Canon has claimed to have developed a sensor that is sensitive enough to read lettering on the side of an aircraft up to 18km away.
It is unlikely that this camera will find its way into domestic cameras or smart phones but is more likely to be used in surveillence and CCTV systems.
Canon said it had overcome several technical hurdles to get the sensor functioning. In particular, it said it had got round the signal and timing problems introduced when reading data from the 250 million pixels (19,580 x 12,600) on board. Data was read from the chip at a speed of 1.25 billion pixels per second, which, said Canon, demanded much improved signal processing systems to ensure picture taking was well coordinated. The sensor measures 29.2mm (1.15in) by 20.2mm (0.79in) - which is smaller than the sensors found on many 35mm digital cameras. The individual pixels on the sensor are about 1.5 microns across - approximately the same size as those found on consumer cameras.