Canon develops world’s largest CMOS image sensor, with ultra-high sensitivity

Canon continues to demonstrate R&D leadership with successive ‘world’s-first’ image sensor developments

Sydney, 31 August 2010: Canon announced today that it has successfully developed the world’s largest*1 CMOS image sensor, with a chip size measuring 202 x 205 mm. Because its expanded size enables greater light-gathering capability, the sensor is capable of capturing images in one one-hundredth the amount of light required by a professional-model digital SLR camera.

At 202 x 205 mm, the newly developed CMOS sensor is among the largest chips that can be produced from a 12-inch (300 mm) wafer, and is approximately 40 times the size of Canon’s largest commercial CMOS sensor.*2

“Canon reinvests close to 10% of global net sales into R&D each year to ensure that we continue to push boundaries and stay at the technological forefront in digital imaging,” said Darren Ryan, General Manager Consumer Marketing, Canon Australia. “The new CMOS sensor is a breakthrough in extreme low-light image capture.”

In the past, enlarging the size of the sensor resulted in an increase in the amount of time required between the receiving and transmission of data signals, which posed a challenge to achieving high-speed readout. Canon, however, solved this problem through an innovative circuit design, making possible the realisation of a massive video-compatible CMOS sensor. Additionally, by ensuring the cleanest of cleanroom environments during the production process, the sensor minimises image imperfections and dust.

Because the increased size of the new CMOS sensor allows more light to be gathered, it enables shooting in low-light environments. The sensor makes possible the image capture in one one-hundredth the amount of light required by a 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor, facilitating the shooting of 60 frame-per-second video with a mere 0.3 lux of illumination*3.

Potential applications for the new high-sensitivity CMOS sensor include the video recording of stars in the night sky and nocturnal animal behaviour.

R&D commitment

“Canon consistently ranks in the top four patent-registering organisations worldwide, and this recent development follows our announcement last week of the world’s first APS-H-size CMOS sensor to realise record-high resolution of 120MP,” continued Ryan. “I am confident that our long-term commitment to developing innovative core technologies will see Canon continue to challenge the boundaries of imaging expression and, in doing so, redefine what’s possible in the future.”

*1  As of August 27, 2010. Based on a Canon study.

*2  The approximately 21.1 megapixel 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor employed in the company’s EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR cameras

*3  Approximately one-half the brightness of a moonlit night

About Canon
Canon Australia is a leading provider of advanced, simple-to-use imaging solutions for businesses and consumers. Canon’s Australian R&D company, CiSRA, develops customised solutions for local customers, and exports digital imaging technologies for use in Canon products worldwide. Canon has ranked among the top-four US patent recipients for the past 18 years, and had global revenues of around $US35 billion in 2009. Canon Australia also operates Canon Finance Australia, which offers one-stop shopping for customers wanting leasing or finance services. For more information, visit

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