Firefly Footage Captured in 0.01 Lux with Canon’s Amazing Low Light Sensor

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Back in March, Canon announced that it was working on a special 35mm low-light sensor that would blow away all other competition when it came to seeing things in near complete darkness. In order to further prove that point, the company sent a prototype out to shoot tiny fireflies in less than 0.01lux on Japan’s Ishigaki Island.

The sample footage is quite impressive when you realize that no external light source was used. In almost total darkness (even a crescent moon puts out about three times as much light as they had to work with) Canon’s people were able to capture great footage of the Yaeyama-hime fireflies.

But it’s not just that you’re seeing tiny pinpricks of light on a black screen, the surrounding vegetation came through in detail as well.


According to a Canon press release, the sensor’s ability to see in conditions where even the human eye would have trouble discerning shapes comes from the marriage of “high-performance sensor technologies” and “new pixel and readout circuitry technologies that reduce noise.”

Although it’s still a prototype, Canon is excited to expand this technology in myriad ways, and take advantage of a sensor that sees things even the human eye has trouble with.

In addition to astrophotography and low-light research applications like the one demonstrated above, Canon hopes to expand the tech into industries such as medical imaging, surveillance and crime-prevention equipment, all in the name of “expand[ing] the realm of photographic possibilities while cultivating the world of visual expression.”

For more info and sample footage, check out our previous coverage by clicking here.

(via Canon Watch)

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  • Jonathan Maniago

    “Although it’s still a prototype, Canon is excited to expand this
    technology in myriad ways, and take advantage of a sensor that sees
    things even the human eye has trouble with.”

    As low light performance improves, I suppose EVFs may someday become the standard for shooting in the dark.

  • Tiffany Diamond

    Even after living in the Pacific Northwest for nearly 20 years, I still really miss lightning bugs. Love this.

  • Renato Murakami

    Impressive stuff. Wonder how flexible the thing is… but I’m guessing it’s a specialized sensor for low light situations only, right? Probably not usable in brightly lit situations.

  • Nuno Toromanović

    it’s amazing. Still, in order to use its capabilities, Cannon has to make couple of compatible lenses, minimum f/1.0 or brighter. Awesom shot though.

  • AND

    ISO 204800 ?

  • Matt Wheeler

    I’m glad they make cameras and not music; that track was horrible.

  • 3ric15

    No, the 1DX can already shoot (pictures?) at that ISO. They created a new sensor that was more sensitive without having to boost up the ISO (that creates noise too).

  • CrackerJacker

    Please take all my money and give me that now! Thank you.

  • lololalallll

    Natural Light “photographers” just peed their pants.

  • lalassa

    give me my nex FF! Canon can suk

  • ACEkin

    Fireflies remind me of my childhood (many moons ago), they are a delight to see in this fabulous capture. In 5 years we may be using a camera with this capability, great news.

  • Black Light Shoots

    Nikon fans.. left in the dark.. LoL
    Sorry just trollin XD

  • Vin Weathermon

    So maybe I am just an a-hole, but the video looked crappy and grainy to me. I don’t have any footage to compare it to I guess, but I thought the noise was completely unusable. Maybe the raw footage is better than what is uploaded and streamed here…I saw no “HD” quality option.

  • templebox

    I don’t think you quite understand ISO. ISO is just a standard (hence the name) in which we measure sensitivity of a sensor, be that film or digital. By increasing the sensitivity you are by definition increasing the ISO.

  • lala

    hopefully will be the nex ff to sink canon

  • MS

    “It’s not exciting because there are stupid guys that ignore that, trying to figure out how to create real colors. They say, ‘If you use this digital camera, you can take a clear picture in the dark’. The dark should stay dark. You can’t really see that much, and you don’t really want to see that much anyway.”

    Nobuyoshi Araki 2006

  • foofala

    And it will still be 60fps at 720 for video…

  • bmassao

    Yes and no. ISO is a standard, you are right about it, but it doesn’t work as the same for film and digital.

    For film, you had to make different “recipes” to create different films. So, in a way, it was plain simple: your 400 ISO speed film was a 400 ISO speed film.

    The digital sensor works differently: it has a native ISO speed, like 100, but you can boost it up to simulate other speeds. Every ISO speed on your sensor is simulated in order to reach the one you want to use. In other words: your 1600 ISO speed on your DSLR? It doesn’t exist, it’s simulated.

    The sensor featured in this article is specially made for low light situations. So it means it packs a higher ISO, which, in turn, gives you a better low light performance, with less noise – or it can reach even higher ISO. The trouble is with lowest ISO: since the native ISO is way higher, it may have to simulate the other way around, but won’t give the better result as a lower native ISO sensor would give.