What Canon’s Prototype ISO 300,000 Sensor Can See in Near Darkness

At Canon EXPO Paris 2015 this past week, Canon was showing off the capabilities of a prototype ultra-high sensitivity 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor. The 3.5-minute video above shows what the camera can see when taken into the “Blue Milky Way” of Waitomo glowworm caves in New Zealand, which make for dazzling long-exposure photos.

This is what a conventional professional-grade camcorder was able to capture in Full HD:


And this is what the prototype sensor was able to capture in the same scene with an equivalent ISO of 300,000:


This prototype sensor and camera doesn’t appear to be the ME20F-SH camera that Canon announced back in July. The ME20F has a max ISO of over 4.5 million and can shoot Full HD video with less than 0.0005 lux (here’s a video showing what that camera can do). The prototype sensor featured above can only capture video in conditions of 0.03 lux.

Still, the camera is able to capture remarkable real-time footage of caves that traditionally require very long-exposures to photograph. Here are a few more still frames:




“This technology and its specifications are concepts only and cannot be purchased today,” Canon says. “Details on future availability and final specifications are not currently available.”

The 4.5-million ISO ME20F-SH, on the other hand, will be available in December 2015 for $30,000.

(via Canon EXPO Paris via CanonWatch)