What does Aps-C means ? It is a popular sensor size format in Dslr and mirrorless cameras today. The abbreviation (name) Aps-C comes from Advanced Photo system. The Aps-C sensor size in digital cameras is usually between 22.3 x 14.9 mm (0.88 x 0.59″) and 23.6 x 15.6mm (0.93 x 0.61″).
Cameras has different sized sensors today, mostly the size of the image sensor is between several mm (smartphones) – 6 x 4 mm (compact cameras) – 18 x 13mm (Micro 4/3 or 1″ format) – 22-23.6mm x 14.8-15.6mm (Aps-C) – 35.9 – 36mm x 24mm (Full frame) – to 44 x 33mm (middle format) today.
Some smartphones and compact cameras has bigger sensor as noted above. For example the Nokia 1020 has a 2/3″ inch sensor (8.8 x 6.6mm). iPhone (5,6) cameras has a sensor size of 4.54 x 3.42mm (1/3.2″).
The Aps-C sensor area is approximately half (little less) than the Full frame sensor, but 12-13 times more than the sensor size of a usual (1/2.3″) compact camera.
Most compact cameras has the 1/2.3′ sensor size (5.76 x 4.29 mm), but some of them has even smaller sensors (1/2.5′).
This means that the Aps-C sensor has this amount more light than a usual compact camera, which explains the difference in picture quality.
Formerly in film era there were different formats like middle format, which means bigger sized format films, like 5x5cm or 6x6cm, 35mm format, but the most used format film was the 36 x 24mm format.
Digital sensor formats
Below listed the main formats for digital cameras. Earlier in film cameras the middle format sensor were even bigger like 6 x 7 cm, or even bigger.
|Format name||Horizontal dimension||Vertical dimension||Sensor area in mm2||Crop factor|
|Middle format||40-54 mm||30-40 mm||1452||0.64-0.8|
|Full frame||36 mm||24 mm||864||1|
|Super 35mm film||24.9 mm||18.7 mm||466||1.39|
|Aps-C||22.3-23.6 mm||14.9-15.6 mm||332-368||1.5-1.6|
|Canon Powershot G1 X Mk II||18.7 mm||14 mm||262||2|
|Micro 4/3, 4/3||17.3 mm||13 mm||225||2|
|Nikon Cx mount||13.2 mm||8.8 mm||116||2.7|
|1″ Format||13.2 mm||8.8 mm||116||2.7|
|2/3″ Format||8.8 mm||6.6 mm||58||3.93|
|1/1.8″ Format||7.18 mm||5.32 mm||38||4.74|
|1/2″ Format||6.4 mm||4.8 mm||30.72||5.4|
|Compact cameras||5-7 mm||3-6 mm||15-40||4-6|
Full frame for digital
In the digital era we call the 36x24mm format as Full frame. Cameras like the Canon 5d, Canon 5d Mk II, Canon 5d Mk 3 , the Canon 6d, Canon 1 Dx, Canon 1 DC or Nikon d3, Nikon d4, Nikon d700, Nikon D810 cameras has this huge sensor.
Aps-C or Dx sensors
But manufacturing such big sensors are very expensive, and the manufacturers decided to make smaller sensors as well. The format below the Full frame we call Aps-C which is similar to Nikon’s Dx (same thing with a different name).
Most used formats
Today in Dslr cameras the two most used format is Full frame and Aps-C.
Apart from the Full frame and Aps-C the following formats existing: Middle format usually today 44x33mm, Micro 4/3 or 4/3 it is smaller the Aps-C it is 18x13mm usually, and there are even smaller formats for compact and other system cameras.
Aps-C sensor size
The Aps-C sensor size is usually 22.5 x 15mm or a little bit smaller or bigger. Canon cameras mostly has a sensor size of 22.3mm x 14.8mm, while Nikon Aps-C cameras has a sensor size of 23.5mm x 15.6mm. Sony, Fujifilm, Pentax, Samsung is also uses the same sensor size as Nikon, which is a little bigger than what Canon uses.
Crop factor crop camera
Aps-C sensor cameras are also referred as crop cameras. The crop factor shows the difference between the Full frame and Aps-C. The crop factor shows how much bigger the Full frame than the other format. The usual crop factor for Aps-C is 1.5x (Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Fujifilm, Samsung, Leica) or 1.6x (Canon)
Aps-c or smaller formats
The advantage of the Aps-C format is that the bigger sensor collects more light, which usually results in better quality images. The differences are more apparent in higher ISO sensitivities, which is usually used in darker situations. The smaller sensors are usually makes uglier images in higher iso sensitivities in low light situations.
The difference is more apparent for smaller sensors than for micro 4/3 sensors which is only 25% smaller than the Aps-C sensors.
Other differences are the depth of field which means bigger sensor cameras more blur the background than the smaller sensor cameras.
Aps-c or Full frame
As these are the most used formats in digital let’s see the key differences here:
1. Price – this is the biggest difference, current Full frame models usually cost several times more than the Aps-C counterparts.
2. Depth of field – Full frame models blur the background more, which is preferred for example portraits, where the blurred background give an artistic look for the photo.
3. Field of view – with the same lens attached the Full frame camera gives a wider view which is preferred for example for landscapes, while the Aps-C cameras give a narrower view which is preferred at wildlife/bird photography.
4. High iso performance – Full frame cameras usually has bigger pixels, which is lead to better high iso performance, which is very useful for example in wedding photography. The difference between Full frame and Aps-C is not as big in Nikons than Canons.
In Nikon land the difference between a Nikon D7200 and a Full frame Nikon D610, or D810 is approximately 1-1.5 stops, but the pictures looks the same.
In Canon land the Full frame cameras makes lot better pictures than Aps-C cameras. The difference is not juts 1 or 2 stops low light performance (which is also quite different) but the colors are also better according to my perception. Canon Aps-C cameras are quite noisy compare to Nikon.
Lenses for aps-C sized sensors
There is a confusion especially for beginners about lenses and different sensor sizes.
First there are Full frame and Aps-C lenses. For a lens designed to the bigger Full frame sensor it needs to be bigger, because it needs to fill the bigger area with light. Full frame cameras can be used on Aps-C sensors, but not all Aps-C lenses can be used on Full frame cameras.
It is especially true for Canon because Canon Ef-S (Aps-C) lenses are cannot be used on the Full frame cameras, cannot even attached there. This is not true for Nikon or third party lenses on Canon cameras.
The different manufacturers are using different letters for Full frame and Aps-C cameras
Fore example Canon usues EF for full frame lenses and EF-s for Aps-C lenses
Nikon uses Fx (full frame) and Dx (Aps-C) letters for the different format lenses.
Pentax uses DA moniker
Sigma uses DC moniker for Aps-C lenses
Sony uses DT and E moniker but FE refers to Full frame lenses
Tamron uses Di II
Samsung uses NX
Nikon Dx lenses can be used on Full frame cameras as well, and third party (Sigma, Tamron) aps-C lenses usually can be attach to the Full frame cameras.
when we use the smaller sensor lens on a Full frame camera dark corners (light fall-off, vignetting) are expected. Autofocus, and other functions as metering usually works at the same way.
What is different that on full frame the view is wider, and the depth of field is shallower.
Cameras with aps-C sized sensors
As I told most serious digital cameras today fall in this category. Below we list most of the cameras with Aps-C sensors. All cameras below has Aps-C sized sensors.
Enthusiast Canon cameras
Canon 7d Mk II – the highest grade Canon crop sensor camera
Advanced Canon cameras
Canon 70d Canon 60d Canon 50d Canon 40d Canon 30d Canon 20d Canon 10d
Entry level Canon cameras
Canon 760d Canon 750d Canon 700d Canon 650d Canon 600d Canon 550d Canon 500d
Canon 450d Canon 400d Canon 350d Canon 300d Canon 100d
Higher entry level
Nikon d5500 Nikon d5300 Nikon d5200 Nikon d5100 Nikon d5000
Nikon d3300 Nikon d3200 Nikon d3100 Nikon d3000
Earlier higher level cameras seems discontinued
Nikon d300 Nikon d300s
Pentax K-3 Pentax K-50 Pentax K-30
Sony a6000 Sony a5000
Sony Nex 7 Sony Nex 6 Sony Nex 5 Sony Nex 3
All new X-mount Fujifilm cameras has an Aps-C size sensor.
Samsung NX 1 (newest 28 Megapixel camera) Samsung Galaxy NX Samsung NX 300
Leica has a Leica-T camera with Aps-C sensor. interestingly this camera is made from one piece of Aluminium.