Canon announces 250mp camera sensor

Mega megapixel cameras

Canon camera prototype with 250mp CMOS sensor
Canon’s new prototype CMOS sensor reaches a staggering 250m pixels. Image: Canon.

Canon has announced what it says is the highest ever resolution sensor for digital cameras.

The new CMOS sensor is APS-H format, and captures around 250 million pixels (250mp or megapixels). To date, the highest pixel counts on conventional cameras have been reserved for full-frame, 35mm cameras such as Nikon’s 36mp D810 and Sony’s 42mp A7RII. Canon’s new chip beats the resolution of both, but in a smaller format. The average high-end digital camera uses a 24mp chip, and many broadcast cameras, far less.

Canon says that its new 19,580×12,600 chip overcomes the signal delay and timing issues associated with very high pixel counts on CMOS imagers. The company claims that the sensor can output its full resolution at five frames a second.

Canon also says that its technology also reduces the noise and increases the dynamic range of the sensor output, both areas that can suffer with an increase in the number of pixels.

Canon has built a camera test rig, and says its test shots were able to pick out lettering on a flying aircraft 18km away, and produce video at 30x the resolution of 4K, or 250 times the resolution of HD.

Canon points out that using such a high resolution sensor would allow a videographer to crop or zoom in on even a 4K image digitally, without any loss of quality. This, in turn, opens the door to a broadcast-quality digital or virtual zoom, which could allow cameras to be designed without the expense and complexity of optical zoom mechanisms.

As well as photography and video, Canon believes the new chip will find uses in security and surveillance, and industrial and scientific applications.

As the chip is at the prototype stage, the company has yet to announce any pricing or availability.