Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

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Chaplain Mark
Chaplain Mark Senior Member • Posts: 5,331
Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch
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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 13,759
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

I'm sure questions exist. What are they?

AlbertTheLazy
AlbertTheLazy Veteran Member • Posts: 7,954
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

Don't mention it.

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Ashley Pomeroy
Ashley Pomeroy Regular Member • Posts: 197
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

I'd never really thought about it until you pointed it out, but sensor size and pixel pitch have the same amount of letters. Ten letters.

Which of the two is my favourite? Sensor size, because I like the colour. It's a nice red colour, whereas pixel pitch is yellow. That's one thing they got right with the Pitch Perfect movies. They used the right colour for the title.

Do you know what the word pixel tastes like? A mixture of cheese and cucumber. It's not entirely unpleasant but it's very bland.

PJPfeiffer Contributing Member • Posts: 824
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

On any single sensor size it seems to me that a larger pixel size results in a larger pixel (pitch) spacing thereby reducing the total pixels per sensor area.

So to a point, on a single sensor size the smaller the pixel = less pitch resulting in a greater number of pixels per sensor area.

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bobn2
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 62,178
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch
5

I'm not a fan of either sensor size or pixel pitch. Putting adhesive substances on your sensor is generally something to avoid. Sizing your plaster walls saves on wallpaper paste and pitch is good for making old fashioned boats waterproof but I think neither should be let anywhere near a camera.

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Chaplain Mark
OP Chaplain Mark Senior Member • Posts: 5,331
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

Sorry about that, lol...

Got interrupted while posting...!!!

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

For example, my a7Riii has obviously much higher resolution with its full-frame sensor than do my G5X and G3X with their 1-Inch type sensors.

Of course, the full-frame sensor has more pixels because of (at least) the larger sensor size, but do we know if there are more pixels per square unit of sensor surface area than on the PowerShot sensors?

Thanks in advance..!!!

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Fogel70
Fogel70 Senior Member • Posts: 1,302
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

Chaplain Mark wrote:

Sorry about that, lol...

Got interrupted while posting...!!!

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

For example, my a7Riii has obviously much higher resolution with its full-frame sensor than do my G5X and G3X with their 1-Inch type sensors.

Of course, the full-frame sensor has more pixels because of (at least) the larger sensor size, but do we know if there are more pixels per square unit of sensor surface area than on the PowerShot sensors?

Thanks in advance..!!!

In general smaller sensors tend to have more pixels per square unit than larger sensors. But there is huge variation of pixel sizes so it is not always the case.

The pixel size on a 20 MP 1" sensor would give approx 150 MP on a FF sensor. The sensor area of a FF sensor is approx 7.5 times the area of an 1" sensor.

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JimH123 Senior Member • Posts: 1,970
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

Chaplain Mark wrote:

Sorry about that, lol...

Got interrupted while posting...!!!

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

For example, my a7Riii has obviously much higher resolution with its full-frame sensor than do my G5X and G3X with their 1-Inch type sensors.

Of course, the full-frame sensor has more pixels because of (at least) the larger sensor size, but do we know if there are more pixels per square unit of sensor surface area than on the PowerShot sensors?

Thanks in advance..!!!

There is no general answer to this. If you look at the full frame sensor that goes into the Sony A7Sxxx, you will see that it is only 12M pixel. And the pixels are large so that it is better in low light. Then compare that with the A7Riv which is also full frame, and it now has 61M pixels. So the pixels have to be smaller.

And if you consider a full frame and an APS-C sensor that both have the same number of pixels, it is easy to see that the pixels per square unit has to go up.

We could also compare a 61M pixel full frame sensor and a 16M pixel APS-C.  In this case, the full frame will have more pixels per square unit.

But you will most likely find that a smaller sensor usually packs more pixels per square unit.

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Chaplain Mark
OP Chaplain Mark Senior Member • Posts: 5,331
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

JimH123 wrote:

Chaplain Mark wrote:

Sorry about that, lol...

Got interrupted while posting...!!!

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

For example, my a7Riii has obviously much higher resolution with its full-frame sensor than do my G5X and G3X with their 1-Inch type sensors.

Of course, the full-frame sensor has more pixels because of (at least) the larger sensor size, but do we know if there are more pixels per square unit of sensor surface area than on the PowerShot sensors?

Thanks in advance..!!!

There is no general answer to this. If you look at the full frame sensor that goes into the Sony A7Sxxx, you will see that it is only 12M pixel. And the pixels are large so that it is better in low light. Then compare that with the A7Riv which is also full frame, and it now has 61M pixels. So the pixels have to be smaller.

And if you consider a full frame and an APS-C sensor that both have the same number of pixels, it is easy to see that the pixels per square unit has to go up.

We could also compare a 61M pixel full frame sensor and a 16M pixel APS-C. In this case, the full frame will have more pixels per square unit.

But you will most likely find that a smaller sensor usually packs more pixels per square unit.

Jim,

Thanks for your reply.

The differences in visual resolution and dynamic range between my PowerShots and my FF Sony are so large, I can't help but presume the pixel pitch of the Sony's sensor is very much finer than the Canon.

Or, is it the differences between the sensor sizes that makes such significant improvements in the images?

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Thanks again, 
Chaplain Mark
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JimH123 Senior Member • Posts: 1,970
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

Chaplain Mark wrote:

JimH123 wrote:

Chaplain Mark wrote:

Sorry about that, lol...

Got interrupted while posting...!!!

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

For example, my a7Riii has obviously much higher resolution with its full-frame sensor than do my G5X and G3X with their 1-Inch type sensors.

Of course, the full-frame sensor has more pixels because of (at least) the larger sensor size, but do we know if there are more pixels per square unit of sensor surface area than on the PowerShot sensors?

Thanks in advance..!!!

There is no general answer to this. If you look at the full frame sensor that goes into the Sony A7Sxxx, you will see that it is only 12M pixel. And the pixels are large so that it is better in low light. Then compare that with the A7Riv which is also full frame, and it now has 61M pixels. So the pixels have to be smaller.

And if you consider a full frame and an APS-C sensor that both have the same number of pixels, it is easy to see that the pixels per square unit has to go up.

We could also compare a 61M pixel full frame sensor and a 16M pixel APS-C. In this case, the full frame will have more pixels per square unit.

But you will most likely find that a smaller sensor usually packs more pixels per square unit.

Jim,

Thanks for your reply.

The differences in visual resolution and dynamic range between my PowerShots and my FF Sony are so large, I can't help but presume the pixel pitch of the Sony's sensor is very much finer than the Canon.

Or, is it the differences between the sensor sizes that makes such significant improvements in the images?

Its more than just pixel pitch.  The latest Sony sensors are so much better than earlier generations of sensors that there is no comparison.  The noise is lower.  The Dynamic Range is better.  And of course, you have the A7Riii, and it has 42M pixels and was designed for resolution.

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Chaplain Mark
OP Chaplain Mark Senior Member • Posts: 5,331
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

JimH123 wrote:

Chaplain Mark wrote:

JimH123 wrote:

Chaplain Mark wrote:

Sorry about that, lol...

Got interrupted while posting...!!!

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

For example, my a7Riii has obviously much higher resolution with its full-frame sensor than do my G5X and G3X with their 1-Inch type sensors.

Of course, the full-frame sensor has more pixels because of (at least) the larger sensor size, but do we know if there are more pixels per square unit of sensor surface area than on the PowerShot sensors?

Thanks in advance..!!!

There is no general answer to this. If you look at the full frame sensor that goes into the Sony A7Sxxx, you will see that it is only 12M pixel. And the pixels are large so that it is better in low light. Then compare that with the A7Riv which is also full frame, and it now has 61M pixels. So the pixels have to be smaller.

And if you consider a full frame and an APS-C sensor that both have the same number of pixels, it is easy to see that the pixels per square unit has to go up.

We could also compare a 61M pixel full frame sensor and a 16M pixel APS-C. In this case, the full frame will have more pixels per square unit.

But you will most likely find that a smaller sensor usually packs more pixels per square unit.

Jim,

Thanks for your reply.

The differences in visual resolution and dynamic range between my PowerShots and my FF Sony are so large, I can't help but presume the pixel pitch of the Sony's sensor is very much finer than the Canon.

Or, is it the differences between the sensor sizes that makes such significant improvements in the images?

Its more than just pixel pitch. The latest Sony sensors are so much better than earlier generations of sensors that there is no comparison. The noise is lower. The Dynamic Range is better. And of course, you have the A7Riii, and it has 42M pixels and was designed for resolution.

Thanks..!!!

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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 13,759
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

Chaplain Mark wrote:

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

The answer is no. A larger sensor might have larger pixels, or smaller pixels, or the same size pixels as a smaller sensor. Depends on the specific sensors.

Chaplain Mark
OP Chaplain Mark Senior Member • Posts: 5,331
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

sybersitizen wrote:

Chaplain Mark wrote:

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

The answer is no. A larger sensor might have larger pixels, or smaller pixels, or the same size pixels as a smaller sensor. Depends on the specific sensors.

Okay then, the two sensors to compare are, Sony a7Riii full-frame 43mp and Canon G5X and G3X 20 mp 1-inch type, (sensor built by Sony?)

Do we know if the FF sensor is more pixel-dense than the 11-inch type?

Thanks again,

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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 13,759
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

Chaplain Mark wrote:

sybersitizen wrote:

Chaplain Mark wrote:

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

The answer is no. A larger sensor might have larger pixels, or smaller pixels, or the same size pixels as a smaller sensor. Depends on the specific sensors.

Okay then, the two sensors to compare are, Sony a7Riii full-frame 43mp and Canon G5X and G3X 20 mp 1-inch type, (sensor built by Sony?)

Do we know if the FF sensor is more pixel-dense than the 11-inch type?

It's just simple math using specs found online.

The specs I found say the A7RIII sensor is 35.9mm x 24mm with a pixel count of 7952 x 5304, and the GX5 sensor is 13.2mm x 8.8mm with a pixel count of 5472 x 3648.

You only need to look at one dimension to get the approximate pixel pitch. Using the long dimension:

35.9 / 7952 = roughly 0.00451mm per pixel. 13.2 / 5472 = roughly 0.00241mm per pixel.

The pixel pitch of the GX5 is much smaller.

If you're curious about a small sensor with comparatively huge pixels, the Sony DSC-D770 (my first digital camera, introduced 20 years ago) has one. Its sensor is 6.4mm x 4.8mm with a pixel count of 1344 x 1024.

6.4 / 1344 = roughly 0.00476mm per pixel ... a tad larger than those in the A7RIII.

bobn2
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 62,178
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

Chaplain Mark wrote:

Sorry about that, lol...

Got interrupted while posting...!!!

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

Only if pixel count remains the same.

In general, far to much is made about these two parameters. It's a historical thing, when sites like this were struggling to understand the technology and putting out stuff about sensor characteristics which was just plain wrong. There are really two important thing, which are related, but not the same. On is how many pixels there are. That determines how many samples are taken of the image, and therefore at some level how much detail can be resolved. The other is how much light is captured in the image as a whole, that determines the noisiness of the image projected on the sensor. Other factors do make a difference, but in general they are secondary to those two things.

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263, look deader.

Chaplain Mark
OP Chaplain Mark Senior Member • Posts: 5,331
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

sybersitizen wrote:

Chaplain Mark wrote:

sybersitizen wrote:

Chaplain Mark wrote:

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

The answer is no. A larger sensor might have larger pixels, or smaller pixels, or the same size pixels as a smaller sensor. Depends on the specific sensors.

Okay then, the two sensors to compare are, Sony a7Riii full-frame 43mp and Canon G5X and G3X 20 mp 1-inch type, (sensor built by Sony?)

Do we know if the FF sensor is more pixel-dense than the 11-inch type?

It's just simple math using specs found online.

The specs I found say the A7RIII sensor is 35.9mm x 24mm with a pixel count of 7952 x 5304, and the GX5 sensor is 13.2mm x 8.8mm with a pixel count of 5472 x 3648.

You only need to look at one dimension to get the approximate pixel pitch. Using the long dimension:

35.9 / 7952 = roughly 0.00451mm per pixel. 13.2 / 5472 = roughly 0.00241mm per pixel.

The pixel pitch of the GX5 is much smaller.

If you're curious about a small sensor with comparatively huge pixels, the Sony DSC-D770 (my first digital camera, introduced 20 years ago) has one. Its sensor is 6.4mm x 4.8mm with a pixel count of 1344 x 1024.

6.4 / 1344 = roughly 0.00476mm per pixel ... a tad larger than those in the A7RIII.

Lol @ "simple math"......no such thing for me, I'm afraid....

Proceeding from your answer (thank you for that,) it seems the physical size of pixels in the G5X is larger and therefore the sensor in the G5X is less pixel dense per square unit of surface area.

Yet, such a huge increase in detail captured per shot in the Sony FF camera.

Would it be true then, that the primary reason for such an increase in image detail would be the larger surface area of the FF sensor under the image circle projected by the camera's lens, compared to the surface area of the smaller 1-Inch type sensor?

This seems to suggest that detail capture (resolution) is more about sensor size than pixel density?

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Chaplain Mark
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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 13,759
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

Chaplain Mark wrote:

sybersitizen wrote:

Chaplain Mark wrote:

sybersitizen wrote:

Chaplain Mark wrote:

My question was, does a larger sensor size automatically mean a smaller pixel pitch?

The answer is no. A larger sensor might have larger pixels, or smaller pixels, or the same size pixels as a smaller sensor. Depends on the specific sensors.

Okay then, the two sensors to compare are, Sony a7Riii full-frame 43mp and Canon G5X and G3X 20 mp 1-inch type, (sensor built by Sony?)

Do we know if the FF sensor is more pixel-dense than the 11-inch type?

It's just simple math using specs found online.

The specs I found say the A7RIII sensor is 35.9mm x 24mm with a pixel count of 7952 x 5304, and the GX5 sensor is 13.2mm x 8.8mm with a pixel count of 5472 x 3648.

You only need to look at one dimension to get the approximate pixel pitch. Using the long dimension:

35.9 / 7952 = roughly 0.00451mm per pixel. 13.2 / 5472 = roughly 0.00241mm per pixel.

The pixel pitch of the GX5 is much smaller.

If you're curious about a small sensor with comparatively huge pixels, the Sony DSC-D770 (my first digital camera, introduced 20 years ago) has one. Its sensor is 6.4mm x 4.8mm with a pixel count of 1344 x 1024.

6.4 / 1344 = roughly 0.00476mm per pixel ... a tad larger than those in the A7RIII.

Lol @ "simple math"......no such thing for me, I'm afraid....

Proceeding from your answer (thank you for that,) it seems the physical size of pixels in the G5X is larger and therefore the sensor in the G5X is less pixel dense per square unit of surface area ...

No, that's completely backwards. Please read again, especially the text in bold.

This seems to suggest that detail capture (resolution) is more about sensor size than pixel density?

Both factors, plus lens characteristics, can influence a camera's ability to capture and retain detail. In general, pixel count is the major determinant of that as long as the lens is up to the job.

Dennis Forum Pro • Posts: 19,182
Re: Questions About Sensor Size and Pixel Pitch

Chaplain Mark wrote:

This seems to suggest that detail capture (resolution) is more about sensor size than pixel density?

It's more about pixel count ... Take a FF sensor with 24MP and an APS-C sensor with 24MP. The larger sensor has larger pixels and lower pixel density. But each sensor has 24 million photosites to capture detail.

In practice, the FF sensor will likely capture more detail, because it is less demanding on the lens ... if you imagine 24 million photosites on a little sensor, the image projected by the lens onto that sensor has to be very detailed. The smaller the sensor, the smaller the projected image, the more detail per unit area. Theoretically, it's easier to make sharp lenses for a small image circle, but if you look at lens tests across cameras with similar MP ratings, there are more lenses scoring higher on larger sensors.

So more MP with a sufficiently sharp lens gets you more detail, regardless of sensor size, but more MP on a larger sensor gets you more detail with more lenses. (Diffraction can come into play, too ... carried to an extreme, you might say "a 100MP 1/2.3" sensor can capture as much detail as a 100MP medium format sensor" but diffraction will prevent the lens on the tiny sensor from being "sufficiently sharp" ... also, noise could end up being a factor that reduces detail in such extreme scenarios).

Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 13,908
Don’t forget quantum efficiency and read noise

Pixel pitch = mm per pixel = square root ( area of sensor in square millimeters / number of total pixels )

Quantum efficiency is also important as it is equal to the light falling on the sensor divided by the amount of light actually detected, and this QE was often very low for old sensors. But this is tricky, because presumably most people want color images and you’ll get the most efficiency from a sensor that captures only monochrome light. Arguably, the optimal efficiency is one where the color filters exactly match the spectral efficiency of the typical human eye, but we aren’t there. That being said, some sensors are more efficient than others and still give good colors. But please understand that this is still hard to characterize simply. If you so desire, I can give you some more information that can help.

Back in the old days, the area of the sensor that was actually covered by actively light sensitive pixels was rather low, with the bulk made up of insensitive circuits. Microlenses have helped counteract this and so QE increases.

Finally, read noise has decreased significantly over the years, and along with this, high ISO performance is much better.

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