sensor size?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by SJ, Jul 2, 2007.

  1. SJ

    SJ Guest

    Kind of a Newbie question on sensor size.
    What is the difference between, 1/2.5 " or 1/1.6 " or 1/1.8 " on non-slr's
    or 4/3" or 23.7 x 15.6 mm on a Nikon. Do more or bigger sensors necessarily
    mean better pictures? and If so, why? thanks
    Scott
     
    SJ, Jul 2, 2007
    #1
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  2. SJ

    Allen Guest

    SJ wrote:
    > Kind of a Newbie question on sensor size.
    > What is the difference between, 1/2.5 " or 1/1.6 " or 1/1.8 " on
    > non-slr's or 4/3" or 23.7 x 15.6 mm on a Nikon. Do more or bigger
    > sensors necessarily mean better pictures? and If so, why? thanks
    > Scott

    The naming schemes used to describe sensor size is ridiculous. Why can't
    they say '0.4"' instead of '1/1.6"', for instance, and actually give the
    other rectilinear dimension also. Actual size (in mm would make much
    more sense. I assume that somewhere in the deep dark reaches of digital
    camera history some people thought that these strange and illogical
    sizes would have some marketing edge; behind just about any illogical
    description in any commercial lies a marketing decision. I will now step
    of my soapbox (for now).
    Allen
     
    Allen, Jul 2, 2007
    #2
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  3. SJ

    Jim Townsend Guest

    SJ wrote:

    > Kind of a Newbie question on sensor size.
    > What is the difference between, 1/2.5 " or 1/1.6 " or 1/1.8 " on non-slr's
    > or 4/3" or 23.7 x 15.6 mm on a Nikon. Do more or bigger sensors necessarily
    > mean better pictures? and If so, why? thanks


    Generally, bigger is better. Large sensors have for larger sensor sites
    which gather more light and require less amplification to produce a good
    signal. With less amplification there is less noise in the image.

    Here's a pretty good page on deciphering sensor sizes:

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0210/02100402sensorsizes.asp
     
    Jim Townsend, Jul 2, 2007
    #3
  4. SJ

    Prometheus Guest

    In article <46894eea$0$4685$>, Allen
    <> writes
    >SJ wrote:
    >> Kind of a Newbie question on sensor size.
    >> What is the difference between, 1/2.5 " or 1/1.6 " or 1/1.8 " on
    >>non-slr's or 4/3" or 23.7 x 15.6 mm on a Nikon. Do more or bigger
    >>sensors necessarily mean better pictures? and If so, why? thanks
    >> Scott

    >The naming schemes used to describe sensor size is ridiculous. Why
    >can't they say '0.4"' instead of '1/1.6"', for instance, and actually
    >give the other rectilinear dimension also. Actual size (in mm would
    >make much more sense. I assume that somewhere in the deep dark reaches
    >of digital camera history some people thought that these strange and
    >illogical sizes would have some marketing edge; behind just about any
    >illogical description in any commercial lies a marketing decision. I
    >will now step of my soapbox (for now).
    >Allen


    It was not ridiculous in it origin. The size originally refereed to the
    diameter of a TV tube, the diagonal of the sensitive element being about
    2/3 of the tube. When CCD sensors where introduced the equivalent tube
    diameter for a given diagonal was used because users could relate it to
    the lens required and purchase a CCD camera which would use the lenses
    they already had. There is now probably far more different sizes of CCD
    than there ever were tubes.

    --
    Ian G8ILZ
    There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.
    ~Ansel Adams
     
    Prometheus, Jul 2, 2007
    #4
  5. SJ wrote:
    > Kind of a Newbie question on sensor size.
    > What is the difference between, 1/2.5 " or 1/1.6 " or 1/1.8 " on
    > non-slr's or 4/3" or 23.7 x 15.6 mm on a Nikon. Do more or bigger
    > sensors necessarily mean better pictures? and If so, why? thanks
    > Scott


    Yes, it does matter. Get the largest pixel size for a given
    megapixel count and you'll have lower noise, and higher ISO performance.

    Some references:
    Digital Cameras: Does Pixel Size Matter?
    Factors in Choosing a Digital Camera
    http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/does.pixel.size.matter

    http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/digital.sensor.performance.summary

    Roger
     
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Jul 3, 2007
    #5
  6. SJ

    Ray Macey Guest

    On Jul 3, 10:52 am, "Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark)" >
    > Yes, it does matter. Get the largest pixel size for a given
    > megapixel count and you'll have lower noise, and higher ISO performance.


    Smaller sensors however can (but doesn't always) equate to smaller
    camera bodies and/or lenses. Larger sensors also give you a wider
    field of view for a given focal length, meaning wide angle lenses are
    "wider" on larger sensors, and telephoto lenses are more "tele" on
    smaller sensors.

    Obviously that's in addition to the technical limitations of a smaller
    sensor

    Ray
     
    Ray Macey, Jul 3, 2007
    #6
  7. SJ

    Bill Funk Guest

    On Mon, 2 Jul 2007 22:57:23 +0100, Prometheus <Prometheus@127.0.0.1>
    wrote:

    >In article <46894eea$0$4685$>, Allen
    ><> writes
    >>SJ wrote:
    >>> Kind of a Newbie question on sensor size.
    >>> What is the difference between, 1/2.5 " or 1/1.6 " or 1/1.8 " on
    >>>non-slr's or 4/3" or 23.7 x 15.6 mm on a Nikon. Do more or bigger
    >>>sensors necessarily mean better pictures? and If so, why? thanks
    >>> Scott

    >>The naming schemes used to describe sensor size is ridiculous. Why
    >>can't they say '0.4"' instead of '1/1.6"', for instance, and actually
    >>give the other rectilinear dimension also. Actual size (in mm would
    >>make much more sense. I assume that somewhere in the deep dark reaches
    >>of digital camera history some people thought that these strange and
    >>illogical sizes would have some marketing edge; behind just about any
    >>illogical description in any commercial lies a marketing decision. I
    >>will now step of my soapbox (for now).
    >>Allen

    >
    >It was not ridiculous in it origin. The size originally refereed to the
    >diameter of a TV tube, the diagonal of the sensitive element being about
    >2/3 of the tube. When CCD sensors where introduced the equivalent tube
    >diameter for a given diagonal was used because users could relate it to
    >the lens required and purchase a CCD camera which would use the lenses
    >they already had. There is now probably far more different sizes of CCD
    >than there ever were tubes.


    The first consumer digital cameras weren't DSLRs, so fitting the
    correct size lens wasn't an option; the lens was fixed.
    IMO, the sensor sizes were given the way they are in order to not
    scare consumers away with the small sizes of sensors being used. Since
    most consumers were using film sizes much larger than the sensors in
    those first cameras, the marketing dep'ts wanted the cameras judged on
    the merits of the images provided, not the sizes of the sensors.
    Giving the sizes in an obscure measurement system that most consumers
    would not bother to understand served that purpose.

    --
    THIS IS A SIG LINE; NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced a
    revolt Friday over gas rationing. The country
    is the second-biggest oil producer in the world,
    but they can't make enough gas for their citizens.
    You can always tell when Jimmy Carter is advising
    a dictator.
     
    Bill Funk, Jul 3, 2007
    #7
  8. On Jul 2, 2:15 pm, Allen <> wrote:
    > SJ wrote:
    > > Kind of a Newbie question on sensor size.
    > > What is the difference between, 1/2.5 " or 1/1.6 " or 1/1.8 " on
    > > non-slr's or 4/3" or 23.7 x 15.6 mm on a Nikon. Do more or bigger
    > > sensors necessarily mean better pictures? and If so, why? thanks
    > > Scott

    >
    > The naming schemes used to describe sensor size is ridiculous. Why can't
    > they say '0.4"' instead of '1/1.6"', for instance, and actually give the
    > other rectilinear dimension also. Actual size (in mm would make much
    > more sense. I assume that somewhere in the deep dark reaches of digital
    > camera history some people thought that these strange and illogical
    > sizes would have some marketing edge; behind just about any illogical
    > description in any commercial lies a marketing decision. I will now step
    > of my soapbox (for now).
    > Allen


    The digital camera chips followed a line of descent through video
    cameras. There was a long tradition of using the diagonal (or
    diameter) measure to specify camera tube size (orthicons and
    vidicons). This held over for first CCD chips. First digicams used
    camcorder chips.

    These were identified as a regular number for format diagonal or tube
    diameter (i.e, one inch vidicon, half inch vidicon etc.) and
    originally the same for chips. This fraction thing is NOT a long
    holdover from some distant path, it is relatively new.
     
    Don Stauffer in Minnesota, Jul 3, 2007
    #8
  9. Bill Funk wrote:
    []
    > The first consumer digital cameras weren't DSLRs, so fitting the
    > correct size lens wasn't an option; the lens was fixed.
    > IMO, the sensor sizes were given the way they are in order to not
    > scare consumers away with the small sizes of sensors being used. Since
    > most consumers were using film sizes much larger than the sensors in
    > those first cameras, the marketing dep'ts wanted the cameras judged on
    > the merits of the images provided, not the sizes of the sensors.
    > Giving the sizes in an obscure measurement system that most consumers
    > would not bother to understand served that purpose.


    Yes, agreed. They do understand megapixels (or at least think they do),
    but not yet that "mine is bigger than yours" in sensor sizes might
    actually have some benefit!

    <G>

    David
     
    David J Taylor, Jul 3, 2007
    #9
  10. SJ

    Prometheus Guest

    In article <>, Bill Funk
    <> writes
    >On Mon, 2 Jul 2007 22:57:23 +0100, Prometheus <Prometheus@127.0.0.1>
    >wrote:
    >
    >>In article <46894eea$0$4685$>, Allen
    >><> writes
    >>>SJ wrote:
    >>>> Kind of a Newbie question on sensor size.
    >>>> What is the difference between, 1/2.5 " or 1/1.6 " or 1/1.8 " on
    >>>>non-slr's or 4/3" or 23.7 x 15.6 mm on a Nikon. Do more or bigger
    >>>>sensors necessarily mean better pictures? and If so, why? thanks
    >>>> Scott
    >>>The naming schemes used to describe sensor size is ridiculous. Why
    >>>can't they say '0.4"' instead of '1/1.6"', for instance, and actually
    >>>give the other rectilinear dimension also. Actual size (in mm would
    >>>make much more sense. I assume that somewhere in the deep dark reaches
    >>>of digital camera history some people thought that these strange and
    >>>illogical sizes would have some marketing edge; behind just about any
    >>>illogical description in any commercial lies a marketing decision. I
    >>>will now step of my soapbox (for now).
    >>>Allen

    >>
    >>It was not ridiculous in it origin. The size originally refereed to the
    >>diameter of a TV tube, the diagonal of the sensitive element being about
    >>2/3 of the tube. When CCD sensors where introduced the equivalent tube
    >>diameter for a given diagonal was used because users could relate it to
    >>the lens required and purchase a CCD camera which would use the lenses
    >>they already had. There is now probably far more different sizes of CCD
    >>than there ever were tubes.

    >
    >The first consumer digital cameras weren't DSLRs, so fitting the
    >correct size lens wasn't an option; the lens was fixed.
    >IMO, the sensor sizes were given the way they are in order to not
    >scare consumers away with the small sizes of sensors being used. Since
    >most consumers were using film sizes much larger than the sensors in
    >those first cameras, the marketing dep'ts wanted the cameras judged on
    >the merits of the images provided, not the sizes of the sensors.
    >Giving the sizes in an obscure measurement system that most consumers
    >would not bother to understand served that purpose.


    All very true, but the first CCDs were on TV cameras, hence the
    importance of describing the CCD by the size users were familiar with,
    i.e. 1, 2/3, 1/2. What is nonsensical is describing sensor sizes never
    used in TV cameras by improper fractions, i.e. 1/1.8 and 1/2.7 have
    sensor diagonals of 9 and 6.6 mm.

    --
    Ian G8ILZ
    There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.
    ~Ansel Adams
     
    Prometheus, Jul 3, 2007
    #10
  11. SJ

    Bill Funk Guest

    On Tue, 3 Jul 2007 20:56:20 +0100, Prometheus <Prometheus@127.0.0.1>
    wrote:

    >In article <>, Bill Funk
    ><> writes
    >>On Mon, 2 Jul 2007 22:57:23 +0100, Prometheus <Prometheus@127.0.0.1>
    >>wrote:
    >>
    >>>In article <46894eea$0$4685$>, Allen
    >>><> writes
    >>>>SJ wrote:
    >>>>> Kind of a Newbie question on sensor size.
    >>>>> What is the difference between, 1/2.5 " or 1/1.6 " or 1/1.8 " on
    >>>>>non-slr's or 4/3" or 23.7 x 15.6 mm on a Nikon. Do more or bigger
    >>>>>sensors necessarily mean better pictures? and If so, why? thanks
    >>>>> Scott
    >>>>The naming schemes used to describe sensor size is ridiculous. Why
    >>>>can't they say '0.4"' instead of '1/1.6"', for instance, and actually
    >>>>give the other rectilinear dimension also. Actual size (in mm would
    >>>>make much more sense. I assume that somewhere in the deep dark reaches
    >>>>of digital camera history some people thought that these strange and
    >>>>illogical sizes would have some marketing edge; behind just about any
    >>>>illogical description in any commercial lies a marketing decision. I
    >>>>will now step of my soapbox (for now).
    >>>>Allen
    >>>
    >>>It was not ridiculous in it origin. The size originally refereed to the
    >>>diameter of a TV tube, the diagonal of the sensitive element being about
    >>>2/3 of the tube. When CCD sensors where introduced the equivalent tube
    >>>diameter for a given diagonal was used because users could relate it to
    >>>the lens required and purchase a CCD camera which would use the lenses
    >>>they already had. There is now probably far more different sizes of CCD
    >>>than there ever were tubes.

    >>
    >>The first consumer digital cameras weren't DSLRs, so fitting the
    >>correct size lens wasn't an option; the lens was fixed.
    >>IMO, the sensor sizes were given the way they are in order to not
    >>scare consumers away with the small sizes of sensors being used. Since
    >>most consumers were using film sizes much larger than the sensors in
    >>those first cameras, the marketing dep'ts wanted the cameras judged on
    >>the merits of the images provided, not the sizes of the sensors.
    >>Giving the sizes in an obscure measurement system that most consumers
    >>would not bother to understand served that purpose.

    >
    >All very true, but the first CCDs were on TV cameras, hence the
    >importance of describing the CCD by the size users were familiar with,
    >i.e. 1, 2/3, 1/2.


    I was specifically talkkng about consumer cameras, not commercial TV
    cameras.

    >What is nonsensical is describing sensor sizes never
    >used in TV cameras by improper fractions, i.e. 1/1.8 and 1/2.7 have
    >sensor diagonals of 9 and 6.6 mm.


    Nonsensical in the sense that they don't mean much to the consumer,
    yes.
    Nonsensical from a marketing viewpoint? Not at all, as I pointed out
    above.

    This is a very common thing; take cars, for example.
    The benchmark usually given for engine power is horsepower; ads tell
    us that the more hp a car has, the more powerful it is. Than look at
    how the ads promote this power; it isn't cruising at high speeds,
    where horsepower actually comes into play; it's in accelleration,
    where torque comes into play.
    When you want to demonstrate your car's power (or lack of it; :)) by
    mashing down on the go pedal. The engine's torque makes it
    accellerate.
    Yet, we see almost no ads touting torque; only in truck ads does
    torque get a mention.

    It's marketing.

    --
    THIS IS A SIG LINE; NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!

    Barack Obama on Sunday reported his campaign
    raised thirty-two million dollars in the second
    quarter. He beat Hillary Clinton by ten million
    dollars. His donations come from Democrats who
    are exhausted by the whole Clinton psychodrama,
    while her donations come from comedians who only
    want to work half-days for the next eight years.
     
    Bill Funk, Jul 4, 2007
    #11
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