The megapixel wars broke out on a new front today as Japanese camera giant Canon announced a head-spinning new sensor. The roughly 250-megapixel (19,580 x 12,600) APS-H CMOS sensor sets a world record for resolution in its size, according to a Canon release, and is said to be able to distinguish lettering on the side of an airplane from 18 km away. APS-H is a sensor size bigger than APS-C but smaller than full-frame, and is primarily used on Canon's legacy EOS-1D line of DSLRs.
The sensor has a fast signal readout speed of 1.25 billion pixels a second, and Canon says it has good noise performance despite the pixel count. Beside photos, the sensor can be used to capture incredibly high-resolution video — about 30 times sharper than 4K — at five frames per second. Canon says the technology could be used in "specialized surveillance and crime prevention tools, ultra-high-resolution measuring instruments and other industrial equipment, and the field of visual expression."
Don't expect this to land in your next DSLR or five, then. But the announcement is a sign that sensor technology will continue to improve; Canon announced a 120-megapixel APS-H sensor back in 2010, when this year's 50-megapixel EOS 5DS would have been unthinkable.