Are bigger pixels less noisy?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
spider-mario
spider-mario Contributing Member • Posts: 891
Re: Quantum efficiency and signal to noise ratio

JahnG wrote:

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?"

When there is so little light that the exposure time that you can use without too much motion blur is the limiting factor in both cases, I would call this correct. However, larger sensors can generally tolerate higher amounts of light before saturating, so even at the same DOF / lens size, they can capture more light by exposing for longer if this is acceptable and the reason not to do it on the smaller sensor was saturation.

For example, if you have to expose a landscape for at most 1/1600s at f/4 on a small sensor to avoid saturation, but the large sensor can push it to 1/400s at f/8, it will capture more light without getting so much more motion blur that it would ruin the shot (probably), and so it will be less noisy.

(Or, if you expose the same scene for the same amount of time in both cases but you had to tolerate some saturation on the smaller sensor for some areas, you may not have to on the larger sensor.)

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