Sensor Size

Sensor size determines the field of view for a specific focal length.  The larger the sensor the shallower the depth of field at a particular stop.  The Gold Standard for most DPs is the Super 35mm film frame.  This is the sweet spot for focus pulling verses depth of field and allows the use of the majority of high end cinema lenses.  High end video has been traditionally a 2/3” sensor and is also very popular.  Consumer sensors are much smaller.


Resolution claims are filled with lies.  Pixel counts and sensor size factor into it, but every camera resolution must be determined by it’s recorded picture.  RED is one of the worst offenders of resolution lies, yet it’s still one of the highest resolution images.  Not 4K, closer to 3.2K, but so what?  Sony is introducing an 8K sensor which will resolve to well above a true 4K, but will also require a host of hardware to handle.  It remains to be seen if the smaller pixels will hold as much color depth as claimed. 

Green Screen keying benefits the most from uncompressed high resolutions.

Color Accuracy

Bayer patterns get the best color information at higher resolutions.  Bigger pixels also gather better light information, which translates to accurate color.  Color Temperature must also be set correctly to get accurate color, especially when the white balance is recorded.

The Arri Alexa has less pixels yet they are bigger, and they have the best color accuracy of the high end cameras.  RED Color Science has dramatically improved since they were introduced and may be harder to manage than Alexa, but are completely manageable. 

Digital Camera Sensors are essentially their own film stock.  They each react differently to light and have different amounts of noise and compression artifacts.