If you own a modern camera, then you probably have an image sensor on that camera. And, if you’re like most people, you’ve probably wondered what, exactly, that image sensor does.

An image sensor is simply a sensor that is made to detect the things within an image. It typically, for example, senses the fact that light waves are present, and then works to convert those light waves and other important parts it detects into a photo.

Basically, a camera could not really exist without a sensor of some kind.

You may have heard your sensor referred to as CMOS or as a CMOS sensor. This is the most common type of camera sensor, and it can be beneficial in many ways.

However, to truly understand everything you need to know about sensors, their types, and how they work, keep reading. We’ll happily give you the rundown.

 

Your Sensor Determines…. Basically, Everything

The first thing that you need to understand is that your sensor is pretty much responsible for…well…everything about your camera.

Some of the things that the sensor determines and then, through its technology, brings to life include:

  • Image size
  • Low light performance
  • Resolution
  • Depth
  • Range
  • Lens usage

Obviously, your camera’s sensor controls a lot and, because of that fact, you should always be careful to choose a sensor that is high-quality and does its job correctly. Often, that’s as easy as doing your research and choosing a high-quality, well-made camera. After all, it makes sense that if the camera is well-made, the sensor will be too.

 

The Bigger Your Sensor, the Better

Something else that you should keep in mind is that, when it comes to sensors, size definitely matters. You always want to buy a camera with the biggest sensor possible.

The reason for this is that the amount of light in each image is determined by the sensor. The larger the sensor, the more light the image can have.

See, sensors are made of up photo-sites, which are sensitive to and attract light. If a sensor is larger, it inevitably has more photo-sites and attracts more light, thereby leading to higher-quality, brighter pictures.

Thus, even if you don’t understand all the “scientific” workings of sensors, you can at least understand that you need the largest sensor you can possibly buy.

 

Understanding the Different Types of Sensors

In addition to knowing and (hopefully) putting to use the above information, it is also important to understand the different types of sensors.

Basically, there are two.

First, you have CCD sensors, which have the ability to send charge over a chip without causing any distortion to the image. And, if you’ve ever wondered what is CMOS, here is the answer. CMOS sensors use a basic, microprocessor-style design to create their chips.

Both types of sensors have their pros and cons. CCD sensors, for example, tend to create low-noise images. CMOS sensors, on the other hand, often do have noise in their images, though they tend to be a cheaper option. Plus, both types of sensors can ultimately produce high-quality images.

Really, the best thing to do is to research the two different type of sensors and to choose the one that is best for you and your needs. One sensor type is not really “better” than the other. It’s more about what you’re looking for and the types of images that you wish to create.

 

Consider the Level of Detail that You Want to Achieve

Another thing to think about is how much detail you need in your pictures since your sensor and its size and make definitely have an impact on this quality.

If you are just shooting photos for fun and don’t care too much about perfectly intricate detail in every pixel, you don’t have to spring for a huge or fancy sensor.

If detail is super important to you, though, such as in the case of professional photographers, it’s definitely worth it to go with a larger, more intricately made sensor since this will ultimately produce high quality, very detailed images.

 

Don’t Forget to Do Your Research

Hopefully, you now have a much greater understanding of what camera sensors are and how they work.

However, don’t just read this article and then go out and purchase a sensor.

Instead, first take a moment to consider what you need in a camera and the types of images you are looking to produce. Then, research sensors that lend themselves to these qualities while still being in your price range. From there, it should be so much easier to find a great camera with an even greater sensor that matches your wants and needs.

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