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Super Hi-Vision camera shoots 4 billion pixels every second

This broadcasting behemoth is a Super Hi-Vision camera recording a stunning 33 megapixels at 120 frames per second.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
2 min read

We're suckers for giant cameras -- and it doesn't get much more giant than a camera that shoots 16 times the detail of high definition. This broadcasting behemoth is a new Super Hi-Vision camera that records a stunning 33 megapixels, at an eye-watering 120 frames per second.

Super Hi-Vision is a form of Ultra High Definition Television, telly so detailed you'll practically be able to climb into any wrinkle in Tom Jones' leathery visage. With a resolution of 7,580x4,320 pixels filming at 120fps, this camera is capturing 4 billion pixels every second -- roughly the level of detail on an IMAX cinema screen, only on a telly.

The camera is capturing so much information about what's in front of it that it's outputting up to 51.2 gigabits per second. The 1.5-inch CMOS sensor is smaller than other ultra high definition cameras, but there's still so much data coming out of the sensor that a special analogue-to-digital converter had to be developed.

The frame rate was originally planned to be 60fps, but on a larger display that could be blurry when fast-moving subjects spring into action. And we can't have that now, can we? So the frame rate was doubled.

Diginfo checked out the prototype at a technology showcase in Japan. The Japanese equivakent of the BBC, NHK, developed the camera together with Hitachi and Shizuoka University. The Super Hi-Vision camera on display here is the first portable shoulder-mounted model of its kind, not far off the size and weight of a current broadcast camera.

The compact Super Hi-Vision camera is compatible with still SLR camera lenses, so you can achieve different effects by sticking different glass on the front.

The new format will be put to the test sooner than you'd think, with the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic Games filmed in ultra high definition and broadcast at 15 metre screens around the country. Televisions that can display ultra high definition will be in living rooms in Japan in around 2013, and the rest of the world anytime between 2015 and 2020.