Canon has a 250-megapixel sensor that fits in a DSLR

Canon has announced a "250-megapixel" image sensor that would fit into a consumer-grade DSLR camera. The Japanese camera maker says the new APS-H CMOS sensor enables "distinguishing of lettering on the side of an airplane flying at a distance of approximately 18 km [11 miles] from the shooting location." As well as being the densest sensor of its size, it's also extremely fast. It has a readout speed of 1.25 billion pixels per second, meaning it can shoot its super-high-res images at up to five frames per second.

Rather than aiming for the retail market, Canon is targeting the new sensor at "specialized surveillance and crime prevention tools, ultra-high resolution measuring instruments and other industrial equipment." The actual resolution of the sensor is 19,580 x 12,600 pixels, or 246.7 megapixels, but Canon is being liberal with its rounding. APS-H is a semi-defunct sensor size, measuring approximately 29.2mm by 20.2 mm. That's slightly larger than the APS-C units found in Nikon and Canon's entry-level DSLRs and Sony's mirrorless cameras, but significantly smaller than 35mm-equivalent "full frame" sensors in cameras used by professionals and enthusiasts.

It's difficult to picture a world where we'd all wander around with 250-megapixel cameras, but let's take a minute to ponder Canon's history. In 2007, it announced a then-unthinkable 50-megapixel CMOS prototype. In 2010, it hit 120 megapixels. Earlier this year, Canon released a pair of 50-megapixel DSLRs, the 5Ds and 5Ds R.

So... see you in eight years?