07 Sep 2015

Canon is developing a stunning 30x 4K CMOS sensor

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A prototype camera built around the new sensor A prototype camera built around the new sensor Canon/RedShark


Canon’s new 250 megapixel CMOS sensor is smaller than a 35mm full-frame sensor and allows you to distinguish the lettering on an aeroplane 11 miles (18km) away. The company has some impressive new 4K broadcast lenses in time for IBC too.

The APS-H-size (29.2mm x 20.2mm) CMOS sensor incorporates 250 megapixels in a space smaller than the size of a 35mm full-frame sensor and is the world's highest pixel count, according to the company. Canon says that not only does it produce an image of 19,580 x 12,600 pixels but its researchers have overcome the problems associated with ultra high pixel counts with a matching ultra high signal readout speed of 1.25 billion pixels per second.


All in all, it makes the sensor capable of capturing images that are 30x the number of pixels of 4K and 125x that of Full HD at 5 frames per second, which is pretty impressive. What’s more the company claims its expertise in the field of miniaturised pixel technology means that the pictures it delivers are both high-sensitivity and low-noise.

Having recently pushed the envelope very hard with its specialist low light camera, it’s no surprise to see Canon forging ahead in another imaging direction with an ultra high resolution unit. As with that model, the company is coy about traditional video and photography usages, stating that it’s mainly aimed at specialised surveillance, ultra-high-resolution measuring instruments and other industrial kit, and the “field of visual expression”. But the triuckle down of all this research is obvious: witness the news that the ocmpany dropped the day after about the forthcoming 8K Cinema EOS.

Whatever, someone’s going to have to come up with a catchier name than 19.5K.

New 4K broadcast lenses

The new lenses are impressive too.


The UHD DIGISUPER 86 (UJ86x9.3B)and UHD DIGISUPER 90 (UJ90x9B) are part of Canon's evolving 2/3” 4K lens line-up, with the DIGISUPER 86 offering resolving power “beyond 4K” (though this doesn’t get quantified).

As with the recently launched CJ12ex4.3B, the new glass boasts ‘exceptional’ resolution from the image centre to the edges, at both telephoto and wide angle, and an increased use of fluorite and UD glass, alongside some expert coating knowledge, results in control over ghosting and flare.

As you would expect, the DIGISUPER 86 has an 86x zoom, with a focal range of 9.3mm – 800mm, and the DIGISUPER 90 goes up to 90x, with a 9mm – 810mm focal range. A built-in 2x extender doubles the telephoto power, while maintaining 4K resolution. Canon’s optical Image Stabiliser technology also kicks in to help maintain image quality and focus when tracking moving subjects while compensating for swing-back, and helps ‘square the circle’ often encountered in live broadcast of needing to maintain long focus with shallow depth of field.

Read more about the lenses, and that astonishing new sensor, in the press releases over the page.

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Andy Stout

Andy has spent over two decades writing about all aspects of the broadcast and film industries for a variety of high-profile industry publications on both sides of the Atlantic. During that time the industry has moved from 4:3 SD to 16:9 SD to HD and now on to 4K HDR. He's getting kind of curious to see where it goes next.

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