What is an Image Circle?

The image circle of a lens is the circular area in the image plane formed by the cone of light transmitted by the lens. Within this circle is the smaller circle for which image definition is acceptable. The covering power or coverage of a lens is often used interchangeably with image circle, and relates to the size of the image format for which the lens provides acceptable definition; the covering power is sometimes given as an angle of view.

A lens to be used on a camera that provides movements must have an image circle larger than the size of the image format. To avoid vignetting, a photographer using a view camera must ensure that the area remains within the image circle; a tilt/shift lens or perspective-control lens used on a small- or medium-format camera usually has mechanical limitations that keep the image area within the image circle.

Capture Integration has created a Photoshop file that will let you view various lens coverage with different image sensors.

Click the button below to download this .psd file:

Download the Image Circle guide

Important Note: You must turn on/off the sensor layers to see the comparisons.

Green Layer: IQ140 / P40+ / Aptus-II 8 / DM40
Yellow Layer: P45 / P45+
Red Layer: IQ180 / IQ160 / P65+ / Aptus-II 12 / DM80

Image Circle
RodenstockHR Digaron-S 5.6 / 23mm7072
SchneiderApo-Digitar 5.6 / 24mm XL6052
RodenstockHR Digaron-S 4.5 / 28mm7072
SchneiderSuper Digitar 5.6 / 28 mm XL9095/112*
RodenstockHR Digaron-S 4.0 / 32mm9086
SchneiderApo-Digitar 5.6 / 35mm XL9052
RodenstockHR Digaron-S 4.0 / 35mm7067
RodenstockHR Digaron-W 4.0 / 40mm9067
SchneiderApo-Digitar 5.6 / 43mm XL11555
SchneiderApo-Digitar 5.6 / 47mm XL11552
RodenstockHR Digaron-W 4.0 / 50 mm9067
SchneiderApo-Digitar 4.0 / 60mm N6040.5
SchneiderApo-Digitar 5.6 / 60mm11562
RodenstockHR Digaron-S 4.0 / 60mm7049
RodenstockApo-Sironar digital 5.6 / 70mm10058
SchneiderApo-Digitar 5.6 / 72mm L9040.5
SchneiderApo-Digitar 4.0 / 80mm L9040.5
SchneiderApo-Digitar 4.5 / 90mm L9040.5
RodenstockHR Digaron-W 5.6 / 90mm11567
SchneiderApo-Digitar 5.6 / 100mm N10040.5
RodenstockHR Digaron-S 4.0 / 100mm7058
SchneiderApo-Digitar 5.6 / 120mm N11040.5
SchneiderApo-Digitar 5.6 / 120mm M11040.5
SchneiderApo-Digitar 5.6 / 150mm N11040.5
SchneiderApo-Digitar 5.6 / 180mm T12055
RodenstockHR Digaron-S 5.6 / 180mm8067
*must use EW Adapters