Canon announces the MS-500 interchangeable-lens camera

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Canon is developing the MS-500, which they claim is the world’s first ultra-high-sensitivity interchangeable-lens camera equipped with a 1.0 inch Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) sensor.

The currently in-development MS-500 camera will be able to produce clear, full-color HD imaging even in extreme low-light environments.

The sensor features a pixel count of 3.2 megapixels and the camera leverages special characteristics of SPAD sensors to achieve what Canon claims is, superb low-light performance when using broadcast lenses that feature high performance at telephoto-range focal lengths.

Now, while this camera could be utilized for certain filming applications as nature and wildlife documentaries, it is being targeted for use in high-precision monitoring environments such as national borders, seaports, airports, train stations, power plants, and other key infrastructure facilities.

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With CMOS sensors, which are commonly used in conventional modern digital cameras, each pixel measures the amount of light that reaches the pixel within a given time. However, the readout of the accumulated electronic charge contains electronic noise, which may diminish image quality, due to the process by which accumulated light is measured. This often leads to the degradation of the image, particularly when used in low-light environments. Conversely, SPAD sensors employ a technology known as photon counting in which light particles (photons) that enter each individual pixel are counted. When even a single photon enters a pixel it is instantly amplified approximately 1 million times and output as an electrical signal. Every single one of these photons can be digitally counted, thus making possible zero-noise during signal readout. Because of this technological advantage, the MS-500 camera will be able to operate even under nighttime environments with no ambient starlight.

The MS-500 camera uses a bayonet lens mount which is widely used in the broadcast lens industry. This enables the camera to be used with Canon’s extensive range of broadcast lenses.

Canon plans to begin selling the MS-500 sometime in 2023. The camera
will be displayed as a reference exhibit at the Canon booth during the 2023 NAB Show.

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