Canon developing world’s first ultra-high-sensitivity ILC equipped with SPAD sensor featuring the world’s highest pixel count of 3.2 megapixels

Canon announced today that it is developing the MS-500, the world’s first ultra-high-sensitivity interchangeable-lens camera (ILC) equipped with a 1.0-inch Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) sensor featuring the world’s highest pixel count of 3.2 megapixels. The camera leverages the special characteristics of SPAD sensors to achieve superb low-light performance while also utilizing broadcast lenses that feature high performance at telephoto-range focal lengths. The 1.0-inch SPAD sensor reduces noise, thus making possible clear, full-color HD imaging even in extreme low-light environments. The camera may be used for night-time monitoring of seaports, thanks to its ability to spot vessels that are several km away, thus enabling identification and high-precision monitoring of vessels in or around the seaport.

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With CMOS sensors, which are commonly used in conventional modern digital cameras, each pixel measures the amount of light that reaches the pixel within a given time. SPAD sensors, employ a technology known as “photon counting”, in which light particles (photons) that enter each individual pixel are counted. When even a single photon enters a pixel, it is instantly amplified approximately 1 million times and output as an electrical signal. Every single one of these photons can be digitally counted, thus making possible zero-noise during signal readout—a key advantage of SPAD sensors. Because of this technological advantage, the MS-500 is able to operate even under nighttime environments with no ambient starlight, and is also capable of accurately detecting subjects with minimal illumination and capture clear color images.

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The Canon[ MS-500 employs the bayonet lens mount (based on BTA S-1005B standards) which is widely used in the broadcast lens industry. This enables the camera to be used with Canon’s extensive range of broadcast lenses which feature superb optical performance. As a result, the camera is able to recognize and capture subjects that are several km away. The MS-500 will be displayed as a reference exhibit at the Canon booth during the 2023 NAB Show for broadcast and filmmaking equipment, to be held in Las Vegas from Saturday, April 15 to Wednesday, April 19.