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Digital SLR Camera Sensor Size for Nature Photography

If you’re in the market for a digital SLR camera that’s well suited for nature photography, you should consider a couple of issues related to your camera’s sensor:

  • Sensor size: If you shoot landscapes, a full-frame sensor is extremely useful because it captures more of the scene with any focal length. Only a handful of digital SLRs have full-frame sensors. The term full frame is used to indicate that the sensor is the same size as a frame of 35mm film.

    The other option is known as a cropped frame sensor, which is smaller than a frame of 35mm film. These sensors capture less of the scene than a full-frame sensor, which in effect increases the range of a telephoto lens.

  • Digital noise and ISO settings: Cameras with smaller sensors have more circuitry packed on a smaller surface area. That increases the possibility that the camera will show more digital noise in images than a camera with a larger sensor using the same exposure settings.

    The amount of visible noise increases as you increase the camera sensor’s sensitivity to light by increasing the ISO setting. A camera with a full-frame sensor exhibits low or very little digital noise at ISO 1000, while a camera with a smaller sensor will show digital noise at settings as low as ISO 400.

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