Canon made a new image sensor that can take high quality color pictures in the dark


Posts: 1,199   +20
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In brief: While manufacturers have been able to cram many millions of pixels into tiny smartphone camera sensors and improve their sensitivity, Canon made a new type of sensor that's particularly great in low-light scenarios, especially when compared to conventional CMOS sensors.

Canon has developed a new image sensor that is capable of taking high quality color pictures even in dark settings. This could be a boon for photographers, but arguably even more important for applications like self-driving cars, surveillance systems, slow-motion capture, time of flight distance measurements, and mixed-reality.

According to a Nikkei report, the new sensor can capture a very high amount of detail as it only requires one tenth the brightness that conventional sensors need to recognize light. To achieve this performance, Canon wasn’t able to use the photodiodes found in conventional CMOS sensors, so it opted for something called a single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) instead.

A SPAD enables that increased sensitivity to light thanks to its ability to act as a linear amplifier when struck by even as little as a single photon. Canon says its new sensor can be manufactured using the same technique as CMOS sensors and could end up costing roughly the same per unit, assuming the same production yield.

One area where the new sensor won’t impress is resolution. However, its 3.2 million pixels do make it the world’s densest of its kind, and more than three times better than Canon’s previous SPAD sensor.

The company plans to begin mass production sometime in the second half of 2022, and is expected to integrate the new sensor into its security cameras by the end of next year.

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Posts: 1,026   +768
Ok so not complete dark ( I was prepared to be amazed ) - some things luminesce.
3.2 mega pixels is pretty good - a lot of non-slr cameras around 2000 were just around this or lower .
10-12 mega pixels will get you a great photos if not a noisy sensor that can be blow up quite large

it's still amazing -the top canon/sony/nikon see better in the dark than us , including colour already for quite awhile .

These will equate to cheap low power night vision glasses - probably not much thicker than bifocals . Two sensors on each side for stereo - power, cpu in frame , glasses that have a sliding mode of transparency to image generation ( that would need some nifty software to align what you see and projected ) - well that would be a later model - first would be 100% projected


Posts: 3,149   +2,651
I just wish the (smartphone) camera sensors, the INDIVIDUAL pixels would be larger instead of stuffing more and more sensors into such a tiny space. Maybe this new sensor will help, but typically they stuff so many sensor, and when you do try a low light photo, they have to crank up the gain of the sensor to capture detail and, with these sensor signal paths being so close to each other, it increased the crosstalk and the signal to noise ratio goes up which leads to "noise", then the camera software (if you aren't in RAW mode) tries to tamp down the noise, resulting in a washed out photo.
I don't use my phone for a camera except for work, snapping photos of equipment problems.
For everything else, I use a real camera that has a larger sensor. But, they always say, the best
camera is the one you have with you.


Posts: 153   +131
it's still amazing -the top canon/sony/nikon see better in the dark than us , including colour already for quite awhile .

A lot of advancements are waaay more digital editing on the fly than really hardware steps forward. Most SoCs nowadays by high ISO (even on "RAW") compare frames to gather info and detail and have hundreds of AI default "situations" so that each individual frame has the best results.

If you could take just the bare raw data from the sensor (which never happens, the company's "firmware" always make some processing on the raw data, also so that you don't detect dead pixels, etc etc) you would get a deception.

What Apple is researching may be one of the directions of the future; until that quality (Apple, Samsung, etc) makes huge cameras fear, the huge cameras just will have excellent optics and big sensors. A full sized sensor and f1.5 lens are much much bigger than of phones and the quality by good light and dynamic range is not that different (comparing sizes).

I bet Smartphones will get much sooner must better sensors than Canon or Sony


Posts: 7,694   +6,633
CMOS vs CCD? Which is better?
From what I have heard/read, as far as astronomical cameras go, CCD used to be better. However, modern CMOS sensors have caught up.

IMO, it would seem that this single-photon sensitivity is quite and advance no matter how you look at it.