Canon Prototype Video Sensor That Can See In The Dark Being Developed

The prototype camera with the CMOS sensor. (Photo Credit: Canon
The prototype camera with the CMOS sensor. (Photo Credit: Canon)

A Canon prototype camera—with the newly developed 35mm full-frame CMOS video sensor that can capture video images in the dark—was unveiled during the Security Show 2013 at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center last March 5 to 8.

In a statement, Canon announced that it has successfully developed a high-sensitivity 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor that can be used in environments illuminated only by a single incense stick (0.05-0.01 lux) or a crescent moon (0.03 lux). The sensor can capture full HD video, which makes it extremely useful for astronomical and natural observation, medical research and surveillance and security equipment.

The same statement said that the sensor has pixels measuring 19 microns square in size, which is 7.5 times more than the surface area of pixels on the CMOS sensor of Canon’s EOS-1D X and other top-of-the-line and high-end dSLR cameras. Aside from that, the sensor’s pixels and readout circuitry employed new technologies that can reduce noise. Such ability to reduce noise will allow the pixels to increase in size.

In a test video using a Canon prototype camera, the company was able to capture images in a room illuminated only by a single incense stick. They were also able to take a video of the Geminid meteor shower. The videos were taken in dimly lit environments with a level of illumination that would be difficult for the naked eye to see objects.

Canon said that the new video sensor will be extremely useful in the observation of astronomical objects, surveillance and security and support for scientific research. Once further developed, the new Canon CMOS sensor can revolutionize the world of imaging expression.

Canon and its Competitors

When it comes to still photos, Canon lags behind rival Nikon, which relies on Sony and Toshiba for its sensors. You can probably notice that professional photographers mostly used the Nikon brand for their projects while amateur photographers turn to Canon for its user-friendly features. However, when it comes to capturing video, Canon is still by far the best there is. Canon’s C300 and C500 still beats every other video device out there.

So, when Canon announced its new 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor, analysts were quick to point out that the company is maximizing its strength. The ability of the new sensor to capture video images in dimly lit environments will save videographers time, money and energy. Instead of setting up adequate lightning equipment that can cost thousands of dollars, videographers can simply rely on the new CMOS sensor.

Questions Raised

Of course, even though Canon has already announced the innovative new CMOS sensor, there are still a lot of questions when it comes to its effectiveness. A CNET report said that the sensor has yet to prove its color fidelity, resolution, fast readout and manufacturing expense. The new CMOS sensor will only fit high-end cameras, so we will have to wait how functional the Canon prototype is, how much it would be worth eventually and whether or not ordinary folks like us can get our hands on it.

For a preview of what this amazing product can give you, check out this video footage released by Canon:

Sources: CNET and Canon