Canon has developed an insane 250MP sensor with almost half a million pixels per square millimeter

by Gannon Burgett

posted Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 11:30 AM EDT

If pixels are your profession, Canon’s latest announcement is sure to ruffle your feathers in the best of ways. For Canon Expo 2015, its once-every-five-years event, taking place in New York City this week, Canon announced it has developed a 250-megapixel APS-H CMOS sensor, the most pixels to ever be seen on a sub-full-frame sensor.

The 250-megapixel beast measures in at 19,580 x 12,600 pixels on roughly a 29.2 x 20.2 mm sensor, meaning its pixel density is roughly 418,000 pixels per square millimeter (418,000 p/m2). In its press release, Canon shared the following anecdote to show off just how much 250-megapixels will get you:

When installed in one of Canon’s prototype cameras, the newly developed sensor was able to capture images enabling the distinguishing of lettering on the side of an airplane flying at a distance of approximately 11 miles (18 km) from the shooting location

Despite the insane pixel count, Canon says the low-light and high-ISO performance of the sensor is on-par with current consumer cameras thanks in part to ‘an architecture developed over many years and adapted for miniaturized pixels.’

Crunching just under a quarter of a billion pixels is no easy feat, though. To help push the pixels through to storage, Canon has developed smaller and more powerful processors capable of shooting up to five frames per second on this behemoth.

Canon makes sure to give a contextualized comparison for those wondering just how large the files are. In the prototype camera Canon placed the sensor in, its resolution was ‘125 times that of Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) video and approximately 30 times that of 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) video.’

Don’t expect to see this sensor in a DSLR anytime soon though. Canon says this sensor is designed for specialized surveillance tools, ultra-high resolution measuring instruments and other industrial equipment, to expand and enhance the field of visual expression.’