Canon's new security-focused 'SPAD' camera can capture color video in complete darkness

Designed for applications like security monitoring, it retails for around $25,000.


Canon has just unveiled the MS-500, an unusual model that's one of the most sensitive non-infrared cameras ever developed. It uses the highest-resolution 1-inch SPAD (Single-photon avalanche diode) sensor yet (3.2 megapixels), and an interchangeable lens mount that allows clear color shooting in light as low as 0.001 lux, according to Canon — less than a clear moonless sky.

The MS-500 uses Canon's B4 mount that supports its broadcast zoom lenses, and carries a price of over $25,000 for just the body. It's designed to work in "areas with extremely high-security levels, such as seaports, public infrastructure facilities, and national borders," the company said. When married with Canon's ultra-telephoto broadcast lenses, it can capture "clear color videos of subjects at a distance of several miles, even at night." It also uses special picture profiles to reduce noise caused by atmospheric disturbances over long distances.

Canon's new 'SPAD' camera can take high-quality color pictures with almost no light

So why should you care about a $25,000-plus security camera? The answer is in that SPAD sensor, which holds promise for future consumer and professional imaging. It uses a technology called photo counting, which tracks light particles entering a pixel, magnifies them one million times, and converts them to a digital signal. Every single photon is counted, which eliminates the introduction of any noise — "a key advantage of SPAD sensors," Canon noted.

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