Choosing large format sensors – the impact on lens design

Choosing large format sensors – the impact on lens designOver recent years we have seen a trend towards using larger format sensors.

The main benefits encouraging people to use these larger format sensors are their improved low light performance and the increased number of pixels providing potentially much higher resolution. Although these benefits are no doubt significant, the use of a large sensor does also have its drawbacks.

The main challenge when designing optics for larger format sensors is keeping the size of the lens reasonable. The larger the sensor the larger the lens. For example, a 50mm f/2 lens for a one third inch sensor is approximately 50mm long and 25mm in diameter. However, if want the same field of view and f number on a one-inch sensor your lens would need to increase to something in the region of 130mm long and 65mm in diameter. This unfortunately can lead to products that can be oversized and more expensive than necessary.

Leveraging the many years’ experience of our optical designers we have found ways of mitigating these increases in lens size. However, they require optical design concessions to be made and even then, there is only so much that can be done. For these reasons it is always worth considering the available space before selecting your sensor especially when available space is of a premium.

Because distinctive design trade-offs may be preferrable for different applications, no individual lens can offer the optimal solution for every imaging application. Resolve Optics prides itself on being able to provide optimised solutions that meet our customers application requirements but unfortunately, we are still bound by the laws of physics. For projects where we find ourselves butting heads with these laws, our aim is always to collaborate closely with our customers to find an optical design solution that is acceptable to you.

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