The pixels are 19 microns square, which is 7.5x times the size of a regular full-frame 35mm DSLR sensor such as in the Canon 1DX.  That’s what you get when you design a full-frame sensor dedicated exclusively to 1080p video capture!  Apparently, this thing can make the light of a full moon look like broad daylight.


Although so far there are unfortunately no exact references to an equivalent ISO sensitivity, the news of Canon’s development of such a sensor is still mighty impressive.  A few technical facts:

  • The sensor can capture video in light as dim as 0.03 lux, which is roughly the brightness of a crescent moon, difficult for even the human eye to discern.
  • Currently, the best DSLR sensors can barely capture an exposure under the light of a full moon at their highest ISOs (25600, etc.) and the ~1/30 sec shutter speed that video usually captures at, even using f/1.4 and f/1.2 lenses.  So this sensor is many, many stops better than that!
  • For creating video of astral bodies, (stars) the new CMOS sensor can record stars as faint as magnitude 8.5 and brighter.
  • Test footage can be seen of video recorded by the light of nothing more than three sticks of burning incense, and of the Geminid meteor shower.

Canon’s aim with this type of sensor is unfortunately not consumer-oriented just yet, however that may someday be a possibility.  For now, it may be used in astronomy, nautical observation, medical research, and surveillance.

The interesting thing is, what this technology implies for still photography.  1080p video is roughly ~2 megapixels, and not very long ago still photography DSLRs used to sport 4-6 megapixel sensors.  Imagine if Canon were to take this technology and apply it to a 4-6 megapixel still camera, or of course a 4K video camera.  Of course 4K-capable video cameras are already on the market, and they don’t have nearly as good low-light performance as this as far as I know, but either way it is an interesting thought…



Click HERE to visit Canon’s website and view a sample video! (not 1080p, unfortunately)


Until next time keep on clicking,
=Matthew Saville=