Canon Has Developed An Incredible 250 Megapixel APS-H Sensor

Canon Camera prototype with 250 Megapixel CMOS Sensor
Canon's newest prototype sensor has more than a few pixels.

Measuring in at just under 250 megapixels, the 19,580 x 12,600 APS-H sensor has the highest density of pixels for a sensor smaller than full-frame 35mm. When they put it in a camera, it was capable of resolving the lettering on an airplane that was 18km from where they were shooting from (which is insane). This isn't the first time Canon has announced a super-high megapixel sensor. They also introduced a 120 megapixel APS-H sensor back in 2010 — so this new one five years later essentially doubles the number of pixels in a sensor that's bigger than APS-C but smaller than full-frame. 

Canon 250 Megapixel APS-H Sensor

Here's more from Canon on the sensor, which was just announced:

With CMOS sensors, increases in pixel counts result in increased signal volume, which can cause such problems as signal delays and slight discrepancies in timing. The new Canon-developed CMOS sensor, however, despite its exceptionally high pixel count, achieves an ultra-high signal readout speed of 1.25 billion pixels per second, made possible through such advancements as circuit miniaturization and enhanced signal-processing technology. Accordingly, the sensor enables the capture of ultra-high-pixel-count video at a speed of five frames per second. Additionally, despite the exceptionally high pixel count, Canon applied its sensor technologies cultivated over many years to realize an architecture adapted for miniaturized pixels that delivers high-sensitivity, low-noise imaging performance.

Video footage captured by the camera outfitted with the approximately 250-megapixel CMOS sensor achieved a level of resolution that was approximately 125 times that of Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) video and approximately 30 times that of 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) video. The exceptionally high definition made possible by the sensor lets users crop and magnify video images without sacrificing image resolution and clarity.

Canon is considering the application of this technology in specialized surveillance and crime prevention tools, ultra-high-resolution measuring instruments and other industrial equipment, and the field of visual expression.

Five frames per second isn't good enough for more than the applications listed above, but I'm sure there are other binning modes that would still give very high megapixel videos at full video frame rates. Either way, it looks like in its current form we may only see it in a standalone camera designed for stills or for industrial video cameras that don't need 24 or 30fps. 

If you're thinking that these things never make it into actual products, Canon just introduced a super low-light camera that started as a prototype sensor announcement in 2013, and the 50 Megapixel sensor that's in their 5DS and 5DS R likely started the same way. The biggest thing about these sensors is that even if we don't see these exact models in a product, the technology that they've developed does filter down into lower-end consumer applications. I would expect that based on how far this technology is moving, an 8K video sensor from the company isn't that far off — something we may even see in a high-end product in the next few years.      

Your Comment


canon talks too much .. Without accomplishment .. Thank you Sony

September 7, 2015 at 2:06AM



September 7, 2015 at 6:14AM

Vincent Gortho

The technology is interesting, but I can't see any relationship to the film-making world.

I would be far more interested in an affordable Canon camera that shoots 10-bit 4:2:2 with a global shutter. Blackmagic is there now. Who is going to be the next company to join them ?

September 7, 2015 at 7:56AM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

"The exceptionally high definition made possible by the sensor lets users crop and magnify video images without sacrificing image resolution and clarity."

Why do people insist on saying this whenever they have a resolution above 1080p? WHENEVER YOU CROP YOU DEGRADE IMAGE RESOLUTION AND CLARITY!!!!!!! PERIOD!!!!

Yes it will still stand as a nice sharp 1080p image but if you scaled it from the original instead of the cropped it WILL BE CLEARER AND SHARPER!!!!!


September 7, 2015 at 7:57AM, Edited September 7, 7:58AM


Does anyone else ever read italicized text and think "Damn that new sensor is sick but The rolling shutter on this font is terrible."

September 7, 2015 at 8:36AM

Cesar Adrian Cisneros

hahaha literally made me laugh out loud.

September 8, 2015 at 3:04PM

Isaiah Corey
Director of Photography

Brace yourselves... the "why no full frame??" comments are coming in 3...2... 1....

Doubtlessly from ignorant 5D users who don't know that the full 35mm frame is not a standard frame size in modern cinematography.

September 7, 2015 at 3:01PM


19.5K. Can read lettering on a plane 11 miles away. Extraordinarily valuable!

High end 8K from Canon in not far off? That can only mean affordable 8K from Panasonic is not far off. ;-)

September 7, 2015 at 8:17PM

Gene Nemetz
live streaming

Wasn't this announced last year? Seems Canon rolls out shìt like this every time Sony embarrasses them with a superior real-world functional sensor.

September 8, 2015 at 5:38PM