Cameras can do a lot of magic, especially when you’re talking about smartphone cameras. Mobile cameras, on the other hand, are pretty limited in where you can take them. And while action cameras like the GoPro are more rugged, they have even more limitations in what they can do, especially once the sun has set. Enter the SiOnyx Aurora, a one of a kind consumer action camera that has the uncanny ability to bring light even in the darkest of nights.
Sionyx uses a patented design that increases the sensitivity of the CMOS sensor by as much as 10 times compared to traditional sensors. That increased sensitivity allows the camera to capture low-light images in full color. While the company hasn’t shared full specifications, during the earlier Kickstarter campaign, the company listed the camera with a one-inch sensor and an f/1.4 lens.
Larger pixels gather more light — so Sionyx equipped the Aurora with a large 1-inch sensor but kept the megapixels in the single digits. Because the sensor isn’t crammed with megapixels, each megapixel is larger, allowing the sensor to let in more light than a camera with a higher megapixel count under the same settings and conditions. That sensor, the company claims, is capable of capturing images that are 10 times brighter than a standard sensor.
The sensor isn’t the only reason the Aurora can capture low-light shots — the 16mm lens is also a bright f/1.4. An adjustable aperture with the option for an f/2.0 and an f/5.6 helps the camera adjust to daylight shots.
With the sensor and bright lens, the Aurora offers three different shooting modes — daylight, twilight, and night. The camera uses two different night modes, a black-and-white night vision and a color night vision.
The camera appears to be one designed more for the flexibility of shooting all day and less for the image quality. Creating larger pixel sites means the Aurora only shoots in 720p, not 1080p high definition (not to mention 4K). That footage is captured at up to 60 fps. Stills shot from the action camera are just nine megapixels.
Wi-Fi is built in, with an Android and iOS app for sharing shots from the camera.
While the camera is waterproof down to three feet, the Aurora looks like a mix between an action camera and a traditional handheld consumer video camera because of the camera’s oblong shape. The Aurora integrates a GPS and accelerometer, along with a compass that can overlay the data over the footage. Weighing about eight ounces, the body also integrates several physical controls, including switches for adjusting the camera mode. Shots can be previewed at the back of the camera, using that night vision video to see what’s in the dark around you. The camera records to Micro SD cards and is rated for about two hours of battery life.
The Aurora comes from a Massachusetts-based company founded in 2006. Sionyx produces several different camera sensors, all designed for low-light performance.
After reaching a fully-funded Kickstarter in four hours, the camera is expected to launch at retail for $799 in August. Pre-orders are available now with a 10-percent discount. The action camera will be available directly from the company’s website.