Canon's Largest CMOS Sensor is Bigger Than Their DSLRs

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(Scale photography comparing the size of the new Canon sensor. Photo by CANON)

In August of 2010 Canon announced that they were in development of a gigantic 7.95 x 8.07 inch CMOS sensor. They even showed pictures of it compared next to one of their regular full frame camera sensors. 

Eight years later, that sensor is finally a reality and Canon recently installed it into the 3.4 foot Schmidt camera at the Kiso Observatory which is operated by the University of Tokyo's Institute of Astronomy. 

The benefit of a sensor this gigantic, which is roughly 40-times the size of a full frame 5D sensor, is its ability to take images in near darkness. If you thought Sony's A7S II was a lowlight monster, then this is the nightmare that ate that monster. Canon claims that the sensor is capable of shooting 60 frames per second video using only 0.3 lux of light. Which according to them is the equivalent of the brightness thrown off by a full moon.  

60 frames per second from moonlight! This is the spy camera sensor we've all been waiting for. Of course, the sensor is comically large and not at all practical for consumer use, but if you're studying the nightlife of animals or want to explore images of our galaxy further, this could be a game changer. 

In a quote from Canon:

When installed in the 105 cm Schmidt camera at the Kiso Observatory operated by the University of Tokyo's Institute of Astronomy, the ultrahigh-sensitivity sensor made possible the world's first video recording of meteors with an equivalent apparent magnitude of 10, a level so dark that image capture had not been possible until now. As a result, the sensor provided proof that the frequency with which faint meteors occurred coincided with theoretical estimates to date. By supporting more detailed recording and statistical analysis of meteors, the technology could lead to an increased understanding of the influence that meteors may have exerted on the development of life on Earth.

Sure, photographers might not be going back to the Ansel Adams days of using a giant camera, but hopefully, like most technological advances, the sensor will get smaller and smaller over time and have unlimited uses. Check out Canon's website for more information on this huge breakthrough in technology.