- Image sensor format
- Optical format
- Sensor formats and sizes
Image sensor format
In digital photography, the image sensor format is the shape and size of the image sensor.
The image sensor format of a digital camera determines the angle of view of a particular lens when used with a particular sensor. Because the image sensors in many digital cameras are smaller than the 24 mm × 36 mm image area of full-frame 35 mm cameras, a lens of a given focal length gives a narrower field of view in such cameras.
Sensor size is often expressed as optical format in inches. Other measures are also used; see table of sensor formats and sizes below.
Optical format is a hypothetical measurement approximately 50% larger than the true diagonal size of a solid-state photo sensor. The use of the optical format means that a lens used with a particular size sensor will have approximately the same angle of view as if it were to be used with an equivalent-sized video camera tube (an "old-fashioned" TV camera). In a video camera tube the diagonal of the actual light-sensitive target was about two-thirds the outside diameter, which was the measure used.
The optical format is approximately the diagonal length of the sensor multiplied by 3/2. The result is expressed in inches and is usually (but not always) rounded to a convenient fraction. For instance, a 6.4x4.8 mm sensor has a diagonal of 8.0 mm and therefore an optical format of 8.0*3/2 = 12 mm, which is expressed as 1⁄2 inch in imperial units. The reason it is expressed in inches is historical, dating back to the early days of television.
Many image device sheets do not list the actual optical format, but do list the size of their pixels in terms of micrometers; a helpful equation can be used to convert the pixel size and array size directly to optical format. The equation for this is:
w = width of array (in pixels)
h = height of array (in pixels)
p = pixel size (micrometers)
Sensor formats and sizes
Sensor sizes are expressed in inches notation because at the time of the popularization of digital image sensors they were used to replace video camera tubes. The common 1" outside diameter circular video camera tubes have a rectangular photo sensitive area about 16 mm on the diagonal, so a digital sensor with a 16 mm diagonal size is a 1" video tube equivalent. The name of a 1" digital sensor should more accurately be read as "one inch video camera tube equivalent" sensor. Current digital image sensor size descriptors are the video camera tube equivalency size, not the actual size of the sensor. For example, a 1" sensor has a diagonal measurement of 16 mm.
Sizes are often expressed as a fraction of an inch, with a one in the numerator, and a decimal number in the denominator. For example, 1/2.5 converts to 2/5 as a simple fraction, or 0.4 as a decimal number. This "inch" system gives a result approximately 1.5 times the length of the diagonal of the sensor. This optical format measure goes back to the way image sizes of video cameras used until the late 1980s were expressed, referring to the outside diameter of the glass envelope of the video camera tube.
Due to inch-based sensor formats not being standardized, their exact dimensions may vary, but those listed are typical. The listed sensor areas span more than a factor of 1000 and are proportional to the maximum possible collection of light and image resolution (same lens speed, i.e., minimum F-number), but in practice are not directly proportional to image noise or resolution due to other limitations. See comparisons. Film format sizes are also included, for comparison. The application examples of phone or camera may not show the exact sensor sizes.
Table of sensor formats and sizes
|Type||Diagonal (mm)||Width (mm)||Height (mm)||Aspect Ratio||Area (mm²)||Stops (area)||Crop factor|
|Medium-format 6×6 cm||79||56||56||1:1||3136||+1.86||0.538|
|1" (Nikon CX, Sony RX100, Sony RX10, Sony ZV1, Samsung NX Mini)||15.86||13.20||8.80||3:2||116||-2.89||2.72|
|APS-C (Sony α, Sony E, Nikon DX, Pentax K, Samsung NX, Fuji X)||28.2–28.4||23.6–23.7||15.60||3:2||368–370||-1.23 to -1.22||1.52–1.54|
|1/2" (Fujifilm HS30EXR, Xiaomi Mi 9, OnePlus 7, Espros EPC 660, DJI Mavic Air 2)||8.00||6.40||4.80||4:3||30.70||-4.81||5.41|
|2/3" (Nokia Lumia 1020, Fujifilm X10, X20, XF1)||11.00||8.80||6.60||4:3||58.10||-3.89||3.93|
|Four Thirds, Micro Four Thirds ("4/3", "m4/3")||21.60||17.30||13||4:3||225||-1.94||2.00|
|ARRI ALEXA LF||44.71||36.70||25.54||13:9||937.32||+0.12||0.96|
|Blackmagic Cinema Camera EF||18.13||15.81||8.88||16:9||140||-2.62||2.38|
|ARRI ALEV III (ALEXA SXT, ALEXA MINI, AMIRA), RED HELIUM 8K S35||33.80||29.90||15.77||17:9||471.52||-0.87||1.28|
|RED DRAGON 5K S35||28.9||25.6||13.5||17:9||345.6||-1.32||1.49|
|RED DRAGON 6K S35||34.50||30.7||15.8||35:18||485.06||-0.83||1.25|
Nominal Image Sensor Format Type Size
Sizes are in millimeters
|Image Sensor Format Type CRT||Dia||Diagonal||4:3 Aspect
Width : Height
Width : Height
Width : Height
|35mm Full Frame||N/A||43.30||34.64 x 25.98||36.03 x 24.02||37.74 x 21.23|
|APS-C||N/A||30.10||24.08 x 18.06||25.04 x 16.70||26.23 x 14.76|
|4/3"||33.87||21.33||17.07 x 12.80||17.75 x 11.83||18.59 x 10.46|
|1"||25.40||16.00||12.80 x 9.60||13.31 x 8.88||13.95 x 7.84|
|2/3"||16.93||10.67||8.53 x 6.40||8.88 x 5.92||9.30 x 5.23|
|1/1.55"||16.39||10.32||8.26 x 6.19||8.59 x 5.73||9.00 x 5.06|
|1/1.7"||14.94||9.41||7.53 x 5.65||7.83 x 5.22||8.20 x 4.61|
|1/1.8"||14.11||8.89||7.11 x 5.33||7.40 x 4.93||7.75 x 4.36|
|1/2"||12.70||8.00||6.40 x 4.80||6.66 x 4.44||6.97 x 3.92|
|1/2.3"||11.04||7.83||6.26 x 4.70||6.51 x 4.34||6.82 x 3.84|
|1/2.5"||10.16||7.20||5.76 x 4.32||5.99 x 3.99||6.28 x 3.53|
|1/2.7"||9.41||6.67||5.33 x 4.00||5.55 x 3.70||5.81 x 3.27|
|1/3"||8.47||6.00||4.80 x 3.60||4.99 x 3.33||5.23 x 2.94|
|1/3.2"||7.94||5.63||4.50 x 3.38||4.68 x 3.12||4.90 x 2.76|
|1/3.6"||7.06||5.00||4.00 x 3.00||4.16 x 2.77||4.36 x 2.45|
|1/4"||6.35||4.50||3.60 x 2.70||3.74 x 2.50||3.92 x 2.21|
|1/6"||4.23||3.00||2.40 x 1.80||2.50 x 1.66||2.61 x 1.47|
|1/9"||2.82||2.00||1.60 x 1.20||1.66 x 1.11||1.74 x 0.98|