Canon has today announced a new ultra-high resolution CMOS image sensor that packs approximately 250 megapixels into an area smaller than a United States postage stamp.

This new image sensor features a resolution of 19,580 x 12,600, which equates to a whopping 246.7 million pixels. Canon has developed the sensor to be APS-H sized (29.2 x 20.2 mm), which means it's smaller than a traditional 35mm sensor, but larger than the company's APS-C image sensor format used for their entry-level DSLRs.

At this physical size, Canon's 250-megapixel sensor has a pixel size of around 1.5 microns, which puts it in the realm of smartphone cameras. The light gathering capabilities of this sensor will be significantly lower than Canon's high-end DSLRs, such as the 5D Mark III and its 6.25 micron pixels, but that's not the point of a sensor with this many pixels.

Instead Canon is touting this sensor's capabilities in surveillance and crime prevention tools. Paired with an appropriate lens, Canon was able to distinguish the lettering on the side of an airplane flying 18 kilometers away, which is a pretty impressive feat.

The sensor is also capable of a readout speed of 1.25 billion pixels per second, which allows a camera to capture five 250 megapixel images per second, good enough for "video" at 30 times the resolution of 4K, or 125 times the resolution of 1080p.

It doesn't look like this sensor will be coming to a handheld camera any time soon, with Canon focusing on the sensor's aforementioned surveillance applications, as well as applications in various high-precision measuring tools, in industrial equipment, and in "the field of visual expression".