For instance, the Canon XF405 camcorder has an 8.2 megapixel sensor, yet it costs over $3000 USD. Whereas even a iPhone 6s has a 12 megapixel sensor.

Why do dedicated video camera have sensors with lower resolution than even camera phones?

  • 3
    Because that's all you really need for 4K UHD recording? – twalberg Sep 24 '18 at 15:10
  • 1
    The size of the sensor physically is more important than the megapixels. With a smaller sensor (or same size but more megapixels) you get more noise. – Andreas Sep 24 '18 at 16:15
  • Because that's all they need to do what they are intended to do? The phone, on the other hand, is also intended to take still images. It probably does not even use every one of those 12,000,000 pixel wells when shooting video. – Michael C Sep 24 '18 at 20:27
  • FWIW - the studio I used to work at back in the day produced 20"x30" prints using Fuji's S3 and S5 pro, ~12MP. The MP wars were a marketing ploy and not really based on the reality of what the average person needs. – Hueco Sep 24 '18 at 20:56
  • so that the video looks the best by having as large of pixels as possible and thus as low noise as possible. When the max shutter speed is only 1/60th, bigger buckets collect more rain in a shorter time, resulting in more accuracy than a larger number of test tubes. – dandavis Sep 25 '18 at 16:33

To expand on @twalberg's comment: you don't need more than 4K, and professionals don't want to use something bigger that the strict necessary. All the extra pixels cost money: storage, processing time.... I worked for a TV channel a couple of years ago, and a mix of 720/1080 programs (we were not even talking about 4K...) was already 3 petabytes[*] per year (double if you count the backups)(broadcast-grade video was around 60GB/hour). They also run specialized computing farms for transcoding, automated quality checks... All this infrastructure would be at least 50% more expensive if you want to support 12Mpix.

In addition, the 8Mpix of that camcorder are likely to produce better images natively than the 12Mpix of the smartphone with state-of-the-art post-processing.

[*] More or less you living-room wall lined with 2.5" 1TB units, small edge along the wall.

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