Lenses and Digital Camera Sensors

When  it comes to digital camera sensors and the lens you put on your camera there are different scenarios that are possible and those different scenarios have different visual outcomes.

As a photographer you can use these outcomes as part of your composition.

Here’s what we have to work with:

  1. Digital sized sensor. (Less than 36mm x 24mm area)
  2. Full frame sensor. (36mm x 24mm area )
  3. Full frame lens. (Made to cover a 36mm x24mm area)
  4. Digital lens. (Made to cover less than a 36mm x24mm area)

Here’s what I know about the relationship between the sensors and the lenses and the visual outcome.

  1. If you put a full frame lens on a camera with a  full frame sensor you’ve got a match.
  2. If you put a digital lens on a camera with a  digital sensor you’ve got a match again.
  3. If you put a full frame lens on a camera with a  digital sensor you’ll get a cropped field of view. Usually the cropping factor is around 1.5.  ( ie.  28mm field of view X 1.5  = 42mm field of view
  4. If you put a digital lens on a full frame sensor you’ll get vignetting.

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0 thoughts on “Lenses and Digital Camera Sensors”

  1. although sony did make nikon’s dx sensors, nikon makes their own FX sensor. this is why there is a d3 and a d700 and also why they cost so much

  2. and i just bought a new d300 as well! oh well, it’s still alot cheaper than this new beast…i’m still waiting for a sub $2000 fx digital! maybe next year

    hope you are well sam.


  3. Canon Vs Nikon rivalry is good for us customers. I use Canon for the same reason you mention (I have the lenses), but I am glad Nikon came with a couple of full-frame cameras. Now hopefully Canon will have to drop prices of its full-frame cameras, and so will Nikon afterwards … we all win

    Cheers Sam, have a great 4th of July.


  4. I’m very excited about this because I’ve been waiting for this announcement for a month now. I recently sold off my Leica gear (which was incredibly painful) in anticipation of a full-frame Nikon (that wasn’t the ridiculous overkill of the D3). Honestly, this will start to filter down now to the rest of their SLR’s. Because Nikon uses Sony’s sensors, they’ve had to wait until Sony released full-frame sensors (which is only a recent occurrence.)

    I always try to avoid being a “gear-head” about photo gear, because there’s a tendency to just wait around for the next big thing, in which case you can wait forever. And to be honest, the lowest end digital SLR that either Canon or Nikon makes are still incredible tools.

    That being said, not having a crop factor of 1.3 makes me super happy. 😉

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