This 870-Megapixel Monster Camera Has 116 Sensors and Weighs 3 Tons


If Optimus Prime ever decided to retire from saving Earth and take up photography as a hobby, this is one camera he might consider using. Called the Hyper Suprime-Cam, it’s a 870-megapixel ultra-wide-field camera that stands 3 meters (~10 feet) high and weighs in at 3 tons. The comparison illustration above shows what the camera looks like next to a 5.2-foot-tall girl.

The 870-megapixel images are captured by 116 individual CCD sensors placed together on a focal plane in a chamber that’s kept at -100° C:


On the front of the camera is an extremely large lens that was manufactured by Canon. It contains seven optical elements, with some of the lenses up to a meter in diameter:


The lens actually isn’t the main “lens” of the camera. You see, the Hyper Suprime-Cam is actually the new camera unit of the Subaru Telescope, the 8.2-meter flagship telescope of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. The Canon-made “Wide Field Corrector,” as it’s called, is placed in front of the giant sensor in order to improve the image quality of the main telescope lens.

The focusing unit of the camera (below) was developed by Mitsubishi, and is extremely precise: the 3-ton camera can be focused with adjustments as small as 1-2 microns, which is about 1/100 the width of a human hair:


The camera was installed in late 2011 and was turned on in early 2012. It’ll be pointed toward the heavens in order to help scientists determine the distribution of dark matter in the universe.

(via Subaru Telescope via Reddit)

  • Øystein Rambjør Holten

    But will it do 1080p video without line skipping?

  • sandstep

    Everybody knows Optimus Prime would use Spectro, Spyglass and Viewfinder, also known as Reflector, to take photos.

  • allan

    1080p? What is this, 2012? At that magnitude, it should be able to shoot at 4K. :p

  • oldtaku

    I’d love to see someone show up with that on a tripod and a DSLR.

    (Yes, I know the mount and focal area are all wrong, but you know some of the guys who strut the size of their lenses would love it).

  • Øystein Rambjør Holten

    You’re right, my bad! As long as it’s not H.264 or H.265, I’m happy.

  • Dreamer

    Is there a special way that these sensors have to be put together to work in sync? Because I can’t help but wonder why using multiple (smaller, cheaper) sensors in a single body wouldn’t be attractive in terms of price to achieve large-sensor imaging, especially since the image characteristics (eg ISO capabilities) would match that of a single sensor.

    I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one interested in two D800 sensors put together to form a 72MP 36x48mm sensor to challenge, for example, an IQ160 or IQ180.

    Or for the ‘smaller’ sensor crowd: 3-4 sensors from a 16MP Lumix GX1 ($235) could get you a 48MP panoramic 17.3*39 or 64MP 26*34.6mm ~full frame, 4/3 ratio camera.

    /end dreams.

  • Lee

    nope, they said it uses CCD, CCD can’t do video.

    but good joke anyway. :D

  • corey zwegers

    CCD can do video.

  • Khairul Klang

    isn’t older video camera use ccd sensor?


    Great way to give the national economy a boost! hehe

  • AgNO3

    Of course CCD can do video. The Dalsa Sony and Panavision cameras where all ccd.

  • AgNO3

    well mostly because it requires superfast inter connects. Those only would drive the cost of the camera up. Plus a iq180 is 53.7 x 40.4. and is a CCD which will always have better resolving power vs cmos

  • Tom Waugh

    Another Canon big lens, this time a 5200mm f14 which sold on Ebay for $55,000 and weighed in at a relatively light 220 lbs can be seen here:

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  • Ryan Hall

    Can’t wait for Magic Lantern to get ahold of that thing…

  • niXerKG

    Good example of Nikon and Canon working together on a project.

  • jumbybird

    What do you think your camera uses…

  • Bill

    Not that I am trying to correct you, but I did not see anywhere in the article that Nikon was a contributor. Did I miss that part?
    Not that it really matters, but it would be nice if competitors got together for the greater good.
    Now if we can get our damn government to do the same, geez!

  • niXerKG

    Mitsubishi is the parent company of Nikon.

    I know the division probably has little or nothing to do with it Nikon itself but in my mind it’s nice to think they do. Nikon did make the first Canon lens so it wouldn’t be the first time they worked together.

  • Bill

    Ahh, I did not know that. Thank you.

  • Anto de Chav

    I heard rumours that Hasselblad might be going down that route of using tiled exmor sensors in a future medium format camera..

  • nickanor

    it can do 16k at 1000fps.