Sensor sizes

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
Eamon Hickey
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,161
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Nope, originally sensor size
In reply to dpalugyay, 2 months ago

dpalugyay wrote:

You: "You should really check your technical facts before writing. I do."

Please don't come to the m43 forum spouting "knowledge" about 4/3 that you do not have.

Four Thirds and m43 is named for the aspect ratio. You are very wrong.

I reported on the 4/3rds system for CNET and some tech magazines when it was introduced, including attending the official press unveiling in New York City in 2003. I was told directly and personally the origin of the name by both Olympus and Kodak engineering and marketing personnel (Kodak was a co-lead developer of the 4/3 system, which many people now forget). The name originally referred to the sensor size. (All the original 4/3 system sensors were Kodak devices.)

Olympus/Kodak realized fairly quickly that people found this confusing (because only engineers understand the very weird "fractional inches" sensor size naming convention.) So early on, the marketing folks refined the story to say that the name referred to both the size and the aspect ratio. That became the standard answer.

There's nothing wrong with that, but as someone else pointed out on this thread, the aspect ratio is not distinctive at all. It's shared by nearly all of the other sensors used in digicams and video systems, in many, many different sizes. That's because they all trace their roots to vidicon tubes and the original 4:3 aspect ratio that was chosen for television in its infancy.

The APS-C and "full-frame" sensor sizes did not evolve from vidicon tube sizes, which is why they are not specified by the "fractional inches" naming convention that is used for all the smaller sensors. And they don't have a 4:3 aspect ratio either, not coincidentally.

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