Canon Inc. today announced a new 35 mm full-frame CMOS image sensor for video capture that delivers the ability to capture clear, sharp video in extreme low-light situations.
A video accompanying Canon’s press release shows video captured with a prototype camera using the new CMOS image sensor. They were able to shoot a scene in which a man’s face is illuminated only by the light of a burning incense stick (approximately 0.05-0.01 lux). The video also includes beautiful footage of the Geminid meteor shower.
The new image sensor features pixels measuring 19 microns square in size. That’s remarkably more than 7.5-times the surface area of the pixels on the CMOS sensor Canon installs in its top-of-the-line EOS-1D X!
Canon’s CMOS image sensor’s pixels and read out circuitry includes new technology that reduce noise so images shot in virtual darkness are sharp and clear.
If you’ve ever shot a kid’s birthday cake with the candles being the only light source, you know what a noisy image looks like. Imagine if those photos and videos were as clear as what you see with your eyes. This sensor is able to capture clear images even BETTER than you can see in low-light with your eyes.
Canon expects the new sensor technology to be beneficial in capturing astronomical footage, in medical research, and in surveillance and security equipment.
If the past is any indication, creative people will adapt the technology to make things Canon hasn’t anticipated. When Canon announced its EOS 5D Mark II in September 2008, they knew its ability to capture 1080p video in low light was good, but didn’t expect the camera to change the future of independent filmmaking, but that’s exactly what happened.
Filmmakers rapidly adopted the 5D Mark II because it was the first affordable camera that could capture film quality video without using all kinds of expensive lighting. The 5D Mark II could shoot video in light that matched what filmmakers could see with their eyes.
The 5D Mark II was used to shoot the opening title sequence for the 35th season of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, an episode of House broadcast in May 2010, Marvel’s The Avengers and countless other TV and Film productions.
Canon has since moved the 5D Mark II to their “Old Products” list and is selling the 5D Mark III. The Canon Image Sensor announced today is far better than the sensor used in the 5D Mark III, so when it finds its way into future cameras the impact on filmmaking will be huge.
You can see the Canon image sensor demo video at the bottom of the official press release.