Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday's Photo Tip - Beware the Sensor Size

Friday's Photo Tip - Beware the Sensor Size

various sizes of granite blocks in a wall

All digital cameras use a sensor to capture an image - it is the film of the digital camera.

Remember all the different kinds and sizes of film there used to be to choose from?

Well digital cameras are the same way there too.

Depending on the camera you buy, it will have a certain size sensor.

The sensors in the the DSLR cameras are broken down into two different types.

They are the Full Frame Sensor and the APS-C Sensor.

The full frame sensor is equated to the full 35mm size in the film cameras.

The APS-C is considered a "cropped" version of the 35mm size.

So it stands to reason that the full frame has more pixels which will produce a larger image.

It is also quite a bit more expensive.

The APS-C sensor is what is in most DSLRs on the market today.

This doesn't mean that the DSLR with the APS-C sensor is inferior though.

It does the same job as the full frame - it just produces a smaller file.

Since most professionals need the large file, they opt to go with the full frame camera.

In the last few years, lens manufacturers have been coming out with lenses that are designed for the APS-C cameras.

Now, they can also be used on the full frame cameras, but the pixels will be limited by the amount of the camera that they were designed for.

A couple of the manufacturers have also mentioned that there is serious vignetting when using them.

The manufacturers also have a special code on the lens style number that indicates they are the cropped style and not the full frame. This is something to be aware of when purchasing a lens, especially if you are using an APS camera now and want to upgrade in the future.

And if you are wondering about using the full frame lens on an APS sensor camera - go for it.

Each camera brand has a "crop factor" depending on the actual size of the sensor.

This crop factor affects the field of view (FOV) of the lens.

If the camera has a 1.6 crop factor, then a 300mm lens captures an image that would take a 480mm lens on a full frame camera to capture.

This crop factor doesn't work as nicely on the wide angle images though.

As always - there are pros and cons to everyting.

The point and shoot cameras don't have to worry about any of these problems though.

Their sensors are designed to work perfectly with their fixed lenses.

Photography has something to offer for everyone - from the inexperienced to the experienced.

And digital photography makes it so much more fun!


  1. Great info.I know my digital has many setting have not check all of them yet. I think I will now and by the way I am looking for a new one.

  2. Great post I knew a little of the crop and full frame but you explained it much better then what I've read, great shot and a good one to explain about the cropping.

  3. Great article!! I know I'd like to upgrade my camera equipment in due time, and although good models can be costly...I have to remind myself that with digital, all those old fashioned costs for film and processing are ancient history!

  4. Great tip Kathy and one I have learned the hard way. Still waiting on miracles here for us to afford our dream.

    As you know for me we have to go with a full frame.

    I am so glad you are doing this for people. You should figure out some way to have a link to your photo tips.

    I for one would definitely pick up your badge and place it on my blog.

    If you want one just pop over and let me know. I can always grab your EC card and then email you the code to add it to your page.

    I might not do it today as I am already worn out. But, I can get it done tomorrow!! Just let me know!!
    Happy weekend,

  5. Great set of info for folks getting close to intermediate. Nice one KML :)

  6. hi Auntie - If you have any questions, I will try my best to help. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. hi Willoaks - Isn't digital great? I don't miss those film processing costs at all. I do get a bit nostalgic at times for the darkroom though.

  8. Hi Jackie - I am glad that the posts help. There is so much, I some times have a hard time organizing my thoughts and keeping to a particular subject.

    What a great idea about the badge - I never gave it much thought. I will over shortly.

    I thank you so much for your feedback and suggestions!

    Take care,

  9. I just came across your blog, great photos and awesome tips! Thank you!

  10. Wow Kathy here is something I really didn't know. Thanks for sharing. You are a treasure! Anna :)


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