Camera Sensors and Their Importance in Photography

by November 18, 2014 0 comments

Whether compact or DSLR, without sensors a camera is no more than a box. A sensor not only converts an optical image into an electronic signal it also enhances photography experience and the quality of the image. There are two types of camera sensors: CCD and CMOS.
CCD (Charge-Coupled Devices) Sensor: It offers superior image quality with better dynamic range and noise control. This is being used in almost every point-and-shoot and Digital SLR cameras. CCD sensors produce high quality images but tend to be more expensive and consume more power than CMOS.
CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor): It has been considered as an inferior competitor to CCD, but with the latest innovations in the CMOS technology, it has been upgraded to match and even transcend the CCD standard. CMOS sensors are more sensitive, produce higher quality images and consume lesser power in comparison to CCD. It works more efficiently and performs better even in high-speed burst modes with built-in functionality than CCD sensors.
New developments in CMOS: Numerous sensors are available in the market based on CMOS technology such as Foveon X3 sensor that is being used only in Sigma’s compact cameras and DSLRs. Leica, Olympus, and Panasonic are using Live MOS image sensors in the Four Thirds System DSLRs that they’ve been manufacturing since 2006. These sensors are producing CCD image quality with the lower power consumption of a CMOS.
Sensor sizes
Full-frame Sensor: 36 by 24 mm is the largest size of the sensor that called full-frame sensor. It is similar to the frame of 35mm film. It eliminates the crop factor, meaning whatever you see through the viewfinder, the camera captures exactly the same. Full-frame model with a larger sensor can deliver extremely shallows depth of field when paired with wide aperture lenses. These are the best choice for macro and video work.
APS-H Sensor: APS (Active Pixel Sensor) is the most popular sensor type for both interchangeable-lens and higher-quality fixed-lens cameras. With the 28.7 by 19 mm size, this sensor is present in a vast portion of consumer and prosumer DSLRs.
APS-C Sensor: Most of the major camera manufacturers use this sensor in their DSLRs. It comes in 23.6 by 15.8 mm size, but different sizes are also available with APS-C sensors including 2.2 by 14.8mm, 23.5 by 15.6mm and 23.7mm by 15.6mm, etc.
Four Thirds Sensor: As name suggests, it is almost a quarter (17.3 by 13mm) in size of a full-frame sensor. This open DSLR standard sensor created by Olympus and Kodak and being used in both companies’ DSLR cameras. With the 2X crop factor, it has double effective focal length of a mounted lens.
CX Format Sensor: The 13.2 by 8 mm sensor introduced in the year 2011 and adopted by Nikon and Sony. Nikon 1 and Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 used the CX format sensor that comes with 2.7X crop factor.
Small Sensors: There are two small size sensors: 7.6 by 5.7 mm and 5.76 by 4.29 mm. The 7.6 by 5.7 mm sensor is among the largest sensor sizes used in compact cameras and 5.76 by 4.29mm is among the smallest sensors, typically used in low-priced point-and-shoot models.

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