Canon Expands Its Full-Frame Global Shutter Sensor Lineup

An image sensor with a large, square-shaped central area surrounded by intricate circuits on a clean, white background.

Canon has made a 19-megapixel full-frame global shutter CMOS image sensor, and it’s available now.

However, before drooling at the prospect of a rumored Canon EOS R1 flagship camera with a global shutter, it is worth taking a closer look at Canon’s new sensor to see if it may one day make its way into an interchangeable lens camera.

The Canon LI5030SA, as spotted by Canon Rumors, is a 19-megapixel CMOS image sensor with a global shutter. Much like other global shutter sensors, like the one seen in the Sony a9 III, this means that Canon’s new sensor exposes all pixels simultaneously, eliminating banding and rolling shutter artifacts.

As helpful as global shutters are for photo and video applications, they remain complicated to engineer.

Canon previously showed a version of the LI5030SA in 2022, the LI5030SAC, a color version of the image sensor. In total, there are four sensors in the series. In addition to the color “C” sensor, there are also RGBIR “I,” monochrome “M,” and naked “N” versions. The N model lacks a microlens or color filter.

Exposed canon li5030 image sensor with specifications labeled, such as effective pixels, sensor size, and frame rate, on a textured gray background.

The 19-megapixel sensor promises high sensitivity and strong low-light performance, an area where some global shutters have struggled. Regardless of the specific model, Canon’s sensor includes a large 6.4um pixel size.

The company says its LI5030 series is well-suited for a diverse array of applications, including microscope cameras, automation, traffic surveillance, and drone vision. The sensor without a filter in front is designed particularly for scientific applications.

Three types of digital image sensors labeled "color + near-infrared," "color," and "monochrome," displayed on a dark textured surface.

Canon promises that the sensor can output 5,688 by 3,334 pixels (19 megapixels) of 12-bit video footage at up to 57.99 frames per second. That is swift, high-quality video output, as shown in the video above.

When Canon initially discussed its LI5030 series sensors, global shutter technology was still a relative rarity, even in the high-end video space. In the 20 months since, global shutter technology has become much more common.

Beyond the Sony a9 III camera, which is one of the most notable and accessible implementations of global shutter, RED — now owned by Canon’s competitor Nikon — has recently introduced large-format cinema cameras with global shutter sensors.

There are widespread expectations that Canon will release an R1 camera at some point, the company’s first true flagship EOS R-series model. There remains an ongoing debate about whether the mythical R1 will incorporate a new global shutter. Even among PetaPixel‘s team, there is disagreement about when Canon will launch an EOS R-series camera with a global shutter.

Although Sony has managed to mitigate some, but not all, of global shutter technology’s typical pain points in terms of image quality, a full-frame global shutter sensor remains exceptionally difficult to achieve, both from performance and processing standpoints.

Whether Canon pulls it off in its EOS R series remains one of the most exciting open questions in the industry. While the LI5030 series is an industrial sensor and, therefore, not a great indicator of what Canon might do in its mirrorless camera lineup, its sensor developments are undoubtedly intriguing.

“Through the further development of CMOS image sensor, Canon will break new ground in the world of imaging,” the company promises.

Image credits: Canon