Don's Pages

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Sensor Size Charts

Does Size Really Matter?
People always question if size matters, in some cases it most certainly does.

For instance I've got a Nikon D40x with an DX sized sensor which takes some amazing pictures with great quality, but when I compare them with pictures that I've taken of the same scene from it's full frame big brother, the Nikon D700, the difference is like night and day because the full frame resolution of the images are fantastic.

Update: 23rd July 2013: To date this is my most popular post. You just never know how of why something grips people when writing. However, sensor size and quality leaps ahead. In the two years since I wrote this we've seen amazing leaps forward in technology and quality. I've not gotten a fantastic new Bridge Camera and am considering getting another. But I think my argument still holds true, that to get great 'Quality' images, sensor size really does matter.

I've also got a point and shoot Canon S90, which again produces some lovely pictures, but it's sensor size is tiny even in comparison to the Nikon D40x and when you compare them all at 100% the Nikons just blow the Canon pics out of the water (Please forgive the nautical metaphors, I was in the Royal Navy for over 17 years). Which is what we would expect given the huge differences in sensor size.

I know there have been developments in sensor quality over the years, but I'm certain that for quality works of art the professional photographer and serious amateurs will always go for a camera with the largest sensor they can afford.

Even though full frame sensor cameras are bulky and quite heavy, I'd opt for one of these over those with tiny sensors when quality matters, e.g. Weddings, Portraits or Assignments, but for family pics, you can't beat the Canon S90 for portability, pocketability and ease of access. I always carry my Canon S90 with me, but it's a special effort or occasion for the Nikon cameras.

If you need to choose, then think what type of photography appeals to you.
If it's street photography, candid and family, then I'd go for a quality point and shoot like the Canon S90, S95 which still have one of the largest sensors of any compact camera today and they have even better lenses than the newer S100.

If money is not a problem then I'd love to get my hands on a Leica M9 or the Fuji X100. However you don't need to spend all that much if all you want is to capture candid shots. Some of the best candid shots I've seen have been captured on a mobile phone.

If you are thinking seriously about photography or upgrading from a point and shoot then the DSLR cameras from both Nikon and Canon are awesome. Remember you are buying into a system (lenses) and which ever one you choose now you'll probably stay with for a long time. I chose Nikon over Canon after reading and researching about Lenses, Lense Compatibility and Picture Quality a few years ago. When choosing a manufacturer, just keep in mind that photography is not all about the bells and whistles, the scene modes or things that cameras can do, it's about the kind of quality images that you can capture. Nikon Lenses are still tops in comparison to Canon's. Just my humble opinion:-) and if you are going to get a point and shoot, try and find one with the largest sensor and you'll be sure to get top notch resolution and quality.

The Charts:
If you look at the charts below you'll notic that the smallest sensors from most compact cameras today and mobile phones fit into a full frame sensor many times. Now think of the image resolution, light recieving capacity and quality you're likely to accomplish. It's a 'no-brainer', the largest sensors will win hands-down.

Please NOTE, this chart is borrowed from DV.Com & Creative Video










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