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Make Full HD colour films by starlight with Canon’s new ISO 4 million camera

3 minute read

Canon/Red Shark

With a mind-blowing ISO of over 4 million (+75dB), Canon’s new ME20F-SH provides Full HD colour footage in lighting conditions where you’d previously be reaching for the infra-red.

Canon itself admits that the ME20F-SH is a bit of a specialist camera, but not only does its performance spec of astonishing performance in extremely low ambient light conditions promise to change several genres of television programming, but also points the way to much greater capabilities in the future for more mainstream cameras.

Featuring a newly developed Full Frame 35mm with 2.26 MP CMOS sensor and a DIGIC DV4 processor, Canon reckons its proprietary tech can clean up noise and provide the sensitivity to capture subject illuminated with less than 0.0005 lux. That’s not quite a pure, moonless overcast night sky (that measures as 0.0001 lux) but a normal clear night sky with no moon? Absolutely. Add even a sliver of Earth’s satellite in there and you’re well within the unit’s comfort zone.

Unlike some of the specialist starlight units that have been developed in the past, being a Canon unit it will slot neatly into any existing broadcast ecosystem too, and has exactly the sort of semi-permanent installation and remote-control capabilities that wildlife in particular needs.

It also employs the same EF mount with Cinema Lock as found on the Cinema EOS C500, allowing users to take advantage of the existing line-up of interchangeable lenses.

Canon isn’t making it widely available, stating that because of “the specialist nature and demand for this product, the ME20F-SH will only be available to selected partners,” but we reckon that its capabilities illuminate the future roadmap for quote radically improved low-light level performance in its more mainstream range of units.

Full press release over the page.

See the unseen; Canon launches the ME20F-SH - 
Full HD colour video footage in extremely low light

United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, 30 July 2015 – Canon today announces the launch of the ME20F-SH, a professional multi-purpose video camera capable of capturing full colour images in extremely low-light environments. Boasting an industry leading unrivalled maximum ISO in excess of 4 million (+75dB), the ME20F-SH is designed to be as small as possible whilst delivering high quality professional grade Full HD footage.

Supporting image capture in situations where it previously would not have been possible, the ME20F-SH is ideal for use within specialist applications such as TV productions of nighttime wildlife, deep sea/cave exploration, astronomy and surveillance. The ability to install the camera in a semi-permanent location, with remote control operability also means that for documentary and natural history filmmakers, long term projects and events can be captured with minimum staffing. Due to the specialist nature and demand for this product, the ME20F-SH will only be available to selected partners.

First class infrared capability
Capturing video in low-light conditions often requires the use of infrared illumination, a technique that traditionally only yields footage in black and white. The ME20F-SH however, achieves impressive high-sensitivity performance enabling the capture of colour Full HD video with reduced noise, even in low-light conditions and without the need for infrared illumination.

Exceptionally high sensitivity
Designed to be used in situations where ambient light levels are extremely low, the ME20F-SH features a newly developed Full Frame 35mm with 2.26 MP CMOS sensor and a DIGIC DV4 processor. The sensor’s pixels and readout circuitry use Canon’s proprietary technologies to achieve both reduced noise and exceptionally high sensitivity, allowing you to capture subjects illuminated with less than 0.0005 lux. Similar to Canon’s Cinema EOS cameras, the ME20F-SH includes Canon Log and Wide DR settings, which enable a wide dynamic range (800%), delivering high-quality results across a variety of ambient lighting conditions, without the need for supplemental lighting.

The ME20F-SH offers several options with regard to connectivity to external third party devices for recording or remote viewing purposes, and is also compatible with Canon’s RC-V100 for full remote control over the camera.

Enabling a wide range of imaging possibilities
The new ME20F-SH employs Canon’s EF mount with Cinema Lock, as found on the Cinema EOS C500, allowing users to take advantage of the company’s extensive lineup of interchangeable lenses. By enabling operators to select the ideal lens based on their shooting or application requirements, taking into consideration such factors as angle of view and level of brightness, the multi-purpose camera facilitates a wide range of shooting possibilities.

ME20F-SH Key features:
Ultra low-light performance at ISO 4million
High quality Full HD 1080p/1080i/720p output
Flexible control with auto and custom settings
Compatible with a wide range of EF lenses2
Remote control of camera settings and built-in ND and IR cut filters possible
Small and lightweight for ease of integration

Tags: Production