Canon's 120-megapixel sensor enhances video better than CSI

With 13,280 x 9,184 resolution, you can zoom waaay in.

Updated ·1 min read

Canon has been playing with high-megapixel sensors up to 250 megapixels since 2010, but it's now showing what very high-resolution video looks like. It shot some clips with its 120MXS CMOS sensor (13,280 x 9,184 effective pixels) showing how much detail it retains even when you digitally zoom deeply into the video. You can do that with stills already, but it's impressive to see it happen at nearly 10 fps, bringing to life the silly "enhance video" cliché from Blade Runner and CSI-type shows.

Making 13K video play at even 10 fps is no trivial feat. Canon said the readout is possible thanks to no less than 28 digital signal output channels on the APS-H-sized (29.22 x 20.20mm) chip. The final output format runs at 90 MB/s, or around 9MB per frame, so considering the chip catches about 60 times as much detail as a 1080p sensor, the images are heavily compressed.

Another video taken by Canon at a soccer match, however, shows that the potential privacy issues with the tech. The 120-megapixel chip can zoom in to clearly show faces, even when positioned far away from the crowd. If married with face-detecting tech, a powerful computer could thus keep tabs on an entire stadium full of people at once.

At CES 2018, Canon said that it would start "offering [the chip] to solutions providers, integrators, and others who are looking for advanced components to create their own unique products and solutions." That means we could start seeing the benefits -- and drawbacks -- of such chips in the near future.