Canon DSLR Rumors

The CMOS Sensor Squared [CR2]

Get Squared
This is a leak from an unnamed camera manufacturer about square sensors.

We have heard in the past that the 1Ds Mark IV would have a square CMOS sensor. Most people dismissed it as poppycock.

This rumor may appear to be in a different format that previous rumors, however this is how it was sent to me and I was told to post it as such.

by Dean Francis

Camera image sensors commonly use rectangular formats (3:2, 5:4, 16:9 aspect ratios). However, to obtain the highest image quality, the square format (1:1 aspect ratio) should be used. The advantages are surprisingly extensive as outlined below:

The square format covers 100% of the maximum field of view. The maximum FOV is the largest area that can be covered by any four sided sensor (see diagram). A rectangular format (3:2) uses only 89% of the maximum FOV. Simply stated, the wider the rectangle, the smaller the photograph. The square format is about 11% larger – a considerable amount of image data.

Generally speaking, image quality suffers along the outer third edge of lenses. That’s where any circle of confusion (COC) issues become readily apparent, such as blurring, chromatic aberration, distortion, vignetting, etc. A rectangular format actually pushes outward into that area of the lens. 18% of the image (4 corners & 2 sides) are clearly degraded. However, the square format eliminates degradation (all 4 sides) and minimizes the remainder by pushing it farther into the corners.

Photo sites benefit dramatically when their size is increased. The square format has a surface area 12% larger than a rectangular format (3:2). Photo sites can be manufactured 12% larger, a gain of +1.12 per micron. The 12% increase also expands sensel (super pixel) variations of resolution and enables 16 bit RAW capture when coupled with improved binning algorithms.

Cropping a landscape oriented photograph (3:2) down to portrait discards about 60% of the image data (see diagram). With a square format, only 20% is lost. Landscape vs. portrait orientation can be determined later based upon output. Once cropped, only 3% of the peripheral loss region remains (extreme corners).

Photographers no longer have to rotate the camera and the secondary portrait grip becomes a thing of the past. Also, the quantity of materials is lessened (about 10%) by shortening the toe, foot and heal of the bottom plate. Weight is thereby decreased, allowing for significant changes and reallocation of the source/component materials. Additional battery capacity can be maintained and/or relocated to a secondary or supplemental location. The sensor is also cooled more evenly (about 5%) by equidistant dissipation of heat through the mount.

The list of improvements for the square format is extensive, benefitting camera functionality in all photographic and video applications. It’s also highly cost effective from a materials/manufacturing standpoint, desirable from the consumer’s viewpoint and fully marketable as a standardized format.   Dean E. Francis


187 responses to “The CMOS Sensor Squared [CR2]”

  1. this is a lot of blabla ignoring the fact that for this you would need a larger mirror+box and larger sensor area. both of which are the expensive/big parts in the camera.

  2. When I was a kid I got a used camera back in the 80ies which photos ended up being 9×9 cm.

    Also aren’t polaroids pretty square?

    Lot’s of communities and avatar settings and such on webpages specify image size in a square format.

    And for wide angel photography it may be pretty cool to see high in the sky and more so on the ground, city/street/building shoots which are wide in both directions. Or say a waterfall out in the forest with wide coverage both over the fall and the surroundings.

    Neither format fits good for images of the other format, of course, but both got benefits.

    The claimed cropped portrait benefit in this article isn’t a benefit at all though since people WILL turn their camera to get more coverage.

    If it would be in say an MILC I wouldn’t mind covering my walls with square shots.

  3. Btw, of course print formats are rectangular because the normal data is. If people started to shoot square photos they would just print square ones instead ..

  4. The Panasonic DMC-GH1 sensor is slightly bigger (or atleast different shape) and crop it somewhat depending on what photo setting you choose to shoot in.

    If you don’t want to use any different ratios it’s wasting pixels but if you do want the ability you wasteless than with another sensor.

    I don’t know if they really shoot in 4:3 or not but it’s most likely to behave well with 4:3, standard 3:2 and video 16:9.

  5. Hopefully a MILC. And hopefully not more crop than APS-C :)

    Guess they may make it APS-C height and crop the width though :(

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