Image Sensor Format for both DSLR and Compact Digital Camera is the Image Sensor Size and determines the Field of View. Statistics shows that over 90% of new Compact Digital Camera buyers has little idea about Image Sensor Format. Previously we have written about Compact Digital Camera, DSLR and Digital Photography itself. If you are a newbie to Digital Photography or just planning to buy a new Digital Camera, the previous articles and this article on Image Sensor Format will be helpful to pickup the right model.
The concept of Image Sensor Format
In the late twentieth century amateur photographer’s life was simple. Except for some who could afford medium and large format, almost everyone was with 35mm film photography. In digital camera, there is a sensor instead of the film. Now the size of the sensor varies with the cost of the camera. The full frame digital SLR is a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) that has an image sensor that is the same size as a 35 mm (36×24 mm) film frame. Larger sensors capture images with less noise and greater dynamic range than smaller sensors. DSLRs can take pictures of high quality in high ISO, while compact cameras tend to produce grainy images even at lower ISO. This is somewhat related to Image Sensor Format. We are not going in to too much details on the optics of Image Sensor Format.
Commonly used Image Sensor Format
DSLR/MILC formats : This Image Sensor Format equals to the size of a frame of 35 mm film negative. Canon EOS 1D series, Canon EOS 5D series, Nikon D3 series, Nikon D700 are examples of Full Frame DSLRs. One can compare it with APS-C film size.
Medium-format DSLR : Most commonly used Image Sensor Format for most entry to mid range DSLRs and few hig end Compact digital camera models.
Image Sensor Format used in compact digital cameras : Its variable. Simply a mobile phone camera will have Image Sensor Format of less square unit than a real compact digital camera.
Conclusion on Image Sensor Format
This is an arbitrary example of concept of Image Sensor Format :
This is an arbitrary not to scale demo for giving you an idea about Image Sensor Format. The area of photo inside the Green bordered rectangle should be equal to Full Frame Image Sensor Format. But it represents an old 35 mm camera’s frame, not of a full frame DSLR. Because there is cropping factor, a DSLR with Full Frame Image Sensor Format will actually produce the photo within the red rectangle. Whereas a medium Image Sensor Format camera will produce the image that is within the blue rectangle.
This illustrative image on Image Sensor Format simply explains, why your Compact Digital Camera or even a Nokia Mobile Camera is able to take great closeup shots, where your entry level DSLR with the supplied lens fails. Actually it happens due to three factors – the closed lens assembly of a Compact Digital Camera, the aperture somewhat works as if it is a pin hole camera with less diffraction and Image Sensor Format.