Canon announces its first full-frame global shutter sensor

Canon Global Shutters
Canon's new global shutters (Image credit: Canon Watch)

Canon has brought us one step closer to the dream, announcing its first full frame global shutter sensors.

Global shutters are in many ways the end game for sensor manufacturers, and a consumer-level global shutter would completely upend the camera industry.

• What is a global shutter and why is it so important? (opens in new tab)

They offer huge benefits over traditional sensors. With the ability to read all the data from the entire sensor, rather than line by line, you can have vastly improved readout speeds – meaning that the rolling shutter phenomenon from shooting fast-moving subjects, which crops up frequently at high shooting speeds and on video, would be eliminated. 

It would also enable the ability to use any flash sync speed with the camera, opening up a whole new world of super high-speed flash photography.

The new catchily named Canon LI5030SAI and LI5030SAN are both 19MP full-frame sensors, with 12-bit readout at 57.99 fps. Don't get too excited just yet, though, as these full-frame global shutters aren't quite ready for a consumer camera. 

The Canon LI5030SAN has no color filters or micro-lenses, and has been developed for use in electron microscopes and x-ray detection cameras. The Canon LI5030SAI can record visible and near-infrared light and will be put to work in industrial applications.

Watch video: Canon's new global shutter sensors

We have seen some global shutters from Canon before, but these have been much smaller – and pricier, with Canon's 1-inch C700 GS being prohibitively expensive at around $30,000 each. However, it is fantastic to see Canon making huge strides with its research into global shutters to bring us this new full-frame model.

Canon will almost certainly be developing these sensors for use one day in a consumer camera. Many Canon cameras over the years have been rumored to debut this technology, with the most prevalent rumor today being the constant delays to the Canon EOS R1 (opens in new tab) camera due to this global shutter not being ready.

We think that this is probably very premature, and we might have to wait several more years to see a global shutter that is both ready for prime time and at a price that is affordable for any photographer not called Elon Musk. 

However, with rolling shutter being one of the most prevalent issues holding back the current crop of best sports and wildlife cameras, achieving a consumer-level global shutter would be like finding the holy grail.

You can keep up with all the latest Canon rumors (opens in new tab) in our hub. You can check out our guides for the best full-frame camera (opens in new tab), the best mirrorless camera (opens in new tab), and the best DSLR camera (opens in new tab).

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.