CP+ 2015: Canon shows off prototype 120MP CMOS sensor

Update: It seems like the sensor presented here is the same one that we reported on back in 2010. Thanks to our eagle-eyed readers for the catch - we blame jet-lag.

We're at CP+ in Yokohama, Japan, where Canon is showing off a prototype ultra high-resolution 120MP CMOS sensor. Canon is claiming it has a pixel count equivalent to the number of photoreceptors in a human eye. Its surface area is halfway between APS-C and full-frame, and it appears to be mostly directed at video applications, capable of recording at approximately 60x the resolution of Full HD.

The frame rate of read-out for this ultra high-resolution is 9.5fps, and is made possible by reading multiple pixels simultaneously at high speeds - a process Canon is calling 'parallel signal processing'. The 120 million pixels - of 2.2 µm pixel pitch - are contained on a sensor 29.2mm x 20.2mm in size, yielding pixel dimensions of 13280x9184.

Canon even had a physical model of the prototype on display, which you can see below. You'll note a distinctly different architecture compared to the 53MP CMOS sensor in the recently announced 5DS/SR (on the right in the table below).

Canon's prototype 120MP sensor. Note the distinctly different architecture compared to Canon's 53MP sensor in the 5DS (pictured to the right). Click image for a larger version. Canon 5DS/SR 53MP CMOS sensor. Click image for a larger version.

Given the small pixel pitch, though, we can't help but wonder if Canon is adopting smaller design rules that might help in their sensor's noise performance (possibly by integrating on-chip ADCs). But we can only really speculate at this point. 

Canon claims that this new prototype sensor is geared toward use in video production, monitoring, aviation, and space applications. We'll be curiously following any developments on this front, but if you have any thoughts about how this technology might be useful, let us know in the comments.