Canon has introduced a brand new camera capable of seeing distant subjects in the dark and output them in colour in Full HD. The new Canon MS-500 combines a high sensitivity, 2.1MP, 1-inch type SPAD sensor with a B4 mount that’s compatible with Canon’s powerful telephoto broadcast lenses.

Canon MS-500 Ultra-High Sensitivity Camera with SPAD Sensor

A SPAD sensor, also known as a Single Photon Avalanche Diode sensor, is a specialized type of photo-detector used in various applications that require the detection of extremely low levels of light. It operates based on the principle of avalanche breakdown in a reverse-biased junction.

Here's how a SPAD sensor works:

Photons Detection: When a photon (a particle of light) strikes the semiconductor material of the SPAD sensor, it generates an electron-hole pair.

  • Avalanche Breakdown: In a standard diode, this electron-hole pair would result in a small current flow. However, in a SPAD sensor, the diode is designed to operate in a voltage region where the reverse-biased electric field is high enough to cause impact ionization. This means that one electron or hole can generate more electron-hole pairs through collisions with other atoms in the semiconductor, leading to an avalanche effect.
  • Single Photon Sensitivity: The avalanche process amplifies the original signal, making it possible to detect even a single photon. This characteristic makes SPAD sensors highly sensitive to low levels of light, enabling applications in fields such as photon counting, fluorescence microscopy, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), quantum optics, and various other low-light imaging and detection technologies.
  • Quenching Circuit: After the avalanche process, the SPAD sensor needs to be reset and ready for the next photon detection. A quenching circuit is used to quickly quench the avalanche and bring the sensor back to its original state.

SPAD sensors have gained popularity in recent years due to advancements in nanotechnology and semiconductor fabrication techniques, allowing for more efficient and cost-effective designs. They play a crucial role in many modern applications, particularly in fields where extremely low light levels need to be measured with high precision and timing resolution.

The new MS-500 camera from Canon features a B4 mount making it compatible with a vast range broadcast lenses. The MS-500 can accurately capture subjects with precision in extreme low-light environments, even from great distances, making it suitable for a wide range of applications including wildlife, live events and sports.

Other applications include nighttime monitoring of seaports, thanks to its ability to spot vessels that are several km away, thus enabling identification and high-precision monitoring of vessels in or around the seaport.

Learn more about the Canon MS-500 camera:

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