Canon's 120 megapixel image sensor captures video in frightening detail

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Canon in September 2015 announced it was developing a couple of ultra-high resolution CMOS image sensors. Chief among them was the 120MXS with a staggering 13,280 x 9,184 effective pixel count (120 megapixels). We’ve seen the sensor crop up (no pun intended) a few times since then but now, we’ve got some sample video to admire.

The 120MXS is an ultra-high resolution CMOS sensor with 13280 x 9184 effective pixels (approx. 60x the resolution of Full HD). It has a size equivalent to APS-H (29.22mm x 20.20mm), and a square pixel arrangement of 2.2μm x 2.2μm with 122 million effective pixels. Ultra-high-resolution is made possible by parallel signal processing, which reads signals at high speed from multiple pixels. All pixel progressive reading of 9.4 fps is made possible by 28 digital signal output channels. It is available in RGB or with twice the sensitivity, in monochrome.

In Canon’s latest video, we can see the incredibly high detail that a sensor of this caliber is capable of capturing. Fine details that are lost in standard Full HD are readily apparent with the 120 megapixel solution.

It’s impressive, no doubt, but also a bit frightening. The stadium scene, specifically, shows what’s possible in terms of surveillance when you’ve got an ultra-high resolution camera at your disposal.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Well, it may have finally happened. This one will exceed me using my Crown Graphic 4.x5, using Panatomic-X and development in Amadol ..... and just a tiny bit faster too! (LOL)

Of course, on the up side, they have not made a digital camera that reaches the color saturation of film (properly shot/developed/printed) but frankly, the world no longer pays attention to these things. Case in point; The View Camera with it's swings and tilts was the ONLY acceptable to photograph a building since 35mm and fixed lens cameras tend to create converging lines when pointed upward as with a view camera you can correct all but the most severe. Color is the same way and since the printers can mask in colors and make corrections it's now a but of a mute point. Alas .... the good old days are becoming a distant memory .....
 

Mike Wood DIT

TS Rookie
Utterly pointless to the a/v industry. I keep hearing about shooting on 6K, 8K or more for "future proofing" - for a future of what? Most deliverables today are for smaller screens or Netflix, and even theatrical, the human eye can only perceive a fraction of the colour data captured at higher Ks. Tech keeps "pushng the boundaries" for no other reason than to push the boundaries for technical reasons.
 

yRaz

Nigerian Prince
Utterly pointless to the a/v industry. I keep hearing about shooting on 6K, 8K or more for "future proofing" - for a future of what? Most deliverables today are for smaller screens or Netflix, and even theatrical, the human eye can only perceive a fraction of the colour data captured at higher Ks. Tech keeps "pushng the boundaries" for no other reason than to push the boundaries for technical reasons.
actually it's very useful for post processing. If you're making a 4k video with an 8k raw that allows you to do a 2x zoom on a section of video in post. It also allows super sampling to get sharper video.
 

Mike Wood DIT

TS Rookie
actually it's very useful for post processing. If you're making a 4k video with an 8k raw that allows you to do a 2x zoom on a section of video in post. It also allows super sampling to get sharper video.
My point exactly. It's only useful for technical purposes. Get a "sharper video" doesn't make it better. I can do zooms in post on 4k footage shot XAVCi SLog 3 and it's still perfectly fine for any human eye. Technically, no, but no human eye can see the full colour gamut. And in post terms, the capabilities of cgi in post houses can already produce stunning images, so why "upgrade"? Marketing. It's one-upmanship for people who don't have a clue - "I've got the biggest TV in town, check it out."
 

yRaz

Nigerian Prince
My point exactly. It's only useful for technical purposes. Get a "sharper video" doesn't make it better. I can do zooms in post on 4k footage shot XAVCi SLog 3 and it's still perfectly fine for any human eye. Technically, no, but no human eye can see the full colour gamut. And in post terms, the capabilities of cgi in post houses can already produce stunning images, so why "upgrade"? Marketing. It's one-upmanship for people who don't have a clue - "I've got the biggest TV in town, check it out."
The people buying these would disagree with you. Shooting in 8k has MANY benifits, many more than I feel like writing. I will say this, the people buying these aren't "one upping" each other. These are used by professional studios these are the types of cameras that movies are shot on. People aren't driving around in lambos showing off their 8k cameras to each other. The very idea is stupid. Yeah, I can one up you buy spending an extra $400 to get the 65 inch tv over your 55". I'm NOT going to pay an extra $30,000 dollars to upgrade from 4k to 8k. Their cost is the cost of the camera body only, too. a fully fitted Red camera can cost $80,000 and I bet the cannon would probably be in the $60-70,000.

This is not a consumer camera and, naturally, consumers like you don't see it's usefulness. And even though I have a 4k camera I still most often shoot in 1080P because highspeed flash storage gets expensive FAST. And instead of just flash storage, these cameras are meant to be used with something that more closely resembles an SSD
 
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seeprime

TS Guru
Now add all the AI image recognition stuff to it and give it to a police state like China. It doesn't take much imagination as to what could possibly go wrong.
You have a point. Government surveillance will certainly get superior facial recognition from this level of resolution.
 

oberonqa

TS Rookie
actually it's very useful for post processing. If you're making a 4k video with an 8k raw that allows you to do a 2x zoom on a section of video in post. It also allows super sampling to get sharper video.
My point exactly. It's only useful for technical purposes. Get a "sharper video" doesn't make it better. I can do zooms in post on 4k footage shot XAVCi SLog 3 and it's still perfectly fine for any human eye. Technically, no, but no human eye can see the full colour gamut. And in post terms, the capabilities of cgi in post houses can already produce stunning images, so why "upgrade"? Marketing. It's one-upmanship for people who don't have a clue - "I've got the biggest TV in town, check it out."
One of the biggest advantages for consumers here is to look at the remastering process for older movies. There is a visual difference when upscaling a movie from the 80's and 90's up to 1080p and 4k due to the movies being filmed at a lower resolution. You have to resort to post-processing techniques to smooth out the picture and the result is a softer looking image.

By filming movies at 8k and beyond, it enables those movies to be presented to consumers at home at 1080p and 4k without any loss in quality... and it ensures that those movies can be remastered/re-released in the future at whatever resolution is standard and commonplace at that time without taking too big a hit in the quality department.
 

Puiu

TS Evangelist
Utterly pointless to the a/v industry. I keep hearing about shooting on 6K, 8K or more for "future proofing" - for a future of what? Most deliverables today are for smaller screens or Netflix, and even theatrical, the human eye can only perceive a fraction of the colour data captured at higher Ks. Tech keeps "pushng the boundaries" for no other reason than to push the boundaries for technical reasons.
And what about if you want to release something 10 years from now? Having the source footage at a much higher resolution allows you a lot of flexibility for future projects (be it remasters or simply reusing the footage for something else) Believe it or not we'll have 8K in early 2020 and we'll eventually move to 16K or higher by the end of that decade. Professionals are not stupid.

Another good example: youtubers didn't start filming stuff in 4K and uploading it to youtube before it was available for no reason. When 4K became available their videos automatically had that option for viewers (which got them early views from people that wanted to watch 4K videos). This is why you see some youtubers filming in 8K now.
 

Mugsy

TS Evangelist
I follow these reports of super-high resolution image sensors with the idea in mind that as the detail improves and their size shrinks, we come ever closer to a "bionic" eye and potential cure for blindness.

How long before we can do for the blind what Cochlear implants do for the deaf?
 
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LenovoX

TS Booster
Now add all the AI image recognition stuff to it and give it to a police state like China. It doesn't take much imagination as to what could possibly go wrong.
Wow, "police state like China"?... I'm afraid there are western states in the same situation, including US