Canon 4 Million ISO Camera ME20F-SH – First Footage – Perfect for Wildlife?

We talked to Canon about their new 4 Million ISO camera, which goes by the melodious name of ME20F-SH, here at IBC 2015 in Amsterdam. It’s the first time the camera is being shown in real life.

It has a very compact cubic form factor, which makes it very versatile for all sorts of applications, and it can be fully controlled remotely. It’s only 1080p with a Full Frame 35mm sensor, but at 19 microns, the pixels are very large, which makes them very light sensitive. The camera can shoot at up to 4,560,000 ISO and is definitely targeted at very specialist applications like nighttime wildlife shooting – which also justifies the price point of roughly $30K. It doesn’t have external recording but outputs via SDI and HDMI, 4:2:2 8-bit. Canon also says that it’s only available for a very select range of customers.


It’s an unfair comparison because it’s targeted at a very different audience, but the Sony A7s (and the newly announced A7sII) cameras are about three stops less light sensitive.

The footage that popped up on the Canon Japan website from the ME20F-SH shows a range of applications. Unfortunately it’s heavily compressed and therefore there is compression interference, but it still it looks clean until around 50,000 ISO as far as we can tell.

However, this camera is something for wildlife filmmakers. From a personal perspective as a wildlife filmmaker, I once filmed Ethiopian hedgehogs in Qatar. Our main focus was to capture the moment the hedgehog gives birth, something that no one has ever been able to do, due to hedgehogs being prone to disturbance and causing infanticide after birth. The project took over 3 months, as we had to build a burrow out of fibre glass, specially designed to fit a camera and placed the burrow underground. We used fibre optical lights that ran into the burrow to light it up enough for the camera to see something. Over 3 months, we increased the light-level from complete darkness to a very little light-level, in order to habituate the hedgehog to its home. If we had the Canon Me20F-SH and its amazing low-light capabilities, we could have cut this time by at least a third if not more, not only saving us the amount of time to monitor the hedgehog’s behaviour, but also cutting production costs significantly.


cinema5D at IBC 2015
B&H Blackmagic Design Sachtler G-Technology edelkrone

Watch it on Vimeo

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Andrew Orlow Reply
Andrew Orlow September 14, 2015

Not impressed.

Markus Lubenica Reply
Markus Lubenica September 14, 2015

Canon™ = Thefts. Canon please close your Hipster camera division and better focus on your main printer business :P

Crimson Son September 14, 2015

So Arri has patented the cube shape camera?
Have you seen Samsung, Hasselblad, Rolleiflex, Mamiya, etc cameras?
I mean what large and medium film cameras were not cube?

Cube cameras existed decades before that Arri or that Canon.

Lets not pull a Apple iPhone vs Samsung thing here.

Afonso Abreu Reply
Afonso Abreu September 14, 2015


Chris Allen Reply
Chris Allen September 14, 2015

I don’t need to be impressed… go take your low light camera and film some 8bit Rhino turd on the bottom of your shoe because thats the only thing you’ll be picking up while fumbling around the bush.

Greg Lassik Reply
Greg Lassik September 14, 2015

How underwhelming.

Christopher Adams Reply
Christopher Adams September 14, 2015

Canon has really dropped the ball, so disappointed in them.

Gerardo Campos Reply
Gerardo Campos September 14, 2015

Ok, nice, I love low light cameras… but 30K???? for a 1080 FF sensor??? and only 8bit 422; with that specs I can pay around 1.5K beeing generous… Canon you are out of your mind…..

Crimson Son September 15, 2015

This has been discussed before here

Its not a competition for the C300 or A7s of the world. This is a niche camera using specialized sensor. This is meant more for scientific, industrial, military, medical and in some instances entertainment (aka wildlife, nature, etc.).

Have you ever been in a studio shoot for news broadcast or game show or any studio based show? They use cameras with no recording capabilities that cost 5x to 10x more than your regular should mount cameras.

This is not meant for mass consumption. There is a world beyond the skater videos, GoPros, and travelogues.

There are $100K + farm vehicles that don’t have air-conditioner or Bluetooth either.

Sam Anderson Reply
Sam Anderson September 15, 2015

The ME20F SH is a dream come true for film makers and photogropthers, as it offers the best photo and movie quality best for night vision:

Karoliina Salminen Reply
Karoliina Salminen September 16, 2015

Why the video is showing show jerky movement? How many fps is that? 10?

Eric Bogan September 22, 2015

The video promo for the camera on this page is under whelming. Most of the footage is just plain ugly and choppy (including product shots).

You state “It doesn’t have external recording”. Do you mean “It doesn’t have internal recording”? $30K no internal recording, no battery, no lens and questionable footage. Not impressed. Good luck!

Eric Bogan September 22, 2015

And no monitor or viewfinder.

Sam Anderson Reply
Sam Anderson September 24, 2015

The Canon ME20F SH proves what a perfetly crafted camera can do: