Canon Launches ME20F-SH Specialist Full Frame Camera That Sees In The Dark With ISO of 4 Million

Earlier today, Canon USA announced a new specialist interchangeable lens camera with some very impressive features and specs. The niche specialist camera has an equivalent ISO rating of around 4,000,000 making it capable of shooting in the dark pretty much, and sports a newly developed full-frame 2.26MP 35mm CMOS sensor with a 1080p/60 output. Of course, Canon gave it the cute name ME20F-SH and a boxy design. It’s a sensor in a box essentially, lacking internal recording, but featuring a state of the art sensor, of which Canon hinted two years ago in 2013. The ME20F-SH features gigantic 19 micron photo sites (2.2x those of the Sony A7s for comparison), and with such features Canon is surely trying to corner the surveillance, reality show, industrial and wildlife documentary applications. This camera is definitely not meant for every day shooting, but rather a very niche product for specific types of shoots. Specialist rental houses should be getting on the phone with their Canon rep about this product right about now.

This may not be a 4K camera (and yeah, I wish it was, but the behemoth photos sites and cooling requirements won’t allow it) hence why the camera is limited to Full HD output. Nonetheless, Canon is flexing their engineering muscles as this is no infrared camera – on the contrary, with such low-light performance (that I cannot imagine at this point) the ME20F-SH should be able to deliver some pretty staggering footage in natural light or lack thereof in full colour and not black and green.

20150730_thumbL_me20fsh_3qlensThe camera also features a locking EF mount (something that the new C300 Mark II will have as well), a 3-stop and a 6-stop built-in ND and IR Cut filters, and is compatible with Canon’s RC-V100 remote control ($2,850 at B&H). Due to it’s relatively small size 113 x 116 x 102 mm and weighting in at just 1.1 kg’s the mounting possibilities become almost endless. The camera does not have XLR inputs, but does feature a 3.5mm mic input (for scratch audio) and doesn’t have the ability to record internally.

The price is expected to be in the range of $30,000 and should be available from specialised outlets in December 2015. See some photos and more specs below.



20150730_thumbL_me20fsh_front 20150730_thumbL_me20fsh_3qback


  • Ultra low-light performance at ISO 4 million
  • High quality Full HD 1080p/1080i/720p output
  • Flexible control with auto and custom settings
  • Compatible with a wide range of EF lenses
  • Remote control of camera settings and built-in ND and IR cut filters possible
  • Small and lightweight for ease of integration



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)

Press Release

MELVILLE N.Y., July 30, 2015 – Canon U.S.A. Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today has introduced the Company’s first multi-purpose camera, the new ME20F-SH, which delivers exceptionally high sensitivity to capture Full HD video with a minimum subject illumination of less than 0.0005 lux1 (at maximum 75 dB gain setting, equivalent to an ISO sensitivity of over 4,000,000). Nighttime surveillance and security, cinematic production, reality television, and nature/wildlife documentaries are just some of the ME20F-SH’s many possible usage applications. With the ability to capture color video in extreme low-light conditions and its simplistic and versatile design, the ME-20F-SH Multi-purpose Camera can be easily incorporated into existing infrastructures and systems to provide high-quality video capture even where subjects might not be seen with the naked eye.

Canon’s new multi-purpose camera employs an enhanced version of the 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor for Full HD video use that was originally developed by the Company in 20132. Its compact, modular body design allows easy custom configurations for diverse usage scenarios. While capturing video in extreme low-light conditions often requires the use of infrared illumination (a technique that only yields video in black and white), the ME20F-SH camera achieves impressive high-sensitivity performance enabling the capture of color Full HD video with reduced noise in low-light conditions without the need for infrared illumination.

Ultra-High-Sensitivity CMOS Sensor Enables Color Video Capture in Extreme Low-Light Conditions

The ME20F-SH camera’s CMOS sensor has pixels measuring 19 μm square3, which is more than 5.5 times the surface area of the pixels on the CMOS sensor featured in select top-of-the-line interchangeable lens cameras4. Furthermore, the sensor’s pixels and readout circuitry make use of Canon proprietary technologies to achieve both reduced noise and exceptionally high sensitivity on subjects with a minimum illumination of less than 0.0005 lux. This multi-purpose camera allows users to discern subjects under even some of the dimmest lighting conditions, such as environments lit by artificial illumination or under a moonless night sky. Furthermore, similar to Canon’s Cinema EOS System of professional digital cinematography cameras, the ME20F-SH camera includes Canon Log and Wide DR, which make possible a wide dynamic range, delivering high-image-quality video results across a range of illumination environments, from low- to brightly lit conditions.

Canon’s Diverse Interchangeable EF Lens Lineup Enables Wide Range of Imaging Possibilities

The new ME20F-SH employs the same EF mount (Cinema Lock type) as Canon’s SLR cameras and Cinema EOS System-series of professional digital cameras, allowing users to make use of the Company’s extensive lineup of interchangeable EF lenses5. By letting users select the ideal lens based on their shooting or application requirements, taking into consideration such factors as angle of view and level of brightness, this multi-purpose camera facilitates a wide spectrum of imaging possibilities.

Supports various standard video-recording interfaces

Employing output-only 3G/HD-SDI and HDMI terminals, Canon’s ME20F-SH camera enables users working on location to output video via a single cable to a variety of peripheral equipment, including external recorders and monitors. Equipped with a φ2.5mm stereo mini-jack and a round 8-pin jack for RS-422, the multipurpose camera is capable of connecting with Canon’s RC-V100 Remote Controller (released in June 2014; sold separately)6. By allowing users to operate the camera or change settings from a remote location, the camera facilitates video capture from inaccessible locations as well as fixed-point surveillance. Furthermore, a φ3.5mm stereo mini-jack allows the camera to connect with an external microphone, enabling users working on location to output audio and video signals to connected peripheral equipment.

The Canon ME20F-SH is expected to be available in December 2015 at a suggested retail price of $30,000.

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