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Canon Develops 8 X 8 Inch Digital CMOS Sensor 209

dh003i writes "Canon has developed a 8 x 8 inch CMOS digital sensor. It will be able to capture an image with 1/100th the light intensity required by a DSLR and will be able to record video at 60 fps in lighting half the intensity of moonlight. There are already many excellent quality lenses designed to cover 8 x 10 inches, although Canon may develop some of their own designed specifically for their requirements."
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Canon Develops 8 X 8 Inch Digital CMOS Sensor

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  • Coming soon? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:47PM (#33458518) Homepage
    The article did not explain if this would be incorporated into a camera anytime soon. Also I wonder how it compares to the Hasselblad digital backs and cameras. []
    • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

      I still think it is cool that cameras made 20-30 years ago from Hasselblad can get digital imaging backs put on with 39 megapixels worth of resolution.

    • The only people who'll want this are wildlife documentary makers and people with really expensive security systems. I doubt it will ever be seen in a consumer device (or even a 'prosumer' device).

    • by KZigurs ( 638781 )

      Yes, a couple one-off designs founded by the tax payer.
      As for how it compares? Once you don't have to worry about mass production, I'm sure it blows hasselblad away (btw - who manufactures sensors for hasselblad?)

  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:48PM (#33458540)

    I assume this means a would-be digital Ansel Adams will need to drag around a camera the size of a bread machine? I'm not too confident the market size is large enough for anything other than highly specialized scientific equipment. I don't see large format digital cameras even for professional photographers because of what it will probably cost to produce.

    • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:57PM (#33458640)
      For architectural photography, and many landscapes, nothing, but nothing, beats a view camera. If you take a picture of a building with a standard DSLR, the picture will look like a pyramid, because the film plane was at an angle to the building. With a view cameras, with swings and tilts, you can have the lens and film plane parallel to the walls of the building, giving you a much more natural look.
      • This is true, but perspective can very easily be fixed in photoshop.
      • That's not correct. It's much more than that. The large format cameras are far more than just the camera movements. It's the relationship between the lens, film plane and the meditative stance that one must take with film that expensive. And the time it takes to set up. Sure the camera movements are necessary, but it's the format which Ansel Adams used which was special, on top of his processing and other technical mastery. I doubt very much that he'd be using anything other than large format were he alive
      • by rssrss ( 686344 )

        I think you need to be more emphatic. Photography can be an art. A camera can be an artists tool like a painters brush or a sculptor's chisel.

        The cameras widely used by amateur photographers, even the most expensive class of DSLRs like the Nikon D3 and the Canon EOS-1Ds ($7K sticker, without a lens) have limitations created by the rigid geometry of the camera body, and the limited size of components.

        Large Format View Cameras simply do not have many of those limitations. The ability of the photographer to ch

      • by plumby ( 179557 )

        You can get tilt and shift lenses for DSLRs.

      • by yyxx ( 1812612 )

        There are tons of tilt-shift lenses for DSLRs. Most people these days don't bother, though: they correct on the computer or (even better) assemble a large number of photos into a vertical panorama. You can also remove people easily that way.

    • by macraig ( 621737 )

      Hey, those lenses are dirt cheap, only $1,000 to $1,500, so how expensive can the camera be?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Lenses for 8" x 10" (and 4" x 5") cameras have both the the aperture iris and shutter (which uses an adjustable mechanical clockwork) built in. Plus, they need a lot of extra film plane coverage, to allow for swings and tilts.
        • This thing takes an entire silicon wafer. Off the top of my head, I'd guess at least thousands of dollars per sufficiently defect-free 20cm x 20cm sensor. Though I suppose it depends on the resolution of the features on the sensor.

          • Oh yeah, no question it's gonna cost a metric fuck-ton of money. What would be surprising (to me) is if it didn't need cooling, like most of the larger sensors do.
        • Lenses for 8" x 10" (and 4" x 5") cameras have both the the aperture iris and shutter (which uses an adjustable mechanical clockwork) built in.

          Not all of them do. For example, I have a Sinar 4x5" system which uses a shutter module behind the lens, so the lenses don't need built-in shutters.

      • I too noticed the lenses seem bizarrely cheap - I guess because the ones listed have relatively short focal lengths and high f-stop numbers (in other words, they're little). For $1500 you get a 300 mm f5.6. Since the receptor is huge, 300mm would be pretty short focal length. 10 inches is 254 mm, so a 300mm lens would only be equivalent to a 35.4 mm lens for a 30mm camera. (300 * 30 / 254 = 35.4) The $9,000 lens is still only 800 mm (94.5mm focal length in 30mm equiv, which is a mild telephoto, nice fo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 )

      I assume this means a would-be digital Ansel Adams will need to drag around a camera the size of a bread machine? I'm not too confident the market size is large enough for anything other than highly specialized scientific equipment.

      Ansel Adams used a 4x5 camera---large format []. Had this been available in his day, he might well have used it.

      • by FlyingGuy ( 989135 ) <flyingguy&gmail,com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:00PM (#33460464)

        Ansel Adams used various format camera's throughout his long career. Everything from a 35mm up to and including the Polaroid 20x24 inch instant camera which he had hauled up a mountain in Yosemite to take photographs as at the time he was on retainer from Polaroid.

        His favorite was an 8 x 10 view. I know this because I was very privileged to meet the master in 1980 and actually asked him.

        To be honest I am not sure what he would think of all the new tools there are to take photographs. Much of his magic occurred in the darkroom as he meticulously used his masterful understanding of printing and printing chemistry to create breathtaking images that to this day have not been surpassed in my opinion.

        I have been a shutterbug since the early seventies and I am really not sure if you can duplicate the incredible subtleness of being able to alter the print developer just so so to render a more striking contrast or to bring out the very subtle shadow detail. I mean it is close, but I don't think it is there yet, just as digital has still yet to achieve the pure gradients that film provides so readily.

    • I don't see large format digital cameras even for professional photographers because of what it will probably cost to produce.

      Large-format digital cameras have been available on the market (and in active commercial use) for over a decade now, so I don't see why you think it is implausible.

    • I'm not too confident the market size is large enough for anything other than highly specialized scientific equipment. I don't see large format digital cameras even for professional photographers because of what it will probably cost to produce.

      If they can get it under $10k out the door, I suspect there will be a fair size market. If they can get it under $5k, there will be a fairly large market.

      Professionals aren't afraid to spend money. Nor do they shop for their gear at Wal-Mart.

    • by dh003i ( 203189 )

      I think that in many years, it might be "affordable". When 50 megapixel medium format backs cost what DSLRs now cost, look for an 8x8in sensor to cost $50k. An 8x8in sensor is almost 10 times the area of a digital medium format back...look for it to cost at least 10 times the price, or around $500,000, at least (probably more, due to wafer errors).

      I think that in many years, large format photographers (I shoot 4x5) will be interested in this, when prices are reasonable.

  • Telescopes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ksandom ( 718283 )
    are the first thing I think of for this.

    There is currently no information about the sensor's resolution.

    Darn, that was my biggest question. Low light photography has always been one of my interests, so I would have a lot of fun with a camera based on this technology :D ... Actually, I'd be rather keen to have a try making my own... Maybe that's for another day though. ;)

    • You can shoot in light that's so low that you can barely see in it with a few thousand bucks of equipment now. (Thinking a Nikon D700 and 50/1.4 lens or something.)

      • If you want low light, you shouldn't even consider Nikon. I'm not sure about in recent times, but Canon has been kicking Nikon's ass in that respect for many years. It's really not a coincidence that the vast majority of sports photographers have those lenses with the red ring around them. It's simply because Canon is better at low light, fast shutter speed photography than Nikon is. On top of that they do a much better job with the longer lenses needed for those pursuits.

        That's not to say that Nikon is
    • A reasonable assumption would be that the sensitivity of the sensor is proportional to the area of the photosites (to a first approximation), so if this sensor is 100x as sensitive as, say, a D5MkII, then you would expect the photosites to be about 100x as big. Coincidentally, the 8in x 8in sensor is on the order of 100x the area of the 5D sensor, so the number of pixels is probably about the same (20M or so). To a first approximation, anyway.

  • what we could get? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fri13 ( 963421 )

    Moonlight on the earth surface or moonlight of the moon?

    Taking photos of the moon is same thing as taking photos of the bright sunlight of theearth surface. Like 1/125 f:11 ISO 100.

    No but really, that is impressive but depends from the aperture and lens quality do we get better than f:0.4 or something. But that just means the A/D conversion is impressive at that size of sensor so we might see very noiseless ISO of 250 000 setting.

    But there really is demand to get a old formats back. Especially if the megapi

    • think they mean taking photos of the Earth by the reflected light of the moon, but even then you have a huge variance in lumens depending on the phase of the moon, so I'd assume a full moon. Of course, it would have been much more concise to just specify the actual light level required!
    • I have never really understood why large sensors are better in low light. The amount of light collected depends on the size of the objective lens, not on the size of the sensor. Thus for a given resolution the number of photons landing on each pixel should be the same regardless of sensor size.

      The only exception I can see is the gaps that must exist between rows and columns of pixels - they would cover a smaller percentage of a larger receptor.

      But surely it's not just that?

      • It's because small sensors have a much worse signal to noise ratio.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards ( 940851 )
        It's because the photosites are further apart and the lenses over the individual photosites are larger. Meaning that you can crank up the gain further without increasing the interference between photosites and have more light available to begin with. Basically you end up with more photons being directed at the photosite and less chance of energy generated at other photosites from interfering.
        • No, I said small vs large sensor assuming a fixed objective lens size and rows/cols of pixels - so the total amount of light is the same, as is the light per pixel / photosite. When you say the photosites are further apart, do you mean there are insulating gaps between them that are larger, or that the average distance between points on neighboring photosites is larger, thus reducing leakage between them?
      • Not sure that this is right but if you imagine a small number of photons arriving on your detector then reconstructing the image will depend in part on the resolution of the detector. The resolution helps you turn an indistinct blob into a real image.

      • It's because implicit in this comparison is the statement "for a fixed field of view and resolution", which implies a focal length, and hence aperture size, which scale with with sensor size: See []. Large detectors are not intrinsically more sensitive, but for a given field of view and angular resolution, they collect more light than small sensors, going as the square of the its size.
  • Shutter speed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WilyCoder ( 736280 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:15PM (#33458866)

    "It will be able to capture an image with 1/100th the light intensity required by a DSLR"

    I'm reading that as ultra fast shutter speeds being available for fast moving photography. Cool.

    • Re:Shutter speed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:29PM (#33459038)

      At the moment highspeed photography is limited by how fast the shutters will go. The larger focal-plane shutters used for this larger format are likely to be even slower than the ones used on today's DSLR's.

      My camera, a bog-standard Olympus DSLR, can do up to 1/4000. Nicer cameras can do 1/8000, but I don't know of any off-the-shelf DSLR that can do faster.

      I can shoot 1/4000 at ISO 800 f/5.6 in sunlight. With a f/2.8 lens (you'd use at least f/2.8 for highspeed work, f/2 if you can get it) you can get up to 1/8000 in outdoor light at a reasonable ISO. (Four Thirds cameras can do ISO 800 with reasonable quality; the best APS-C, like the Nikon D300, can do ISO 1600; fullframe can do ISO 3200.)

      This thing might be able to get up to 1/8000 in worse light, but only if you can find a f/2.8 or f/2 lens for it. Large-format lenses tend to be slow.

      • The size of the sensor is going to have an impact on shutter speed. If you want to pull a little slit past a 200mm sensor, it's gonna take a lot longer than pulling it past an APS-C size sensor.
        • Yes, but this is less important than the amount of time that each piece of the sensor is exposed for certain sorts of highspeed photography. I shoot hummingbirds, for instance, and what I care about is that each piece of the bird is exposed for a very short time -- I'm not terribly concerned about whether it's the *same* very short time. (The travel time on my sensor, which has 1/2 the linear size of fullframe, is about 1/180.)

          Some sorts of high speed photography are very concerned about this, I imagine, an

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Nikon d3s (35mm size sensor) can currently do up to 102400 ISO and produce usable images.

        Can anyone tell me why this wouldn't be used with an electronic shutter if ultra high speed photography was the goal?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rssrss ( 686344 )

        Large Format View Cameras do not use focal plane shutters like DSLRs. They use blade type shutters mounted in the lenses. The real use for high sensitivity will be to allow for smaller apertures and greater depth of field.

        • Ah, yes. I forgot that large-format lenses usually use leaf shutters anyway. From what I know about them, their maximum shutter speed is somewhat limited; as I recall the Leica S2 lenses have shutters limited to 1/500 or so.

          The problem with large format -> smaller apertures -> greater DOF is that large formats inherently have smaller DOF. For instance, my camera has a sensor which is half as large (roughly) in each linear dimension as fullframe. So my f/4 gives the same depth of field as f/8 on fullfr

        • Except that, by scaling up the camera relative to the scene, you have just lost depth of field. Overall, the DOF will be a wash.

      • "It will be able to capture an image with 1/100th the light intensity required by a DSLR"
        I'm reading that as ultra fast shutter speeds being available for fast moving photography. Cool.

        He's not talking at all about how fast the shutter is mechanically able to peform, 1/4000 or 1/8000. Setting your shutter on 1/4000 isn't the issue. It's having enough light to get a good exposure at 1/4000. What he's talking about is shooting at 1/100th a normal (by current standards) ISO. The sensor is 100x more s
        • Yes, in dim pre-dawn light the high sensitivity will be a huge, huge advantage. Of course, f/8 on this thing will have dof of a few millimeters.

      • by AC-x ( 735297 )

        Large format cameras don't use focal plane shutters, they use leaf or diaphragm shutters []

    • by bieber ( 998013 )
      Maybe in carefully staged settings, but we already have super high-speed cameras for carefully staged settings. In real life, have fun trying to use a view camera to capture fast motion. The larger your sensor, the longer the lens you need to get the same field of view, and the shallower your depth of field. With a view camera shooting sports or what-have-you you'd need an absolutely ridiculously insanely long lens and it would be all but impossible to focus it on anything moving faster than a glacier.
      • my guess is this can be overcome by using an electronic shutter? i.e turning off the sensor
        • This comes at a cost of quality so you're not likely to see this kind of system in any camera not a) specifically designed for it or b) having the option to turn it off. Some of the entry level Nikon DSLRs of yesteryear at shutter speeds above 1/250th would open the shutter, THEN start the sensor and close the shutter for this very reason.
          • It seems likely that a) such large sensors will (if they ever reach any market at all) only have highly specialised camera backs which will almost certainly be specially designed for them. One thing that occurs to me is astronomy
            • For sure! But astronomy is the exact opposite application requiring often very VERY long exposures rather than incredibly fast ones :)
    • by Lust ( 14189 )

      Sadly my first thought was military.

  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:20PM (#33458916) Journal

    TFA doesn't say how many pixels it is.


  • by PPH ( 736903 )
    Inches? Could we please have that in useful units. Like football fields.
  • With a Beowulf Cluster of these....

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