Camera image sensor

Compare Digital Camera Sensor Sizes

With this web app you can compare the relative size and specs of a camera’s image sensor to other sensors from various camera manufacturers. First choose a camera model from the list and you will be represented with its sensor technical specifications. You can compare the relaive size of the sensor to other image sensors side by side and in a stack (align to right or cernterlized). This will give you a good visual view of the size differences between one sensor vs others.

What is an Image Sensor?

Image sensor chip connected to electric circuit board An image sensor is an electrical device that converts an light (photons) to electronic signal form. The first digital camera used a charge-coupled device was invented by Steven Sasson, an engineer at Kodak Company. First digital cameras used a charge-coupled device (CCD). Silicon based Image sensors are embedded in many types of devices, including digital cameras, scanners, webcams and mobile phones.

Most of today’s digital cameras (ie. Compact, Digital SLR, Medium format) use a two-dimensional Bayer arrangement of RGB color filters on top of a pixel array, with each pixel contains, among others, a photodetector (or photosensor). Each pixel site absorbs filtered light for either Red, Green or Blue colors. Earlier sensors had different patterns like RGBW or CYGM (cyan, yellow, green, magenta). However, some digital cameras utilize different color array (for example, Fujifilm “EXR” color filter array).

larger sensor equals better image quality

In CCD, After the light has been collected by the light-sensitive photodiodes and converted into electrons, the accumulated charge for each pixel is being transported to a serial shift register, capacitor, amplifier and finaly to an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) that transforms each electric charge (Voltage) for each pixel into a digital value (binary), ready to be written to a storage device. This type of sensor is also referred to as active-pixel sensor (APS) or active-pixel sensor imager.

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There are various types of sensor manufacturing technologies, the most popular ones are CMOS sensors (Complementary Metal Oxide Semi-conductor). CMOS sensors allow for each pixel data to be read individually. Each pixel has several transistors next to it, that actually reduce the light sensitivity of this chip, however CMOS sensors consume less power and are cheaper to make. There is also the Foveon X3 sensor that utilizes 3-layers of photodiodes, each layer responds to different wavelengths of light, resulting in a full-color image without the artifacts that are common in Bayer sensors due to Bayer interpolation algorithms.

Some manufacturers have designed unique sensors that innovative and very different by design. For example, Fujiflm has created the Super CCD sensor that uses octagonal shaped pixels in order to increase resolution. Fujifilm also released its SuperCCD HR and SuperCCD SR sensors that benefit innovative technologies to improve the image dynamic range and resolution.

Camera CMOS sensors have been upgraded and improved a lot over recent years and are widely being used in camcorders, compact cameras, professional DSLR and Medium format cameras. Image sensors are manufactured in various sizes and resolutions (measured in megapixels or MP which represents a number of pixels in millions). In point-and-shoot cameras and mobile phones you can find relatively very small sensors, while in digital SLR and Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens cameras (MILC) you can find large sensors (ie. Full Frame, APS-C, Micro Four Thirds, Four Thirds, etc.).

In recent years we can see a new trend of compact cameras with large sensors (ex. Sony RX100, Canon G1 X). With large sensors you get to have larger pixels (size depends on the technology used, sensor size and number of pixels) which eventually leads to improved light gathering capability (better low light and high ISO performance), higher dynamic range and result in less noise, better color accuracy and image quality.

In recent years, we have seen new sensor design technologies that find themselves in many digital cameras. One of the most popular technologies is back-illuminated sensors or BSI (in contrast to front-illuminated). Those sensors are specifically designed to boost the amount of light captured by the sensor and improve the camera’s low-light performance and image quality. Camera image sensors are becoming better and better, and more people are aware of the sensor’s importance in providing better image quality with digital cameras.

The size of the sensor does play a lead role in leading to better image quality. Using you will be able to compare the size of different camera sensors and view their technical specs as well. We have a long list of digital cameras made by various manufacturers, including Nikon, Canon, Pentax / Ricoh, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Leica, Fujifilm, Sigma, Casio, Phase One, Mamiya, Hasselblad, Kodak, and others.