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A sensor is the digital camera's equivalent to film. It contains millions of tiny light-detecting areas called photosites, which convert light into an electric charge. After exposing the sensor to light, this charge is read from each pixel and converted into a digital image.

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75
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7answers
30k views

When do the differences between APS-C and full frame sensors matter, and why?

I'm trying to decide on a higher-end digital SLR, and I'm down to choosing between an APS-C model and a full-frame model. I understand that the sensors are of different sizes, and as such have an ...
44
votes
7answers
30k views

Can the sun damage the camera sensor? Under what conditions?

I want to experiment taking photos where the sun appears. I'm afraid of what might happen if I take one with a narrower angle (where sun would be bigger). Can the lens act as a magnifying glass and ...
40
votes
8answers
14k views

What does “expanded ISO” mean?

The ISO specification for the Canon EOS 7D reads as follows: High ISO For handheld shooting in low light, the EOS 7D offers ISO speeds of up to 6400. Expandable to ISO 12800, for low light ...
32
votes
4answers
7k views

What's the difference between CCD and CMOS image sensors?

I keep reading articles about CCD vs CMOS image sensors. What is the difference between these two types? What exactly do these sensors do in terms of photography? Is a CCD-based camera going to be ...
27
votes
6answers
3k views

Do megapixels matter with modern sensor technology?

Are more megapixels good? Are more megapixels bad? Do more megapixels increase detail? Do they make my images sharper? On the other side, is there a point that is too much? Do megapixels cause ...
27
votes
6answers
2k views

Do sensors wear out?

We all know that shutters wear out and they have a limited number of actuation's. The question I have is, do sensors wear out too? Do they suffer any kind of damage after each shot? Should I be ...
25
votes
11answers
2k views

What is the best way to clean the sensor on a digital SLR?

I've got a couple of spots of dust on the sensor of my Canon 20D - a rocket blower isn't shifting them, and I'm ridiculously scared of some of the more direct methods for cleaning sensors -- what ...
23
votes
6answers
9k views

Why does a bigger sensor lead to a shallower depth of field?

It has been mentioned at a few places that a larger sensor results in images with a shallower depth of field. Example image: APS-C Canon 30D left, FF Canon 5D right, same lens, same composition, ...
22
votes
5answers
4k views

Why and how do “bigger pixels” make a better picture?

This is going off of today's iPhone 5S announcement, when Phil Schiller said that "bigger pixels" is the key to a better picture. What does this mean? Is it true or just a marketing ploy?
20
votes
6answers
4k views

How many stops can a digital camera capture?

How many stops can a digital camera capture? Additionally, does anybody know what the dynamic range is for negative and positive film, the human eye, computer monitor, the television, etc...
20
votes
2answers
5k views

Why is a 1" sensor actually 13.2 × 8.8mm?

I'm wondering how sensor sizes are calculated. The Sony RX100 reportedly has a sensor size of 1" which is 13.2 x 8.8 mm according to the press release and various sites. How does that work? That's a ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

Why use a small aperture when trying to see sensor dust?

Here and there I read of people who set their lens to a small aperture while testing their sensor cleanness, supposedly to get the best image of dust speckles. However, the image of the on-sensor dust ...
19
votes
2answers
3k views

How does automatic sensor cleaning work?

My Canon 5D MKIII DSLR often does sensor cleaning when powered off and occasionally I'll go through the menu and specifically run a sensor clean when I've been shooting in unusually hazardous ...
19
votes
1answer
517 views

Is it true that shooting in live view mode adds noise to the picture?

I heard from some experienced photographers that shooting in live view mode creates additional noise compared to shooting through the view finder under the same conditions. I assume that while using ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

Why are larger sensors better at low light?

The top answer of What point and shoots are good in low light conditions? says that (1) a fast lens/wide aperture (2) reasonable ISO 400+ handling and (3) a large sensor when put together are critical ...
18
votes
8answers
5k views

How can I photograph welding?

My partner is creating a sculptural work using MIG welding and has asked me to document the process. I have a few questions regarding how to photograph it? Looking at the arc can damage your ...
18
votes
3answers
4k views

What is meant by the “native ISO” when talking about DSLRs?

The new Nikon D7000 is out, and a lot of previews has touted the "native iso" of D7000 to be 100. What does this actually mean? I'm assuming it means it performs at its best at iso 100, which means ...
17
votes
5answers
3k views

What is so special about ISO 1600?

I have heard many times that to minimize noise, the highest ISO you want to use is ISO 1600, and that no matter what camera or sensor you use, once you have passed this (ISO 1600) threshold, the noise ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

Does the dpi number reported by camera in JPG have any meaning?

I have two cameras, a 6mpix Panasonic FZ8, and 14mpix Canon A2200. When I compare shots from two cameras, one of differences I notice is dpi number that camera reports in JPG info: FZ8 reports ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

What are the advantages or disadvantages of a back illuminated CMOS sensor?

The iPhone 4s uses a backlit CMOS sensor, and I have noticed that some other point and shoot cameras do as well. What does that mean for photography, and if it is a benefit why do DSLR cameras not use ...
17
votes
2answers
566 views

What are the basic workings of the Lytro light-field camera?

lytro.com describes their new light field camera as being able to capture the entire light field, rather than just one plane of light, thereby allowing for a whole new set of post-processing ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

How can dynamic-range be larger than sensor bit-depth?

Found something that confused me and so I thought the crowd here can probably answer this one since its camera-related and technical at the same time. How can dynamic-range be larger than sensor ...
16
votes
7answers
590 views

Why do cameras use a single exposure rather than integrating across many very quick reads?

I have never understood why cameras need a shutter with a specific speed and why this cannot be adjusted in postprocessing. I think that present sensor works in an integral way: they save the amount ...
15
votes
3answers
7k views

Are digital sensors sensitive to UV?

Is there any way, shape, or form that ultraviolet light is recorded by a digital sensor? Ideally, this question is related strictly to the sensor, without even a glass lens in between which could cut ...
15
votes
4answers
6k views

Can a laser pointer damage the sensor in a digital camera?

I once experimented with standing in a dark room and directing a laser pointer towards my digital camera with a long shutter speed while moving the two about. I made a few images that way; one was ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

Why are blown highlights particularly bad in digital photography?

I've heard that digital sensors are less "forgiving" of blown highlights than film. Why is this? There's something called "characteristic curves". How does this related, in film and in digital? Can ...
14
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the Nyquist Limit and what is its significance to photographers?

The Nyquist Limit is frequently mentioned in the context of lens and sensor resolution. What is it and what is its significance to photographers? Here is an example of it being used by DPReview.com ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Might future advances in sensor technology reduce or eliminate noise?

Is there a possibility that future tech advances may reduce or eliminate the noise when using high ISO setting, or is this noise unavoidable and inherent to all digital sensors? If there is a ...
13
votes
7answers
1k views

Is there a difference in the sensor technology in entry level cameras vs. that in pro or semi-pro DSLRs?

Obviously there are differences in everything, both optics-wise and mechanism-wise, but I would like to know: Are the materials used to construct sensors (disregarding sensor size) different at any ...
13
votes
7answers
525 views

Why can't digital camera sensors expose each photosite individually?

Why is it impossible for camera sensors to function the way the human eye can? What I mean is, why does a certain portion of the image have to be over/underexposed if we compensate for dark and light ...
13
votes
1answer
429 views

Is it really better to shoot at full-stop ISOs?

The second half of this answer says Notice that I only shot full-stop ISO which is important with Canon DSLRs because the gain to obtain the 1/3 stops in between is applied in software by the ...
12
votes
4answers
4k views

When shooting in mRAW or sRAW, how does the camera generate smaller files?

Most mid- and high-end DLSRs offer two or three sizes for RAW capture. When the camera is generating the medium or small sized RAW files, how does it make them smaller? Does it capture less ...
12
votes
4answers
468 views

Are the sensors of newer DSLRs better beyond just having more MP?

I have a Canon Rebel XTI now, and am considering upgrading my camera body at some point. Aside from the increase in megapixels have there been other improvements to the CMOS sensors of the newer ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it risky or difficult to wet clean an image sensor?

I've discovered spots on the image sensor of my DSLR camera that cannot be cleaned using a blower bulb, so I would like to know the risk of problems, such as further image deterioration or damage to ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Why aren't there any cooled CCD sensors to reduce noise?

Sensor cooling is a common technology to get less noise. Why isn't it available on high-end D-SLRs ? (see http://www.andor.com/scientific_cameras/ikon-m_cooled_ccd/ for an extreme example) I'm not ...
11
votes
4answers
841 views

Why is sensor sensitivity called “ISO”?

I was curious to know how the term "ISO" was coined for referring the image sensor's sensitivity. Is there any reason or circumstance that contributed for terming "ISO"? Also, does ISO has a literal ...
11
votes
3answers
786 views

What are differences between Bayer mosaic and Foveon 3 layer sensor?

To filling my appetite on camera things hunger I've came across to Sigma website and found this 3 layer sensor stuff. Can anyone really explain this based on their experience or research about this? ...
11
votes
3answers
816 views

What advantages does a pure black and white camera have over colour cameras?

Now that Leica has released a pure black and white camera, the Leica M-Monochrome, I started to think about the advantages a pure black and white camera has compared to a colour camera. I guess you ...
11
votes
5answers
430 views

Does it matter which way the camera is orientated for the sensor cleaning to work?

With the advent of sensor cleaning in newer bodies - does it matter which way up you hold the camera whilst it is cleaning? I understand that the sensor cleaning works by vibrating the sensor to knock ...
11
votes
3answers
474 views

How does the D800E reverse the effect of an antialiasing filter by adding another filter?

According to http://mansurovs.com/nikon-d800-vs-d800e the D800E differs from the D800 in that one of the layers of the filter reverses the effect of the initial low-pass filter. How does this work? ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

What are the pros and cons of different Bayer demosaicing algorithms?

Bayer sensors use a pattern of red, green, and blue pixels, and merge those together into a final color image, with one pixel for every single color sensor. This could be done through a "naive" ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

How does taking lower-resolution pictures with a higher-resolution sensor affect image quality?

Does taking a picture with 8 megapixel resolution with my Canon IXUS with a 1/2.3" sensor and 12M max resolution provides the same or worse image quality (particular, noise) as if the picture was ...
11
votes
1answer
344 views

What is the statistical distribution of sensor noise?

Sensor noise is a random variation in pixel values, but what kind of random is it? Does it follow a normal distribution, one of the gamma distributions, or something funky like an F distribution? ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is the lowest ISO always 100?

The lowest ISO on digital cameras always seems to be 100. It would sometimes be useful to have much lower ISOs, mainly for long exposure photography. What isn't there any 50, 20, or even 10 ISO ...
10
votes
2answers
783 views

Why did camera manufacturers create crop sensor cameras?

Why did camera manufacturers create crop sensor cameras? Was there a business reason? Did they figure that crop sensor cameras are cheaper to manufacturer, which would in turn lower prices and make ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Should I clean my camera sensor, or take it to a professional?

Possible Duplicate: Best way to clean the sensor on a digital SLR? Can anyone offer me advice on how to clean my camera's sensor? Should I do this myself, or take the camera to a ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

What is “pixel density”?

Apparently megapixels aren't a good way to measure the camera quality, so some people are referring to a relative measuring system called "pixel density". What specifically is this? What information ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

Given the same lens, does shooting with FX cameras yield sharper results than DX cameras?

I have a D7000, and I want to buy a D800 sometime next year because of a "foolish idea" that FX cameras yield sharper images over DX cameras. I am quite new to photography and did my research. ...
9
votes
6answers
2k views

What happened to Foveon sensors?

It seems like the Foveon sensor should be able to produce better images, because it's not dependent on the separate red, green, and blue pixels as exist on most digital cameras. However, cameras ...
9
votes
2answers
3k views

Why don't comparisons of aperture take sensor size into account?

When one compares focal length, many times we use the 35mm equivalent length. A 50mm lens on an APS-C sensor camera(1.6x) would be a 80mm equiv. length on a full frame camera. But when we state the ...