Canon announces 120MP sensor – but it's not quite what it seems

Canon EOS R
Image credit: YouTube

Canon's next move in the mirrorless world continues to be subject to rampant speculation, with rumors of a high-resolution alternative to its EOS R and EOS RP models going nowhere. 

So official confirmation that the company has developed a 120MP sensor that can fire out images at 9.4fps will be met with glee by many – although, sadly, it doesn't look like the camera that gets it will be EOS R-shaped.

The CMOS sensor, dubbed 120MXSI, is described as a "great fit for integrators and end users developing applications such as machine vision, security, robotics, precision agriculture and healthcare." In other words, it's likely to be confined to industrial use rather than in your next EOS body, much like the previously announced and closely related monochrome-only 120MXSM and color-capturing 120MXSC options.

The sensor is APS-H in size, which is the same size that was used in previous high-end EOS DSLRs, such as the EOS-1D Mark IV, and Canon claims it can capture light across the visible and near-infrared spectrums – the sensors inside today's consumer cameras are typically sensitive to both visible and infrared waves, although the convention is to design them with filters that prevent the latter from reaching the sensor.

The EOS R packs a 30MP sensor, and serves as the flagship model in the EOS R line. Image credit: Canon

The EOS R packs a 30MP sensor, and serves as the flagship model in the EOS R line. Image credit: Canon

The company has also announced another sensor, with the slightly less catchy 35MMFHDXSMA moniker. The first part of the name suggests full-frame dimensions, but it seems like it will also stay out of the EOS line, with Canon citing applications such as astrological observation, natural disaster monitoring, object detection and industrial vision. 

It's a 2.7MP device that captures monochrome images in the kind of light where you would be hard pushed to make anything out with your own eyes. Canon references the previous 35MMFHDXSCA sensor in the press release, and points out that by removing the color filter array, sensitivity to light can be doubled.

While these sensors may not be appearing in your camera any time soon, you can see them for yourself if you're able to make it to the Sensors Expo & Conference, which takes place on June 26-27 at the San Jose McEnergy Convention Center in San Jose, California.