Canon Develops 8″ x 8″ CMOS Image Sensor

Canon’s R&D group has been eating its Wheaties, as evidenced by the recent 120MP CMOS sensor and the new 8-inch CMOS sensor.  That’s the 8″ sensor above, just to the left of a 35mm sensor.

The new sensor is roughly 40 times the size of the sensor found in the 5D Mark II.  It measures 202 x 205mm, or roughly 8″ x 8″ – holy cow! Canon says that it is “capable of capturing images in one one-hundredth the amount of light required by a professional-model digital SLR camera.”

Don’t expect to see these in your next DSLR though – this is just bragging rights for now.  Get the full tech-speak and marketing buzz in the press release below.

Canon Press Release

TOKYO, August 31, 2010—Canon Inc. announced today that it has successfully developed the world’s largest*1 CMOS image sensor, with a chip size measuring 202 x 205 mm. Because its expanded size enables greater light-gathering capability, the sensor is capable of capturing images in one one-hundredth the amount of light required by a professional-model digital SLR camera.

At 202 x 205 mm, the newly developed CMOS sensor is among the largest chips that can be produced from a 12-inch (300 mm) wafer, and is approximately 40 times the size of Canon’s largest commercial CMOS sensor.*2

In the past, enlarging the size of the sensor resulted in an increase in the amount of time required between the receiving and transmission of data signals, which posed a challenge to achieving high-speed readout. Canon, however, solved this problem through an innovative circuit design, making possible the realization of a massive video-compatible CMOS sensor. Additionally, by ensuring the cleanest of cleanroom environments during the production process, the sensor minimizes image imperfections and dust.

Because the increased size of the new CMOS sensor allows more light to be gathered, it enables shooting in low-light environments. The sensor makes possible the image capture in one one-hundredth the amount of light required by a 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor, facilitating the shooting of 60 frame-per-second video with a mere 0.3 lux of illumination.

Potential applications for the new high-sensitivity CMOS sensor include the video recording of stars in the night sky and nocturnal animal behavior.

Through the further development of distinctive CMOS image sensors, Canon will break new ground in the world of new image expression, in the area of still images as well as video.

*1 As of August 27, 2010. Based on a Canon study.
*2 The approximately 21.1 megapixel 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor employed in the company’s EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR cameras.
*3 Approximately one-half the brightness of a moonlit night.


  1. says

    How cool is THAT!?

    I can’t wait to use this as a view camera. It used to be that with bellows factor and slow film, you’d have long exposures. Now it’s the opposite.

    Hand held 4×5 is back.

    Where’s my Speed Graphic?

  2. Adam Obute (nigeria) says

    Canon’s d bomb! imagine how much it’ll be sold for… I bet it would be worth a mini jet. 4me it’s CANON4LIFE!
    Cant wait.

  3. Jonathan Childers says

    It makes me ask the question, why didn’t they just develop the next step, a significantly larger sensor that would still fit in a standard dslr body? Perhaps a 2×3″ or 2×3.25″ – large enough to really make an image quality difference. This would improve things overall technologically, it would bring prices of existing dslr cameras down, and at the same time would open up a new premium professional dslr market, pressing Nikon and other manufacturers to greatly improve their sensor technology. In my view it would be a win win for everyone. At least Canon is improving the technology. I just wish the large improvements would be in a practical way for the average consumer to benefit. We can hope this is only the beginning of a new gateway to faster improvements in sensor size and image quality. I’m not getting any younger, and would love to see the technology increase a bit faster while I’m here. :)

  4. Jay Kilroy says

    They didn’t make a 2×3 sensor because they don’t have any lens inventory that will cover a big enough circle. 3″ is 7.6cm thats BIG in medium format dimension, it will NOT fit in a dslr body.

  5. says

    Was this only made to brag about or for a purpose?

    It would really be a great sensor if they put it into the Hubble! They could even use it in a ground based scope! WoW!!!

  6. Markac says

    8″ x 10″ would really be the way to go. Something that would fit on the back of a large format camera would be great.

  7. Jonathan Childers says

    Ok, thanks for your input, and I’m sure you’re correct. I’m not familiar with all the technicalities. I was just trying to make the point of using the effort to make better technology useable in a practical way, to the end consumer. I’m sure there is a way they could fit a larger sensor than the one they have now in a dslr, whatever that size may be, and even develop new lenses if necessary. Obviously the current technology has limits, so at some point they will expand those limits, I’m sure of that.