Way Beyond 4K: Canon unveils a 250 Megapixel DSLR prototype camera sensor

by on September 11, 2015

Stephan Jukic – September 11, 2015

According to recent reporting from tech site Ars Technica, The new APS-H sensor from Canon takes shooting photos to levels of pixel resolution that go beyond anything currently found in any existing 4K DSLR camera with attendant high resolution photo capacity.

This is because the experimental CMOS sensor from Canon offers up 250 megapixels. With its APS-H size (29x20mm) the new sensor packs into its photos a whopping resolution of 19580 x 12600 pixels, which is way beyond the bounds of even the highest-resolution commercial DSLR 4K camera or even any one of Canon’s own current ultra-high resolution commercial DSLRs, like the the Canon 5DS—with its own 36x24mm image sensor of a mere 50.6 MP.

The Canon 250 MP image sensor is of course just a highly experimental device with no near-term release plans that we can hold our breath for. However, it does really work and a very basic looking prototype camera box containing the monstrously powerful sensor with a large SLR zoom lens sticking out of the box itself was built by Canon and tested with spectacular results. During one of the tests, the combination of the hugely powerful sensor and the optical and digital zoom functions on the mounted SLR lens allowed the Canon testers to take photos in which they could “distinguish the lettering on the side of an Airplane flying at a distance of approximately 11 miles from the shooting location”

The insanely powerful 250 megapixel sensor from Canon.

The insanely powerful APS-H 250 megapixel sensor from Canon.

This is an astonishing level of resolution for Canon’s experimental sensor but it’s also not the only trick up the Canon engineers’ sleeves. In addition to its resolution, the sensor can also read sensor signal at a remarkably fast speed considering how many pixels we’re talking about here. According to Canon, the signal readout of the CMOS sensor is roughly 1.25 billion pixels per second, meaning that despite its immense 250MP resolution, this prototype camera sensor can take single images at a rate of 5 frames per second.

Of course, in order to pull this off, Canon must be using some extraordinarily sophisticated digital signal processing technology but the company refused to go into deep detail on their methodology.

And, in case you’re curious about file size for these colossal images, we can extrapolate a bit. A single 8688 x 5792 RAW image from the 50MP sensor of the 5DS DSLR camera we mentioned earlier (which is on sale on the market) weighs about 70 megabytes. Thus one single still shot from the experimental 250MP sensor would come in at roughly 350 megabytes. At 5 frames per second, this means a required transfer rate of 1.75GB/sec…. Quite heavy duty indeed and way beyond the capacities of virtually any modern Flash or SD card standards.

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