Canon’s new image sensor would take high-quality color photos in the dark

Night photography will become much more colorful if Canon’s latest image sensor proves to be as good as it looks.

According to Nikkei Asia, Canon has developed a new image sensor capable of capturing high-quality color photos in the dark. While digital cameras typically used a CMOS sensor, Canon instead opted for a Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD). A SPAD amplifies a single photon, allowing it to capture a large amount of detail with only a tenth of the brightness required by more typical image sensors.

The sensor is considered the densest in the world, as it comprises 3.2 million pixels for a very high degree of image clarity. Canon intends to begin mass production of the new sensor in the second half of 2022 at a factory in Kawasaki. Production should ramp up quickly because the same manufacturing technology used for CMOS can be used for SPAD. It is also believed that both types of sensors cost about the same to produce.

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In addition to being used in the company’s security cameras, Canon believes the SPAD sensor is a good solution for autonomous vehicles. The promise of high quality color photography in the dark means Canon will see interest from a range of different industries. However, Nikkei Asia believes Canon won’t have the market on its own, as Panasonic and Sony plan to have their own production-ready SPAD sensors next year.

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Michael C. Garrison