The new Canon's ME20F-SH camera enables videographers to record in the dark

As if ISO sensitivity settings we’ve seen in the last few years weren’t already impressive enough, Canon has today announced its new ME20F-SH video camera with a maximum sensitivity that is the equivalent of ISO 4,000,000…. yep, 4 Million.

The new camera does this by using a 2.26-million-pixel full 35mm frame CMOS sensor. With such a low pixel count on the large sensor the photosites measure 19 μm square – by comparision the Sony A7S is thought to have a photosite size of around 8.4 μm square. Very simply the larger the photosite, the better the camera will see in low-light. In the case of the new Canon camera, the Japanese company claim that the camera can see in the light as low as 0.0005 lux. Basically the camera can see in the dark, with would have previously required infrared lighting and cameras.

Canon are pitching the camera as being multi-purpose, as although it has very obvious security and surveillance applications, it will also be intriguing for shooting wildlife and other documentary work where the videographer has little control of the light.

Canon ME20F SH

3/4 view


There is a catch, and that is the price. Although no details for the UK are currently available, the camera is set to cost $30,000 when it is released in December, so perhaps not a camera for the casual weekend videographer. However, it will be interesting to see the results from the camera and how the technology may filter down in to Canon’s other video products.


Here is the Canon ME20F-SH specification:
Product name ME20F-SH Multi-purpose Camera
Image sensor 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor (single), effective pixel count: approx. 2.26 million pixels
Minimum subject illumination Less than 0.0005 lux (at maximum 75 dB gain setting, equivalent to an ISO sensitivity of over four million)
Pixel Pitch 19 Microns
Lens mount Canon EF mount (Cinema Lock type)
Optical filters ND filter with two density levels (motorized manual / auto) IR cut filter (motorized manual)
Frame rates 59.94P / 59.94i / 50.00P / 50.00i / 29.97P / 25.00P / 23.98P
Gamma Canon Log, Wide DR, etc.
Video output terminals 3G / HD-SDI BNC jack (output only) Terminal count: 21080P / 1080i / 720P
HDMI HDMI connector (output only)
Genlock terminal BNC jack (input only)
Remote terminal φ2.5mm stereo mini-mini-jack (Canon-proprietary protocol)Round 8-pin jack (for RS-422, Canon-proprietary protocol)
Microphone terminal φ3.5mm stereo mini-jack
AF One-shot AF
Auto-exposure Combined interlocking (iris / gain / ND / shutter)
White balance AWB, color-temperature setting (setting range: 2000 to 15000 degrees Kelvin), natural light, light bulb, Setting A, Setting B
Digital teleconverter 2x, 4x
Power input 4-pin XLR DC11-17VTerminal block 2-pin jack DC11-17V
Operating temperature 32 degrees F (0 degrees C) to 104 degrees F (40 degrees C)
Body dimensions Approx. 4 inches (102mm) (w) x 4.5 inches (116mm) (h) x 4.4 inches (113mm) (d) (excluding protrusions)
Weight Approx. 2.4 lbs (1.1 kg) (body only)