September 14, 2013

Watch: Canon's Highly Sensitive 35mm CMOS Sensor Captures Fireflies in the Dark

Canon 35mm sensor firefliesLast March, Canon riled up the filmmaking community when they announced their full-frame 35mm CMOS sensor that can literally see in the dark. Canon has just released an amazing video of the sensor capturing footage of Yaeyama-hime fireflies -- images captured in an "exceptionally dark shooting environment." Check out the video after the break.

Canon, along with Zero Corporation, took a camera prototype equipped with the high-sensitivity sensor to Japan's Ishigaki Island to film fireflies after sunset. The fireflies were filmed in an environment that provided less than 0.01 lux. To get an idea of just how dark that is, a full moon provides approximately 0.3 lux and a crescent moon, approximately 0.03 lux. Canon says this in the press release:

No artificial lighting was used during shooting, which took place after sunset amid the island's mountains. Despite an exceptionally dark shooting environment of less than 0.01 lux, a level in which the naked eye would have difficulty discerning surrounding objects, the CMOS sensor was able to capture not only the color of the light emitted by the fireflies, each of which measures only a few millimeters in length, and their movements, but also the surrounding vegetation in which the species lives.

Check out the footage provided by Canon. Unfortunately -- and also ironically, there is only a standard definition video available to embed.

For the specifics on the sensor, check out our earlier post that lays it all out for you.

What do you think of the footage from Canon's 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor? It definitely has documentary/corporate uses, but does it have any practicality in narrative filmmaking in your opinion? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Link: Canon succeeds in capturing nighttime video of Yaeyama-hime fireflies using dedicated 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor for video capture -- Canon

[via CanonWatchThe Verge]

Your Comment

32 Comments

The only adjective to accurately describe this sensor is... amazeballs. Pure and utter amazeballs.

September 14, 2013 at 8:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4299

Sure it does. Barry Lyndon 2, anyone?

September 14, 2013 at 8:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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wgtwo

Yeah. Amazeballs sums it up.

September 14, 2013 at 9:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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SC_Lane

looks amazing, def has application in narrative filmmaking

September 14, 2013 at 9:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Steve

It'd be interesting to see how it works in an Ed Burns type "lightless" scene.

September 14, 2013 at 10:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Why would they only upload it in 360p? Really Canon? Really?

September 14, 2013 at 11:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Julian

Exactly what I thought! Could be that this sensor takes its images at the cost of a very high noise. But after all it's in the development stage, so I assume this particular sensor developed into a product that at, let's say, 64.000 ISO has little to no noise: terriffic. And cudos to Canon for giving us a rare inside look into their camera R&D process, even whilst still seemingly far away from a marketable product.

September 15, 2013 at 5:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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MattN.

High frame rates seem like a good implementation for this sensor.

September 14, 2013 at 11:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jonesy

Good call.

September 15, 2013 at 1:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Hurrumph! The fireflies were over-exposed!!

September 14, 2013 at 11:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Grump

I'm surprised no one has mentioned yet how amazing the first few seconds are where you can FILM STARS.

September 15, 2013 at 12:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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No Full HD version yet. . . .

September 15, 2013 at 12:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Too much noise. And not 4K? What is Canon even thinking!
/sarcasm

September 15, 2013 at 1:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Hubert

Was it some kind of an inside joke that they uploaded a 360p file?

September 15, 2013 at 1:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Swissted

Too bad they couldn't have shown a flashlight first to make sure the video was going to be in focus.

September 15, 2013 at 1:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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this is will be 7K :-) ... Because the RED released 6K :-)

September 15, 2013 at 3:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sergey

Wow for such an amazing technological company they sure do make a pretty crappy promo video.

September 15, 2013 at 4:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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bob

+1

September 15, 2013 at 4:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Astrovideography anyone? ;)

September 15, 2013 at 5:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alex

It's a 3 MB sensor. You might get a decent HD out of it but not much more.

September 15, 2013 at 5:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

I guess it's more 2 than 3 Mega PIXELS (not BYTES!) ;)

And a "decent" fullHD out of a 36x20mm area (being it 16:9, not a full 36x24mm according to the video) is more than enough for most of us anyway!

September 15, 2013 at 7:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alex

Last heard, James Cameron shot a few members of his Avataar's VFX Crew. Roflm(f)ao ... :PPP

September 15, 2013 at 11:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sanveer

Both of the promo videos released for this sensor are in 360P. Something fishy is going on.

Perhaps it is a new tech where it is a fullHD sensor but will 'group' pixels together to make larger pixels? (so it turns four pixels into one) resulting in lower resolution video with incredible low light?

September 15, 2013 at 12:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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David J. Fulde

That footage isn't actually provided by Canon. It's on some guys personal youtube page.

September 16, 2013 at 7:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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mikko löppönen

Mikko, do you have a link?

September 16, 2013 at 10:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

That's the Grave of the Fireflies!

September 15, 2013 at 7:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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"Killing is bad, and wrong. There should be a new word for killing. Like Badwrong... or, Badong. Yes, killing is Badong. From now on I will stand for the opposite of killing, Gnodab!"

So the word for something that is the literal oposite of killing, ie something really really good, should be, as Oedekerk declared... Gnodab!

September 16, 2013 at 12:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Chosen one, I didn't recognize you without cr*p in your pants... +1 for the reference

September 20, 2013 at 4:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Evil Betty

I just wonder where we will be in 5 years time?

September 19, 2013 at 3:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Looks like day for night

September 24, 2013 at 8:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Itay Netzer

It would be great if Canon makes a finally a camera with this sensor available. My use would be Astro-Videography

September 27, 2013 at 11:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Renato

I think there are much larger (3 and 5 Gigapixels) sensors for the top level astrophotography. This is more for the wild life, in time trickling down to other specific uses. It'd be cool if the sensor itself was interchangeable, as with the old digital backs.

September 28, 2013 at 12:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD