Canon has developed a digital camera sensor containing 250 million pixels, giving rise to the prospect of massive bump in DSLR resolutions. The APS-H sensor – which is a halfway house between the APS-C sensors found in consumer cameras and the full frame units found inside professional gear – is capable of capturing 19,580 x 12,600 images, roughly 30 times as many pixels as you’ll find on a 4K television.
Canon claims the images captured by the sensor are so detailed that, in a photo taken with a test camera, it was able to make out the lettering on the side of a plane flying 11 miles above the ground. Canon didn’t reveal which lens it used to take the shot, but that the lettering was visible when it used software to zoom into an area approximately 1/40,000th of the size of the captured image.
Read our latest digital camera reviews
The resolution is far greater than even professional photographers and videographers could cope with at present, although Canon claims the real advantage of capturing footage at such a detailed resolution is that it allows you to crop into small parts of the frame without any noticeable drop in clarity.
Storing its output is a bigger problem. Shooting footage at 30 frames per second at Full HD resolution on the Canon 70D consumes around 10MB of storage per second. The 250-megapixel sensor has 125 times the resolution of Full HD, which would equate to roughly 1.25GB of storage per second of footage at the same frame rate. However, Canon admits its new sensor is currently only capable of shooting at five frames per second, due to the sheer weight of data it is being forced to process.
There’s little hope of the sensor finding its way into DSLRs for the foreseeable future. Instead, Canon says it is “considering the application of this technology in specialised surveillance and crime prevention tools, ultra-high-resolution measuring instruments and other industrial equipment”.