What is sensor size and why does it matter?

Inside each of our modern digital cameras, there is a sensor. This is probably the most important part of your camera as without it you would never be able to capture images. You may or may not already know but the sensors in your cameras actually come in different sizes. This is pretty important as it can affect a number of different things when taking photos or videos.

What are the different sensor sizes?

So starting off we have our 1” sensor size. These mainly are seen in smaller and lower-budget compact cameras. Next up we have the 4/3” this sensor size is mainly used in Panasonic and Olympus cameras as it provides great image quality whilst remaining relatively compact. After that, we have aps-c sized sensors. These are one of the most common sensor sizes and most major brands have cameras that have this sensor size, some cameras especially the higher-end Fujifilm XT series are great examples of what can be achieved with this sensor. You then have a Full-frame sensor size, which whilst it is not the biggest it is the most common size used on most high-end Canon, Nikon, and Sony camera bodies.

Now that you know the different sizes what is the difference between them.

Why is Sensor size important?

In general terms for a camera the bigger the sensor the lighter it can capture, and so, in turn, the better it will perform especially in low light situations. The other benefit of a larger sensor if the resolution or megapixels of the sensors can be a lot higher as well. But megapixel count doest matter I hear you say! Well ahh it’s not such a clear answer on that count its along the lines of the debate of which camera brand is best. Megapixels are only really important if you are planning on printing out your images at an extremely large size. Sensor size is somewhat the same thing, the only time you really need a full-frame sensor is if you are planning on shooting in a lot of darker situations without a tripod or stabilizer.

Wait crop factor what about that?

I hear some of you out there screaming at me, but what about the crop factor! Yes yes, do not worry I am going to talk about it.

So when you are using a say 50mm lens on a full-frame sensor size camera you do have a 50mm focal length. However, if you were to use a 50mm lens on an APS-c camera it would in fact be the focal length equivalent of a 75mm lens. This is as the smaller a sensor is on a camera the more it ‘crops in’ on your image. The crop factor on different sensor sizes are as follows:

Full frame - 1x
Aps-c - 1.5x
4/3” - 2x
1” - 2.7x

Whilst crop factor does not matter to every photographer it is defiantly something to keep in mind!