Bespoke Canon Sensor Captures Fireflies at Night

September 16, 2013 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | 0 Comments |
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Canon has published a nighttime video of Yaeyama-hime fireflies, recorded using a special high-sensitivity 35mm full-frame sensor developed specifically for low-light video capture. "No artificial lighting was used during shooting, which took place after sunset amid the island's mountains. Despite an exceptionally dark shooting environment of less than 0.01 lux, a level in which the naked eye would have difficulty discerning surrounding objects, the CMOS sensor was able to capture not only the colour of the light emitted by the fireflies, each of which measures only a few millimetres in length, and their movements, but also the surrounding vegetation in which the species lives," the company said in a statement. To capture this video, the special sensor was built into a "camera prototype" of unspecified type.

The newly developed CMOS sensor features pixels measuring 19 microns square in size.

Canon Press Release

Canon succeeds in capturing nighttime video of Yaeyama-hime fireflies using dedicated 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor for video capture

TOKYO, Japan, September 12, 2013—Canon Inc. has successfully captured video footage of Yaeyama-hime fireflies flying in darkness, a feat made possible by the high-sensitivity 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor developed by Canon for video capture that was announced in March 2013.

The high-sensitivity, low-noise video-shooting capabilities of the dedicated 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor1 for Full HD video capture were made possible not only through the integration of the high-performance sensor technologies employed in Canon's digital SLR cameras, but also through the incorporation of new pixel and readout circuitry technologies that reduce noise.

Using a camera prototype equipped with the CMOS sensor, Canon, in cooperation with ZERO CORPORATION,2 succeeded in capturing video3 of the Yaeyama-hime fireflies that inhabit Japan's Ishigaki Island, located off the northeastern coast of Taiwan. No artificial lighting was used during shooting, which took place after sunset amid the island's mountains. Despite an exceptionally dark shooting environment4 of less than 0.01 lux, a level in which the naked eye would have difficulty discerning surrounding objects, the CMOS sensor was able to capture not only the color of the light emitted by the fireflies, each of which measures only a few millimeters in length, and their movements, but also the surrounding vegetation in which the species lives. Plans call for the footage to be used to benefit future research into the Yaeyama-hime firefly.

In addition to astronomical and natural observation, Canon is looking into applying this CMOS sensor to medical research purposes as well as surveillance and crime-prevention equipment. Through the further development of innovative CMOS sensors, Canon aims to expand the realm of photographic possibilities while cultivating the world of visual expression.

1An imaging element (aspect ratio: 16:9) that corresponds to the largest image circle size possible when shooting with a Canon EF lens.
2 Headquarters: Musashino City, Tokyo; Representative director: Soichiro Takemoto
3 Assistance provided by Rinpana Eco Tour Service in Ishigaki'is (Representative: Akira Naito).
4 A full moon provides approximately 0.3 lux; a crescent moon, approximately 0.03 lux.

The video is available for viewing on the Canon Global website.



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