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18
Aug
posted by - Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Lots of today’s cameras feature a “35mm-sized sensor,” but what does this really mean? They all vary slightly in size, and some are shaped differently so that, when used for HD shooting, the usable size is dramatically reduced. Our clients frequently ask how to compare these different cameras and how sensor size affects field of view and lens coverage. A picture is worth 1,000 words, so we decided to produce a graphical chart to better compare them.

As a standard we started with the Super-35 film frame. For clarity, an aspect ratio of 16×9 was selected for all of the cameras, which is both the native aspect ratio for most of the cameras as well as the HD framing standard. For cameras that can shoot various aspect ratios (like the REDs), the largest available 16×9 motion picture shooting mode was selected.

On every sensor, the Super-35 image area has been indicated in Kodak yellow, with the individual camera’s image area indicated by a full color image. So on sensors larger than Super-35, that sensor’s extra image area has been indicated in full color surrounding the yellow Super-35 area. On sensors smaller than Super-35, the smaller image area has been indicated in full color, surrounded by the yellow Super-35 area. One will notice that on several of the sensors the difference is almost invisible, and to additionally help understand the difference in size there’s also a number indicating the percentage difference compared to Super-35 (a sensor a little bigger than Super-35 may be 103% while one much smaller might be 85%).

Underneath each image, the Shooting Format indicates the setting selected on the camera, with the physical size of the selected Shooting Format noted alongside in millimeters. The required Image Circle (projection size of light from the lens) has also been indicated in millimeters.

The chart is not meant to be a comparison of resolution or image quality in any way, but rather a specific comparison of relative frame sizes and their resulting fields of view.

Click here to download a larger .pdf version of the 35mm Digital Sensor Comparison Chart.

35mm Digital Sensor Chart

(Click image to see larger)

Updated: 1/11/13
This chart is also available in the Technical Resources section of our website.

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