Canon likes megapixels…

... and to prove it, they successfully developed the world's first APS-H-size CMOS image sensor with a resolution of 120 megapixels, which is a new record in the MP war:

Press release:

TOKYO, August 24, 2010—Canon Inc. announced today that it has successfully developed an APS-H-size*1 CMOS image sensor that delivers an image resolution of approximately 120 megapixels (13,280 x 9,184 pixels), the world's highest level*2 of resolution for its size.

Compared with Canon's highest-resolution commercial CMOS sensor of the same size, comprising approximately 16.1 million pixels, the newly developed sensor features a pixel count that, at approximately 120 million pixels, is nearly 7.5 times larger and offers a 2.4-fold improvement in resolution.*3

With CMOS sensors, while high-speed readout for high pixel counts is achieved through parallel processing, an increase in parallel-processing signal counts can result in such problems as signal delays and minor deviations in timing. By modifying the method employed to control the readout circuit timing, Canon successfully achieved the high-speed readout of sensor signals. As a result, the new CMOS sensor makes possible a maximum output speed of approximately 9.5 frames per second, supporting the continuous shooting of ultra-high-resolution images.

Canon's newly developed CMOS sensor also incorporates a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) video output capability. The sensor can output Full HD video from any approximately one-sixtieth-sized section of its total surface area.

Images captured with Canon's newly developed approximately 120-megapixel CMOS image sensor, even when cropped or digitally magnified, maintain higher levels of definition and clarity than ever before. Additionally, the sensor enables image confirmation across a wide image area, with Full HD video viewing of a select portion of the overall frame.

Through the further development of CMOS image sensors, Canon will break new ground in the world of image expression, targeting new still images that largely surpass those made possible with film, and video movies that capitalize on the unique merits of SLR cameras, namely their high mobility and the expressive power offered through interchangeable lenses.

*1 The imaging area of the newly developed sensor measures approx. 29.2 x 20.2 mm.
*2 As of August 20, 2010. Based on a Canon study.
*3  Canon's highest-resolution commercial CMOS sensor, employed in the company's EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR cameras, is equivalent to the full-frame size of the 35 mm film format and incorporates approximately 21.1 million pixels. In 2007, the company successfully developed an APS-H-size sensor with approximately 50 million pixels.

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  • That’s 18MP more than Nikon’s latest DSLR line-up (7) combined! :o)

    • and 114 more than what people actually need.

      • SZRimaging

        I need more than 16MP. Sorry, to say, but not all of us are satisfied printing under 30″.

        • Ivar

          It really depends what your prints are about, portraits have much different requirements than landscapes. Also, for minimalistic landscapes, all the details are not necessarily good. So it really depends.

          Do not forget, that your techniques must be improved and the use of the best glass is also needed to benefit from much higher densities.

          • SZRimaging

            Dude, I went to photography school, I’m not totally an idiot on such matters.

            And no lens made would properly resolve for this sensor, to my knowledge.

      • Global

        Well, this is a wonderful development and thank you to Canon for meeting the goals of such an ambitious project, including all the key features. But I wonder how this will be made relevant? Ultra-high pixel count “studio camera” (30-50mp) coming from Canon soon? If Canon turns the 5DMII into 5Ds and a 5Dx line, it could prove quite successful (think Nikon D3 –> D3s + D3x). If the 5Dx product ne is priced in the D700 range and is 30-50mp, rather than the insane D3x price range, then Canon could have a huge winner for studio guys. If Canon ever learns to make a 5Ds (D3s equiv or better) in a D700/5DMII price range, then all the better.

        By the way — does this development have implications for the idea that Canon might be going into Medium Format??

    • Peter

      That is now in Canon laboratory. It enters the market might be 2016 later. In 2000, we had seen an Eos d30, merely 3MP. We were once unable to imagine an Eos5d MK2 during the 2000.

      Nowadays, the digital compact camera has the 1-μm sensor, but the DSLR camera’s difficulty are the image processor, the system speed, and the imaging quality. Canon has already arranged of the competition after 2015, and it told Sony that Canon is a highest top within the camera industry.

  • zeissgit

    ahhh its nothing, just a bit of showmanship on Canon’s part. Nikon et al will have their R&D developments too. Back in the days of Canon’s ‘wonderous’ eye control focus (what happened to that?) Nikon developed an eye focus system with a whopping 24o-odd points but didn’t incorporate it because either it wasn’t needed or wasn’t viable price-wise. Is this sensor sellable via mass production?? of course not! think supercars at car shows.

  • zeissgit

    Anyway, what about the Seitz panoramic sensors etc? big deal!

  • Fred

    Looking forward though, doesn’t this have the potential to solve some of the physics involved in making smaller zoom lenses, or actually eliminating them all together? If you can have a sensor that is 4-6 times bigger than is actually needed for the final output image (lets say 12MP for example) then you could have a single prime and just isolate a 12MP section of the sensor to “zoom” in on that area. So rather than shipping with an 18-55 zoom kit, it would just ship with 18mm, and the rest would be done on the sensor. (I know that’s oversimplifying it, but hey)

    • I never looked at it that way. That’s an interesting take.

  • Olga Johnson

    I JUST LUuuuVE CANON !!!

  • Amien

    This news is related to their new white Canon prototype camera shown in a video 3 weeks ago : zoom to quasi-infinity, crop to panoramic 60MP images, etc…

    seems cool on the paper but it requires alien iso technology & crystal sharp lenses.

    we will not see those tomorrow in our stores, that’s for sure !

  • Hyperphokal

    I deal with 35Mb raw files, this 140mp sensor will produce 408Mb raw files, and also if the dynamic range improve to 16bit range, that could be even more, get ready to upgrade your computers baby!!!

    • WoutK89

      120mp*

  • tim

    Woo hoo, bring on the 50 ISO noise!!

  • Nobody Special

    I can’t remember where I read it online, but it was a comparison between a medium format mega-sensor digital back and some medium format film, it was shot with the usual same focal length, set-up, exposures, etc. The basic conclusion was that the digital back was a bit sharper than the film. Interestingly, the conclusion was that at gallery viewing distances, no real advantage could be noticed.

    My point is that someone or many, will believe that Extra-Super-Ginormous MP’s will be absolutely mandatory to get a great image/quality. How big does a displayed image have to be, and what will be the relative viewing distance etc… In other words, what is accomplished by the ‘ESGMP’s’? How sharp does sharp have to be and how much detail is gained over what is the max now? What lenses made by anyone could capitalize that detail? Whatever.

  • tim

    The interesting thin here is what will happen to pixel peepers. Defracion will kick in at almost all apertures (some quick math tell me anything higher than F/4 is defraction limited), meaning almost all images will look “soft” at 100%. Of course prints and normal viewing will look sharp, but no more 100% peeping.

    • Nick

      That would all be a good thing. You would then be able to eliminate the AA filter from in front of the sensor.

  • Derek

    Sounds like the same pixel density as the 15 megapixel in G10.

  • Bonetti

    This is So Stupid, just marketing. Diffraction Becomes Visible at f3.2. and Diffraction Limits Extinction Resolution at f4

    • Anonymous

      negative refraction lens technology.

  • Jack

    … with so many pixels to work with. I am wondering if canon will introduce Super CCD EXR like technology for HDR.

    Imagine grouping the pixels into groups of 24mpx and produce a 5 images combined HDR photo. Wow! that would be great.

    HDR video at 1080p should also be possible…. or perhaps a 1000 fps 1080p video.

  • Well, this sensor looks just about as useful as the 50MP one they produced in 2007… If they couldn’t use that one then (or since) what makes people think this one will be used any time soon?

  • Digitalux

    Is it aimed at photography or control equipment ?

    If I remember well such high MP monochrome sensors are used for control equipment – presentations should somewhere on the web…

  • John Bowen

    Good ol’ Canon, still hasn’t learned to make cameras for photographers, as opposed to the techies.

    Ah well, they’ll figure it out sooner or later.

  • mmv

    will canon ever come out with a 500mm or 800mm auto focus mirror lens that sony has?

    i always used minolta last year i updated to digital with the canon line and love the results.

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