Why are sensors rectangle, why not square?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by ThemacNub, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. ThemacNub macrumors regular

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    #1
    Wouldn't it make sense to make sensors square so that you can get more vertical height in an image?
     
  2. simsaladimbamba

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    #2
  3. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #3
    Leaf digital back sensors are square. These are medium format camera sensors.
     
  4. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #4
    But unless you have lots of disposable income you won't be buying one of these in the near future ;)
     
  5. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    People are used to rectangular pictures. Each pixel provided on a camera costs money (if only due to the fact that more pixels increase the likelihood that some will be out and the sensor will be rejected). It makes more sense for normal cameras to continue to add pixels in the standard aspect ratio.

    For medium format where the pictures are less likely to be printed small and put in a photo album (and more likely to end up as large advertising), a better argument can be made for square sensors.
     
  6. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    #6
    With a simple 90 degree counter-clockwise rotation of the camera body, I can get just about all the vertical height I need. Try doing that with a square sensor.
     
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #7
    Paper and monitors are rectangle. As well as frames. Square sensors would mean that every image is being cropped by about 1/4 to 1/3 even before any cropping for compositional reasons is considered. That's wasted pixels.

    Back in the days of 35mm film, the neg had an aspect ratio that fit 8x12in paper and frames. But paper and frames came in 8x10in formats, unless custom cut/bought. So we got used to "wasting" the 2 inches on the sides when framing the shot.
     
  8. jeffy.dee-lux macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    Panasonic LX5 offers multiple aspect ratios:
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/q42010highendcompactgroup/

    @simsaladimbamba - that's a good point, hadn't thought of that. Maybe it's not so much that our eyes are wider than tall, but more that we have two eyes side by side, giving us a wider field of view than it is tall.

    Also, since we can't fly, our lives generally happen on a horizontal plane. If you just look at whatever room you're in, there's lots of stuff to look at between your floor and ceiling, not usually much to look at on the ceiling. Same deal with wide views of landscapes, unless you start getting close to trees, mountains, or buildings, in which case it's more vertical than horizontal. I guess it's pretty rare that you look at a scene that's equally interesting in both directions
     
  9. Policar, Jan 24, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011

    Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Every camera offers multiple aspect ratios. If you crop.

    While the answers here are right in theory, the history of choosing 3:2 for SLRs is quite a bit less exciting and more incidental than all this talk of human perception would imply. (Besides, portraits are shot 2:3; which is NOT how our eyes see.)

    Originally, most serious photography was done on 8''x10'' film, which was then contact printed.

    Oskar Barnack of Leica came up with the idea of running pieces of motion picture film (18X24mm) through a small, portable camera, with excellent lenses, and then enlarging the negative in the dark room instead of contact printing. He used a double frame (36X24mm), for a 3:2 aspect ratio, and that was then adopted by Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc. and then digital SLRs continued to use this aspect ratio.

    8x10, 4x5, and 6x7 photography is still done at a 4:5 aspect ratio for fine art prints and publication in magazines, and so medium format digital cameras retain a similar ratio. 6x6 square cameras are also popular, but that's a film-only format.

    If you want to make your photos look really fancy, crop to a 4:5 ratio. Everyone will assume you used an expensive camera and are a "serious artist," even if you just used a point and shoot.
     
  10. chmilar macrumors member

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    #10
    All current Leaf backs are rectangular 4:3 ratio:

    Aptus-II 12 53.7 x 40.3mm
    Aptus-II 8 44 x 33mm
    Aptus-II 7 48 x 36mm
    Aptus-II 6 44 x 33mm
    Aptus-II 5 48 x 36mm

    Except for one rectangular 3:2 ratio:

    Aptus-II 10 56 x 36mm
     
  11. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #11
    You are correct sir, I was confused by similar information like in the link below:

    http://www.dcviews.com/press/Leaf-AFi-10.htm

    The new Leaf TWF sensor restores lenses to their full angle of view. Together with DALSA Corporation, Leaf designed the exclusive new 56x36 mm TWF sensor to deliver 56 megapixel resolution across the entire width of the Leaf AFi 10's 6x6 sensor area.
     
  12. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #12
    well

    if we only had one eye I imagine cameras/paper/monitors/etc would be square rather than rectangular.
     
  13. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #13
    There's a strong argument for square sensors also in terms of never needing to shoot landscape or portrait format ever again, and also you'd be utilizing more of the circular lens' image circle with a square format. However, I think the fact that we do "see" wider than we do tall means that it feels more natural to operate with a rectangular image.
     
  14. jabbott macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Why not round sensors? Lenses are round, so we would get more out of our lenses that way. I watched a video yesterday of Jack LaLanne from the 50s and the video was round.
     
  15. cleanup macrumors 68030

    cleanup

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    #15
    Your pupils are circular. The reason our field of view "feels" more rectangular or oblong than square is because we have stereoscopic vision. Close one eye, and you'll notice that your lateral field of view rather closely matches your longitudinal field of view.
     
  16. gnd macrumors 6502a

    gnd

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    #16
    Manufacturing round sensors would be much much more expensive than rectangular ones.
     
  17. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #17
    I think sensors should become even more rectangular, as people are generally getting fatter.
     
  18. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #18
    Plus cutting round mats to fit round frames is just a royal PITA, eh? :)
     
  19. cleanup macrumors 68030

    cleanup

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    #19
    [​IMG]
    cleanup likes Abstract's post.
     
  20. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #20
    It's also because in any given view, the majority of interesting subject matter is at or near the horizon line - so we end up taking in a view that is wider than it is high. It's also why we have screens which are wide, movies are shot wide, etc.
     
  21. TJRiver macrumors 6502

    TJRiver

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    #21
    Why are sensors rectangle, why not square?

    Because life is rectangular, not square.
     
  22. jabbott macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Then why hasn't Leica or Hasselblad done it then? :p
     
  23. gnd macrumors 6502a

    gnd

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    #23
    Well, the idea would be to make the sensor as big as the lens image circle, capture everything that the lens sees. The photographer would then be able to (if shooting in raw) select his ratio and horizontal/vertical composition in the post production phase.
    [​IMG]

    They don't make their own sensors, too rich for their blood, too, I guess :)
     
  24. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #24
    Cheaper to turn the camera 90º, eh?
     

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