera Sensor Size

What does cropped sensor size or mirror less camera mean? Do you need to be concerned about the size of your sensor and what does this mean for your photography?  

This post compares the different sizes of digital camera sensors.  You may be unaware that digital cameras sensors come in a variety of different sizes, the chart demonstrates the comparative sizes of each type of sensor. You can see the much larger the surface area of a full frame sensor in contrast to a cropped sensor found on Canon APS (700D etc) and the Nikon DX (although slighter larger D5300 etc), let alone the Four Thirds sensors found on Panasonic & Olympus models plus other Mirrorless Cameras.  Compact cameras and phones have very small sensors and this often leads to everything being in focus and very noisy images.

Another affect of sensor size in photography concerns focal length.  Smaller sensors produce a great magnification that larger sensors with the same focal length. For example, an image taken with a 100mm lens on a full frame DSLR will appear the same as it did with a 35mm film SLR camera, but a 100mm lens on a cropped sensor will be the equivalent to using a 150 or 160mm, and 200mm on a Four Thirds sensor.  Using the chart below you can see how each sensor impacts on focal length and surface area.  A Full frame has 3.84 times the surface area of a four thirds camera despite a crop factor of 2, and 56.5 times larger than a phone.  Using larger sensors often produce much cleaner images with better colours, tones and gradation.  Larger sensors perform much better in low light with less.

Crop FactorSize in mm Surface Area
Full Frame 1 36.0x24.0 864mm
Nikon DX 1.5 23.6x15.7 370.52mm
Canon APS 1.6 22.3x14.9 332.27mm
Four Thirds 2 17.3x13.0 224.9mm
Nikon V1/J1 3.9 13.2x 8.8 116.16mm
Compact 1/1.7 4.7 7.6x 5.7 43.32mm
Compact 1/2.3 5.5 6.1x 4.6 27.45mm
Phones 10.5 4.5x 3.4 15.3mm