A couple of years ago, Canon teased an ultra-low-light sensor that could capture 1080p video at up to 60 frames per second, as seen in the video clip above. What we didn’t see coming is this kind of hybrid response by Canon to the ARRI Alexa Mini, and the Sony a7S, in their new ME20F-SH that is due to arrive in December at $30k. A specialty video shooter, it feels like an industrial tool for surveillance, but Canon hints that it could be used for film and television production in extraordinary low-light conditions: this thing can capture video with less than 0.0005 lux of illumination, which equates to an ISO sensitivity of about 4 million!
There’s no viewfinder or display on the device at all: you would need to hook up an external monitor for digging through menus, and seeing what you’re shooting. It doesn’t record anything. Endless commentary is already underway with this breaking news, but here are some further quirks to ponder:
In reality, this 4 Million ISO Cube is not nearly a threat to that other cube, the ARRI Alexa Mini, which was designed for mounting in tight spaces like stunt work, drones, and B-camera roll to match the mothership. It’s also not nearly a threat to the a7 line of video shooters as they evolve, which are fully-featured shooters with (mostly) everything integrated.
Even if you can’t quite put your finger on it, Canon at least has dropped a midnight surprise defying that big complaint by the filmmaker community: they never take risks. This thing came out of nowhere, and it’s punk rock. Way to go!
Here are the specs, straight from Canon’s press release: