Canon’s new 120-megapixel CMOS sensor

Canon's 120-megapixel CMOS sensor

There are many factors other than the megapixel count that affect the quality of images a digital camera will produce – sensor size, lens quality, organization of the pixels, etc. However, consumers often use the number of pixels each dollar buys as a basic measure of value for a digital camera and there has been a steady increase in the “pixels per dollar” for new cameras that roughly follows Moore’s Law. Depending on its cost and when it will hit the market, a new APS-H-size CMOS image sensor developed by Canon could put a bit of a dent in that line with its image resolution of approximately 120-megapixels.

Canon’s current highest-resolution commercial CMOS sensor of the same size (approx. 29.2 x 20.2mm) delivers approximately 16.1-megapixels, so with 13,280 x 9,184 pixels the newly developed sensor offers roughly 7.5 times more pixels. Pixel counts of 21.1-megapixels can be found in Canon’s EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR cameras, but these use a larger (36 x 24mm) CMOS sensor.

With CMOS sensors, while high-speed readout for high pixel counts is achieved through parallel processing, an increase in parallel-processing signal counts can result in such problems as signal delays and minor deviations in timing. Canon says it was able to achieve the high-speed readout of sensor signals by modifying the method employed to control the readout circuit timing. As a result, the new CMOS sensor makes possible a maximum output speed of approximately 9.5 frames per second, supporting the continuous shooting of ultra-high-resolution images.

The newly developed sensor also incorporates a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) video output capability. The sensor can output Full HD video from any approximately one-sixtieth-sized section of its total surface area. Additionally, the sensor enables image confirmation across a wide image area, with Full HD video viewing of a select portion of the overall frame.

Canon is just teasing us for the moment and haven’t given an indication of its plans for the new sensor just yet.

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