Put on your “tech-talk” pants, it’s time to talk size sensor.

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By Meg Shields Published 16 April 2022

Welcome to The Queue – your daily distraction of curated video content from across the web. Today we are watching a video essay that examines the differences between light sensor sizes.


First of all, I want to reassure those of you who find all this technical stuff a bit intimidating: today’s video trial is still for you! Part of what makes video essays so fun is that they make it easier for people to tackle inaccessible topics. Personally, I am a visual learner. And see charts and side by side moving makes a world of difference.

So, with that out of the way, let’s cover a few quick introductory points before we jump into today’s test:

What does the “sensor” of a camera do?

Sensors (not to be confused with light sensors) are also known as movie plane, a sensor plane indicatoror one focal plane indicator. The term refers to the surface of the camera where the lens creates a focused image. Focal length is not measured from the front or back of the lens but from the sensor surface of the camera. All this to say: if you want to accurately measure the focal length of your lens, you need to know where to take that measurement from (i.e. the film plane/sensor).

In a nutshell: cinematographers use film shot indicators to understand the exact focal distance between the camera sensor and the subject. It’s an important tool to make sure everything looks right.

Why are there different sensor sizes?

Because there are different film formats, from smartphones to super 16mm to IMAX. Different formats have different focal requirements.

How do different sensor sizes affect the filmmaking process? The visual aspect of a film?

Well, I guess you’ll have to watch the video test below to find out… 🙂

Watch “Does sensor size matter?” » :


Who did this?

This video essay on how sensor size comes into play in filmmaking is from Cine in deptha YouTube account dedicated to providing its audience with hands-on insights and explanations into some of the more technical aspects of filmmaking. Kotze Gray, a South African-based documentary DP, is the man behind the channel. You can view Kotzé’s portfolio on their website here. And you can check out In Depth Cine on YouTube here.

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Related Topics: Cinematography, The Queue

Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor to Film School Rejects. She currently directs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How’d They Do That? and Horroscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman’s “Excalibur” on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She she).

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