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Canon Shows the Most Sensitive Camera Sensor In the World 218

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the so-many-stars dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Canon announced today that it successfully developed a super high-sensitivity full-frame CMOS sensor developed exclusively for video recording. The new Full HD sensor can capture light no other comparable sensor can see and it uses pixels 7.5 larger than the best commercial professional cameras in existence today." There doesn't seem to be a gallery of images, but the video demo (direct link to an mpeg4) makes it seem pretty sensitive.
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Canon Shows the Most Sensitive Camera Sensor In the World

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  • pixels 7.5 feet larger... that's quite a lot. No wonder it can capture so much light.

  • This is just so awesome. As a Nikon fan, I'm a little upset it's canon, lol. But no, this is awesome.

    (in before paranoia about big gubermint surveillance, etc, please go away, just enjoy the cool tech)

    • Canon fo' life, yo!

    • I'm more worried that a zombie Stanley Kubrick [wikipedia.org] will rise from the grave, wanting to shoot another film with available light.

      (Lit by candlelight? Yeah, okay. Lit by a single stick of burning incense? That's just taking the proverbial.)

    • by mug funky (910186)

      i never understood nikon fans, because everyone else just shoots what they shoot without having any allegiance in particular.

      in the age of lens adaptors, brand loyalty becomes a little bit weird.

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        i never understood nikon fans, because everyone else just shoots what they shoot without having any allegiance in particular.

        in the age of lens adaptors, brand loyalty becomes a little bit weird.

        Um... In most cases, where it IS possible to adapt lenses from one system to another, major functionality loss is encountered.

        You simply cannot achieve full functionality when using a Nikon SLR lens on a Canon SLR or vice versa. Also, going in one of those directions (not sure which), you won't even be able to focus to infinity. (Most MILCs have shorter flange focal distances so can mount any SLR lens and focus to infinity with it, but of course again with a potential loss of functionality.)

    • by ZorinLynx (31751)

      Competition between Canon and Nikon has probably produced more advances in imaging than any other rivalry in the industry.

      You're a fan of Nikon, but Nikon wouldn't be as awesome as it is today without Canon to apply the pressure, nor vice versa.

      I personally own Canon gear, but I say to Nikon, BRING IT! The competition has been amazing and we are seeing beautiful things like this because of it. :)

  • ....and all CMOS sensors are inferior to CCDs for noise at low light levels, so this is just a good CMOS sensor. CCD noise, when cooled, is measured in electrons per hour.

  • You accidentally the units. 7.5%, 7.5x, 7.5nm...

  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @04:38AM (#43076711)
    something was missing in the sample video: a scene having a high contrast - eg a dark area + the Moon above, or an interior scene where the sun shines through a window + the back of the room in the dark, or a well-lit city + milky way above. How does the camera behave in that case? Does it record enough information (very HDR) to allow the post processing software to balance areas (using complex algorithms, like current HDR programs on DSLR), resulting in both areas clearly visible to the naked eye? Or, instead, the dark area will be clean visible whereas the well lit area will be burned - ie white? That has been (and still is) the problem even with DSLR, and that could be worse with a ultra-sensitive sensor.
    • Re:Amazing but (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ADRA (37398) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @04:47AM (#43076739)

      That's the fundamental rule of how cameras function. Without such a limitation, you'd need incremental exposure timing/capture which I don't believe any sensor's can perform, then you need to actually process the HDR'ness of the image, which is quite frankly very subjective. One may choose to blind the viewer with the light shining through the window, or one may want to see the house across the street. This is an artisitic quality that needs to be supported regardless of which technology you choose. In the down to earth point of view, you may look into bracketing, which can at least support HDR from most decent SLR's, but of course even those techniques require two shots, meaning basically absoltely still shots. The real HDR shots are taken with prism splitters into two bodies, but that means two identical cameras with a custom expensive setup... Well, nobody said the perfection was cheap.

    • by tanveer1979 (530624) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @05:40AM (#43076947) Homepage Journal

      Sensitivity and dynamic range are separate things. You can have an extremely sensitive sensor, pushing an equiv of ISO 12800 or even more, but dynamic range may only be 8-10EV
      Even the best of the best have around 13EV of dynamic range(eg Nikon D7000) at ISO 100. As you increase ISO, the dynamic range suffers, and noise increases. Getting to above 14-15EV is very very difficult. You can do it in post processing(HDR combination of multiple exposures)

    • Re:Amazing but (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dinfinity (2300094) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @05:51AM (#43076987)

      If dynamic range is important to you, you may be interested in Rambus' new technology:
      http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/02/27/rambus-shows-binaryt-pixel-sensor-technology-for-expanded-dynamic-range [dpreview.com]

      • by jools33 (252092)

        The problem with the binary pixel solution is that it requires essentially a multiple exposure - so you will not get a clean single image. You can equally just take multiple exposures and use Photomatix or similar for HDR processing for the equivalent effect.

        • by Njovich (553857)

          I'm no fan of Rambus, but where do you get that? The link you are replying to repeatedly talks about single exposure, and a quick Google gives similar results.

        • The problem with the binary pixel solution is that it requires essentially a multiple exposure

          Well, the way I understand the dpreview description, it doesn't:
          "Current image sensors are unable to record light above a specific saturation point, which results in clipped highlights. Binary Pixel technology gets around this by recording when a pixel has received a certain amount of light, then resetting it and in effect restarting the exposure."

          Given identical exposure times, it seems to me that the binary pixel solution has a map of how many times each pixel was saturated fully in addition to the more f

    • by FlyingGuy (989135)

      What you are talking about is called Exposure Latitude of which dynamic range is a component. Digital has quite a way to go before it catches up with color negative film.

  • Oh...I guess it did happen.

  • Still has the potential for tearing during fast motion recording, as the pixels are scanned one by one, not captured all at once. Apparently global shutters for cmos sensors is uncommon.

  • The same video is also available at youtube [youtube.com], which presumably has more bandwidth than Canon's poor server.
    • by afidel (530433)

      Still a pathetic 360p, I mean what idiot at Canon thought it would be a good idea to make a video showing off their new 1080p camera and upload it at 360p?!?!

  • Perhaps the most sensitive in its class.

    It's a CMOS sensor. The sop end SCMOS ones are capable of photon counting with a quantum efficiency in the high 70%s. The best EMCCDs push that up to about 85% or so. With cooling, the readout noise is very low.

    This may be an excellent standard sensor, but more sensitive ones certainly exist.

    Large pixels are great for standard photography though.

    • by mbone (558574)

      Note that the difference between 75% and 85% quantum efficiency is not that great. If the pixels at 7.5 the area of a competing CCD, then the CMOS would get (7.5 x 0.75 / 0.85 = 6.6 photons for every photon the CCD got; i.e., the exposures could go down by a factor of 6.6. Even if the CCD had 100% efficiency, that would still be a factor of 5.6.

      This could be a boon in observing small asteroids, which are dim and tend to rotate fast (some less than 1 minute) due to YORP.

      • Note that the difference between 75% and 85% quantum efficiency is not that great.

        Not that great, but for low light stuff like astronomy and microscopy, you want every advantage you can get.

        If the pixels at 7.5 the area of a competing CCD, then the CMOS would get (7.5 x 0.75 / 0.85 = 6.6 photons for every photon the CCD got; i.e., the exposures could go down by a factor of 6.6. Even if the CCD had 100% efficiency, that would still be a factor of 5.6.

        Not quite. The size of the lens and more specifically the

  • I would actually like to see them implement this in a still camera. Cut the megapixels down to 2 or 3 (this is more then enough to put online and ), and make it 7x more sensitive than today's still cameras.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I would actually like to see them implement this in a still camera. Cut the megapixels down to 2 or 3 (this is more then enough to put online and ), and make it 7x more sensitive than today's still cameras.

      Why don't you just get an old 35mm DSLR with a lower pixel count?

      I don't have any kind of SLR any more (trigger on my konica died, never had a DSLR) but didn't the old DSLRs have the same size sensor as the new ones, with less pixels? Seems like that's what you want. I've kept my 7MP Fuji super zoom compact around because it has the nicest lens of any of my cameras, so if I want to take a picture of something outside and especially at a distance it's nice to use. We have higher-res cameras, but I never need

  • This sensor would be fantastic for microscopy. The current range of "scientific" cameras are woefully under-specced even compared to consumer DSLRs (tiny sensors, small pixels, high noise level even with peltier cooling). Canon can eliminate Leica from that market with a product like this.

  • ... I tend to think that is an important R & D intermediary result, somewhere between 5 and 6 when speaking in Technology Readiness Levels. Canon is not going to sell this "as is", methinks. But it is important proof to them that they are on the right way. Which is typically what you want from reaching TRL 5 or 6....
    • by gatkinso (15975)

      NASA managers developed the TRL concept to cushion the statement "we're not finished yet." It is by far the most useless metric in industry, which is probably why DOD adopted it.

  • by Lumpy (12016)

    So why have the not been upgrading sensors? Nikon is eating their lunch lately with Sony's latest also beating them. You have to hang your head low when Sony beats you.

    All of the camera lines have been stagnant in the sensors and MP for years. the Rebel should be 24MP, the 5D MK III should have been 30+MP and the 1DS should have been upgraded to ungodly nearly medium format resolutions by now.

    Nikon is doing that, Sony is catching up.... What the hell is wrong with canon? All I can see is they ar

    • by walshy007 (906710)

      Nikon is eating their lunch lately with Sony's latest also beating them. You have to hang your head low when Sony beats you.

      You do realize that the nikon d800 and d600 use _sony_ sensors right?

      All I can see is they are busy adding flip out touchscreens and trying to convince people that its a "feature"

      All they've been doing is making their sensors more sensitive yielding better noise at the same iso and higher iso settings to use.

      The really interesting thing is canon are _still_ on a 500nm fab process for their full frame sensors. The old nikon d3s used a 350nm process and still couldn't beat canon. The sony sensors used in the d800 use a 180nm process.

      This makes me wonder what kind of crazy things canon will come up with once they do s

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Dude I have a D5 MK III and a D800. and the D800 kicks the canons arse hard.... HARD.

        the 5D does not have a better sensor for low light. in fact it looks like a lot of processing is happening in camera as it's pretty soft compared to the nikon.

        • by walshy007 (906710)

          But the 5d3 sensor does have better low light performance than the 5d2, the post above mine implied canon were doing nothing with their sensors, which is false, they are being constantly improved.

          You are assuming I said something that I didn't. It should come to no surprise that canons newer sensors are better than their older ones. It should also come to no surprise that using a feature size several nodes smaller could facilitate sony making sensors with better resolution and dynamic range.

    • You have to hang your head low when Sony beats you.

      Not really. Sony have been a completely mental company for some years now. They have frequently made the best in class hardware, let down by absoloutely awful software and butchered even further by the entertainment division wanting to assert their "rights".

      Sony make excellent image sensors, such as the ICX series.

  • ... and avoid sharply worded questions.

  • by gatkinso (15975) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @07:42AM (#43077387)

    ...eliminates much of the information that humans cannot see.

    (Which is why the big view screen on Star Trek probably does not use an MPEG codec... Klingons would think humans were weirdly colored blocky beings).

  • Would have been nice to see the video demo in HD.

  • The link in TFA that says it the pixels are 7.5 x larger than the "best commercial professional cameras in existence" actually points to a page that says:

    Each pixel on the new sensor measures 19 microns square, more than 7.5-times the surface area of the pixels on the CMOS sensor incorporated the company most advanced (and expensive) top-of-the-line EOS-1D X camera released last year.

    TFA therefore assumes that Canon makes the best cameras in existence. Excluding professional digital backs, the Nikon D800 has 4.88 micron pixels, which is 23.8 square microns--but let's assume that "microns square" means square pixels 19 microns on each side even though it specifically refers to surface area. 4.88 x 7.5 microns = 36.6 microns, which is ab

  • If they could add an additional pixel that's sensitive to IR only and be able to switch it on and off, that would be really useful.

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