Canon Introduces A Six Rotor Drone With Full-Frame Camera

170404_PD6E2000-AW-CJ1_top02By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

When Canon released the smaller ME20f-SH camera, I had a hunch we’d see them on drones sooner or later. What I didn’t know was that Canon would get into the drone market themselves, with a new six rotor UAV that’s aimed towards a segment you wouldn’t expect.

pd6e2000-aw-cj1The drone is called the PD6E2000-AW-CJ1 (let’s just call it the PD6) and it comes with the ME20F-SH camera, a highly sensitive full-frame sensor that was designed chiefly for low light situations like astral photography.

The ME20’s 35mm sized sensor can image 2.26 million pixels, about 7.5x more than Canon’s full-frame DSLRs and can dial up its ISO to an insane 4,560,000! This makes the camera capable of seeing literal darkness. The camera is mounted on a 2 axis gimbal which will provide pitch and roll direction, as well as camera movement.

170404_PD6E2000-AW-CJ1_01Now I know what you’re wondering: James, if this camera is designed for shooting the stars, why would you toss it onto a drone? Well, Canon is aiming the PD6 drone array at the search-and-rescue market, and being able to image the area in literal darkness means it can capture hard to see images in the dark, which could mean the difference between life and death.

Other main features include:

  1. Ultrahigh sensitivity * 1
  2. Minimum object illuminance 0.0005 lux or less * 2 (maximum gain of 75 dB, ISO sensitivity equivalent to 4 million) is achieved by a 35 mm full size CMOS sensor * 4 with a large pixel of 19 μm * 3 side and equipped with proprietary technology for the pixel part and reading circuit. Realized. Even in darkness without artificial lighting or moonlight, you will be able to recognize the subject with very few light sources such as starlight.

* 1 Ina camera that can shoot color full HD movies. As of July 30, 2015 (Examination of Canon)

※ 2 When maximum gain is 75 dB. Compliant with “CCTV equipment specification specification method” (TTR – 4602 B) issued by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA).
(Theoretical value when shooting under color / No accumulation / F1.2 / 30P / 50 IRE)

※ 3 1 μm (micrometer) is one millionth of a meter

* 4 Please refer to the news release announced on March 4, 2013.

* 5 For details of the EF lens with confirmed operation, refer to the specifications.

Gimbal mounted

  1. With 2-axis gimbals mounted, image shooting without blurring is realized.
  2. It is possible to change pitch / roll direction and camera direction.

Maximum payload 10 kg

  1. Weatherproof 6-sheet machine capable of flight in rainy conditions
  2. We realized a maximum payload of 10 kg with a motor with high power specification

canon-me20f-shThe only real downside for the ME20F is that it’s only capable to shooting in 1080p, but since it’s not aimed at the film market, Canon is obviously looking at it’s low light level and live view streaming primarily, with it’s video recording as more of an archival function. But with Magic Lantern having recently cracked 4K on Canon’s full frame 5d Mk. III, who knows if down the road the ME20f will get the same benefit?

The drone itself is a six rotor hexacopter, capable of flight in all kinds of weather and can carry a maximum payload of 10KG (22 lbs). That’s a huge amount of weight for the camera setup it comes with, leading me to wonder if Canon is also looking at giving the PD6E2000-AW-CJ1 more cinematic duties down the road, like carrying a C700 aloft for movie making. It certainly could with the specs it has.

No word on when the PD6E2000-AW-CJ1 will be available, but Canon has it listed at an MSRP of around $20,000.

For more information, check out the Google translation of the Canon Japan site here.

Hat Tip – Canon Rumors, WeTalkUAV

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.