Camera Sensor Sizes Explained

If you are looking to buy a new camera then you will see a lot about sensor sizes. But what does this mean? In this blog post, I will help answer this question!
sensor sizes

The most important thing we see when we look at this diagram is that there are a lot of different sensor sizes. But which ones are the most important to you? Well if you are wanting a camera to take some nice everyday pictures then you may not need to go APS-C or full frame, as these cameras are usually more expensive and you may not need the level of detail provided. If you are looking at getting serious with photography or videography then the best sensors for you will be the APS-C or full frame as you are going to be able to shoot at a higher megapixel and usually a higher video resolution.

The size of the sensor that a camera has ultimately determines how much light it uses to create an image. Image sensors consist of millions of light-sensitive spots called photosites. These spots are used to record information about what is seen through the lens. Therefore, it stands to reason that a bigger sensor can gain more information than a smaller one and produce better images.

Think about it this way, if you had a compact camera with a typically small image sensor. It’s photosites would be dwarfed by those of a DSLR with the same number of megapixels, but a much bigger sensor. Able to gain more information, the large DSLR photosites would be capable of turning out photos with better dynamic range, less noise and improved low light performance than its smaller-sensored sibling.

Larger sensors also allow manufacturers to increase the resolution of their cameras, meaning they’re able to produce more detailed images. Without sacrificing too much in terms of image quality. For example, a Full Frame camera with 36 megapixels would have very similar sized pixels to an APS-C camera with 16 megapixels.

What is crop?

Crop factor

Something I get asked a lot is what is crop, and why should you think about it. If you are using a 50mm lens on a full frame sensor there will be no crop. It will be as wide as a 50mm lens will go. But if you are to use any other sensor size with a 50mm lens, adding the crop factor could make your 50mm lens the equivalent of a 75mm lens (using the APS-C crop).

If you want to figure out what your crop size will be then the best tool to use is mmCaic. This is a website that you can input your sensor size, lens mm and aperture and it will tell you what your lens will look like with the crop.

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