How the Camera Has Changed Our Understanding of the World

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The ability to capture a specific moment in time is a reality thanks to modern cameras. With the prominence of social media sites, many of us find it difficult to imagine a world without cameras. The development of today’s camera was actually the result of centuries of scholars and inventers throughout the world such as the Chinese philosopher Mo Ti in the 5th century BC, the English philosopher Roger Bacon in the 13th century AD, and of course the French inventor Joseph Nicephore Niepce that invented what would be the predecessor to the modern camera in 1826. Today even more advanced cameras are pushing the limits of photography and challenging what we thought we knew about the natural world.

The Development of High Speed Cameras

In 1878 Eadward Muybridge famously captured a sequence of a galloping horse to address the question of whether or not a horse’s hooves were all off the ground at once during a gallop; this was the first practical application of high speed cameras. Decades later in 1950 a U.S. army engineer named Morton Sultanoff developed a more advanced high speed camera that was able to take frames at one-millionth of a second — this camera was fast enough to record the shock wave of a small explosion. Modern advancements in technology has pushed the limitations even further back as some cameras are able to record over 1 million frames in a single second. Cameras aren’t just getting faster, they are also becoming more precise as a 3-megapixel camera enables the user to take a picture of a higher resolution than most computer monitors can even display!

Seeing the World in a New Light

Super slow motion cameras a enable us to see things that are too fast for our naked eye to process. For instance, a hummingbird can flap its wings up to 50 times per second; it was not until the development of the high speed camera that we were actually able to see this process however. The widespread availability of high speed cameras has created a new generation of photographers that are able to turn things as mundane as a drop of water into a fantastic natural display upon collision with another water surface. High speed cameras are frequently used in television to capture everything from ballistics tests to natural documentaries; likewise there are endless applications for high speed cameras in the field of scientific research and observation.

Applications for High Speed Cameras

The most advanced of high speed cameras that exceed 100,000 frames per second are typically used for laboratory research applications. Biomechanics research methods utilize high speed cameras frequently to study the natural world — standard movie cameras record images at a rate of 18 frames per second whereas high speed cameras can operate thousands of frames per second and allow researchers to lower the motion to a point where the film can be analyzed in greater detail. As technology continues to make advances in photography we will be able to explore our world in an unprecedented level of detail, ensuring that we will always have the sense of wonder that is what ultimately drives us towards progress.


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