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Old November 18th, 2004, 08:31 AM
focal focal is offline
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Importance of Sensor Size?

In doing a little poking here and there reading up on 35mm and Digital SLR's I have run into sensor size. Ppl keep refering to the importance of sensor size on a camera. Can someone explain to me what they are talking about? Aparently the bigger the better....?

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Old November 18th, 2004, 09:02 AM
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sinha_punit sinha_punit is offline
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Quote:
Ppl keep refering to the importance of sensor size on a camera. Can someone explain to me what they are talking about?
The sensor is the equivalent of film/slide in digital cameras. It is here that light finally strikes and creates an images(not as simple as it sounds)

Quote:
Aparently the bigger the better....?
Generally yes, but not necessarily, *What* is better? If it is the quality of the image, then taht depends on too many factors and sensor size is one of them. If we have to compare the sensor sizes with quality of image, we have to keep other things constant, and then bigger would be better.
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Old November 20th, 2004, 09:36 PM
Sivaram Velauthapillai Sivaram Velauthapillai is offline
Elite Member
Basically, if the sensor is small (given everything else is fixed), you'll have more noise. For example, a 7 megapixel camera will have more noise than a 5 megapixel camera with the same sensor size.

Here is a very in-depth article on the subject matter... if you have time, check it out:

http://www.normankoren.com/Tutorials/MTF7.html

This article is really about film vs digital (and unrelated to your question) but it talks about sensors near the top. Here are some relevant quotes from the article referenced above:

Quote:
* Small sensors run into problems with lens diffraction, which limits image resolution at small apertures-- starting around f/16 for the 35mm format. At large apertures-- f/4 and above-- resolution is limited by aberrations. There is a resolution "sweet spot" between the two limits, typically between f/5.6 and f/11 for good 35mm lenses. The aperture at which a lens becomes diffraction-limited is proportional to the format size: 22 mm diagonal sensors become diffraction-limited at f/8 and 11 mm diagonal sensors become diffraction-limited at f/4-- the same aperture where it becomes aberration-limited. There is little "sweet spot;" the total image resolution at optimum aperture is less than for larger formats. Of course cameras with small sensors can be made very compact, which is attractive to consumers.

* Large sensors cost more. No getting around it. That's the major reason compact digital cameras are so popular. 11 mm diagonal sensors have 1/16 the area of a 35mm frame. The problem with large sensors is manufacturing yield-- the percentage of sensors that work properly. Suppose an 11 mm sensor has a 90% yield (pretty good). A 44 mm sensor (35mm format; 16x the area) with the same process would have a yield of 0.9016 = 18% (not so hot). Larger sensors tend to have larger pixels, which helps the yield.

(Source: Norman Koren, Understanding image sharpness: Digital cameras vs. film, part 1; http://www.normankoren.com/Tutorials/MTF7.html)
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