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Eric Soto

Super35mm vs Standard 35mm - Digital Sensor Equivalents

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Hey everyone. So I am getting a bit confused about certain terminology when it comes to film size and sensor sizes, so I was hoping for some clarification. After looking online through other forums people seem to use terms interchangeably so it can be a bit confusing, so I will lay out what I know so far ( hopefully) and questions that arrive from that.

 

So when it comes to film, cinema film, not still photography, the standard is 35mm film.

 

For Super35 film it uses the same film stock as standard 35mm film except it uses more negative area than the 35mm film because it uses the area that would be used for optical sound on standard 35mm film.

 

Now when it comes to digital sensors, I've seen the terms full frame and Super35 being used in a different way. When it comes to sensors , for instance comparing the RED Monstro which is advertised as a full frame sensor, to the RED Helium, advertised as a Super35 sensor, there is a difference in sensor size, with the full frame being bigger.

 

So my question is why are these terms used differently when talking about sensors. Because if Super35 film is the same size as standard 35mm film , why is Super35 considerably smaller than full frame in digital sensors? Unless I am wrong in assuming that Full Frame = Standard 35mm film.

 

Thanks.

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Full frame = 24x36 format and not Standard 35mm film format.

So full frame refers to two different sizes, one when talking about DSLRs and the other when talking about Cinema cameras ?

 

Also, with my example of the Monstro sensor, it has a size of 40.96x21.6, and its considered full frame, but you're saying that full frame refers to 36x24. So is full frame not fixed to a specific size ?

Edited by Eric Soto

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I don't think the term "full frame" was ever used in film before DSLRs. It was just Academy or 4-perf. Most likely DSLR users brought the term with them when DSLRs started to be video capable- they knew nothing about 35mm. aperture dimensions and probably cared less.

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I don't think the term "full frame" was ever used in film before DSLRs. It was just Academy or 4-perf. Most likely DSLR users brought the term with them when DSLRs started to be video capable- they knew nothing about 35mm. aperture dimensions and probably cared less.

 

So when digital cinema camera sensors are referred to as super35, is that the equivalent to Academy 4 perf film ?

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So when digital cinema camera sensors are referred to as super35, is that the equivalent to Academy 4 perf film ?

 

Absolutely not. Because Academy 4 perf does not include the sound track for image area.

Super 35 by definition includes the soundtrack area for image. You can have super 35 4 perf or super 35 3 perf by the way.

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Absolutely not. Because Academy 4 perf does not include the sound track for image area.

Super 35 by definition includes the soundtrack area for image. You can have super 35 4 perf or super 35 3 perf by the way.

Right, yes I worded that wrong. But thank you.

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35mm film runs vertically through the camera, creating a frame that has the long end across the width of the film, so roughly 24mm across (between perfs) and 18mm (4 perfs) high.

 

When Oscar Barnack was building a device to test 35mm film for a cine camera he was making for Leitz in 1913, he made the film run horizontally, with the short side of the frame across the film width and the long side running 8 perfs, creating a 36 x 24mm frame. That test device became the Leica camera and ushered in the age of 35mm still cameras.

 

These days full frame refers to that original 36 x 24mm still camera format, rather than newer still format sizes like APSC which is closer to the cine frame size. There can be some confusion with the original cine silent aperture being called full frame.

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But now the worm has turned.. new digital cameras are being built with "Full Frame" sized sensors or various sizes close to it.. and the s35mm digital sensor camera might be gone in 5 years time..

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The confusion arises because many digital camera manufacturers refer to their sensors as “super 35” when in fact they are either slightly smaller or slightly bigger. They have continued this habit into “large format” sensors (which is a misnomer in itself). RED call their Monstro sensor “full frame”, but it is actually wider than a 24x36mm still frame. Arri’s new LF camera also has a sensor slightly larger than 24x36mm, but is still referred to as Full Frame

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What grinds my gears is that they called it the Alexa Large Format, but it's... full frame. Ergo not in any sense large format.

 

 

Yes but if your in marketing in the hallowed halls of Arnold Richter Scope..it does sound better that the Arri "two old sensors glued together" format..

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Even in the digital still camera realm, terms like APS-C, which is the sensor size closest to 3-perf 35mm cine, have some size variations. And that term itself is a holdover from the old film formats used in the Advanced Photo Systems like Kodaks Advantix.

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One thing nice about a slightly larger sensor for S35 or FF is to provide some look-around area in the VF, even if it's not necessarily recorded (or needed). So you can catch that stand or boom about to enter your frame before your take is ruined.

Whenever I'm working with a camera for a 2.40 delivery I'll generally just use the guides so I have that look around, or ability to stabilize/re-frame if needed since, honestly, digital is pretty cheap.

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