Even though it may only have two megapixels, Canon's latest digital camera, known as the ME20F-SH, has a special sensor with an ISO equivalency of 4 million. In addition, it has the capability to shoot full-color shots in near-total darkness.
According to Tim Moynihan of Wired, the Canon ME20F-SH is a full-frame camera that claims to "capture accurate colors with little to no noise in low light," which he thought was "serious bleeding-edge-of-the-future stuff." It also has the capability to "see through the dark."
"Keep in mind that this camera is built to shoot HD video rather than stills," Moynihan wrote. "That's a big reason for that 2-megapixel sensor, which provides ample resolution to capture 1920×1080 video at 60p, 24p, and 30p."
Moynihan added that Canon full-frame EF lenses would work with this camera. He explained the benefits of super-low resolution and low-light performance.
"Because it's a full-frame sensor, the low resolution translates to massive photosites," oynihan wrote. "Bigger photosites translates to better low-light performance without the pock-marky noise you'll get out of smaller photosites. Bigger pixels collect light more effectively, which allows a camera like the ME20F-SH to ramp up the ISO to ridiculous levels without much image-destroying noise."
Canon claimed in its press release that the ME20F-SH could capture solid HD video at light levels as low as 0.00005 lux. Moynihan pointed out that such levels were "sensitive enough for a trained firefly to illuminate a scene for you."
"Nighttime surveillance and security, cinematic production, reality television, and nature/wildlife documentaries are just some of the ME20F-SH's many possible usage applications," Canon wrote. "With the ability to capture color video in extreme low-light conditions and its simplistic and versatile design, the ME20F-SH Multi-purpose Camera can be easily incorporated into existing infrastructures and systems to provide high-quality video capture even where subjects might not be seen with the naked eye."
Moynihan thought that the target market for this camera would be independent filmmakers, particularly those who "need good color fidelity and no noise at fast frame rates in low light."
"If you need the world's most extravagant security camera or have always dreamt of remaking Barry Lyndon without a million-dollar F0.7 lens, this is the camera for you," Moynihan wrote.
Devin Coldewey of NBC News explained the significance of the sensor in the camera, which Canon worked on for two years.
"Sensors in digital cameras are covered in tiny light-sensitive pixels - and generally, camera makers try to pack as many in as possible to create high-resolution photos," Coldewey wrote. "But the Canon sensor's pixels are huge - more than five times the size of the usual kind. This means each pixel has more space for light to hit, though there are fewer of them in total."
According to Canon's press release, the ME20F-SH will be available around December and will be priced at $30,000.