We regularly receive emails from readers confused as to the actual size of sensor used in digital cameras. Sensors (CCD / CMOS) are often refered to with an imperial fraction designation such as 1/1.8" or 2/3", this measurement actually originates back in the 1950's and the time of Vidicon tubes. Those who find the specification sheets for these sensors are then even more confused about the relationship between the fraction and the actual diagonal size of the sensor. Inside you'll find an explanation and a table of common sensor sizes. We'll be adding this information to our glossary for future reference.
It all started way back when...
The 'Type' designation given to toady's CCD sensors is that it harks back to a set of standard sizes given to TV camera tubes in the 50's. These sizes were typically 1/2", 2/3" etc. The size designation does not define the diagonal of the sensor area but rather the outer diameter of the long glass envelope of the tube. Engineers soon discovered that for various reasons the usable area of this imaging plane was approximately two thirds of the designated size. This designation has clearly stuck (although it should have been thrown out long ago). There appears to be no specific mathematical relationship between the diameter of the imaging circle and the sensor size, although it is always roughly two thirds.
(Diagram shown to scale but much larger than in real life)
Common Image Sensor Sizes
Table keywords: "Type" refers to the commonly used type designation for sensors, "Aspect Ratio" refers to the ratio of width to height, "Dia." refers to the diameter of the tube size (this is simply the type covertered to millimeters), "Diagonal / Width / Height" are the dimensions of the sensors image producing area.
|Type||Aspect Ratio||Dia. (mm)||Diagonal||Width||Height|
Below is a list of a few digital cameras (as examples) and their sensor size.
|Camera||Sensor Type||Pixel count||Sensor size|
|Canon PowerShot A100||1/3.2" CCD||1.3 million||4.5 x 3.4 mm|
|Canon PowerShot A200||1/3.2" CCD||2.1 million||4.5 x 3.4 mm|
|Casio QV-8000SX||1/3" CCD||1.3 million||4.8 x 3.6 mm|
|Minolta DiMAGE X||1/2.7" CCD||2.1 million||5.3 x 4.0 mm|
|Minolta DiMAGE Xi||1/2.7" CCD||3.3 million||5.3 x 4.0 mm|
|Nikon Coolpix 950||1/2" CCD||2.1 million||6.4 x 4.8 mm|
|Nikon Coolpix 995||1/1.8" CCD||3.3 million||7.2 x 5.3 mm|
|Nikon Coolpix 4500||1/1.8" CCD||4.1 million||7.2 x 5.3 mm|
|Olympus C-5050 Zoom||1/1.8" CCD||5.2 million||7.2 x 5.3 mm|
|Sony DSC-F717||2/3" CCD||5.2 million||8.8 x 6.6 mm|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi||2/3" CCD||5.2 million||8.8 x 6.6 mm|
|Canon EOS-D30||CMOS||3.2 million||22.7 x 15.1 mm|
|Nikon D1||CCD||2.7 million||23.7 x 15.6 mm|
|Nikon D100||CCD||6.3 million||23.7 x 15.6 mm|
|Canon EOS-1Ds||CMOS||11.4 million||36 x 24 mm|
|Kodak DSC-14n||CMOS||13.8 million||36 x 24 mm|
|Dirt Hose by poppyjk|
|European bee-eaters by drvanger|
from A Big Year - birds
|Fat Is Beautiful Guinea 2008 DP by MarioSS|
from - Fat is Beautiful - (Woman's Portrait n Black and White+ A Border)
As summer really gets going over here in the Northern hemisphere, the team at Imaging Resource has put together a list of the best cameras for backpacking.
The Ukrainian Parliament banned statues of Lenin in 2015. Two years later, the monuments no longer adorn public buildings or stand watch over town squares, but they're still there.
If you had to choose one camera to bring along for the ultimate West coast road trip, what would it be? DPR's Sam Spencer choose the X100F. Read more
The a9 boasts impressive capability. As more examples of it in practice pour in, Sony's claims hold up. Watch the a9 track and maintain focus on a rapidly approaching basketball.
Last week, more than a million tonnes of Californian coastline slid into the ocean, taking part of Highway 1 with it. Check out the remodeling in photos taken before and after the landslide.
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more