Sensor size is measured in millimeters and is based on the size of the imaging device. The diameter of a sensor is commonly referred to as its “crop factor.” Sensor sizes range from less than 1/3-inch to over 8 inches.

The crop factor is a multiplier that expresses the amount that the image will be magnified. Most 35mm film cameras, for example, have an imaging surface that measures 36mm x 24mm.

camera sensor size

What Is camera sensor size?

Sensor size is a measurement of the diameter of the chip inside your camera that captures light, which translates into a photo.

The larger it is, the more light it can capture, which makes for sharper images and better low-light performance.

Tiny sensors are usually found in point-and-shoot cameras, while large ones are found in professional DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.



What Is Camera Sensor Size?

Sensor size can also affect image stabilization (IS) performance. Since IS systems move the entire optical assembly to offset blur caused by shaky hands, they require more space than non-stabilized systems. 

When you put a 50mm lens on the camera, it’s really like using a 75mm lens because it magnifies the image by a factor of 1.5inch. That’s why DSLR lenses are labeled like 85mm f/1.8 instead of just 85mm.

Crop factor also helps you match your lenses with different formats and cameras. For example, if you have a Canon Rebel T3i and want to take pictures with your new telephoto lens, you can look up the crop factor for the T3i and find out that it’s 1.6x.

This means any telephoto lens that has a focal length of 100mm will appear to have an effective focal length of 160mm when used on your T3i camera.

What Does Camera Sensor Size Mean?

Cameras are getting more and more advanced, but how can you tell the difference between a professional camera and an amateur one? The answer to that question is the megapixel count. 

Megapixels are a measurement of the number of pixels a camera can capture. The more megapixels you have, the more information you’re able to capture.

This can be useful if you’re trying to remember specific details, such as a license plate or even a person’s face. Image size is measured in pixels by width and height, so if you double the number of pixels in each direction, you’ll double the image size. 

For example, if you have a 10 megapixel camera and have it set up at 4×6, your image will be 40×60 pixels. If you then switch your camera to 5×7, your image will go from 40×60 to 80×120 pixels. 

In order to get an equivalent picture from both cameras, you’d have to take it at 5×7 pixels with your 10 megapixel camera as well. 

Another thing that can affect image quality is the size of the sensor behind the lens.

A smaller sensor means less light can get into the camera and thus lower quality pictures. 

Why Is Camera Sensor Size Important?

A camera’s sensor size is one of the most important things to consider when looking for a new digital camera. The sensor, also known as the imaging sensor or image sensor, captures light from the lens and records it as an electronic signal.

The size is measured in millimeters (mm), with larger sensors typically producing better images. The larger the sensor, the more light it can capture and thus the better quality image it’s able to produce — especially in low light situations. 

A larger sensor also allows for a wider range of focal lengths.

For example, if you use a 50mm lens on a camera with a crop sensor (7.2 x 5.6mm) you’ll get an angle of view equivalent of about 75mm on a full frame camera (36 x 24mm). While this might seem like a minor difference, it can have a significant impact on your images.

The Trend For Cameras With Bigger Sensors

It’s been a few years since we’ve seen true progress in the megapixel race, but this year it looks like we’re finally getting sensors that can rival the 36 x 24mm CMOS chips found in full-frame cameras. 

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 is the first consumer camera to feature a micro four thirds sensor with 20 megapixels. The Sony Alpha 7S has a full-frame sensor with a resolution of 24 megapixels.

How do these compare to the 15 megapixels found in most smartphones? 

Unless you have 20/15 vision, they don’t. But they do provide a higher resolution and better image quality than other cameras on the market. 

This is why so many people are excited about them, especially professional photographers who want to take their gear on the go without having to carry around a bunch of extra lenses and equipment.

As usual, there are trade offs to consider when buying a camera with such high resolution. For example, both cameras are limited by their maximum shutter speed. 

It’s not possible to use an exposure of longer than 1/8000 second with either camera because there simply isn’t enough room on the sensor for light to gather. That’s something that professional photographers need to consider before making an investment.

What Sized Sensor Is Typically Used In Different Cameras?

There are several factors that determine the best sensor size for a particular camera application.


The first factor is the technology and design of the camera itself. For example, a full-frame DSLR camera uses a larger sensor than a point-and-shoot compact digital camera or a regular digital compact camera.

In addition, different types of sensors, such as CCDs or CMOS sensors, contribute to how big or small the sensor will be.

Sensor Size

The second factor that dictates the sensor size is the manufacturer’s choice of size for their given product; what you typically see are sensors from 1/1.8 inches up to 1 inch in size. 

The larger the sensor, the more light it captures and can produce higher quality images, but you’ll have to deal with heavier and bulkier cameras. 

On the other hand, smaller sensors capture less light and produce lower quality images but they are more convenient and easy to handle.

Exposure Range And ISO Speed

Another factor to consider when choosing between different sized sensors is exposure range and ISO speed settings. 

The larger the sensor, the more light it gathers and in turn produces higher quality images at lower ISO speeds (100 ISO vs 400 ISO).

What Are The Other Characteristics Of Bigger Camera Sensors?

We tend to judge cameras, and the sensors they contain, by the size of the sensor. And, while it’s easy to see why this is so – bigger sensors equal better image quality, right?

Well it’s not that simple.

Tiny 1/2.3 inch sensors are capable of producing very good image quality (consider the Fujifilm X20 for example), and the very best image quality comes from large format cameras with positively massive 1 inch sensors. 


So, what other characteristics do larger sensors have?

Bigger sensors have lower noise.

It might seem counterintuitive at first, but larger pixels in a sensor mean that each pixel is physically bigger and thus able to collect more light. 

This means that you need less amplification of that light before you can output an image, which means less noise.

Bigger sensors cope better with higher ISOs

While this probably comes as a surprise, the fact is that any digital camera will only produce an image as clean as its weakest link in the chain. If your sensor has a weak amplifier, you’ll never be able to shoot at high ISOs without encountering serious levels of noise. 

A bigger sensor with larger pixels and a strong amplifier can produce cleaner images at higher ISOs than a smaller sensor with smaller pixels.

What Do The Different Camera Sensor Measurements Mean?

If you’re a photography enthusiast, you’ll have heard the terms pixel pitch and sensor size bandied about. You’ll probably have wondered what they mean, but been put off by the technical jargon that often accompanies these terms.

So, here’s an explanation of what pixel pitch and sensor sizes mean in practical terms. 

Sensor size is if you want to get an idea of how many megapixels a camera has without looking at the spec sheet, look at the size of its sensor. The larger the sensor, the greater number of megapixels it will be able to capture.

It’s not a direct relationship though; the larger the sensor, the higher the pixel pitch (explained below). Therefore, two cameras with sensors of different sizes can have similar resolutions.

Be careful though because sometimes manufacturers lie about the size of their sensors – they may say that a camera has a 1/1.8 inch sensor when in fact it has a 1/2.5 inch sensor! Always check! 

The most common sensors used in compact cameras are 1/2.3 inch (four thirds) and 1/1.8 inch (two thirds). SLR cameras typically use APS-C sized sensors which measure around 23x15mm.

Camera Sensor Size And Depth Of Field

There are a number of factors affecting depth of field in your photos, and the size of your camera sensor is the most important. Smaller sensors offer less depth of field than larger ones. 

Depth of field is an important consideration when choosing between a micro four thirds or full-frame camera system. However, there are other factors that you need to consider when deciding between these systems.

Depth of Field Explained

Depth of field refers to the area of a photo in which all details are sharp. A shallow depth of field means that only a small area in the foreground or background will be sharp, while a large depth of field means that more of the photo appears sharp. 

There are three main factors that affect depth of field.

The first factor is easy to understand — if you want more depth of field, you’ll need to focus on something closer to your camera. When you’re taking a landscape photograph, for example, it’s usually best to focus as closely as possible on something like the horizon.

To control this factor in your photography, you’ll generally want to use manual focus rather than relying on autofocus. Autofocus can be unreliable when determining the correct focus

Camera Sensor Size, Noise And Dynamic Range

Essentially, the larger the sensor, the less noise it will produce for a given amount of light. Also, bigger sensors generally have a higher dynamic range than small ones – meaning you can capture more detail in bright and dark areas simultaneously. 

This is because smaller sensors are more efficient at converting light into electricity, so they saturate faster – that is, they hit their maximum capacity to store charge before there is any significant conversion left to do. The larger sensor takes longer to saturate and therefore has more time to convert all the available light into electrons.

The most important factor in choosing your camera type is probably whether you want to carry around a DSLR with you or not. You can get almost exactly the same results from any type of camera if you’re prepared to do enough post-processing work on your images .

Camera Sensor Format And Lens Size

The sensor format is the size of the camera sensor. The larger the sensor format, the more light that is captured, and this translates into a better image quality. 

This is why you will see cameras with smaller image formats (like cell phones) have less image quality and higher noise in their images.

There are two different sensor formats: 1 inch (1″) and 2/3 inches (2/3″). 1 inch sensors are much bigger than 2/3 inch sensors and can capture more light.

Larger sensors require less noise reduction in post processing and produce a cleaner image with lower levels of noise.

The lens size refers to the diameter of the lens opening, measured from top to bottom (in millimeters). The larger the diameter of the lens opening, the more light that is let into the camera through the lens. 

This means that a 50mm lens on a camera with a 1 inch sensor can capture more light than a 50mm lens on a 2/3 inch sensor.

Here are some examples:

  • Canon 5D Mark II – 35mm x 24 mm – Full-Frame (1″) Sensor
  • Canon Rebel XS – 22.5mm x 15 mm – APS-C (2/3″)

Active Area Of The Camera Sensor

The active area of the camera sensor is the physical area of the sensor that captures photons. It is measured in millimeters and it is different from a device’s total sensor size.

On most cameras, the active area of the camera sensor is smaller than the total size of the image sensor since some of the space on the sensor must be left free for electronics to hold focus and capture information.

Active area of the camera sensor doesn’t have any effect on a camera’s light sensitivity, only focal length. However, the larger the active area of the camera sensor, the better quality an image will be due to its larger pixels being able to capture more data, improving resolution and reducing noise in low-light situations.

For example, an APS-C camera with a 24mm x 16mm (6.25mm x 4mm) sensor has an active area that is 41 percent of the total surface area which means it will produce better quality images than a smaller sensor with a 20mm x 13mm (5.33mm x 3.25mm) sensor with an active area that is 25 percent of its total surface area.

The Importance Of Camera Sensor Size

As we have discussed earlier, cameras come in various sizes and shapes. Today, the most popular camera sensors are made with a size of 1/1.7 inch (which is about 4 times bigger than 1/2.5 inch) and with a size of 1/2.3 inch (which is about 10 times bigger than 1/1.7 inch).

Tiny sensors are used to make cell phones because cell phones use tiny lenses designed for the small sensor size to get high-quality photos. Larger sensors are used to make cameras that automatically fit larger lenses like zoom lenses and other large-lens options.

So how do you know which camera you should buy?

Well, it depends on what you will use your camera for. If you want to take low-light photos like photos at night or indoor photos, then you will want to buy a camera with a bigger sensor because they work better in low-light situations.

If you want to take pictures at night without using flash then a small sensor camera will not allow you to take good low light photos without using flash because of its limits in shutter speed (the amount of time the shutter stays open). If you want to take pictures at night without using flash then you need larger sensor cameras.

Camera Sensor For Interchangeable-Lens Cameras

There are many different brands available that produce high-quality sensors. There are also a variety of options available for the consumer in terms of what to look for when buying a sensor. 

The quality of a photo is determined by how much light the sensor captures. Having too little light will create an image that is either too dark or too blurry to use.

Having too much light will wash out all detail from the photo, making it unusable. When deciding what sensor to buy, you need to decide whether you are looking for something inexpensive, or if you want a higher-end model with more features.

You need to decide whether you want a large chip or something smaller that can fit on a compact camera. The last thing you need to decide is what kind of brand you want in order to avoid problems down the line and get exactly what you want

Medium-Format Digital Camera Sensors

Looking for the best medium-format digital camera sensor? 

Choosing a sensor for your medium format camera can be confusing. There are so many options available, ranging from full-frame, APS-C, to 4/3 sensor. And then there are sensors that don’t fit into these categories like Dragon and GXR.

The first question you need to ask yourself is,  what is your goal? 

Are you looking for a landscape or studio camera? Or do you want to take it out in the field? 

Do you plan on printing larger than 24″x 36″ ? Some cameras excel in certain areas but not others.

A lot of photographers don’t realize this but there are several options when it comes to medium format sensors and they all have their pros and cons.

You can opt for one from the Hasselblad H system or Phase One XF system which are designed to be used with leaf shutters and extremely large lenses (the largest aperture is f/4).