Camera Sensor Sizes

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The size of the camera sensor can affect

1. the angle of view of the lens (crop factor);

2. noise leve; and

3. dynamic range

Different image sensor size

Medium format – 51x39mm

Full frames (FX) – 36x24mm. e.g.Nikon D3, D700; Canon 1D, 5D

DX format (DX) – 24x16mm for Nikon, 22x15mm for Canon, 21x14mm for Sigma. e.g. Nikon D300, D90; Canon 50D, 450D. Note that Nikon APS-C sensor is the largest of all. 😀

Compact cameras – ~8x6mm.
Sensor Sizes


Refer to the charts above, compact camera sensors are about 9 times smaller than the APS-C and 20 times smaller than the full frame format.

In terms of noise performance, the desirable properties of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and sensor unity gain both scale with the square root of sensor area. Therefore, typical DX and FX DSLRs will have a SNR that is sqrt(9)= 3 times and sqrt(20)= 4.5 times higher than a compact digital camera respectively.

Because of this, DSLRs can offer high-quality pictures even at high ISO, while compact cameras tend to produce grainy images. Typically, noise starts to be noticable for

FX – @ ISO 3200+

DX – @ ISO 1600+

Compact – @ISO 200+

The noise level is also exacerbated by pixel count where higher number of pixels means a higher pixel/mm2 (higher pixel density) and hence noiser image.

Different sensor types

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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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