Canon has announced they have developed a new CMOS image sensor, a Full Frame 35mm one, exclusively designed for video recording and that would reach heights of sensitibity with an noise-free Full HD video quality. This sensor should quickly find astrophotography and scientific applications prior to the day it could be embedded on a crazy new HDSLR of the EOS Cinema line eventually, specialized in very low light environments.
The new CMOS sensor developed by Canon and dedicated to video in low light is a Full Frame unit and each photodiode is 19 square microns. This is 7.5 times the area of the photodiodes of the EOS-1D X tough pro DSLR. In addition to an extremely generous photodiode size that result in a more fficient collection of light, the new 35 mm Full HD sensor is equipped with a new generation of electronics circuity that also contributes to the improvement of the signal / noise ratio. With these two new features, this sensor would be able to film in a light extremely thin, on the order of 0.03 lux, advertises Canon. They also state that this luminosity is approximately that of a moon crescent. While the human eye has difficulty seeing objects in the low light, this high-sensitivity sensor will be able to record videos. Canon takes the example of the technologies used in CCD astrophotography with cameras that are capable of capturing images of deep sky objects and distinguish a magnitude of 6. This new sensor developed by Canon is able to perceive objects with a magnitude of 8.5 or more.
During its tests conducted by Canon, the sensor was mounted on a prototype video camera. With it, Canon was able to film in a room illuminated only by the light given off by a burning encent stick ! That is approximately 0.05 to 0.01 lux.
This new sensor should find more applications in the fields of astronomy, astrophotography, nightly observation of nature, in medical imaging and research or in safety equipments rather than in our DSLR. Yet, I count on Canon to adapt some technological breakthrough of this sensor over other sensors that will end up in our cameras in the coming months / years.