Are bigger pixels less noisy?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
Eric Fossum
Eric Fossum Senior Member • Posts: 1,516
Re: Are bigger pixels less noisy?

JahnG wrote:

Is there any consensus if pixel size influences how noisy a sensor is?

My questions are asked from the view of a ”for fun” photographer using APSC cameras and a ”1” camera, especially thinking about the noise level in low light photography.

In some DPR forums there are every now and then long threads about sensor size, pixel count and pixel size . Some experts or ”experts” write in DPR that sensors with bigger ”pixels” are less noisy, some think there is no difference.

Camera manufactors like Canon, Sony, (Panasonic) have made ”low noise” cameras with less and bigger ”pixels”. Do the manufactors not know what they are doing? (Some people in DPR say that such cameras are manufactored because the customers expect that sensors with bigger ””pixels” would be less noisy?)

In some technical magazines where also cameras are dealt with they tend to think that sensors with bigger ”pixels” produce less noise?

What do you say in this forum:

  1. Is it possible to generally say that FF sensors with fewer and bigger ”pixels” are/ are not, less noisy (to any practical degree) than FF sensors with smaller ”pixels”. (Same for APSC sensors)
  2. Some DPR members also dispute whether FF sensors (regardless of pixel count ?) are less noisy (better for low light photography) than smaller sensors. One argument is that the existing difference in noisiness between FF cameras and small sensor cameras basically depends on the fact that small sensor cameras have smaller lenses and thus the lens collects less light. According to this FF sensors and smaller sensors would be equally noisy?

I might be considered an expert...

Bigger pixels are almost never less noisy than smaller pixels.

But you might be confused about noise vs. signal-to-noise ratio.

More light, more noise, and better SNR - pixel size does not matter since the noise is due to the fundamental "noisy" nature of light.

Generally, bigger pixels collect more light (i.e. photons) for the same F-no. so their noise-to-signal is less which is probably what you are really thinking about.


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