Canon’s 75+ Megapixel DSLR May Use a New Stacked Three-Layer Sensor


The photography world is abuzz with news that Canon may be planning to launch a high-end DSLR with a beastly 75-megapixel sensor. If you’re drooling over the idea of shooting photos that can span billboards, you might want to hold your horses: the sensor may not be what you think it is.

Instead of using a standard 75-megapixel Bayer sensor that spits out 75-megapixel photographs, the upcoming camera may actually contain a stacked sensor that uses three sensor layers in red, green, and blue in order to capture greater amounts of color information in each shot.

This type of 3-layer sensor was spotted in a published Canon patent back in May by Japanese website Egami:


Northlight Images is hearing from a source that Canon’s upcoming high-MP DSLR will indeed use this type of sensor. “75MP is a ‘total usable photosite’ count,” they write. That figure reportedly refers to a non-Bayer multilayer sensor that uses blue, green, and red layers.

This type of stacked sensor began appearing in the camera market a few years ago when Sigma began including Foveon X3 sensors in its cameras. Those cameras are known to have fantastic color reproduction at low ISOs, but struggle when sensitivity is boosted higher.

Like with Nokia’s 41-megapixel PureView cameras, which can condense multiple pixels into one for a higher-quality/lower-resolution image, Canon’s 75+ MP DSLR may not actually create 75MP photos. If the count refers to three layers of equal sizes, then we may actually be seeing a camera that shoots 25 megapixel photos that are created using 75 megapixels worth of color data.

“75MP is just too big a number for any marketing department to ignore,” Northlight Images writes. “[…] expect some subtleties in wording if this one is for real.”

(via Northlight Images via Canon Watch)

Image credit: 1D Mark II N by William Brawley

  • Jonathan Maniago

    Either way, at least it seems like Canon’s finally moving on from the 18MP slump/standard they’ve had for a few years.

  • Mike

    So thus they’ll pull a Foveon on us, and claim that it’s a 75MP camera. While it’s just a 75 million thirds of pixels camera.

  • ulfson11

    this would make it equal to about a 32-36 MP bayer sensor in spatial resolution.
    a bayer sensor needs more photosites to match the spatial resolution of a foveon type sensor. because of the demosaicing.

  • Syuaip

    i’m so disappointed. i just bought a total of 30TB of disk space preparing for this… now they are useless…


  • Matt

    Have you ever used a Foveon? I just bought the point and shoot one and I’m impressed each time I use it, image quality wise. It out does my 5D II in what it can do. It is a slow camera and the raw processor is painful to use. So, a lot of people will not like it. But in looking at the files, it is like “this is what digital should be”.

  • Matt

    Very cool, I really support new directions in the tech. I have a Foveon and love it, now if canon can do better I’d be really happy.

  • hensem

    The problem is not the quality, but the pixel count claim.

  • MattSteeleLA

    That whistling, downward-bending sound you hear is the value of my Mark IV.

  • Felipe Yang

    Technically they haven’t claimed anything as this is still a rumor.

  • Peng Tuck Kwok

    I can give your drives a good home.

  • aa

    tehnicaly, the pixel count without the bayer filter it is a bit different. a 14mpix foveon is as good as the 36mpix nikon 800e in regard of resolution

  • aa


  • Furunomoe

    Well, so I was right…

  • Justin

    Guess you’ll just have to start shooting video

  • Sky

    Smells like a HORRIBLE high-ISO performance.

  • Sky

    Only in some very specific conditions.
    In low-light it’s comparable to D40. lol

  • faloc

    does indeed, that’s why many photographers have 3-4 camera bodies ^^

  • asdfasdf

    Please stop the megapixel battles and give us a camera with a sensitive tack sharp sensor that can practically shoot in the dark without any blurring or need to use flash. I want to get rid of all my huge photo lights!

  • Mike

    Taking three color samples at each pixel location. Nothing can change it.

  • Mescalamba

    Small correction.

    Current Foveon 15 mpix is amazing at base ISO in only one aspect, thats resolution. Colors are not amazing and are “right” only if you absolutely nail exposure. Otherwise for example undereposed red becomes orange. Yea that much color shift.

    And it bands terribly in shadows and noise is always there.

    Tho that base ISO thing is simply cause sensor isnt boosted for higher ISO by electronics, but just software. It doesnt have any ISO range, only base ISO. Unlike modern cameras which are usually at least native ISO 100-1600 if not more (there are 200-6400 for example too). This one is 100-100. :) Thats why useless in color on every other ISO.

  • Mescalamba

    Canon obviously can make it work, but they would need to have seriously improved tech for making such sensors. We are talking about crazy level of sensor quality improvement to make it workable.

    And if that camera will be real, it will make probably Leicas look cheap.

  • flogor

    not with a tripod to hold the camera still…

  • flogor

    try using a tripod

  • Nate Opgenorth

    If you ever start shooting video that 30TB’s starts to feel like 30GB’s…LOL

  • E-Nonymouse A

    If its not a 16 bit color gamut with at least 12-14 F stops of dynamic range, then definitely file this under the who cares category. No point in only going half way.

  • Martin Landgraf

    lol nice. first say bad things about the foveon x3 and then just copy it … nice idea, canon … NOT -.-

  • Nicholas Chewy

    So honestly, if dynamic range still doesn’t improve, this upgrade wouldn’t mean much to a landscape photographer.

  • Guest

    Who can I sue for false advertising if Canon doesn’t come out with exactly what I’m expecting based on this unverified and possibly speculative rumor? Petapixel, Canon, or the person posting just above my comment ^ (I’m looking at YOU, random stranger)… I’m on the phone with my attorney right now just in case.

  • Guest

    hey this was a year ago..

  • Guest

    damnit, I walked into that one. Time to lawyer up I suppose….sigh..