DX and FX formats

20 04 2011

In the realm of digital photography there are two kind of sensor formats: DX and FX. What does that mean? It relates to the size of the sensor that’s in your camera. DX sensors are also called “crop sensors” because they’re smaller than an FX which is the digital equalivant of 35mm film.

It affects your camera in two ways. First, it affects the price. DX sensor cameras are much cheaper than an FX. As an example, the Nikon D5000, which is an entry level DSLR, uses a CMOS DX style sensor, and it costs $629.99 USD. Now lets go over to the big boy playground and check out the professional-grade Nikon D3S. This puppy packs in an FX CMOS sensor along with a slew of other features, and totals over 5k.

Bear in mind that there are several distinguishing features between the two cameras that also affects price, such as weather-sealing on the D3s and a 51 point autofocus. So that’s also bumping up the price.

Second it affects how the camera performs. DX sensors tend to not handle higher ISOs very well, with image quality and noise problems due to the smaller sensor. FX sensors, since it’s a bigger, can handle high ISOs with little quality loss. The D3s has an ISO up to 12,800 according to Nikon’s website.

There is also a difference in image quality depending on the sensor. DX are smaller, and can’t fit a lot of data onto the sensor, whereas an FX can cram more detail into its bigger sensor.

I shoot with a Nikon D90 which has a DX sensor in it, and yes it does get noisy in the higher ISOs but software can greatly reduce the effects of noise.