Slow-Mo What You Need to Know About High Speed Cameras

High speed photography

Being able to capture images in slow motion is vital for scientific research, sports analysis and a number of other fields. Super slow motion cameras and high speed photography, for example, play a significant role in biomechanics research methods because while a standard movie camera records images at a rate of about 18 frames/second, super slow motion cameras can do so at thousands of frames per second, capturing images that can be analyzed in great detail. In fact, high-speed photography was first used to solve a real-life mystery: do horses’ hooves all leave the ground at the same time when at a gallop? Eadward Muybridge solved this enigma in 1878 with the first use of high-speed photography.

Several thousand pictures per second is about the best option for analysis and observation of motions in industrial settings such as product manufacturing. Taking a motion picture at 3,000 frames per second, for example, means that when it is viewed at standard projection speed of roughly 16 frames per second, the viewer sees the recorded action at approximately 1/200 of its real speed. High speed cameras can offer numerous opportunities for indepth analysis and study.

Super slow motion cameras use different shutter speeds to traditional cameras. Shutter speeds usually range from one full second to 1/1000th of a second. The longer the shutter stays open, the more light is allowed onto the film. Conventional photography uses shutter speeds of roughly 1/125th of a second, while high-speed photography is a great deal faster, clocking in at as much as 1/8000th of a second. Laboratory research may even require ultra high speed cameras that can exceed 100,000 frames per second — and it is even possible to reach a speed of over 1 million frames per second, depending on the optical system used. Such high speed cameras have their origin in the 1950s when Morton Sultanoff, a U.S. army engineer in Aberdeen invented one capable of taking frames at one-millionth of a second; the camera was quick enough to record the shock wave of a small explosion.

High speed cameras can be applied in a number of industries for a variety of purposes and offer the ability to truly capture motion as it happens in great detail.

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