When used with ultra-telephoto broadcast lenses, the new Canon MS-500, first revealed at NAB 2023, can capture clear color videos of subjects at a distance of several miles, even at night.
Don’t expect to see the technology in your next cinema camera, at least not so soon, but the news may interest you even if only for technical reasons: Canon announced the introduction of the Canon MS-500, an ultra-high-sensitivity interchangeable-lens camera (ILC). The MS-500 is not only the world’s first ultra-high-sensitivity camera equipped with a SPAD sensor (among cameras equipped with SPAD sensors used for color video shooting. As of July 31, 2023. Based on Canon research) but also features the world’s highest pixel count (again, among SPAD sensors used for video shooting. As of July 31, 2023. Based on Canon research. Approx. 2.1 million effective pixels) on its 1” Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) sensor of 3.2 megapixels.
This is a camera designed with surveillance in mind, enabling, according to Canon, “color video capture of subjects several miles away, even at night”. The company announced the development of the camera in April 2023, and visitors to the Canon booth at NAB 2023 saw a working sample of the camera in action firsthand. Now, t Canon announces that the MS-500 Sensor Camera is scheduled to be available in September 2023 for an estimated retail price of $25,200.00. As always, according to Canon, “availability, specifications, and prices are subject to change without notice. Prices are set by individual dealers and may vary.”
Here is what Canon writs about the camera:
In areas with extremely high-security levels, such as seaports, public infrastructure facilities, and national borders, high-precision monitoring systems are required to surveil targets both day and night accurately. The new MS-500 camera is the world’s first ultra-high-sensitivity camera equipped with a SPAD sensor, achieving a minimum subject illumination of 0.001 lux (Color -night mode-, no light accumulation, f/1.4 equivalent, shutter speed 1/30 second, 50IRE, maximum gain.) When combined with ultra-telephoto broadcast lenses, it may be possible to capture clear color videos of subjects at a distance of several miles, even at night. The new MS-500 helps to strengthen Canon’s ultra-high-sensitivity camera lineup, which also includes the ME20, and ML Series, allowing the company to meet a variety of customer needs in the advanced surveillance market, with models as the ME20F-SH (released in December 2015), ME20F-SHN (released in February 2018), ML-100 M58 (released in December 2020), and ML-105 EF (released in April 2021).
Combination of SPAD Sensor and Broadcast Lenses Enable Long Range Surveillance at Night
The SPAD sensor uses a technology known as “photon counting,” which counts light particles (photons) that enter a pixel. When incoming photons are converted to an electric charge, they are amplified approximately one million times and extracted as digital signals, making detecting even small amounts of light possible. In addition, every single one of these photons is digitally counted, prohibiting the introduction of additional noise during signal readout—a key advantage of SPAD sensors. This enables clear color video shooting even under a 0.001 lux low-light environment.
The MS-500 camera has a built-in, industry-standard B4 bayonet lens mount (based on BTA S-1005B standards), a widely used mount for 2/3-inch broadcast lenses. The lens mount allows operators to utilize Canon’s extensive lineup of broadcast lenses.
Custom Picture Functions Help Improve Visibility, Including Noise and Haze Reduction
The effect of noise and atmospheric turbulence, particularly in dark environments, may cause issues with video resolution, especially in long-range surveillance applications. To help mitigate this occurrence, CrispImg2, a Custom Picture preset mode that optimizes resolution and contrast while suppressing image noise, is a standard setting in the custom picture menu. Users can also create their own custom picture profiles to adjust and save image quality settings according to various shooting environments. This feature enables users to shoot high-visibility videos at virtually any time of day or night. The MS-500 camera also includes Haze Compensation, and Smart Shade Control features that help reduce the effects of haze and mist while automatically adjusting contrast and image brightness.