ISO 4 Million: Canon’s new Multi-Purpose Camera sees in the dark

by Gannon Burgett

posted Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 12:04 AM EDT

Get your night vision goggles ready. Canon has unveiled a brand new multi-purpose camera, the ME20F-SH.

The first of its kind for Canon, the ME20F-SH features a cube-like design and is capable of capturing Full HD video up to an equivalent ISO sensitivity of over 4,000,000 with its full-frame 35mm CMOS sensor.

Yes, ISO 4 million.

In the press release Canon particularly notes the specialized camera’s applications for nighttime surveillance, cinematic production, reality television and nature/wildlife documentaries, but its usefulness extends far beyond the examples Canon has given.

From the ground up, the camera was designed to perform in a number of setups, infrastructures and rigs, making it the most versatile video camera Canon has ever created.

Specifically, the camera utilizes output-only 3G/HD-SDI BNC and HDMI terminals for sending video to external video recorders and monitors. In other words, there's no internal recording for video. For audio capture, the ME20F-SH has a 3.5mm stereo mini-jack for an external microphone. Remote control is supported via a 2.5mm stereo mini-jack or a round 8-pin jack for RS–422, and the ME20F-SH is compatible with Canon’s RC-V100 Remote Controller.

The 35mm full-frame sensor in the ME20F-SH was originally developed by Canon back in 2013. Its square pixels measure in at 19μm, more than 5.5 times the per-pixel surface area of other interchangeable lens cameras, giving the camera the ability to capture video down to shockingly dim conditions of less than 0.0005 lux. And speaking of lenses, the ME20F-SH uses Canon’s Cinema Lock EF mount, ensuring Canon’s full lineup of lenses will securely lock onto the camera body.

Dynamic range of the ME20F-SH is increased through the use of Canon Log and Wide DR, ensuring you have as much data as possible to work with.

The ME20F-SH is set to be available in December 2015 at a suggested retail price of $30,000.