If you are considering buying a camera, one of the most important factors is the type of censor you would prefer. One of the most important parts of a digital camera is the type of sensor. The sensor captures the light, which is then processed into an image by the camera.

There a different sensor types, such as the APS-C sensor and CMOS sensor. Simply put, sensors can be both APS-C and Cmos, but the APS-C is the size, and the CMOS is the type. Here is everything you need to know about APS-C and CMOS sensors.

black DSLR camera floating over man's hand at the woods

What is an APS-C Sensor?

The Advanced Photo System- Classic (APS-C) is a cropped sensor type sensor format used in a camera. Many cameras have the APS-C sensor format, including digital SLR, compact and mirrorless cameras.

The size of a sensor will impact the quality of an image. Usually, larger sensors produce better image quality, whereas smaller sensors produce lower quality. The size of the APS-C sensor is relatively small compared to other sensors, but size will differ between different camera brands. This sensor’s size usually falls between 23 mm wide and 15.7 mm tall, which gives the camera an image ratio of 3:2 and 31.15 mm field diameter.

Pros of APS-C sensors:

Storage space – the cropped images were taken with an APS-C sensor camera usually has a smaller file size allowing for more storage space on the memory cardFaster – because the APS-C is one of the smaller sensors, there will be less data to process, making the camera faster.

Camera size – cameras with APS-C sensors are usually smaller, making them easier to carry around.

Affordable – compared to alternative sensor-type cameras, APS-sensors cameras are relatively affordable.

Cons of APS-C sensors:

Image quality and digital noise – with APS-C pixels captured are usually smaller, which means that this might result in digital noise in low light environments.

Depth of field – the crop factor will lead to a smaller depth of field.

Lens range – the majority of the higher quality lens is not compatible with APS-C cameras.

black nikon dslr camera on white surface

What is a CMOS Sensor?

The complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor is an electronic chip. This semiconductor sensor works by capturing light and converting it into electrical signals. The CMOS sensor is used in certain digital cameras and video cameras.

The CMOS sensor produces a voltage consistent with the exposure and brightness of the environment. This sensor has a capacitor related to an individual image diode. With the CMOS sensor, individual pixels are interpreted electronically because each pixel captured is associated with an amplifier.

Pros of CMOS Image sensor:

Camera size – CMOS sensor cameras are relatively compact.

Low power consumption – cameras with a CMOS sensor are more energy efficient because of their low current flow compared to alternative cameras sensors.

Less blooming – for pictures taken in overexposed light because of the consistent voltage with the exposure and brightness.

Affordable – CMOS sensor cameras are quite affordable.

Cons of CMOS Image sensor:

Usually require more light – CMOS sensor cameras need more light for better images.

Images can be grainy – CMOS sensor camera can produce grainy photos in a low light setting.

black sony dslr camera turned on in close up photography

What are Full Frame Cameras?

A full-frame camera is a camera that has a full-frame sensor. This includes mirrorless cameras and SLR cameras. A full-frame sensor has a sensor size of 35 mm, which is relatively big, resulting in better image quality compared to smaller sensors. More light is captured with the full-frame camera because the larger surface produces a higher resolution and detailed image.

Both APS-C and CMOS sensors are much smaller than full-frame sensors. It is a good idea to consider the difference between APS-C and full-frame cameras when deciding which sensor size will be the best for you.

Pros of Full Frame sensors:

Good low light performance – due to the bigger sensor, full-frame cameras capture better images in low light compared to alternative cameras.

More megapixels – more megapixels are captured, which leads to a higher resolution and detailed image.

Larger pixels – because of the larger surface area which captures larger pixels more color details and information will also be captured.

Shallow depth of field – because of the larger full-frame camera body.

Cons of Full Frame Sensors:

Wider and field of view – this means you will have to take images from much closer to capture more in-depth details.

Large file size – because of the high-resolution images.

Camera size – full-frame cameras are usually larger.

Expensive – may be relatively expensive.

person holding black DSLR camera

Which Sensor is Better?

While a full-frame sensor is better when compared to the features of both APS-C and CMOS sensors, this sensor is usually only used by professional photographers. This is generally because of the price and the size of the cameras with a full-frame sensor.

The APS-C sensor is commonly referred to as the cropped sensor type, a full-frame camera sensor. The APS- C gives you a sharper image than the full-frame sensor camera, whereas the CMOS sensor cameras a more suitable for overexposure settings.

For a person simply looking to take pictures for fun or on a trip, it might not make sense for them to invest so much in a camera with a full sensor when they can get a camera with an APS-C or CMOS sensor which will give them everything they need in the camera. So the best camera sensor will be based on what the individual plans on doing with the camera they want to buy.



In conclusion, the type of sensor in a camera plays a big role in the image quality and the dimensions of the image itself. Many camera sensor types, including APS-C, CMOS, and Full Frame, have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. The main difference between all these sensors types is their different sensor sizes. The larger your camera’s sensor size, the more high-quality the image will be produced.

When considering which camera to purchase, it is a good idea to do a little research about the camera’s type of sensor and consider what you are looking for in a camera. You can then go over the list of pros and cons to make sure the camera you buy will have the sensor type that will suit your photography needs!