Little Things that Matter: the Sensor Size Chart

Little Things that Matter: the Sensor Size Chart

During the last lesson, we talked about the two most important mechanism working inside your camera - the sensor and the shutter.

As we said, the shutter is your camera’s gatekeeper who manages the light that comes inside your camera. Furthermore, the shutter can vary the amount of light it lets in the camera by adjusting the time it spends opened up before closing which is called the shutter speed.

We also talked about the sensor which is the modern equivalent of the film. The sensor receives the light that comes in through the shutter and reads it to produce the data and pixels that will make up the image you can instantaneously view.

Last lesson we identified the two sizes of sensors that can be inside your camera and today we will be dwelling more on them. Apart from the two sizes of sensors that we tackled last time, we will also be discussing the other sizes indicated the Sensor Size Chart.

More Important Than You Think

I know what you’re thinking. “What’s the use of knowing sensors that I won’t even use?” Well, to tell you honestly, I also had the same question back then but in due time these things actually came in handy for me.

The sensor size chart may not be as appealing as learning long exposure photography but if you are dead serious about photography then this is one thing you wouldn’t want to miss.

Learning the sensors will open a big door in advanced photography for you and this may just separate you from other photographers in terms of photography IQ. On a more practical note, apart from having the knowledge to teach and help others in the future, learning the size chart will give you a the right mental tools that you will need in order to get the best equipment such as your lenses.

The Sensor Size Chart

As you can see from the image, the common sensor sizes include the 35mm full frame and the APS-C which are two sensor sizes that we mentioned last lesson. We will be putting special attention to these two sizes again as they, more often than not, are the two sizes you will be encountering along your journey.

Full frame

The 35mm sensor is commonly known as full frame mainly because of its size. If you recall from the first lesson, film cameras back then used the 35mm film which captured wider angles and reserved more space for the light.

Measurements aside, full-frame sensors are often seen in high-end professional cameras such as the very well-established Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and the Nikon 4Ds. Should you reach that exciting point in your life where you have to buy a lens for one of the cameras I mentioned, you may want to look at the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II and the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E VR - two lenses indicating that you are approaching or already in your peak as a photographer.


In an effort to bring a much more compact version of the premium full-frame sensor to the world, camera manufacturers developed the APS sensor. The Advanced Photo System sensor has the same aspect ratio as your full frame 2:3 but APS simplifies things by housing it in smaller dimensions.

The APS has come a long way and as of the moment, its most trusted version is the APS-C; the sensor you may be working with right now. APS-C sensors have mimicked the 35mm so well that most people, even some professional photographers, have started asking whether you really need a full frame camera if you can produce extraordinary results already with its simpler and more cash-considerate version.

Other common sensor sizes, although not as common as APS-C and full frames, have a 4:3 aspect ratio which should appear slightly more elongated than the 2:3 ratio. The most common among all the 4:3 sensors is the Four Thirds System which can be seen in smaller and more compact cameras.

Wrapping up

Today we learned about the sensor size chart and particularly dwelled on full frame or 35mm sensors and APS-C. Both the 35mm and the APS-C sensors have a 2:3 ratio with the full frame sensors allowing more area to be covered due to its size. We also tackled the applications of the sensor size chart in real life as a powerful tool to help you decide on your equipment as you progress as a photographer.

The next lesson is a debate that will surely poke your interest. Much like the unending Canon vs. Nikon debate, the RAW vs. JPEG has divided the community also and we will find out why.

Get your peers involved with this one and be sure to share the article!

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