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Tuesday, 05 July 2016


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For me it's easy, 34x26mm format. Simply because that is the format in which I have learned photography with cameras, starting with my father's Canon FTb. At present, I have settled with the Sony A7 system, for two reasons:

1. Thanks to Sony's quick turnaround in cameras, they can be had cheaper on the used market;

2. Thanks to ZEISS commitment to the platform, and since I don't need more than 3 lenses, I can afford the wonderful Batis and Loxia lenses. Plus an affordable Leica M lens now and then:)

As John Krill says, APS-C is the 35mm of digital. But it's a whole lot easier to dabble, to test the waters or even use multiple systems these days. Years ago, when 35mm was the 35mm (!) using something smaller was really undesirable (half frame was obscure, 126 was outdated, that left 110 and disc for a carry-everywhere compact and no thanks !) And using something larger was a pretty big deal. The cameras and lenses got bigger and heavier, the film costs grew. I dabbled with a Rolleiflex TLR, but nothing with interchangeable lenses.

Now in addition to tiny sensors in our phones being better for snaps than those old disc cameras, we have 1", m43, APS-C and FF; four "respectable" choices that are within reach for many. So in that sense, we're not driven to 35mm as the common denominator in quite the same way.

Which is best (for me) ? Darned if I know. I currently use 1" (in the RX100) and APS-C. I find FF appealing and m43 intriguing; I also love the idea of simplifying and using an RX10 and acknowledge the practicality of APS-C. None of those will ever be more than a compromise.

1" in form of Nikon 1.
Fast autofocus, lightweight.
Good (deep enough) depth of field at 1.2 - 1.8 aperture. Good enough iq for family snapshots.

Utopia would be a digital Bessa II Apo-Lanthar, with 60x90mm sensor, same size and weight as original.
Using Bessa I in the meantime.

Ah yes, I loved the smell of fixer. I shot film for quite a few years before the digital revolution. Never got locked into just one type of film. Different subjects or styles - different films and film speeds (chromes, color print, b/w, ISO 64-1600). So what's the big deal?

I began shooting with a toy camera: Leica M3 when people were screaming the ar medium format was going to put 8x10 view cameras out if business. So what's the big deal?

I love my fuji system with the APS-C sensor. You like FF? Micro 4/3? And can get great results from them? Okee-dokee. What's the big deal?

TOP has a lot of early adopters but I wonder how many are like me and are late adopters. This by the way is just another way of saying cheapskate.
I am on the verge of finally replacing my ageing D70 with a gently used D7100 and this puts me squarely in the APS-C camp. Nikons lack of fast wide fast glass for this format is a continuing disappointment but fortunately Tokina is providing a solution.
APS-C seems to be the point where all the return on investment lines cross for me. It's not for everybody but it looks right at our house.

Since we are day dreaming, I'd have three systems/sensors.

1 - standard CMOS m43 mount, 16mp is fine, but I'd like a stop or two better low light performance than I'm getting with my EM1.

2 - Foveon in m43. I don't actually know how well this would work, but I love Foveon colours (and B&W conversions), and I'd love to be able to use a Foveon sensor with my m43 lenses and adapted legacy lenses.

3 - Medium Format (true 645 or even 6x6) CCD. Something I could use in studio for portraits that would be as good or better than Porta, with the ability to shoot tethered.

I'm an APS-C guy. First digital camera I ever bought was a Canon DSLR in APS-C and I've pretty much stayed with it ever since. Image quality was never an issue to me--the biggest obstacle to APS-C when I started using digital was the limited availability of wide angle lenses. That has resolved with time. Full frame equipment has always been too expensive and, mostly, too large and too heavy and not worth the effort.

I love the Olympus e-Volt standard 4/3 system cameras and lenses but the 4x3 format of both micro and standard 4/3 just doesn't look right to me. I know, it's the "ideal" format like 6x7 and 6x4.5 used to be called. But my best 4x3 format pictures look even better cropped 3x2.

I sometimes use a 1-inch sensor (Canon GX7 II) when I want to be able to pocket and forget my camera. This is even an all-round option of very good quality even for exhibitions.

But for serious use, Micro Four Thirds is the ideal for me. The first few years of the sensor size, it had problems with sensitivity and dynamic range, but those are fixed now, and the quality is great.

Panasonic and Olympus both have a great range of lenses and bodies (especially those with in-body image stabilization).

And of course as many has pointed out, you can get a full quality bag of gear at half the size and weight that a DSLR system would take.

If I had to pick one, and only one, sensor today, it would likely be MFT. It took me many years, but I've finally grown to love the format. Only change I would make relative to the current crop of MFT sensors out there would be to put some PDAF points on it so it could focus on a moving target for once (yes, I know, the EM1 has PDAF, but it's really more for lens compatibility than subject tracking. Nowhere close to what someone like Sony is doing with tracking on their sensors).

Oh, I just took these two hourse ago, Olympus Pen-F, Oly Macro 60mm, indoors and hand-held:


Square sensors? Definitely. But then I want a square computer screen too!

But I already would be very happy when manufactures would start using standardized names for their sensor sizes. Maybe the size of the diagonal in millimeters? Of course TOP readers all know what FF, APS-H, APS-C, Micro 4/3 or 1-inch stand for, but in fact it’s all marketing blabber. (The other day I overheard a seller in a photo shop who informing a client about the big 1-inch sensor in a Sony RX100 and in the same sentence about the small sensors of Micro Four Thirds).

I always preferred the 5:4 and 4:3 width-height ratio to the long 3:2 towel. Probably it would be best to use a √2:1 relation like the DIN paper sizes. (A0 = 2 X A1 = 4 X A2 = 8 X A3 = 16 X A4 et cetera). The most practical size? 20 X 14,1 mm which we would then call according to Pythagoras a 25mm sensor. The standard lens for that size is of course a 25mm.

My choice for camera sensors has always been APS-C. My main interest in photography is birds so I'm always trying to get as many pixels as I can on the little blighters. I've progressed through most of Canon's offering, starting with the 10D, 20D, 30D jumped ship for the delightful Nikon D300 but jumped back again when Canon brought out the 7D (mostly due to a large commitment in Canon Glass) My wife is also an avid bird photographer so between us we have 4 Canon 7D's paired with my all time favourite lens, the Canon 400mm F5.6 L. I've also stuck my toe in the water with Sony, owning a NEX7 (also APS-c) that I use primarily as a walk-around camera.

I find my full frame (Canon 6d) does best with close-ups and portraits, and APC (Canon 40 d) does better with sports stuff. When traveling and looking to go light I use a Fuji ex2. If I had to choose only one it would be a full frame as the close-up and portrait shots are always my, and the Mrs, favorites.

At this point I'm pretty happy with APS-C at 16 MP (my Fuji XE-1). A square format, say 24x24mm, would be nice, but the public seems to prefer rectangles.

Not sure it can replace my Canon 5D II for action, but that sensor in my new Sony A7R II is something else.. Innovative in several respects; BSI fullframe, Steadyshot, mindblowing ISO invariance / dynamic range, great sensitivity and resolution. I guess I'll be using it for everything else than pro action - its actually a super 'casual action cam' with its facial recognition and high iso capability. Its just that with an EVF I can't see what I'm shooting at 5FPS.

Wah! As we say here in Hong Kong. Can, worms, lid, off.

I have used 4/3 size since around 2005, even though I consider the size puts me at a (very) slight disadvantage over larger sensors.

I switched from Nikon APS to Olympus for the color rendition and the shape -- I never cared for 3:2 and even in the film days usually cropped the ends off my 35mm negatives. I switched to Panasonic around 2009 to get the advantages of mirrorless - I had been convinced for several years there was no real need for a mirror flapping around in a digital camera. And that is where I have stuck. I have tried Sony APS and while I love the image quality I give up too much in handling -- notably Panasonic's fully articulated LCD and touch screen focus placement.

I do own a D800, so I know what I'm missing compared to 24x36, and it's not near as much as Nikon would like us to think. In normal hand-held use a lot of the advantage is lost to the Nikon's less accurate focus. For me the difference is not enough to justify the cost and weight of a full system.

For an ideal sensor I would want square, switchable for various proportions and for vertical or horizontal (I have never yet seen a camera that handled equally well in both orientations, except a few film cameras with revolving backs.) Your 20mm size sounds good, but I would want a lot more pixels -- probably around 36MP total. And I would want Olympus color.

But you can have "..The camera I want most that might actually come to exist would be something like an A7II but with an APS-C sensor.."

Just set the menu to its APS-C shooting option (cog wheel, menu item 5 or 6, "APS-C/Super 35mm" or "APS-C Size Capture" ..ON). Then just use APS-size lens(es) - with a suitable adaptor.

That works OK - for me - with the Sony LA-EA4 adaptor (..don't you just hate the silly names?..) and the Sony f2.8 16-50mm lens ..behaving as a 24- 75mm.

Of course, it's not small, and it's not light - but it works!

[The inefficiency of paying for a FF sensor and then accepting a greatly lowered pixel count puts me off this as a purpose-driven choice, although it's good for specific situations. I'd end up buying the A7rII to get an 18-MP, APS-C camera...for $3200. Might work for others but not for me.

I was really hoping the A6300 would have IBIS. But of course I've been on record many, many times saying that "hoping" for the products you want in the future is basically a fool's errand, like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. (I think that's a dated reference now, but it's always resonated with me.) --Mike]

My current cameras in use are a Nikon 800E and three OM-D bodies.
I prefer the 4:3 ratio as it fits on my two print paper sizes. 15x20 on 17x22 paper and 7.5x10 on 8.5x11 paper.
Nikon native is 36x24 but they do give an option for 30x24 (4x5), unfortunately they do not offer 32x24 (4x3) which would be ideal for me.
I do crop the Nikon files at times since the native format feels too long for me.
4:3 ratio is my preferred ratio.

"..let's say a 20x20mm square sensor, about 9 MP, B&W only, with the tonal properties of the great classic Kodak B&W films shot with a yellow filter and developed in D-76.."

You should look at the Olympus micro-four-thirds PEN-F. It's pre-programmed to shoot like Tri-X, etc, but it also has a variety of filters built in and - for the first time in my memory, anyway - that includes a BLUE filter, so that I can shoot the equivalent of pre-panchromatic blue-sensitive, or "ortho", film.

Give it a try; see what you think.

Rolleiflex TLR body format. LCD screen with deep hood instead of ground glass, obviously right way round image. Upper lens would have a 1" sensor (but square) and 35mm equivalent focal length. Lower lens would be a zoom with a smaller square sensor and good macro focussing. Simple switch to change between the two cameras.
Or upper 24x24mm sensor an lower 1" depending on what was available/would fit.
I'm surprised no one has produced a waist-level reflex style camera with screen and hood. Wouldn't all those "street" photographers snap them up?

Interesting question. I currently use an iPhone 6s+, RX10 (1" sensor), two micro 4/3rds cameras, a Sony A6000 and Fuji (both APSC), and a couple of Sony A7 cameras, including the excellent A7RII, professionally. Horses for courses, different tasks require different tools, etc, etc. To answer your question specifically, I agree that the sweet spot in sensors at the moment is the APSC size. Noise levels are almost irrelevant at this point, the slightly better relative depth of field can be helpful (and faster lenses like the superb Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 can still serve to isolate backgrounds), and the somewhat smaller cameras and lenses can also be a plus in many situations.

6x7 cm.
Put it into a Pentax 67 type body.
24MP would do fine.


Sounds like your solution might be to buy a Hasselblad, a yellow filter, a box of Tri-X and some D-76.

Yes Mike, now that you ask... Over here in Blighty, we had a wonderful initial "Independence Day"... June 23rd 2016.

I hope you enjoyed yours, despite the fact that you should have remained with the United Kingdom.

I must admit, there was a moment when we thought that you Yanks were turning a bit er... "racist" because of your actions, and we told you that it would lead to war, but would you listen!

I am happy using micro 4/3. I like the size and weight of my Panasonic GM5, and I like the price and selection of lenses that will fit this camera. I realize that some micro 4/3 lenses are too big and heavy for this body, but I'm OK with that.

I would like smaller, lighter interchangeable lenses that theoretically come with a 1" sensor. I tried Nikon 1 series for a while. The image quality wasn't bad, and the IQ of some of the new fixed lens 1" sensor cameras is very good. But all of the current Nikon 1 series bodies are heavy, and none of them come with an in-body EVF.

Ideally I would have a 1" sensor camera with interchangeable lenses. It would be small, light, have and EVF inside the rectangular body, with 16MP. Basically a GM5 body with a 1" sensor.

My tender specifications:
15 MP
Rodinal 1+75 AND HC-110 (Dilution B)

I shoot Nikon DX - and have done so since 2006. It does everything I need (with cameras small enough to carry anywhere) and I see no reason to pay more to buy "more" sensor or to change systems. Fuji XT1, with a similar size sensor, was the only other camera to really tempt me but the cost of a switch would easily pay for a very nice trip with my wife. So DX it is.

I would like to see a round sensor. There would be no need to rotate your camera, you can crop to any rectangular ratio you want. In a large group shot, you might even be able to squeeze in an extra person or two on the edges. A fisheye image would be truly circular, with no cropping (well, actually any image would be circular). You can choose to have an even horizon, or a tilted one.

I'd be interested in as big a sensor as I get my hands on, provided it has 16 bit color, and can be set to record in 16:9, 3:2, 4:3, and 1:1. I was amazed to find out that a lot of the new mirrorless models do NOT record in all those aspect ratios! I look longingly at the new mirrorless Hasselblad, but I cannot afford it. I love the way my M4/3rd's records all those aspect rations, but wouldn't mind if it started out with a bigger sensor, like a full frame 35mm. As I've said all along, and as a 40+ year pro: the 3:2 35mm aspect ratio is the most useless size for me, so buying FF 35mm (or even APS-C), that does NOT have adjustable aspect ratios is totally worthless.

Can I just say: Nikon D810 sensor, in a mirrorless package, that can shoot all 4 aspect ratios.

Ignoring debates about sensor size, the more interesting question is about sensor, shape. In the film days, we were all enslaved to the camera format: cropping usually meant loss of quality, and was an extra step to reproduce in the darkroom or photo lab. Mike, you've proposed a square sensor...many have in recent years. Everyone is charmed by the compositions achieved with the old Rollei 6x6 cameras. What is needed is not a square, or any other particularly shaped sensor, but rather superimposed viewfinder lines for various alternative aspect ratios. My digital Nikons already have superimposable lines for 1.2:1(??), plus smaller APS-C extractions from the standard 1.5:1 35mm "full frame" shape. With digital, cropping has never been easier or more accurate, so why not add 1:1 square, 2.2:1(a widescreen movie format and personal favorite of mine), 3:1(close to what you'd get with a 6x17 cam), or any five or ten more you'd care to think up. Adding the LCD overlay in finder, which the camera manufacturers already do, would be trivial in cost and beneficial to all of us who aren't enslaved to the native camera format.
By the way, in my freely 'cropable' world, the best sensor shape is still 1.5:1, because it lies directly in-between square and wide, and therefore is the one shortest path to both.

I have several cameras, but m4/3 sits in the sweet spot for me. I don't really need ultimate resolution for what I shoot, which is mostly moving, and on the street, so it's going to look a bit funky even with full frame. Mostly, I like the 4:3 aspect ratio.

I don't disrespect anyone's choice of cameras, because they certainly know better than I exactly what they need, but I really don't get APS-C. The equipment is as large and clunky as FF, without the advantages of either FF or the compact size of m4/3. Maybe for wildlife? Maybe it's less expensive? Dunno.

When I was shooting archaeology and journalism, I used a Nikon D3 and a D300, which was a pretty handy combination of bodies, though with the F2.8 zooms the whole kit weighed a ton. If I'd had to leave one of the bodies behind, though, it would have been the 300.

I presently own 2/3", 1", u43, and APS-C sensored cameras (aside from phone cameras). The 2/3" and APS-C are fixed lens cameras (Fuji XF-1 bought last year for $125 NOS, and Ricoh GR). I'd probably be happy with a hypothetical future using any size from 1" or larger, but the gating factor for me isn't so much sensor size but camera size and how that impacts control layout and handling. I doubt I'd want FF because I'm cheap (well, technically right now I'm on the dole, so no new cameras for the foreseeable future). I don't foresee a 1" ILC at a sense-making price any time soon, so that leaves u43 and APS-C. I could live happily with cameras using current sensors I think, though what I want is something that gets full color at each pixel with good sensitivity and responsiveness for hand-held use. For imaginary cameras, I'd love a camera the size and control layout of my dear departed Olympus E-1, but with three sensors (something video cameras used to have). Just think how great 3-1" sensors could perform. It could have a true monochrome mode, with digital color correction filters, Mike!

LX-100 is the perfect package for me. M43 sensor, sans the weight and hassle of lens choices. If Panasonic made an LX-100M (monochrome) I'd buy one of them also.

I like the idea someone mentioned above, of Foveon technology in a 43 size

I have written Sony and Nikon asking to consider a 35x28mm sensor. 13% more area than a 36x24mm sensor, better portrait format, better coverage of lenses designed for 35mm.

The sensor character I like most right out of the box is probably still the one in my D700.

My favorite format is APS-C. I currently shoot with APS-C Foveon and Fuji. I have also shot Nikon and Sony APS-C, and I have looked at some excellent work created by students shooting Canon APS-C. I cannot say anything bad about APS-C.

But, I continue to shoot medium format (MF). Why? Because I see a difference. Just like in the film days when MF film gave larger gradations to tones and hues, I see the same thing happening with MF sensors. Bigger real estate yields bigger gradations. It is that simple and arguing about it is plain silly. I believe some people may have more sensitivity to gradations of color similar to how some people have sensitivities for wine tasting and music tonality.

I currently shoot with two MF sensors, a CCD and a CMOS. The CMOS is my favorite between the two for color and latitude.

The funny thing that happened to me along the digital transition was I discovered I do not need full frame 36x24. I had a beautiful Nikon D700 that collected dust. For me it is APS-C and MF.

My dream sensor would be 6x6 square, CMOS for latitude, and Foveon for color. And I want BIG pixels, no need to try and squeeze extra MPs in there for me. More pixels can be like having more kids squeezed into the pool, a lot of noise! This really is a dream. :=)

I'm completely a Canon (D)SLR user, ever since 1988 (EOS 650) - I just can't get my head round anything that doesn't work like a Canon. (I have tried....) For a while I used APS-C but always lusted after full frame, and which I have had for about 18 months - a 6D. However, I find myself looking more and more at APS-C cameras, especially on trips. I recently took a 500D (T2i ?) on a trip to Greece, enjoyed using it, and got some good shots (I think).

The only problem with APS-C is the paucity of good lenses, of course.... Thom Hogan talks at length about this, from the Nikon perspective. While in Greece I used the little 24mm f2.8 pancake lens on the 500D and I think that's a good combination.

Not so easy. Lately my EM1 sits unused thanks to my sparkly new K1 (with clunky old used AF primes). The more I use the new camera the more I like it. It will suit me fine for a long time. But I find myself missing the 4/3 ratio more than the sensor size. Every time I turn the Pentax to shoot vertically I think "yuck." If I had my way I would own a real "multi-aspect" camera like my old GH2 with an oversized sensor. An aspc version of that might be perfect.

In a perfect world, with no "work" requirements, I'd go with a medium format sensor, in a small body. For personal stuff, I'd be perfectly happy with b&W only. So let's just say a 4cmx6cm, horizontal format, of course, monochrome in a mirrorless body, LCD optional. I'd want at least 40mp, and an obscenely high ISO. A camera along the line of the old Mamiya 7 rangefinder, but digital. (I'm assuming I don't have to give up my phone. I still need, need, my iPhone camera.)


For me it's more about large photosites and a large enough sensor. Full frame between 16-20 MP (even the DF sensor is pretty great) or cropped 645 (44x33) no more than the current 50MP.

Of course my dream would be a large square 6x6cm sensor (monochrome!) but again with no more than 40-50MP, which would give it decent ISO capability up to at least 3200.

I have no issues with APS ans M4/3, but if you assume photosites as large as the above, the resolution gets a bit borderline.


Foveon for amazing black and white (I spent 50 years with Tri X / HP5 and D76, and Foveon is the closest I've seen.)

MFT is pretty good, and will get better, for everything else.

I'm with DB on this one, the D700 has a look I love and the technology to give me what I need. However when weight is a consideration the Panasonic GX7 is a star. If I had my dream camera it would be a digital back to go on my old Blad. Well at least one I could afford that is.

I'm with Mike and John Krill on this. APS-C is the 35mm format for the digital age. But the key question is why? For me, because as Mike has pointed out numerous times, it's the lens system you're buying into thats important. And APS-C lenses are, on average, 35% lighter and more compact than their "full-frame" counterparts. Yeah, a Sony A7 series is about the same size as a Fuji X-T1. But, know what? The pro lenses are almost exactly the same size and weight as all the Canon pro L glass I shlepped around race tracks for a dozen years; I've run the numbers, and I have the data. No thank you.

Plus, that Fuji X-series glass, on the whole, is spectacular. And 1/2 to 1/3 the price of the Canikon equivalents. My back thanks you, Fuji, and so does my wallet.

24x36mm. Why? Well, there's high ISO performance, there's long exposure noise, there's resolution, and I guess there's some romance, but the actual rubber-meets-the-road answer is lenses, or more properly angle of view.

I shoot tons of product. I shoot lots of flat stuff on a copy stand. I also shoot lots of handheld macro stuff with my camera in one hand and a flash in the other.

For the copy stand stuff, I need a wide macro--an angle of view roughly equivalent to a 50mm on FF. When I made my decision to buy in to the Canon ecosystem, the shortest macro on the market for any mount was 50mm. That wasn't going to work with a crop sensor on a copy stand. For the handheld stuff, I needed about a 100mm field of view (narrower and the subjects are often too large, wider and it's nigh-on-impossible to get close enough to the subject and keep the light out of frame).

On top of that, there was my love of the nocturnal urban landscape, for which I wanted wide glass--preferably with shift. The fact that no such glass was out there for crop sensors wasn't a huge consideration (since I didn't expect to make any money from it, and indeed, it has yet to do more than pay for a pizza or two), but it was certainly in the back of my mind.

Now, to go back to my first paragraph, resolution and high ISO performance absolutely played a role in my initial camera selection, but at the time, I was willing to save a thousands bucks by buying a crop sensor camera, but there was nothing I could put in front of it to take the pictures I needed (and wanted) to take. I probably would have been happy* with a crop sensor camera if that was where I had started, but having entered "serious" digital photography with full frame and having occasionally used APS since then, I could never make the change to a smaller sensor for "real work" now. The high end APS bodies just don't seem to hold up at high ISOs or long exposures the way my antiquated 5DII does. Even in the studio, I find a 1 stop shadow lift and some dodging and burning on the 5DII looks nicer than a "perfect" exposure on the 7D.

For casual walkaround, I occasionally look into buying M43, but can't really justify the expense of buying and the hassle of learning a new camera system that would _only_ be a toy to me.

*Relatively speaking. Having started in digital imaging with multi-hundred megapixel scanographs, I find DSLR sensors to be frustratingly low-res, but having used point and shoots for years (starting with the Casio QV-3000EX), the noise performance of APS or M43 would've been a revelation.

I like to think I don't care about sensors, size and megapixels. I've been happy with the X trans sensor in my Fuji X T-1 and with my prints up to 13"x20" with the Fuji primes and zooms. I just took a bunch of photos of my busy 2 year old grandson with my "old" Nikon D800E, which had been relegated to the closet because of its size and weight (mostly weight). The clarity of his eyelashes with the Nikon 85mm f/1.8 G lens is not to be believed. I tend to think it is the 36mp Sony sensor in the Nikon rather than anything else. I might have to lug that darn Nikon around again, or is it the emperor's new clothes? I don't know.

Sizewise I've tried everything between m43 and full frame and I think they're all fine in size. There is however a difference in the 'look' you get from a sensor, regardless of size, which I find interesting. Going back in Lightroom, the 6mp Epson RD1 files still look wonderful to me as do prints from them. Canon files seem a bit plastic, APS more so then FF. Pentax and Olympus are just ok. The M8 gave my nice photos too, but not as nice as the Epson. I've now settled on APS-C from Fuji and Sigma which look very different but both very nice to me.
Best, Nick

APS-C Merrill Foveon sensor - you get near-medium format quality at low ISOs, in a very compact camera. And you get APS-C quality at ISO 400 and 800. And you get tolerable B&W at 1600. The Foveon look - admittedly available in a relatively slim shooting envelope - is unbeatable to my mind.

Mike, if digital cameras were as programmable as they could be, and ought to be, you could program a standard full-frame into your perfect D-76 dream camera.

Call me a Luddite, but at some point last year while doing your OCOLOY I realised that it is so easy for me to take the photos I like at a quality level that prints superbly (Fuji XE1/35mm 1.4) that there wasn't much fulfillment anymore. Particularly as I do this for my own satisfaction.

So now I'm thinking I haven't tried D-76 at 1:1 yet, got a roll of medium format TriX that'll be perfect for trying it out this weekend 😄

Really, sensor size? Who cares, sensor quality, lens selections, and on, so much more that size. It's how you use the tool and the quality of it.

Sensor size is a non issue for me. I could care less.

M43 for me. It gives me more reach (which I like) for the lens size and what I feel is perfect depth of field control (never too thin to be useless, nor too deep to fight creative application). Quality is not an issue, nor is system choice.

I don't think there is one sensor to rule them all, and a lord controlling the camera market. However sony is getting close in the manufacturing market. One earthquake seems to be holding back so many new models

For me I use 56x56mm in my pentacon 6 film camera, 135 in my kodak slr/n, 1.7x APS-c in my sigma SD-14, four thirds in my E3 and micro GM5 and what ever the tinnny sensor is in my LG-g4. Each has its own fun factor.

As an addendum to my previus comment (re multiple sensor sizes rather than multiple cameras with the same size sensor)
I neglected to mention how useful many folks find using one lens system with FF and aps-c bodies. For those who do different types of work, it is a huge benefit. It is also quite practical as it provides backup as well as variation in angles of view and pixel density.

I currently use cameras with five different sensor sizes: iPhone, Compact (Olympus Tough and Canon superzoom), 1' compact (Canon G7X), Micro 4/3 (Olympus EM5) and FF (Nikon D800) and enjoy using them all. But my favourite sensor by far is the 36MP D800 offering. I absolutely love the resolution and the dynamic range. Being able to slide highlights to -100 and shadows to +100 with no noticeable downside is so liberating. My ideal would be even more resolution and dynamic range - that rumoured 80 MP sony sensor sounds interesting to me!

For me micro 4/3 hits the sweet spot. I gave gotten some terrific shots from my micro 4/3 cameras and what really seals the deal is a good range of smaller very capable lenses. I have tried several APS-C cameras but in most shots really did not see appreciable benefit over micro 4/3.

The 1" sensor in the RX100 is also very nice. On several occasions I have taken the RX100 along with an APS-C sensor camera out shooting dozens of the same shot with both cameras. Since i still have the RX100 and no APS-C sensor cameras you know which i prefer.

For fixed lens, the 1" in the RX 100, for interchangeable lenses micro 4/3.

The 12-MP APS-C sensor in Ricoh's Mount A12 for the GXR. I have three of these.

I have each sensor size from 1" to mini medium format (44x33mm) and although they're all great and although I could shoot 90% of the time on APSC or smaller and get the image quality I require for myself, I still find myself taking the largest sensor I have that will get the job done.

After looking at a few hundred files from the Pentax 645Z, all my Sony A7R2 files look fragile. I know they're not but I'm now looking at things in a different way since the Pentax joined the club.

Most surprising is that after several years of chasing smaller cameras and lenses (m43, Leicas, etc) I now am looking at larger gear than any I've used since I left film. I recently travelled and packed the 645Z instead of the A7R2, even though I had to carry nearly double the weight for a week. And I didn't mind.

Had I never tried mini MF I would have been completely satisfied with 35mm or smaller. Now more than ever, for me, sensor size does matter.


Like many others I have settled back with APSC after a 7 year foray into full-frame.

The reason was the Fuji Xpro1. As I was travelling a lot at the time, the reduction in kit size/weight over the D700 I was using was welcome, but I gradually warmed to Fuji's quirky charms, buying an XE2 and finally an XPro2.

The Xpro2 has all the character of its granddad, but without the arthritis. I sold off all my full frame kit to buy it, and don't miss it a bit. For the size I print (A2 or 24X16) it's just as good as my D800 99% of the time, and a lot more fun to use.

I don't honestly think I would lose much had I chosen an MFT option. It was the camera and lenses that sold me on Fuji and it just happened to have an APSC sensor. Either choice is a great compromise of quality, flexibility and convenience.

For me, a 1" sensor is a step too far. It's good, but I push my images around a lot in Lightroom and Photoshop and the files don't hold up as well.

I tend to take photos where I have a really obvious shallow depth of field, or photos where absolutely everything is in focus. I don't do a lot of messing around to precisely control DoF. With that in mind I use two formats, m43 and full frame. M43 is great for banging away at F/8 and not worrying about depth of field and focus. Full frame gives me the shallow rendering I want at times. Both formats are fine. I wish m43 had the high ISO noise capabilities of full frame though.

One thing I've given up on with digital is getting the kind of DoF rendering you could get from medium format - 6x6 or the like. I feel the rendering of larger film formats can be truly wonderful, but even if they released a digital medium format sensor as big as film negatives I'd never afford it.

Sensor formats are tremendously personal and subjective things, at least when it comes to their pluses and minuses, so I do not believe that any of them are objectively "better" than any others. So what follows is more about my personal preferences, related to my own work, than about any objective ranking.

I like to be able to produce prints with a lot of detail, especially in my landscape and nature work. So my first-line system is based on a full frame 50+MP sensor. My rough rule of thumb is that the performance of good digital systems is generally equivalent to that of the next larger film format, so in many ways these full frame sensor systems can produce work that is largely equivalent to that form MF film. Yet they come in a relatively smaller size and with a wide selection of high quality lenses.

Yet, for some photography I would rather not carry something as large as a full frame system. So I have a second system for my travel and street photography, using a mirrorless system with a 1.5x cropped sensor. The next larger film format here would be, roughly speaking, 35mm — so I end up with image quality that is at least the equal of that used for street photography in the past (and in some ways better — take ISO for example) in a package that is smaller.


4x5" film holder sized 50MP sensor that has live view and a useful, 10-stop ISO 3200. No LCD or controls needed on the back, so long as it wirelessly tethers to a phablet or phone. It's not the only sensor I'd ever want, not ideal for all situations, but if such a sensor could be made for under $2k it could spark a Renaissance in field and view cameras.

For me it's less the size but the architecture.
CCD - "In your face!"
CMOS - "Cool, close to reality."
Foveon - "I want to hug the picture."

I'd say the sensor is not really an important determining factor for me. I like M43 and APS-C. I have no personal need for "full frame" because it offers no advantages worth the trade-offs in size and expense plus buying all new lenses. In M43 I have plenty of good lenses and for APS-C just a few really good lenses and those facts give the nod to M43.

The sensor is not limiting my photography to any important degree. It is me that is limiting my photography. Need a new brain sensor more than anything else.

I prefer to shoot film (for lots of reasons off-topic to this conversation) but I'm experimenting in the medium of digital. I have a couple of Olympus Four Thirds cameras (E1, E3) and a Sigma SD14 (slightly smaller than APC-C 3:2 ratio)

Each of those cameras are so different image quality wise - E1 CCD colour, E3 CMOS crispness and Foveon monochrome (at ISO50 - yay). It just bugs me that I need three different machines to experience this.

I agree 100% on square, mono sensor!

As we in thought experiment mode, then I would go for 3 of those square sensors side my side. A high quality optical beam splitter (as used in old vidicon TV cameras - one tube per primary colour) would distribute the image to each sensor equally. In the light path of each sensor is a variable, normally transparent filter but electronically controlled to be any colour. This would allow programmable colour styles and mono panchromatic characteristics.

That then gives square colour, square - true - monochrome, 3:1 ratio monochrome, and 3:1 ratio "three shot" colour. Oh, and in square mono mode, HDR using the three sensors stacked - and no worries about moving subjects in the frame.

Day dreaming - love it!

For me, the big issue is making raw files sing with the software, rather than the sensor itself. That is the limit for me. Actually, that is also why I stick to my 6x6 TMY negatives exposed at 200iso. No matter how hard I tried, after comparing the prints, there is no doubt who's the winner. There is a sweetness in the transition to the highlights, and a richness in the subtle variations of gray which I just cannot get close to with digital. I am pretty sure the problem is me, I see rather decent results out there... or are they all from film?

But wait, I know the perfect sensor: it's the sigma foveon! I loved the results. They should just get decent results up to 800iso (and, btw, put it in a decent camera, please!). I would buy it right now. Maybe.

I'd like to raise a glass to the sadly departed APS-H. Ah, how little we knew ye! For me that was the perfect balance between pixel size and depth of field in digital. It sung when adapting legacy lenses, using their sweet spot while only losing one focal-length "step" from wide to tight.

But I agree with the others, it's great to have a variety. I like having m4/3 and full frame options, and I've been happy with my current kit (iPhone, OMD-EM1 and M240) for the past two years.

Mike's mythical square monochrome sensor might pull me out of camera buying retirement, however... As would a monochrome x100... Fuji, are you listening? Take my money, please...!

Sensors are overrated. Except for Foveon ;-)

For me, I care a lot more about the camera and system as a whole, than I do for a particular sensor tech or size or whatever. I sometimes "dream" of having a D810 + Sigma Art 20/1.4, because that would let me capture photos I cannot capture right now. But I know very well that's a pipe dream. Not because of the cost even, but because that wonderful kit would only get used a dozen times a year at best. It would be a waste of money.

The only sensor that really triggers my GAS is Sigma's Foveon. I have bought a Sigma DP2 Merrill only because of its sensor, and once I saw what it's capable of, I never looked the same way at "traditional" sensors.

And the new sd Quattro? This is probably the only recent camera that appeals to me because of the sensor. Well, that, and the most kick-ass design I've seen in years. What a beauty this is. The funny thing is that I pretty much know it's not a good match for me, but the draw of that Foveon sensor is hard to resist, especially at such a reasonable price. Not to mention the wonderful Sigma lenses that could be used with it.

What good times we live in, eh? Such a huuge range of choices for all kinds of photographers. Everyone can find something perfect (or very near to that) for them. Yet, this seems to cause a lot of grief to a lot of people. Funny how that works.

For me the question isn't so much one of sensor size; now that sensors of even very small size perform well, the question returns to where we left it in film days: camera size and shape and performance specs. I can, and do, shoot with anything. I enjoy that, but my preferred size is not much smaller than the Ricoh GR and not much larger than a Fuji XT-1. As it happens, both those cameras incorporate APS-C sensors.

While it's true that smaller sensors can produce satisfactory results, my thinking is still centered around 24x36. It took me years to finally accept that interchangeable lens cameras of the size I prefer simply can't accommodate sensors larger than APS-C. Once I finally accepted it, however, I concluded (as I think I wrote in a comment here previously) that for 35mm shooters like me, APS-C is "digital film". Sure, you can use smaller sensors, but why accept less imaging real estate if you don't have to?

Thinking about the Sony RX-1, though, which is almost too small, despite its 24x36 sensor, I wonder if it would be possible to build an XT-1 size camera with a 24x36mm sensor and keep the package acceptably small by limiting the lenses to primes with a maximum aperture of, say, f/2 or thereabouts? Such a thing would have a limited audience, a higher price, and more narrow margins, no doubt - which is probably why Fuji didn't do it - but I could definitely go for that.

For me, the ideal sensor would be tiltable, so as to allow the expansion and contraction of DoF according to the Scheimpflug rule.

Size could be FF or bigger, and preferably with a square (1:1 aspect ratio).

The Rollei SL66 had a beautiful implementation of this principle which allowed sharpness to extend from foreground to the horizon in landscapes -- and which could be used with all lenses. I still miss it.

You're not far off with the b&w square sensor. But I'd demand about 80MPel and a response like Pan-F in Tanol. ;)

I've tried few "serious" digital sensor sizes, especially in best-of-class implementations. I've shot film formats from 110 to 4x5, and my favorite lenses are still legacy 35mm lenses, which could be the main reason why, after a couple of years shooting m4/3, I'm back to APS-C -- the size just fits better with my overall "system".

If I could afford the best modern lenses for either format, who knows? But I'm skeptical that I'd prefer those lenses to the older ones.

Sometimes I imagine that I miss the extra DOF of m4/3 in low-light situations, then I realize that, with the same lenses, that "extra" was a result of distance vs crop.

I'm with you on the square sensor but I'd want more than 9MP. I'd be looking for 4-5K pixels each way sot that cropped images would still be decent sized.

An interesting small camera that has a APS-C sensor is teh Canon EOS M. Yeah, I know. The reviews all hated it and I confess that there are some things about it that I don't like but the sensor is the same sixe (physically and in pixels) as my Canon 7D (the original) but IMO the EOS M produces better images. The M series lenses are excellent. The only kludge is the controls. Not the most user friendly, at least for this user. I would like to buy either a Panasonic GX8 or a Canon M3. I like the look of the GX8's built in EVF but teh files I'm getting from my original EOS make me wonder if I shouldn't stick with teh APS-C sensor.

And, so when did 'anodyne' enter the everyday lexicon? It's gone from once a year in my reading to now once every few days. I know a lot of the 'SAT words', and I eventually had to look this one up. I even had to scroll up just now to be sure I'd spelled it correctly. Funny how words creep in, and surely just as often out, of our vocabulary.

The idea of multiple cameras with the same sensor is avoiding the reason for having multiple cameras IMO.
Even in film days photographers would often have cameras that use different types of film, 35mm & medium format being the most common among pros.
Sometimes the portability & discretion of a phone camera is required, sometimes I'd rather have a 4x5 size sensor (fat chance).

My main (but indeed not only) sensor size is "full frame", aka. 36x24 mm. Why I prefer it is that the size penalty to smaller formats is not that bad, particularly with Sony's mirrorless putting body sizes back to where they were in the 1980's, the image quality is great and so is the lens selection.

In terms of image quality, I'm more concerned in being able to handle subtle color gradations, large brightness differences and high ISO well rather than maximum resolution.

Lens selection is one thing going for full frame: there are plenty of lenses for it and most of my favorites cover it. These lenses could be used on smaller formats, but due to the cropping it's not just the same.

Formats larger than full frame are expensive and tend to be more specialized, so I'm not using them digitally. Formats smaller than full frame appeal to me when I want something very compact; I try not to mix formats too much, but smaller formats have very compact options, so they will stay in my repertoire for the foreseeable future.

I won't weigh in optimum sensor size, there are just too many variables to draw any solid conclusions, most particularly what is it that you have in front of your camera and what are you trying to achieve.

However I can say with quite a degree of conviction that the sensor I find to have the most character is the Sony A900 24meg job. Sure it is noisy over 400iso, but nail the exposure and white balance and edit the raws in Iridient Developer and the colour/tonal rendering is just glorious, utterly beautiful.
Even better pair it with vintage minolta lenses (AF era) and she really sings!

Really it is about as close as you can get to shooting with Porta 160 on digital!

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