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Canon ML-100 & ML-105 Multipurpose Cameras

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Canon has announced the ML-100 and ML-105 Multipurpose Cameras. The ML-100 and ML-105 feature a small modular form factor and extreme low light sensitivity.

They are designed for a wide variety of markets and professional applications such as nature, wildlife, and documentary, as well as military and aerospace.

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The box camera design has become increasingly more popular over the last few years. The recently announced Panasonic BGH1 and RED KOMODO. Just to be crystal clear, the Canon ML-100 and ML-105 are not traditional cameras and they are not cameras that most of us are going to use. These are highly specialized cameras for distinct applications.

ME20F-SH Sequal?

The ML-100 and ML-105 Multipurpose Cameras are follow-ups to the Canon ME20F-SH that we first saw way back at IBC 2015.

The Canon ME20F-SH was a special purpose super low light camera that was capable of capturing full-color HD images in excess of 4 million ISO. It dis this by using a specially developed high sensitivity 2.26 MP full-frame CMOS sensor that had giant-sized pixels and some very special circuitry.

The design was essentially that of an oversized block camera. It is a compact cube with no internal recording, just SDI and HDMI outputs.

ML-100 & ML-105

The ML-100 and the ML-105 are high sensitivity multi-purpose cameras that can capture Full HD Color video with a minimum subject illumination of less than 0.0005 lux (at maximum 75 dB gain setting). This is the equivalent of an ISO sensitivity of over 4,500,000. Capturing extreme low-light images in color is not easy and that makes these cameras suitable for anything from night-time wildlife shoots, to industrial system design, where seeing color images is critical during day and night.

Sensor

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Canon’s new cameras employ a next-generation 19um, 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor. This looks to be similar in size and sensitivity to the 35MMFHDXS CMOS sensor that can be found in Canon’s ME20F-SH specialist low light camera.

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The 19µm x 19µm (square) sized pixels are huge. If you compare it to sensors in other cameras you will see what I mean. The RED Gemini has a 6µm pixel pitch, the Canon C300 Mark III is 6.4 µm, and the Sony a7S III is 8.36 µm. The 19µm pixel pitch in the Canon ML-100 & ML-105 is more than double the size of the a7S III.

The larger the active photosite within the individual pixel the greater the capacity for capturing photons during the normal charge period. This is the primary factor defining the sensitivity of the photosite. While very large photosites are central to achieving an unprecedented level of image sensitivity, they also introduce technical hurdles which must be overcome. The challenge is the fact that the electrons released by the photoconversion process during the charge accumulation period must all be collected and completely transferred during the subsequent reset period. During the charge period, those electrons tend to wander within the photodiode and must be rapidly scooped up by application of an appropriate electric field.

Two Video Output Configurations

The ML series is available in two models with two video output configurations to choose from.

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The ML-100 camera features a CoaXpress terminal, which allows for the transmission of video, camera-control data, and power on a single coaxial cable, which ideal for use in industrial systems. The CoaXpress terminal produces 12-bit RAW data output at up to 73 fps and allows for more flexibility during processing. The ML-100 features approximately 2.74 million pixels of maximum video output and also supports Region of Interest, which can improve frame rate output up to 164 fps at a resolution of 720p.

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The ML-105 camera features a 3G/HD-SDI video terminal for use in standard video environments where a Full HD YCC 4:2:2 10-bit output is required. The ML-105 features the Canon DIGIC DV4 Image Processor, but it is limited to Full HD resolution at 60fps.

Now, just to be clear, neither of these cameras feature any type of onboard recording or monitoring.

Different Mounts

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Both cameras can be ordered with either an EF or M58 mount. The EF mount lets you utilize a wide variety of Canon EF mount still and cine glass, while the M58 offers lens customization and design choice to the user.

Price & Availability

The M58 mount version of the Canon ML-100 multi-purpose camera is scheduled to be available at the end of December 2020, and the other three models are scheduled to be available in April 2021.

There is currently no indication of pricing and no further specifications available.

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