Sunteți pe pagina 1din 10

Sensor Pixel Size as a Determinant of Digital Camera Image Quality

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/Sensor.html Generated by Foxit PDF Creator Foxit Software http://www.foxitsoftware.com For evaluation only.

Sensor Pixel Size as a Determinant of Digital Camera Image Quality


My Related Pages
My review of the Sigma DP1 compact DSLR My review of the Sigma DP2s compact DSLR The Samsung NX10 digital camera How sensor size affects image quality My guide to using VirtualDub and Avisynth video editing software Some of my photos

This is Shutter.tk

Version 0.21 Copyright 2007-2010 by Zack Smith. All rights reserved. The purpose of this web page is to explain the concept of sensor element size and to provide some examples from actual digital cameras, so that you can get an idea of which digital cameras are more likely to offer the best image quality.

Introduction
A digital camera sensor is what senses an image's light and converts it into an electronic image. It consists of an array of millions of pixel sensors. Typically each pixel sensor is made up of sensors for component colors, normally red, green, and blue. These sensors are usually adjacent to each other, but in some cameras they stacked on top of one another. What really matters when determining digital camera image quality ("IQ") is actually not how many megapixels it has, but rather what the size of each of these microscopic pixels is. In this article, I measure pixel size square micrometers (m2). The size of a pixel directly impacts how much noise an will have in low light, and in some cases even in daylight. The bigger the pixel is, the lower the noise because more photons can reach a bigger pixel sensor.

Hyperspectral Sensors Imaging & Multichannel Spectrometer Optimized For Industrial & Military Honeywell Gas Detection Experts in Gas Detection Systems & Detectors for Industry & Home use. Nikon D90 KIT - 649.95 Save 35%, Today Only Sale Latest Choice of Digital Cameras!

HoneywellAnalytics.com/OurProducts image

To illustrate, suppose you have two cameras that both have a sensor that is 1/1.8" in size (this represents the area as www.Shootphotomarket.net/Nikon_D90 a single number since the numerator is always 1), but different numbers of pixels. ema - sensors &
switches ema is a Taiwan-based manufacturer Looking for distributors & OEM/ODM Digitalni foto-aparati Nudimo vam velik izbor digitalnih foto-aparata po povoljnim cenama!
pcpractic.rs/besplatna-dostava

The one with more pixels crams more pixels into the same space so they must be smaller than in the other camera. If the same number of photons are reaching each sensor per second then fewer photos will be reaching individual pixels in the higher-megapixel camera. Therefore it initially appears that the camera with fewer megapixels and therefore large pixels will have better image quality with less noise. This is a good reason to be skeptical about

1 of 10

9/18/2010 7:08 PM

Sensor Pixel Size as a Determinant of Digital Camera Image Quality

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/Sensor.html Generated by Foxit PDF Creator Foxit Software http://www.foxitsoftware.com For evaluation only.

the marketing hype and salespeople who claim or imply that it is better to purchase higher megapixel cameras.
ema - sensors & switches ema is a Taiwan-based manufacturer Looking for distributors & OEM/ODM Thin-film Pressure Sensor Measure Pressure Distribution with our Tactile Pressure Sensors Nikon foto-aparati Velik izbor Nikon digitalnih foto aparata po pristupanim cenama.
pcpractic.rs/besplatna-dostava

Of course, pixel size is not the sole determinant of image quality. There are others: 1. Sensor quality differs between sensor chip manufacturers. 2. Sensor quality varies within the range of products from any one sensor manufacturer. Every product line has a high-end line and a low-end. 3. Furthermore, any one maker of cameras e.g. Canon may use sensor chips from different manufacturers between their camera models. So they might put a cheap sensor from one manufacturer in a cheap camera, but a pricey sensor from another manufacturer in their high-end camera. 4. Newer sensor technology is surely better than older technology, because chip manufacturers are getting better every year, improving the optical and electrical characteristics of sensors. So while the Canon A80's 4MP sensor's pixels have an area of 10 m2, which is big, its quality could be inferior to something made 3 years later that uses half the area per pixel. Thus the technology's generation matters. 5. Optics can play a big role at high megapixels. Not all lenses are equally finely polished. Some high-MP cameras are being sold with lenses that are just barely sufficient to support the number of megapixels. Some cameras with over 12 megapixels are being paired with lenses that are not ground fine enough to support that many pixels. 6. Lastly, whether sub-pixels (red, green and blue) are adjacent versus stacked is a big factor in image sharpness. Stacked subpixels are used in Foveon(tm) sensors. Adjacent are used in Bayer sensors.

www.Tekscan.com/Pressure-Sensors

Analog Tilt Sensors Measure Dynamic Strain, Vibration Condition Monitoring, Control Apps
www.memsic.com

Oxygen Sensor for Sale Deficiency or Enrichment Sensor Leader in quality and reliability
www.safetysys.com

Sensor geometry
Pixels
Now let's talk about the geometry of the sensors themselves. A sensor's overall width and height typically have a 4:3 ratio. Each pixel in a sensor has 4 color-

2 of 10

9/18/2010 7:08 PM

Sensor Pixel Size as a Determinant of Digital Camera Image Quality

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/Sensor.html Generated by Foxit PDF Creator Foxit Software http://www.foxitsoftware.com For evaluation only.

Thin-film Pressure Sensor Measure Pressure Distribution with our Tactile Pressure Sensors CXTA02 Dual-Axis Tilt Acceleration and Level Sensors Accuracy, High-Resolution, Robust ISUS UV Nitrate Sensor The ISUS nitrate sensor is a real time chemical free UV spectrometer
www.satlantic.com

specific sensor elements -- two green elements, one blue and one red, placed adjacently (except in the Foveon sensor, where they are stacked). Pixels and color-speific sensors are square. Like this:

1/X designation
The information about size of the sensor is always expressed as 1 over X", where X is a number that varies by sensor. They may also give you the width and height in millimeters, but sometimes you have to search a technical manual for that. This 1/X" format is an old way of describing sensor sizes devised for Vidicon television cameras. It means that the diagonal of the 4:3 sensor is 1 over X inches, times two thirds. The reasons for this arcane standard is a story for the history books, not here.

www.Tekscan.com/Pressure-Sensors

Level & Flow Sensors Competitive Costs, Budget Friendly Reliable Products,Discounts & More! Oxygen Sensor for Sale Deficiency or Enrichment Sensor Leader in quality and reliability
www.safetysys.com

Determining pixel dimensions from sensor width & height


If you are told the actual dimensions of the sensor, determining pixel area is simple: Area of entire sensor (in mm2) = width in mm * height in mm Area of entire sensor (in m2) = 1,000,000 * area in mm2 Area of one pixel = area of sensor in m2 / # pixels

Determining pixel dimensions from 1/X size


While often it is possible to learn the width and height of a sensor from a company's camera manual or specification sheet, sometimes all you can get quickly is the 1/X" value. To determine 4:3 sensor width and height from 1/X", let's solve this equation: (1 / X") * 0.667= sqrt ( (4a)2 + (3a)2 ) Or simply... 0.444 / X2 = 16a2 + 9a2 And from this we get...

3 of 10

9/18/2010 7:08 PM

Sensor Pixel Size as a Determinant of Digital Camera Image Quality

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/Sensor.html Generated by Foxit PDF Creator Foxit Software http://www.foxitsoftware.com For evaluation only.

0.444 / X2 = 25a2 And then this... sqrt (0.444 / 25X2) = a And like so... 0.667 / 5X = a And finally... Width = 4a = 4 * 0.667 / 5X Height = 3a = 3 * 0.667 / 5X ...but we need the total area, too: Area = width * height = 0.21333 / X2 Plus we need to convert to metric! Width in micrometers = 25,400 * width in inches Height in micrometers = 25,400 * height in inches Area in m2 = 645,160,000 * area in inches So, the final equation is: Area of the entire sensor in m2 = 137,630,000 / X2 The area occupied by one pixel is: Pixel area = area of sensor in m2 / Y ...where Y = total pixels Camera manufacturers typically provide two numbers for the total pixels in the camera, e.g. 10MP effective and 10.3MP actual. You have to use the actual number of pixels in the equation above i.e. the higher of the two numbers usually specified.

Point and shoot pixel area values


Camera Sensor Megapixels Pixel Pixel 2 size density area(m ) (MP/cm2) Canon Powershot 1/1.8" 8.2MP 5.2 19.3 A630 Casio Exilim 1/1.75" 10.3MP 4.36 Z1080

4 of 10

9/18/2010 7:08 PM

Sensor Pixel Size as a Determinant of Digital Camera Image Quality

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/Sensor.html Generated by Foxit PDF Creator Foxit Software http://www.foxitsoftware.com For evaluation only.

Canon Powershot G7 Canon Powershot A640 Canon Powershot A650 Casio Exilim Z1200 Canon Powershot G9 Nikon Coolpix 5100 Canon Powershot A570IS Canon Powershot A720IS Canon Powershot A80

1/1.8" 10.3MP

4.1

1/1.8" 10.3MP

4.1

1/1.7" 12.4MP

3.8

1/1.7" 12.39MP

3.8

1/1.7" 12.4MP

3.8

1/1.72" 12.43MP

3.74

1/2.5" 7.1MP

3.1

1/2.5" 8.3MP

2.6 (!!)

1/1.8" 4.1MP

10.

Special case of a 16:9 Panasonic camera


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 is the same camera as the Leica D-LUX 3. Both manufacturers claim the sensor, which has the "widescreen" format, can be thought of as a 1/1.65" even though that standard was invented for old-time television cameras. I was unable to find the manual online to get the real dimensions. The Panasonic version of this camera generally does not review well, perhaps because the odd-dimensioned sensor is a new and unusual creation that has not been refined yet. Camera Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 Sensor Megapixels Pixel area size (m2) 1/1.65" 10.2MP 5.0

Bayer digital SLR pixel area values

5 of 10

9/18/2010 7:08 PM

Sensor Pixel Size as a Determinant of Digital Camera Image Quality

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/Sensor.html Generated by Foxit PDF Creator Foxit Software http://www.foxitsoftware.com For evaluation only.

Sensor Megapixels Pixel Pixel size area density 2 (m ) (MP/cm2) 36 x 24 1.5 Nikon mm 12.9MP 67.0 D700 CMOS sensor 36 x 24 1.5 mm Nikon D3 12.9MP 67.0 CMOS sensor 23.7 x 15.6 mm Nikon D70 6.3MP CCD sensor 23.7 x 15.5 mm Nikon D40 6.3MP CCD sensor Canon EOS 350D / Digital Rebel XT 22.2 x 14.8 mm 8.2MP CMOS sensor 23.6 x 15.8 mm Nikon D60 10.8 MP CCD sensor 23.6 x 15.6 mm Nikon D80 10.8MP CCD sensor 23.6 x 15.6 mm 10.8MP CCD sensor Canon 22.2 x EOS 400D 14.8 mm 10.5MP / Digital CMOS Rebel XTi sensor Canon 22.2 x 10.5MP EOS 40D 14.8 mm Nikon D40X 23.6 x 15.8 mm Nikon D90 12.9MP CMOS sensor Canon 22.3 x EOS 500D 14.9 mm 15.1 MP / Digital CMOS Rebel Ti1 sensor Canon 22.3 x 18 MP EOS 7D 14.9 mm CMOS 1.7 58.7 1.7 58.7 2.5 40.1 2.9 34.6 2.9 34.5 2.9 34.5 3.2 31.3 3.2 3.5 28.9 4.5 22.0 18.5 5.4

Camera

31.3

6 of 10

9/18/2010 7:08 PM

Sensor Pixel Size as a Determinant of Digital Camera Image Quality

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/Sensor.html Generated by Foxit PDF Creator Foxit Software http://www.foxitsoftware.com For evaluation only.

sensor

Foveon digital SLR pixel area values


Foveon sensors have some natural advantages over the Bayer format. Whereas the Bayer's pixel area is like a mosaic, with pixel area divided into two green sensors ( the area), a red sensor and a blue sensor ( the area each), the Foveon's entire pixel area is available to each color because the color sensors are stacked. Therefore Foveon color sensors receive more light than Bayer elements do given the same area. Or to put that differently, a Bayer sensor would have to be larger than a Foveon for its pixel sensors to receive the same amount of light. In addition, because all sensor colors are at one photosite, Foveon sensors naturally produce sharper images than Bayer sensors, even those with 2 times as many pixels. There is a wrinkle in the stacking approach, however. The sensor is made of silicon, which is only translucent. In order words is passes some light but absorbs it as well. As you go deeper into the silicon, it consequently absorbs fewer and fewer photons. Furthermore different wavelengths penetrate to different depths. Blue penetrates silicon the shallowest, so the blue detector is the top and thinnest layer. Green penetrates deeper but not as deeply as red, so green is the next layer below blue, and then red is the deepest and thickest layer. My experiments in infrared photography using the Sigma DP1 showed that the Foveon sensor is highly sensitive to these long wavelengths despite fewer photons reaching the red layer. As far as I know, the DP1 and DP2 use the same sensor however there are varying reports as to how many pixels each has. So here are two calculations: Pixel Camera Sensor Megapixels Pixel density size area (m2) (MP/cm2) Sigma 20.7 x 4.7 MP 60.8 1.6 DP2/ 13.8 DP2s mm Sigma 20.7 x 4.8 MP 59.5 1.6 DP1 13.8 mm

Links
7 of 10

9/18/2010 7:08 PM

Sensor Pixel Size as a Determinant of Digital Camera Image Quality

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/Sensor.html Generated by Foxit PDF Creator Foxit Software http://www.foxitsoftware.com For evaluation only.

Academic Free university lecture videos My notes on Viruses My notes on Bacteria My notes on Protists Facts about Evolution. Cranial nerves and OOOTTAFVGVAH My parallel-resistance series-capacitance calculator My summary of Hamlet by Shakespeare One-line movie reviews and ratings Architecture Shipping container architecture Capitalist style The housing crisis Why containers? Do it yourself containers vs Prefab Skyrocketing housing prices Architecture school tuitions Atheism / Religion Is atheism becoming a religion? No. What types of atheists are there? How religion is a mind virus. Summary of The Future of an Illusion by Sigmund Freud. Computers My review of the 2010 Macbook Pro 13-inch My review of the Thinkpad T500 My review of the Thinkpad Edge 15 Corporations AT&T wireless scam Verizon scam Corporation search page Corporate & CIA front groups Keystone coal-burning power plant Homer City coal-burning power plant Conemaugh power plant Culture My one-line movie reviews Do it yourself Make a wooden workout bench Make a wooden work table Make a mens leather wallet Make a wooden sit up bench Make a wooden book holder Make organic soap Economics Derivatives caused the Recession Food How to make crepes (with batter recipes) Health benefits of Pu erh tea Frugality Ways to conserve energy Frugal living in Paris France Health

8 of 10

9/18/2010 7:08 PM

Sensor Pixel Size as a Determinant of Digital Camera Image Quality

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/Sensor.html Generated by Foxit PDF Creator Foxit Software http://www.foxitsoftware.com For evaluation only.

Common chemicals side effects Guide to health-giving Puerh tea Humor A careful analysis of stupidity Wisdom versus Knowledge: the story of the shoe-tying man The story of sex How to hide an unsightly erection Language French Quick Reference Card Spanish Quick Reference Guide German Quick Reference Guide Music Lyrics and video: Feliz e Triste by Ceumar Philosophy Quotes from Walden by Henry David Thoreau Quotes from Christopher Lasch: The Culture of Narcissism A careful analysis of stupidity Wisdom Versus Knowledge: the story of the shoe-tying man Summary of Blunder: How Smart People Make Bad Decisions Phones Sciphone i68+ FAQs & Specs Sciphone i68+ Review Sciphone N12/N19/N21 Android Phone Specs F003 Phone FAQs & Specs P168+ P168C Phone FAQs & Specs Master List of Chinese Phones Pinphone 3GS Compass FAQs Phone wallpapers Phone ringtones My Java programs Kingsun V902 phone FAQs Nokia 1208 / 1209 Review & Specs Photography My review of the Sigma DP2s compact DSLR My review of the Sigma DP1 compact DSLR Samsung NX10 compact DSLR FAQs How sensor size affects image quality Politics How the USA is becoming a police state The truth about 9/11 Why the two-party system does not work Skull and Bones members list Transportation Miles-per-gallon to liters-per-kilometer conversion Travel How make a French crepe Frugal living in Paris France Homeless encampments in Paris France

9 of 10

9/18/2010 7:08 PM

Sensor Pixel Size as a Determinant of Digital Camera Image Quality

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/Sensor.html Generated by Foxit PDF Creator Foxit Software http://www.foxitsoftware.com For evaluation only.

Running of the Bulls in Pamplona Spain Hostels in France Hostels in USA Tips on packing light French Quick Reference Card Spanish Quick Reference Guide German Quick Reference Guide Video AviSynth and VirtualDub video editing tips

Google ads on this webpage now use Google's interest-based advertising.

10 of 10

9/18/2010 7:08 PM