Mark Vargo, ASC

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How Sensor Size Effects Magnification

Because of the increasing popularity of the Micro 4/3 format , I thought I would do a lens comparison test between this relatively new platform and the APS – C sensor found in many mid range prosumer Canon DSLR’s.

In the diagram below I’ve included a the Canon 5D full frame sensor outline for reference.

This test is comparing the inner two sensors, the Canon 70D and the Lumix GX 7. I chose three lens sizes for the test. 35mm, 75mm and 150mm. The purpose of the test is to show how sensor size effects magnification.

For travel, I like the Lumix system. I have a Canon 70D and it is an excellent camera, but it is about twice as large as the Lumix  - with only a slightly larger sensor in the 16X9 mode. So for travel and location situations, I’ve been packing the Lumix instead of the Canon. Additionally,  image quality difference is negligible. In the photo below, the Lumix on the left has a 12-35mm zoom lens and the 70D has a 17-55mm zoom.

I like the fact that I can get a bit more reach in a much smaller lens with the GX 7. The size difference between a 70-200 mm Canon zoom and the lightweight Olympus 40-150mm is startling.

Anyway,  this post isn’t about the easier camera to pack – it’s about image magnification – so here are some examples for you to compare.

So, if you want to reach out a little farther with your telephoto lens with a much smaller camera and lens system, the micro 4/3 format might be a good choice for you.  However, on the wide end of the spectrum, you’ll need to drop back to a 10mm or even an 8mm lens to get the desired field of view you might be used to.


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