Canon’s new, high-sensitivity, full-frame sensor captures tiny details of fireflies in extreme low light (VIDEO)


posted Friday, September 13, 2013 at 2:37 PM EST

Yaeyama-hime fireflies amid jungle vegetation (Photomontage created from video footage)

We first heard about a new, 35mm full-frame CMOS image sensor from Canon designed for extreme low-light imaging back in March, and now the company has released video demonstrating how it performs. To put this high-sensitivity chip's skills to the test, Canon has captured full HD footage of fireflies on Japan's Ishigaki Island, in less than 0.01 lux of light.

That's a level at which the naked idea can barely detect an object in the dark. But, as you can see from the video at the bottom of this post, Canon's new chip doesn't have a problem capturing the surrounding vegetation, or even tiny details of the fireflies and the color of their lights, in near pitch blackness. According to Canon, no artificial light was used during shooting of the video, which took place after sunset in the island's mountains.

The new sensor is able to achieve this impressive low-light performance thanks to its extremely large individual pixels, which are 19 microns a piece. That translates to 7.5 times the area of pixels in the Canon EOS-1D X. The pixel structure and readout circuitry of the experimental chip are designed to control noise levels.

Canon's new, high-sensitivity, full-frame CMOS sensor for Full HD video capture

Among its uses, Canon sees the new sensor as ideal for capturing footage of wildlife, for astronomical observation, medical research, surveillance, and crime prevention. While the high-sensitivity imager seems aimed at video, it should also be able to shoot full HD still photos as well. Full HD, however, translates to just 2.1 megapixels, so photos would not be high resolution.

(Via Canon Global and DPReview)