Canon Unveils High Sensitivity, Multi-Purpose ME20F-SH Camera Designed to See In the Dark

Canon unveiled the ME20F-SH this morning, the company’s first “multi-purpose camera,” which is designed to capture full HD video at an extremely high sensitivity, allowing it to see and record color footage in the dark.

Designed for nighttime surveillance and security, cinematic production, reality television, and nature/wildlife documentaries, the Canon ME20F-SH can shoot 1080p HD color video at a minimum subject illumination of less than 0.0005 lux at a maximum 75 dB gain setting, which is equivalent to an incredible ISO sensitivity of over 4,000,000.

Canon said the ME20F-SH multi-purpose camera uses an enhanced version of its 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor for Full HD video that was originally developed by the company in 2013.

The Canon ME20F-SH’s compact, modular body is designed to allow custom configurations for a range of shooting scenarios. While capturing video in extreme low-light conditions typically requires the use of infrared illumination (a technique that only yields video in black and white), the ME20F-SH camera’s high-sensitivity performance enables Full HD color video recording with reduced noise in low-light conditions without the need for infrared illumination, Canon said.

The Canon ME20F-SH camera’s CMOS sensor has pixels measuring 19 microns square, which is more than 5.5 times the surface area of the pixels on the CMOS sensor featured in some top-of-the-line interchangeable lens cameras. The sensor’s pixels and readout circuitry make use of Canon technology to achieve both reduced noise and high sensitivity on subjects with a minimum illumination of less than 0.0005 lux, the company said.

This multi-purpose camera is designed to allow users to see subjects under even some of the dimmest lighting conditions, such as environments lit by artificial illumination or under a moonless night sky.

Similar to Canon’s Cinema EOS System of professional digital cinematography cameras, the ME20F-SH camera includes Canon Log and Wide DR, which make possible a wide dynamic range, delivering high-image-quality video results across a range of illumination environments, from low- to brightly lit conditions.

The Canon ME20F-SH uses the same EF mount (Cinema Lock type) as Canon’s SLR cameras and Cinema EOS System-series of professional digital cameras, allowing photographers, cinematographers and filmmakers to use Canon’s lineup of interchangeable EF lenses.

Employing output-only 3G/HD-SDI and HDMI terminals, Canon’s ME20F-SH camera enables users working on location to output video via a single cable to a variety of peripheral equipment, including external recorders and monitors. Equipped with a φ2.5mm stereo mini-jack and a round 8-pin jack for RS-422, the multipurpose camera is capable of connecting with Canon’s RC-V100 Remote Controller (released in June 2014; sold separately).

By allowing users to operate the camera or change settings from a remote location, the camera facilitates video capture from inaccessible locations as well as fixed-point surveillance. Furthermore, a φ3.5mm stereo mini-jack allows the camera to connect with an external microphone, enabling users working on location to output audio and video signals to connected peripheral equipment.

The Canon ME20F-SH is slated to go on sale in December 2015 for $30,000. More details on the ME20F-SH multi-purpose camera here.