You read that right: 4 million. If you thought the Sony A7s was impressive (and yes, it totally is impressive), then this is going to blow your socks off. The new ME20F-SH (really rolls off the tongue) delivers exceptionally high sensitivity to capture Full HD video with a minimum subject illumination of less than 0.0005 lux (at maximum 75 dB gain setting, equivalent to an ISO sensitivity of over 4,000,000). This might be the first new sensor in years from Canon that’s worth getting really, really excited about.
Canon’s new multi-purpose camera employs an enhanced version of the 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor for Full HD video use that was originally developed by the Company in 20132. Its compact, modular body design allows easy custom configurations for diverse usage scenarios. While capturing video in extreme low-light conditions often requires the use of infrared illumination (a technique that only yields video in black and white), the ME20F-SH camera achieves impressive high-sensitivity performance enabling the capture of color Full HD video with reduced noise in low-light conditions without the need for infrared illumination.
The design is simple, and goes away from the traditional camcorder or DSLR look. It’s a bit boxy, but I’m not getting the feeling it’s supposed to be hand-held, so ergonomics weren’t likely a big player in the design.
The ME20F-SH camera’s CMOS sensor has pixels measuring 19 ?m square, which is more than 5.5 times the surface area of the pixels on the CMOS sensor featured in select top-of-the-line interchangeable lens cameras. Furthermore, the sensor’s pixels and readout circuitry make use of Canon proprietary technologies to achieve both reduced noise and exceptionally high sensitivity on subjects with a minimum illumination of less than 0.0005 lux. This multi-purpose camera allows users to discern subjects under even some of the dimmest lighting conditions, such as environments lit by artificial illumination or under a moonless night sky. Furthermore, similar to Canon’s Cinema EOS System of professional digital cinematography cameras, the ME20F-SH camera includes Canon Log and Wide DR, which make possible a wide dynamic range, delivering high-image-quality video results across a range of illumination environments, from low- to brightly lit conditions.
It takes Canon EF glass, as expected, and will be shipping at the end of the year, December 2015 for $30,000. It’s by no means a consumer camera or something many of us will get our hands on, but the fact of the matter is that the tech exists. What we see in super high end, we’ll start to see trickle down over time… we hope.