A new sensor captures video even when you can’t see anything — at “a level of brightness in which it is difficult for the naked eye to perceive objects.”
The constant developments and improvements in image capture are always encouraging and bode well for the photography business — especially when they may address long-time banes of everyone’s imaging such as getting the shot in almost-dark settings – or in this case, the getting the footage: Canon developed a high-sensitivity 35mm full-frame sensor, but it’s exclusively for video recording, at least in this first iteration.
Why video? Well, even HD video is about a 2 megapixel frame. By making a large sensor have so few pixels, Canon is able to concentrate on the light gathering capabilities of larger pixels/photosites.
“Delivering high-sensitivity, low-noise imaging performance, the new 35mm CMOS sensor enables the capture of Full HD video even in exceptionally low-light environments,” the company says. The sensor features pixels measuring 19 microns square in size, which is more than 7.5-times the surface area of the pixels on the CMOS sensor incorporated in its top-of-the-line EOS-1D X SLR, Canon adds.
The sensor’s pixels and readout circuitry employ new technologies that reduce noise, which tends to increase as pixel size increases, Canon says. “Thanks to these technologies, the sensor facilitates the shooting of clearly visible video images even in dimly lit environments with as little as 0.03 lux of illumination, or approximately the brightness of a crescent moon.”
Using a prototype camera employing the sensor, Canon captured a wide range of test video available here, such as footage recorded in a room illuminated only by the light from burning incense sticks (approximately 0.05–0.01 lux) and video of the Geminid meteor shower.
Canon says it is looking to such future applications for the new sensor as astronomical and natural observation, support for medical research, and use in surveillance and security equipment.