Canon Develops A New Wide Dynamic Range Sensor With “area-specific exposure”

Dynamic Range

It seems Canon is actively developing a new imaging sensor with wide dynamic range, according to news coming from Japan.

Newswitch (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun) posted an interesting article about a new Canon imaging sensor with wide dynamic range and featuring a technology called “area-specific exposure”.

Canon has developed a new complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) sensor product (pictured) suitable for surveillance applications. The dynamic range, which is the range of brightness and darkness that can be expressed, is 148 decibels, which is the highest level in the industry for surveillance cameras, according to the company. High-quality images can be obtained even in environments with a large difference in brightness. Aiming for early commercialization.

The developed CMOS sensor is a layered type with two layers: pixels that convert external light into electrical signals and a central processing unit (CPU) that performs calculations. Compared to when pixels and CPUs are placed on the same substrate, more CPUs and dedicated circuits can be mounted. Processing power has increased, making it easier to shoot high-precision images even when the subject is moving.

When shooting in an environment with a large difference in brightness, normally multiple images with different exposure times are combined and processed to correct the difference in brightness. However, since images with different exposure times are combined, there was the problem that the moving subjects overlapped several times and appeared blurred.

The CMOS sensor developed by Canon this time divides the screen finely and adopts “exposure by area” that changes the exposure conditions for each area. Since no compositing process is required, there is no need to worry about blurring the subject. It can contribute to improving the performance of surveillance cameras by, for example, simultaneously recognizing the vehicle license plate and driver’s face at the entrance/exit of an underground parking lot.

The metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) imaging sensor we are talking here is first and foremost for surveillance applications. Don’t expect it in your next Canon consumer mirrorless camera. The imaging sensor has two layers: pixels that convert external light into electrical signals and a central processing unit (CPU) that performs calculations. And here comes the trick used by Canon:

When shooting in an environment with a large difference in brightness, normally multiple images with different exposure times are combined and processed to correct the difference in brightness. However, since images with different exposure times are combined, there was the problem that the moving subjects overlapped several times and appeared blurred. The CMOS sensor developed by Canon this time divides the screen finely and adopts “exposure by area” that changes the exposure conditions for each area. Since no compositing process is required, there is no need to worry about blurring the subject.

Cool, kudos Canon.

And here is the press release:

Canon develops CMOS sensor for monitoring applications with industry-leading dynamic range, automatic exposure optimization function for each sensor area that improves accuracy for recognizing moving subjects

TOKYO, January 12, 2023—Canon Inc. announced today that the company has developed a 1.0-inch, back-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor for monitoring applications that achieves an effective pixel count of approximately 12.6 million pixels (4,152 x 3,024) and provides an industry-leading1 dynamic range of 148 decibels2 (dB). The new sensor divides the image into 736 areas and automatically determines the best exposure settings for each area. This eliminates the need for synthesizing images, which is often necessary when performing high-dynamic-range photography in environments with significant differences in brightness, thereby reducing the amount of data processed and improving the recognition accuracy of moving subjects.

With the increasingly widespread use of monitoring cameras in recent years, there has been a corresponding growth in demand for image sensors that can capture high-quality images in environments with significant differences in brightness, such as stadium entrances and nighttime roads. Canon has developed a new sensor for such applications, and will continue to pursue development of sensors for use in a variety of fields.

The new sensor realizes a dynamic range of 148 dB—the highest-level performance in the industry among image sensors for monitoring applications. It is capable of image capture at light levels ranging from approximately 0.1 lux to approximately 2,700,000 lux. The sensor’s performance holds the potential for use in such applications as recognizing both vehicle license plates and the driver’s face at underground parking entrances during daytime, as well as combining facial recognition and background monitoring at stadium entrances.

In order to produce a natural-looking image when capturing images in environments with both bright and dark areas, conventional high-dynamic-range image capture requires taking multiple separate photos under different exposure conditions and then synthesizing them into a single image. Because exposure times vary in length, this synthesis processing often results in a problem called “motion artifacts,” in which images of moving subjects are merged but do not overlap completely, resulting in a final image that is blurry. Canon’s new sensor divides the image into 736 distinct areas, each of which can automatically be set to the optimal exposure time based on brightness level. This prevents the occurrence of motion artifacts and makes possible facial recognition with greater accuracy even when scanning moving subjects. What’s more, image synthesizing is not required, thereby reducing the amount of data to be processed and enabling high-speed image capture at speeds of approximately 60 frames-per-second3 (fps) and a high pixel count of approximately 12.6 million pixels.

Video is comprised of a series of individual still images (single frames). However, if exposure conditions for each frame is not specified within the required time for that frame, it becomes difficult to track and capture images of subjects in environments with subject to significant changes in brightness, or in scenarios where the subject is moving at high speeds. Canon’s new image sensor is equipped with multiple CPUs and dedicated processing circuitry, enabling it to quickly and simultaneously specify exposure conditions for all 736 areas within the allotted time per frame. In addition, image capture conditions can be specified according to environment and use case. Thanks to these capabilities, the sensor is expected to serve a wide variety of purposes including fast and highly accurate subject detection on roads or in train stations, as well as stadium entrances and other areas where there are commonly significant changes in brightness levels.

Example use case for new sensor

  • Parking garage entrance, afternoon: With conventional cameras, vehicle’s license plate is not legible due to whiteout, while driver’s face is not visible due to crushed blacks. However, the new sensor enables recognition of both the license plate and driver’s face.
  • The new sensor realizes an industry-leading high dynamic range of 148 dB, enabling image capture in environments with brightness levels ranging from approx. 0.1 lux to approx. 2,700,000 lux. For reference, 0.1 lux is equivalent to the brightness of a full moon at night, while 500,000 lux is equivalent to filaments in lightbulbs and vehicle headlights.

Technology behind the sensor’s wide dynamic range

  • With conventional sensors, in order to produce a natural-looking image when capturing images in environments with both bright and dark areas, high-dynamic-range image capture requires taking multiple separate photos under different exposure conditions and then synthesizing them into a single image. (In the diagram below, four exposure types are utilized per single frame).
  • With Canon’s new sensor, optimal exposure conditions are automatically specified for each of the 736 areas, thus eliminating the need for image synthesis.

Technology behind per-area exposure

  • Portion in which subject moves is detected based on discrepancies between first image (one frame prior) and second image (two frames prior). ((1) Generate movement map).
  • In first image (one frame prior) brightness of subject is recognized for each area4 and luminance map is generated (2). After ensuring difference in brightness levels between adjacent areas are not excessive ((3) Reduce adjacent exposure discrepancy), exposure conditions are corrected based on information from movement map, and final exposure conditions are specified (4).
  • Final exposure conditions (4) are applied to images for corresponding frames.

[via digicame-info]

What A Deal! Canon EOS-1D X Mark II at $2999 (reg. $5999)

Canon Eos-1d X Mark Ii

What a great deal today at B&H Photo. The still excellent, professional grade Canon EOS-1D X Mark II on sale at $2,999.

At a glance:

  • 20.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • Dual DIGIC 6+ Image Processors
  • 3.2″ 1.62m-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor
  • DCI 4K Video at 60 fps, 8.8MP Still Grab
  • 61-Point High Density Reticular AF II
  • Native ISO 51200, Expanded to ISO 409600
  • 14 fps Shooting, 16 fps in Live View
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Movie Servo AF
  • Built-In GPS, CFast & CF Card Slots

Get the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II on sale at $2,999. Compare at $5,999. That’s a $3k discount. The EOS-1D X is 6 years old but still an excellent camera than can easily hold up with more recent gear. I wouldn’t hesitate to take this deal.

More selected deals:

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Is Canon Developing A Mirror Lens With Auto-Focus?

Canon Patent

That’s what a Canon patent application seems to suggest, a 300mm f/2.3 mirror lens. Read on.

Canon patent application 2023013456 (Japan, published 1/26/2023) discusses optical formulas for a 300mm f/2.3 mirror lens with autofocus. From the patent literature:

An optical system capable of sufficiently correcting curvature of field while being compact, lightweight, and having a large aperture ratio is provided.

Description of the Related Art

As a telephoto imaging optical system having a long focal length, there is a catadioptric imaging optical system having a reflective system and a refracting system. In such a catadioptric imaging optical system, Patent Literatures 1 and 2 disclose an inner focus type imaging optical system that is compact, lightweight, has a large aperture ratio, and has an autofocus function. ing. [0004]However, in the imaging optical systems disclosed in Patent Documents 1 and 2, the configuration of the reflection system cannot sufficiently correct the curvature of field.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an optical system capable of sufficiently correcting curvature of field while having a small size, light weight, and large aperture ratio.

An optical system as one aspect of the present invention has a first group that does not move during focusing and a second group that moves during focusing.

Example 1

  • Focal length: 298.89
  • F-value: 2.28
  • Half angle of view: 4.14
  • Image height: 21.64
  • Overall length: 177.20
  • Back focus: 65.95

Example 2

  • Focal length: 408.04
  • F-value: 5.00
  • Half angle of view: 3.04
  • Image height: 21.64
  • Total length: 189.17
  • Back focus: 47.69

More Canon patent applications are listed here. Some particularly interesting patent applications we think might get into production are these:

[via asobinet]

Canon EOS R7 vs Sony A6600 Review: 10 Main Differences, And A Full Comparison

Canon EOS R7 Vs Sony A6600

How do the Canon EOS R7 vs Sony a6600 compare? What are the main differences? Read on to find out.

Canon EOS R7 at a glance:

  • 32.5MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • RF mount
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF II
  • 4K60 10-Bit Video, HDR-PQ & C-Log 3
  • 30 fps E. Shutter, 15 fps Mech. Shutter
  • 2.36m-Dot OLED EVF
  • 1.6m-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD
  • Sensor-Shift 5-Axis Image Stabilization
  • Dual UHS-II Memory Card Slots
  • Multi-Function Shoe, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Sony A6600 at a glance:

  • 24.2MP APS-C Exmor CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • UHD 4K30p Video with HLG & S-Log3 Gammas
  • XGA Tru-Finder 2.36m-Dot OLED EVF
  • 3.0″ 921.6k-Dot 180° Tilting Touchscreen
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
  • Up to 11-fps Shooting, ISO 100-32000
  • 4D FOCUS with 425 Phase-Detect Points
  • Real Time Eye AF for Stills and Video
  • Headphone & Mic Ports, Wi-Fi & Bluetooth

Mirrorless Comparison posted their exhaustive Canon EOS R7 vs Sony a6600 review. You’ll find anything needed to compare both cameras. From their conclusion:

We list the 10 main differences and suggest you visit Mirrorless Comparison to get the entire picture. They cover anything from ergonomics to image quality and ISO performance, not to mention the many sample pictures. You might also watch the video-review at the end of the post.

The 10 Main Differences in a Nutshell

  1. Design: the A6600 is smaller and lighter, but the R7 has a more comfortable grip and a better button layout (except for the hybrid dial/joystick solution that I personally don’t like).
  2. Viewfinder / LCD: similar specs, but different position for the EVFs. The LCD monitor on the Canon offers better resolution and more touch capabilities. That of the Sony tilts up 180˚ but is not multi-angle.
  3. Cards and Battery: two slots for the R7 (UHS-II), one for the A6600 (UHS-I). Battery life is similar, but the Sony can last for a little longer.
  4. Image Quality: more resolution on the R7 sensor, but also more noise at high ISO, and when opening the shadows in post. I prefer the colours on the Canon for the most part.
  5. Autofocus: the R7 is more advanced and can recognise a larger variety of subjects. Eye AF for humans is more reliable and works for video on the Canon. That said, the A6600 does well when given a challenge (birds in flight).
  6. Drive Speed: The R7 has a superior continuous shooting speed of 30fps, but it comes with severe rolling shutter. With the mechanical mode, you can work at 15fps. The Sony maxes out at 11fps. Neither excels in terms of their buffer capabilities.
  7. Image Stabilisation: you can push the R7 further when it comes to hand-held still photos, and it also delivers smoother results for movie recording.
  8. Video: both cameras offer great quality in 4K up to 30p. The R7 goes up to 60p, but with a choice of reduced sharpness, or a heavy 1.8x sensor crop. The Canon can record 10-bit 4:2:2 internally, whereas the Sony has more advanced settings to fine-tune the image.
  9. Extra Features: The R7 packs a few more functionalities, like focus bracketing and focus stacking, as well as the Pre-Shooting mode.
  10. Price and Lenses: The A6600 is less expensive, but not by much, unless you find a special offer. The Sony E-mount system is vaster and more complete (if we look at native lenses).

And here is Mirrorless Comparison’s video review:

Canon Patent: Adding Functionality To The Rear Dial By Making It Clickable

Canon Patent

This Canon patent shows once more that ergonomics and user interfaces are constantly researched and further deveolped.

Canon patent application 2023009898 (Japan, published 1/20/2023) discusses methods to make the rear dial clickable, e.g. to add functionality. From the patent literature:

An object of the present invention is to provide a rotary operation member capable of a compound operation that prevents an erroneous operation during a rotary operation.

Description of the Related Art

Conventionally, in an electronic device having a rotating/swiveling operation member such as a dial, there has been proposed a structure capable of performing a combined operation of a rotating operation and a swinging operation of the rotating operation member.

However, the prior art disclosed in the above-mentioned patent document requires a plurality of means for producing a rotating operation and a swinging motion, and there is a concern that the swinging operation may be erroneously performed during the rotating operation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a rotating and swinging operating member that performs rotating and swinging operations with a common member while preventing erroneous operation during rotating operation.

EFFECTS OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, it is possible to provide a composite operating member that is capable of rotating and swinging operations and that is excellent in immediacy while preventing erroneous operations.

Canon patent

More Canon patent applications are listed here.

[via asobinet]

Canon Patent: Shutter Button Vibrates When Focus Is Acquired

Canon Patent

And here is the third Canon patent application of today (see here and here), and this is a rather cool one in our opinion.

Canon patent application 2023009356 (Japan, published 1/20/2023) discusses methods to make a shutter button that vibrates when autofocus is locked. Pretty cool, isn’t it? Think of situations where silence is important, but getting to know when AF locks is too.

From the patent literature:

An optical device capable of increasing vibration transmitted to a release button with an inexpensive and compact configuration is provided.

Description of the Related Art

Conventional single-lens reflex cameras generate camera shooting sounds such as shutter sounds and mirror drive sounds when a release button is operated to take a picture. Thereby, the user can recognize by the sound that the camera has performed the photographing operation. However, in recent years, when photographing athletes, the sound of the camera being shot distracts them from their concentration. becoming a problem. As a countermeasure for this problem, mirrorless cameras have become popular and the driving sound of the mirror has been eliminated. For this reason, among mirrorless cameras, there is a silent shutter camera that significantly suppresses the camera shooting sound even when shooting in a quiet place by reducing the shutter sound.

However, since the silent shutter camera is almost silent, when the user operates the release button to take a picture, it is difficult to determine whether or not the image has been reliably recorded. In order to address this problem, a configuration has been disclosed in which the release button is vibrated so that only the user can perceive the shooting operation while suppressing the camera shooting sound.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide an optical apparatus capable of increasing the vibration transmitted to the release button with an inexpensive and compact configuration.

More Canon patent applications are listed here.

[via asobinet]