About Camera Sensor Size

Back in time, all cameras shot pictures using rolls of film. Today the popular choice is digital cameras. Digital cameras today use a sensor that acts as a single exposure of film reused for each picture.

Depending on your photographic goals, the sensor sizes matter. Typical sensor sizes are: Full Frame 36X24mm APC 25X15mm Micro Four Thirds 13.2X8.8mm Compact, and Cell 1/2.3 or about 7.18X5.76mm

The image below shows a visual representation of the size difference


Why is this important? The goal of a camera sensor is similar to a solar panel with the goal to collect light. Sensor size determines image quality, larger sensors capture more light at a high megapixel with less noise and more detail, great for low light photography.

I use two professional cameras with different formats, Full Frame, and APC for my fine art photography, each for specific purposes.

I use a Nikon D810, 36MP Full Frame camera for the scenic, landscape, and portrait photography.

I use a Nikon D500, 20MP APC camera for action, wildlife, butterflies, and bird photography.

What is great about using the Full Frame camera for what I use it for is that I capture stunning detail with a wide dynamic bandwidth making large prints with excellent detail very easily. If I need higher megapixel images for larger prints or for panoramic photography it is easy to do.

My APC camera is fantastic as I can use my Full Frame Lens and get a 1.5 times crop factor meaning my 150-600mm lens is effectively a 300-900mm lens with no loss of light. This is fantastic as this allows me the ability to get shots of various wildlife, birds, butterflies, sports, and action images from a great distance with excellent detail. I recently loaned this camera/lens to a friend who was trying to get a special shot from a long distance. It was funny because he said the lens was almost too powerful for the picture he shot. I asked how far away was his subject matter? He said the farthest point was seven miles away.

Of course, I always get asked, "why do you insist on carrying all that heavy gear, why not carry just a newer cell phone?". For me the answer is easy, I am not doing snapshots for just screen viewing I am shooting fine art photography designed to be printed very large on any print media if desired. For viewing on a screen, a cell phone works perfectly fine but for prints, the DPI (Dots Per Inch) drops off way too soon requiring software to try and guess what should have been in the image to fill the holes to make a decent print.

There is much more to this equation for creating fine art which I will be writing more articles on to expand on why I have chosen the equipment I use to produce Fine Art Photography.

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