Canon develops ultra-sensitive new sensor for video capture
By Ben Coxworth
March 6, 2013
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.