The title of this post is a somewhat rhetorical question, because whether or not you’ll be able to tell the difference largely depends on what you’re shooting, the lens you’re using, the level of tech in the sensor and how the final image is going to be displayed. But there are definitely some differences between sensors at different sizes.
In this video, The Slanted lens takes a look at four cameras with different sensor sizes in various conditions to see how they stack up against each other. Interestingly, they don’t just pixel peep on the computer screen, either. They also make 24″ prints to see if you can really spot the difference in the real world.
The four cameras compared in the video are the 50-megapixel Hasselblad X1D II 50c, the 61-megapixel Sony A7R IV, the 24-2-megapixel Sony A6600, and the 20.3-megapixel Panasonic GH5. The latter of those four is optimised more for video than it is for stills, although it seemed to hold its own quite well given its obvious disadvantages.
The primary goals here were to test for sharpness and dynamic range between the different sensor sizes. In all of the situations the pair shot, there are some notable differences between the different cameras, which isn’t much of a surprise. But some of those differences are perhaps greater than we might have expected.
Although physical size will play some part in the abilities of each sensor, we also have to remember that not all of the sensors contained within these cameras are made by the same company, nor are all the same generation of sensor technology. So, a different Hasselblad, a different Sony, a different Panasonic will show different results.
That being said, it’s a pretty good guide. It would be interesting to see more sensor tech comparisons like this as new cameras are being released, and I’m sure many are particularly keen to see how Canon’s upcoming EOS R5 would stand up to those shown in the video above, too.