There Are Full-Size Sensors, And Then There Are FULL-SIZE Sensors

There’s a little company in Tuscon, Arizona that is literally working on some giant ideas—like a digital camera with so much dynamic range it can capture both the sun and the stars in broad daylight!

Spectral Instruments has built a 20-year reputation as a premier provider of cooled, high-end CCD-based camera systems for scientific imaging applications from astronomy to pre-clinical drug discovery. This new project, the “1110 Series,” involves a camera with a 112-megapixel, black-and-white sensor without a Bayer mask or filter of any type that could “detract from the overall image sharpness.”

The engineers at Spectral Instruments explain that the astounding dynamic range is a result of the remarkably light-sensitive sensor coupled with the camera’s ability to take exposures lasting for hours—without any apparent noise. The sensor measures 95x95mm, dwarfing a typical 24x36mm DSLR sensor.

Unlike most of the imaging equipment created by the Spectral Instruments team, this concept camera isn’t designed solely with industrial or scientific applications in mind; they say they’d like to create a product with these capabilities for use by professional photographers. With a developmental cost upwards of $100,000 for the custom sensor alone, it will be interesting to see if this project ever sees the light of day—or perhaps I should say the light of night.

You can visit the Spectral Instruments website to read more at