Canon’s ISO 4 million multi-purpose camera was used to record fluorescent life in the Amazon

Award-winning artist and director Lynette Wallworth released her documentary Awavena in 2018 to critical acclaim. The project’s director of photography, Greg Downing, utilized numerous cameras during production, including the specialized Canon ME20F-SH multi-purpose camera.

Awavena follows the first female shaman of the Yawanawa tribe in the Amazonian rainforest. As part of the film, the crew documents an Ayahuasca vision quest and represents this experience using real footage captured in incredibly low light and CGI. Downing, with the aid of the ME20F-SH, captured footage of fluorescent insects and plants in nearly no light, something that Canon believes could have proven impossible for other cameras.

This week, Canon shared a video going behind the scenes with Downing and the ME20F-Sh camera. You can view this below.

If you’d like to view the trailer for Awavena, it can be seen below. Awavena is Wallworth’s second mixed-reality VR film, following up on the Emmy-winning film, Collisions. Wallworth says, ‘We engaged DP Greg Downing from XRez to film in the Amazon and brought the eminent Australian fluorescent biologist Dr. Anya Salih, my longtime collaborator, along on the shoot so we could film the previously unseen world of forest fluorescence as part of the vision sequence.’ Wallworth’s full artist statement about Awavena can be read here.

While the Canon ME20F-SH camera is getting a bit long in the tooth, its technical specifications and features continue to impress over five years since it was announced. The camera utilizes a 2.26MP CMOS image sensor, which was originally announced all the way back in 2013. The sensor has pixels measuring 19μm, allowing for 1080/60p video capture in light levels as low as 0.0005 lux at a gain setting of 75 Db, which is equivalent to over ISO 4,000,000. The ME20F-SH supports Canon’s EF and EF-S lenses. While Awavena represented Downing’s first experience with the ME20F-SH camera, he has long relied upon Canon cameras for his work and has been a longtime Canon Professional Services member.

Canon ME20F-SH camera

This is not the first time footage from the ME20F-SH has been featured on our site. In 2016, Ben Canales recorded video of the Perseid meteor shower using the camera. You can see that footage below.

In 2017, Canon outfitted an industrial done with the ME20F-SH all-purpose camera for nighttime surveillance. That video can be seen here.

As PetaPixel notes in its coverage of Awavena, the ME20F-SH has been used to record the aurora borealis in real-time and record bioluminescent coral over 1,000 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. You can check out these videos below: