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Canon’s insane new video camera can record HD color video in the dark

Published Jul 30th, 2015 6:10PM EDT
Canon Night Vision Camera

Canon earlier today unveiled a jaw-dropping new multi-purpose camera with a maximum ISO of over 4,000,000. In layman’s terms, this bad boy can effectively see in the dark.

Dubbed the ME20F-SH, Canon’s latest creation can record full color HD video in extremely dark conditions. How dark? Well Canon’s press release notes that it can capture video “with a minimum subject illumination of less than 0.0005 lux. “To put that in perspective, Petapixel writes, “a full moon on a clear night is about 0.27 to 1.0 lux, and 0.0001 lux is a moonless, overcast night. The camera can capture high-quality images of things the human eye cannot see.”

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Touting the devices incredible low light recording capabilities, Canon explains what makes the ME20F-SH so unique:

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.

This thing seems unreal, and Canon has already laid out a myriad of possible real world applications, including nighttime surveillance and security, cinematic production, reality television, and nature/wildlife documentaries. What’s more, because of the camera’s design, Canon boasts that it 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.”

As for the technology used to make this camera of the future of a reality, Canon explains:

The ME20F-SH camera’s CMOS sensor has pixels measuring 19 μm square3, 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 cameras4. 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.

Not surprisingly, the technology behind this incredible camera has been in development for a few years now. The video below, for instance, showcases what the camera’s CMOS sensor could do back in 2013. The 2015 version has since been improved upon significantly.

Not surprisingly, the camera won’t come cheap. Slated for release in December, Canon’s low-light defeating camera will set you back about $30,000.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.