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Science Technology

Canon Unveils 120-Megapixel Camera Sensor 289

Barence writes "Canon claims to have developed a digital camera sensor with a staggering 120-megapixel resolution. The APS-H sensor — which is the same type that is used in Canon's professional EOS-1D cameras — boasts a ridiculous resolution of 13,280 x 9,184 pixels. The CMOS sensor is so densely packed with pixels that it can capture full HD video on just one-sixtieth of the total surface area. However, don't hold your breath waiting for this baby to arrive in a camera. Canon unveiled a 50-megapixel sensor in 2007, but that's not made it any further than the labs to date." It's probably not going too far out on a limb to say that the any-day-now rumored announcement of an update to the 1D won't include this chip, but such insane resolution opens up a lot of amazing possibilities, from cropping to cheap telephoto to medium and large format substitution. Maybe I should stop fantasizing about owning a full-frame 1D or 5D and redirect my lust towards 120 megapixels.
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Canon Unveils 120-Megapixel Camera Sensor

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  • by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:02PM (#33358462) Homepage Journal

    Canon had better come up with some sharper lenses with a sensor like this. I shoot shoot [utah.edu] with APS-H sensors on the Canon 1D and many of the lenses that Canon, Nikon and Sigma among others make are not nearly sharp enough to deal with many more pixels than are on say... the Canon 1Ds. Zeiss makes some sharp glass, but with the pixel density Canon is talking about with this new sensor, I'd worry about noise in low light conditions like those on my last embed [utah.edu] on the USS Toledo (world's first embed in a strategic nuclear submarine). Any sort of low light, high ISO images will be truly challenging environments for such small pixel imaging sites.

    It might be a great technology demonstrator or even a specific use CMOS chip for longer exposures, but I doubt it will have any applications in consumer or professional cameras unless some additional technology (or physics) comes into play.

    Also, one would have to come up with some new strategies for moving all of that data around. As it is, on the latest Canon 1D Mk IV, they are pushing 16.1 MP around at about 10 fps. With this new sensor, just the readout would prevent this sensor from being used in any but the most specialized of applications.

  • Still Cool (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:06PM (#33358564)

    45 MP photo to zoom into:

    Dubai [gigapan.org]

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionary.yahoo@com> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:17PM (#33358728) Journal

    I'd bet that you could use that many megapixels to seriously boost dynamic range by averaging several adjacent pixels into one.

  • 150 megapixel (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:18PM (#33358758)

    Good film under ideal conditions can handle 2500 line pairs per inch. The mathematical purist who was more obsessed with numbers than practical applications would want a sensor that can handle 10,000 dots per inch for copying film, and an image sensor of 5,000 dots per inch for shooting, with optics, electronics, and other hardware (and software!) to match.

    5,000 dpi on a standard 35mm 3:2 aspect ratio means 37.5 megapixels.

    For what it's worth, 10,000 dpi would be 4x that amount, or 150 megapixels.

  • Size doesn't matter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:19PM (#33358762)
    I have to go with Ken Rockwell on this one: Megapixels don't matter [kenrockwell.com]. Unless you're blowing your 35mm shots up to poster size, pixel density over about 8 megapixels is useless overkill.
  • by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:21PM (#33358794) Homepage Journal

    Canon does makes some great glass and I shoot exclusively with Canon glass. However, Nikon, Zeiss and Leica among others also produce some pretty sweet lenses. Eventually, everybody is going to have to deal with issues related to the optics being able to actually resolve the imaging sites. At some point (and we are close), the glass will not be able to resolve anything more than the sensor can read out and you'd have wasted pixels. Kinda like the issue with Apple's Retina Display on the iPhone 4 that I wrote about here [utah.edu]. Any more pixels would be wasted given the resolving power of the human eye.

  • by falzer ( 224563 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:21PM (#33358818)

    You spell it Cannon and you're telling someone who shoots with a 1D and has likely used Zeiss lenses that they can't buy awesome Canon lenses in the toy department at Best Buy.

  • It matters for me... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhantomHarlock ( 189617 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:47PM (#33359216)

    From a professional photographer's standpoint, I DO appreciate more resolution, because I do make things that end up on posters and billboards. Also, the primary advantage in most cases is the ability to crop and still have a decent resolution image.

    As another poster mentioned, the main problem at this point is with the glass. Sharp glass that remains the same size to accommodate a denser, not larger sensor is a tough proposition, and the new frontier of technology. Things like liquid lenses may overcome this in the future, who knows.

    Right now, with my 21MP 5D Mk. II, I can use modern Canon "L" zoom lenses too my heart's content and have an image that is sharp from corner to corner, especially now that you can easily correct for chromatic aberration in RAW processing software. (to give you an idea of how far this has come, when I was doing 3D animation 10 years ago, we would commonly add back in chromatic aberration to 3D generated images to give them a sense of realism.)

    For the sort of resolution discussed here, if you wanted relatively sharp pixels at 1:1 (spatial, or perceived resolution, actual sharpness delineation from one pixel to the next) you would probably want to stick with prime (non-zoom) lenses with fewer glass elements, and it would probably OK.

    Other posters are correct in that this kind of resolution is currently unnecessary for consumer and casual use. But for me, large blow ups and two-page spreads are a frequent thing, and I apprecicate all the pixels I've got. :)

  • The future is now (Score:3, Interesting)

    by freelunch ( 258011 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:51PM (#33359278)

    boasts a ridiculous resolution of 13,280 x 9,184 pixels

    My 6x7 cm film images are already 11,023 x 9,448 when scanned at 4000 dpi.
    And there are no artifacts from Bayer interpolation.

    30x36" prints, and even larger, are spectacular. But you need good lenses, a good tripod, and good technique; otherwise you won't resolve the detail.

    And with 20x30" prints only $9 at Costco (on profiled printers), I *am* enlarging my prints to poster size, thankyouverymuch.

    I look forward to digital catching up.

  • by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @02:58PM (#33359412)
    not *quite* you could still get say, 40 megapixels. A very basic HDR picture is the combination of 3 ranges, so if you took your base picture on one pixel, and the bracket range on the pixels to its left and right, (i'm generalizing here of course, the tech would not be THAT simple) the output is a 40MP picture with a dynamic range 3x what you would get with a standard 40MP camera. the fact that your saying "get good dynamic range" shows that you don't know much about the subject. Normal cameras simply *don't* have dynamic range, they take photos of a very narrow range of light, based on your film shutter speed, etc. basically, a camera that automatically got ANY dynamic range, is an improvement towards being able to capture true to eye/life images.
  • by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @03:09PM (#33359578)

    i want this

    http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/lfcamera/ [stanford.edu] /. posted it here ~5 years ago.. still waiting

    http://slashdot.org/articles/05/11/21/2316216.shtml?tid=126&tid=152 [slashdot.org]

  • Think the other way (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RickyG ( 1009867 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @04:19PM (#33360672)
    If you have the technology to make a 120 megapixel camera, reverse your thinking. Can you use that technology to decrease the size of your current product, so that a standard 8 to 10 megapixel camera is so small and compact, that it meets the needs of the growing phone/ipod/iphone/ipad industry?
  • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:18PM (#33363888)

    Let's say we have an image of 8 gray bars, with the brightest one 8 times as bright as the darkest. If we have a 3-bit sensor, with a resolution of 2 pixels per bar, we could adjust the exposure so the brightest bar had a value of 7, and we get the following pixel values:

    0 0 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 and after averaging, we would have 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, which is an accurate representation. This sensor has enough dynamic range for the picture.

    If we take the same picture with a 2-bit sensor, and again adjust the exposure so the brightest bar has the value 3, we have the following pixel values:

    0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 2 3 3 and after averaging, we would have 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3. The entire left side of the image is black, all shadows are gone. Averaging did not fix that.

    If we expose so we keep the shadows, we wind up with pixel values of 0 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 after averaging. The entire right side of the image is blown. Averaging did not fix that. If we expose for the center, we end up with averaged pixels of 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 3 3 3, with the shadows gone and the hilites blown.

    Averaging can not make up for insufficient dynamic range.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!