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Canon develops ultra-sensitive new sensor for video capture


March 6, 2013

Canon's new 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor

Canon's new 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor

Shooting quality video in dimly-lit environments may soon be getting a lot easier, thanks to a new 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor developed by Canon. The video-specific sensor can reportedly capture Full-HD images under as little as 0.03 lux of illumination – about as much light as is produced by a crescent moon.

The sensor’s pixels each measure 19 microns square. According to Canon, this is 7.5 times larger than the pixels used in the company’s high-end EOS-1D X and other premium DSLRs. Usually, larger pixels result in increased noise – to remedy this, Canon has implemented new pixel and readout circuitry technologies. The result is a highly-sensitive, low-noise video sensor.

When used in a prototype camera designed to showcase the new technology, the sensor was able to capture images such as a person’s face lit only by incense sticks (see video in the link below).

Besides conventional videography, Canon is also looking towards applications such as medical research, surveillance, and astronomical imaging. While a conventional electron-multiplying CCD is able to image stars down to a brightness of magnitude-6, the CMOS sensor can reportedly manage magnitudes of 8.5 and higher – keeping in mind that a star’s brightness decreases 2.5 times with each 1-magnitude numerical increase.

Source: Canon

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

And the cost is....???

Bill Bennett

That's incredible. I have a feeling "night-vision" cameras are about to be a thing of the past.

Joel Detrow

Awesome video sensor development. I guess we'll all be buying new cameras (once again) when this hits the main stream. The full HD, well lit video shot with only moonlight is impressive.

Mike Kling

Can you imagine the impact on telescopes that this will have? The increase in sensitivity for miniature suitcase sized space telescopes using the current generation of sensors will receive a huge boost from this light sensitivity.

This sensor will also sell not only a million units for personal cameras but also for surveillance cameras.

Brian Beaton

This is awesome, because movies (especially horror ones) will now be truly dark. Not the psuedo-dark we have grown accustomed to where you can see everything clear as day even though it's supposed to be 2am. I can't wait!!! Truly, movies will be scarier when this becomes mainstream.

Artem Down

That's amazing! full HD at .03 lux. Dang! That will certainly be outside of my budget for a while.

Dave Andrews

I note that the comparison is to another full frame camera with 18.1 MP. that means this is a lesser pixel count device whose aim is HD video mainly. I look forward to it. If its sales of other purposes are high enough it may soon be with in reach.

Paul Gracey
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