Canon Develops Another Image Sensor That Can See In The Dark (0.08 lux!)

Canon

Canon’ research labs are continuously pushing the technological evolution of image sensors. Here is another one.

Spotted by Image Sensors World, and none else despite what it might seem, the Canon LI7050 is a new high-sensitivity CMOS sensor for network and industrial cameras that enables full-HD color video capture in 0.08 lux environments. Not bad, eh?

The Canon LI7050 is a specialized image sensor for industrial and other scientific applications. Another Canon sensor that can see in the dark, According to the experts at Image Sensors World:

Despite a compact pixel array of 1/1.8 inches and pixel size of 4.1 µm, Canon’s newly developed LI7050 sensor makes possible color video recording in low-light environments as dark as 0.08 lux.

Security cameras equipped with the LI7050 can capture video at night in such locations as public facilities, roads or transport networks, thereby helping to identify details including the color of vehicles or subjects’ clothing. What’s more, this compact, high-sensitivity sensor can be installed in cameras for such use cases as underwater drones, microscopes and wearable cameras for security personnel.

Canon’s new sensor is also equipped with an HDR drive function that realizes a wide DR of 120 dB. When recording in an environment with illumination levels between, for example, 0.08 lux and 80,000 lux, the sensor’s wide dynamic range enables video capture without blown-out whites and crushed blacks. During normal drive operation, the sensor realizes a noise level of 75 dB and captures video without blown-out whites and crushed blacks in environments with illumination levels between, for example, 0.08 lux and 500 lux.

Is there already someone claiming the sensor is overheating? If not, here is a video showing of the capabilities of this sensor. We think it’s impressing.

If you want to learn more about these highly specialized image sensors have a look at this listing.

Canon press release:

SINGAPORE, 3 August 2020 — Canon announced today the launch in Japan of the LI7050, a new 1/1.8-inch CMOS sensor capable of capturing color images in full-HD even in low-illumination environments as dark as 0.08 lux1.

The recent growth of IoT technologies has in turn generated increasing demand for network and industrial-use cameras—in particular, cameras capable of image capture in full-HD as well as nighttime color recording. Despite a compact body size of 1/1.8 inches and pixel size of 4.1 µm (micrometers), Canon’s newly developed LI7050 sensor makes possible color video recording in full-HD, even under low-light conditions.

The LI7050, while achieving a compact size, features a pixel architecture that enables high sensitivity, thereby making possible low-noise, full-HD color video recording in low-light environments as dark as 0.08 lux. Conventional nighttime monitoring employs infrared cameras and records video in monochrome. However, network cameras equipped with the LI7050 can capture video at night in such locations as public facilities, roads or transport networks, thereby helping to identify details including the color of vehicles or subjects’ clothing. What’s more, this compact, high-sensitivity sensor can be installed in cameras for such use cases as underwater drones, microscopes and wearable cameras for security personnel.

Canon’s new sensor is also equipped with an HDR drive function that realizes a wide dynamic range of 120 dB. When recording in an environment with illumination levels between, for example, 0.08 lux and 80,000 lux, the sensor’s wide dynamic range enables video capture without blown-out whites and crushed blacks. Thanks to this capability, the sensor enables cameras to record high-quality video, even when positioned at building entrances and other locations where there are significant variations in illumination levels. During normal drive operation, the sensor realizes a noise level of 75 dB and captures video without blown-out whites and crushed blacks in environments with illumination levels between, for example, 0.08 lux and 500 lux.
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​​​​​​​The LI7050 supports the MIPI CSI-2 interface utilized by a wide range of consumer and industrial-use cameras, thereby greatly expanding the number of possible equipment combinations. The sensor also meets a variety of industrial needs through such features as a Region of Interest (ROI) function that enables users to select regions to read from the sensor, reducing the amount of read information and allowing for image capture at an increased framerate, and the ability to configure horizontal and vertical inversion directly from the sensor for easy viewing of footage from cameras installed on ceilings and other inverted positions.
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​​​​​​​Canon has begun sample shipments of the LI7050 from today, and is scheduled to officially commence sales in late October 2020.

Does Sensor Size Matter And Can You Tell The Difference? (sensor size comparison)

Sensor Size

Does sensor size matter that much and can you even tell the difference?. A sensor size comparison from medium format to Micro 4/3 Sensors.

The people at The Slanted Lens wants to know and compares four sensor sizes:

We compare 4 sensor sizes to see how they compare in print image quality: Hasselblad X1D II 50C, Sony a7R IV, Sony a6600 and Panasonic GH5. See how much difference there is in the Medium, Full-frame, APS-C and Micro 4/3 Sensors.

More posts talking sensor size and formats are listed here.

This Canon Patent Puts A Vacuum Cleaner Into A Lens To Keep The Sensor Clean

Canon Patent

Sounds weird? Well, it’s an actual Canon patent application.

Canon patent application 2019-191432 (Japan) discusses a lens design that incorporates the basic principle of a standard vacuum cleaner.

The specially designed lens has a an air flow circuit, as you can easily see in the image on top. Air is pulled in from the outside, hits the sensor, gets sucked away and flows out. Basically, this lens creates a negative pressure around the image sensor, so that dust and other particles don’t stick to the sensor. Quoting the patent literature:

An air intake channel for sucking air from the outside into the interior of the imaging device (200) by the pressure difference generated by the air flow generating means.

canon patent

Sound pretty awesome, and complicated too. From the patent abstract:

[Problem] To provide a dust removing device capable of easily removing dust adhering to an imaging element inside a camera body while confirming an actual influence degree.

[Means for solving] An outer housing having an engaging part for engaging with a lens mount detachably holding an imaging lens, and an inner side of the outer housing ;A communication unit for electrically connecting an inner housing and an imaging device to be arranged, a 1 passage penetrating into the body of the imaging device formed between the outer housing and the inner housing, a 2 passage penetrating into the body of the imaging device formed inside the inner case, and an engaging portion ;The device is provided with at least one optical member arranged on a photographing optical axis when engaged with an imaging device and on the inside of the inner case, an aperture mechanism, and an empty flow generating means arranged at a position not to erode a photographing light flux of the optical member in the 1 passage. A part of the 2 flow path is formed by the periphery of the optical member and an opening of the throttle mechanism

Don’t expect this invention to g to production anytime soon, if ever.

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

[via Canon News]

This Image Sensor Makes It Virtually Impossible To Blow Highlights

Image Sensor

Researchers at the German Institut für Mikroelektronik Stuttgart have developed an image sensor that makes it almost impossible to blow highlights with.

What this image sensor does, is using “self resetting pixels“, i.e. pixels that don’t clip when they get saturated but instead starts over and counts the times it has started over. From the research paper’s abstract:

Conventional CMOS image sensors with a linear transfer characteristic only have a limited dynamic range (DR) of about 60–70 dB. To extend the dynamic range considerably, the already successfully demonstrated concept of a linear self-reset pixel was employed in this work. With the self-reset concept the limit of the maximum analyzable photo generated charge (Qmax) during the exposure time is extended to a multiple of the saturation charge of the photo diode (Qsat) by asynchronous self-resets of the photo diode. Additionally, the remaining charge at the end of the exposure time is evaluated to increase the resolution of the opto-electronic conversion. Thus we achieved pixels with a DR of more than 120 dB combined with an improved low light sensitivity using a pinned photodiode.

In other words: you don’t have to worry about your exposure in order to save highlights in your image. Instead, you can set the best exposure for your subject and safely snap knowing that no highlights will be blown out.

This image sensor is a prototype and likely far from going into production. Never the less, it’s a technological innovation that sooner or later will be featured on image sensors.

The full paper “Realization and opto-electronic Characterization of linear Self-Reset Pixel Cells for a high dynamic CMOS Image Sensor” by Stefan Hirsch, Markus Strobel, Wolfram Klingler, Jan Dirk Schulze Spüntrup, Zili Yu, and Joachim N. Burghartz, is available here.

Let’s hope it’s something Canon will research too.

[via Image Sensors World]

Preliminary, Non Scientific Tests Suggest Canon’s New 32MP Sensor Improves On Dynamic Range

Canon Eos 90d Canon Aps-c Firmware Dynamic Range

It seems Canon’s claim they managed to improve dynamic range while raising the resolution of their latest APS-C sensor is not wrong.

Fred Miranda forum user cgarcia did some tests with sample images from DPReview to compare dynamic range figures of the new Canon EOS 90D (32MP) and the Canon EOS 80D (24MP).

Canon EOS 90D – ISO 100:

  • DR at 32MP: 12.468
  • DR at 8MP: 13.480 (+1.012)
  • read noise: 2.80125

Canon EOS 80D – ISO 100:

  • DR at 24MP: 12.435 EV
  • DR at 8MP: 13.2343 (+0.7993)
  • read noise: 2.86601

As you can see, there is a small improvement over the EOS 80D.

cgarcia also learned that the dynamic range improves much more at higher ISO settings (compared to the EOS 80D). The image below shows that a higher ISO settings the DR of the EOS 90D improves continously.

Dynamic range comparison between Canon EOS 90D and Canon EOS 80D at different ISO settings (image © cgarcia)

These figures look pretty good. However, keep in mind this is a non scientific test. To be sure we have to wait for further analysis of the performance of Canon’s new 32MP APS-C sensor. Never the less, it appears Canon managed to deliver a quite amazing image sensor.

Canon’s new 32MP APS-C sensor is featured on the brand new Canon EOS 90D and Canon EOS M6 Mark II.

Canon EOS 90D:

America: B&H Photo, Adorama, Amazon USA, Amazon CA, KEH Camera, BestBuy, Canon CA, Canon USA
Europe & UK: Amazon DE, Amazon UK, Amazon FR, Amazon IT, Wex Photo Video, Park Cameras, Canon DE, Canon UK, Canon IT, Canon FR

Canon EOS M6 Mark II:

America: B&H Photo, Adorama, Amazon USA, Amazon CA, KEH Camera, BestBuy, Canon CA, Canon USA
Europe & UK: Amazon DE, Amazon UK, Amazon FR, Amazon IT, Wex Photo Video, Park Cameras, Canon DE, Canon UK, Canon IT, Canon FR

Canon Develops A New CMOS Sensor With High Dynamic Range and Able To Shoot Images In Harsh Settings

Ibis Canon Rumors Canon Full Frame Mirrorless Canon PowerShot G7 X Canon Eos 90d Coronavirus

Canon press release:

Canon Announces Development of New CMOS Sensor with High Dynamic Range and Ability to Capture Images Under Harsh Conditions

MELVILLE, NY, June 20, 2019 – The high demands of complex lighting and harsh environments require sensors capable of delivering high-dynamic range (HDR) and high-image quality in adverse temperature conditions. To answer this application need, Canon U.S.A. Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, is pleased to announce that its parent company Canon Inc. is pursuing development of the 3U3MRXSAAC, a 2.8-megapixel, 1/2.32-inch CMOS sensor ideal for HDR imaging.

“As Canon evolves in the sensor market, we are dedicated to utilizing our expertise to develop products built to meet current growing market trends,” said Kazuto Ogawa, president and chief operating officer, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “The 3U3MRXSAAC CMOS sensor under development reflects the continuation of our business strategy that leverages the high-quality imaging technology Canon is able to achieve.”

The 3U3MRXSAAC CMOS sensor being developed will be equipped with an HDR drive function that can achieve a wide range of 120 dB at low noise levels. This HDR function will reflect a greater ability to extract usable information even when there is a substantial difference between the lightest and darkest parts of an image. Even during normal drive operation, the sensor can achieve a dynamic range of 75 dB—greater than the sensors on many conventional digital cameras. 

Additionally, the 3U3MRXSAAC CMOS sensor will also be capable of operating in environments with extreme temperatures ranging from -40 degrees Celsius to 105 degrees Celsius. Typically, in high-temperature conditions, the increase in dark current noise (noise that occurs due to heat, even when no light reaches the sensor) can affect the quality of the image. However, the 3U3MRXSAAC CMOS sensor will be equipped with functionality that helps correct black levels (the luminance level of the darkest portion of an image) in real-time to help maintain high image quality. 

With a diagonal size of 1/2.32 inches (7.75 mm), the 3U3MRXSAAC CMOS sensor will feature approximately 2.8 million effective pixels (1936 x 1456), a pixel size of 3.2 μm x 3.2 μm and a frame rate of up to 60 fps (30 fps during HDR drive operation). The sensor will be compatible with the MIPI CSI-2 interface used by consumer-oriented cameras for a wide variety of purposes.

For more information on Canon sensors, please visit canon-cmos-sensors.com.