Red Digital Cinema, the US camera equipment manufacturer, is developing a new image sensor for a 5k digital camera it has not even finished building yet.

Specs have yet to be revealed for the sensor, which will be called Monstro and will be available from the end of 2010 but Red founder Jim Jannard described it as “the sensor that removes all limitations in current sensor technology”.

Monstro will be free as an upgrade for buyers of the brand-new Epic camera, a 5k resolution camera that will shoot from one to 100 frames per second, that is due out next year.

Red's first camera, the Red One, uses a Mysterium sensor, a 12 megapixel CMOS “block” that can capture 4,520 x 2,540 pixels at 30 frames per second.

The Epic, which is designed to fully emulate the resolution of a 35mm film camera, will initially ship with Mysterium X, an updated version of the original sensor.

Jannard said: “We fully understand that our customers want resolution, maximum speed, incredible dynamic range and low-light capability. Monstro represents the final frontier in the digital versus film struggle.”

Monstro will also be available for the Red One.

Meanwhile, the first 500 customers who put down a deposit on a Red One - but have yet to pay the balance - have until 1 August to confirm they actually want the camera.

“We need to know who is in and who is out so we can better plan our production schedule,” explained Jannard.

Those customers who decline the opportunity will have their deposits refunded.

How does an image sensor work?

Digital cameras, such as the Red One, use an electronic image sensor to gather image data. They contain millions of pixels arranged in a matrix which catch and record light when taking pictures.

A high-resolution image sensor can capture much more variation in light than a low-resolution one and can therefore reproduce an image more faithfully.