Instructables

Cheap High-speed Camera

Yes, I know, It's an oxymoron. I've always wanted a high-speed camera, but they are way too expensive. I was wondering if any of you fellow Instructablers have a high-speed camera that you've lost interest in, and are willing to sell for a low price.

Alternatively, if any of you know how to make a cheap, high quality, high-speed camera, could you post an Instructable?



Edit: I bought a Casio EX-F1 a while ago, and even made an iBle about it. I also have a bunch of videos here.

So I am wondering, WHY high speed cameras are so expensive. Unlike thermal imaging cameras which require special optics and sensors for the longwave-IR wavelengths, high speed cameras are simply ORDINARY VISIBLE LIGHT video cameras, that just have the CCD (or CMOS) sensor's readout-clock speed set very high. As such, it would seem that the difference between a highspeed video camera, and a consumer camcorder is quite trivial, and does NOT DESERVE such an EXORBITANTLY INCREASED PRICE! The price for parts and labor for manufacturing dedicated highspeed cameras is no more or less than the price for parts and labor for manufacturing your average Sony camcorder. In fact it should be cheaper, as there is no need for extra circuits for processing and saving audio, as highspeed cams have no audio capability.

I would even venture to say that it should be a fairly simple mod to turn a camcorder into a highspeed video camera, by simply finding the clock oscillator crystal, and then replacing it with one that's 10x the frequency of the original (replacing for example a 2MHz clock oscillator crystal with a 20MHz clock oscillator crystal), and the result will be a camcorder that films at 300fps instead of 30fps, but since the video file's header would still say 30fps, it would play back 10x slower than real-time.

Why has nobody done this yet? Why aren't there any tutorials out on the net yet for how to hack your camcorder to implement this mod? It's quite simple if you think about it. Why's nobody tried this yet?

It is not just the frame-rate you see. If you have ever used a DSLR to capture a picture at a reasonable speed (>100 fps) You would notice that the pictures appear too dark. This is because a very short exposure on the sensor causes very little light. I have a 16,000 fps camera, and without a xenon flash, all I get is black.

Further storing tens of thousands of frames every second is no easy task, it would take a really fast memory to do that.

104 cameras listed under slow motion @ snapsort.com
Casio make a string of 1000 fps and 480 fps cameras.
Nikon 1 series shoot @ 1200 fps, have a slightly larger sensor and interchangeable lenses.
Canon Powershot SX40 HS shoots @ 240 fps.
Fuji X10 shoots @ 200 fps.
wii5522 years ago
Cheap high speed camera used to be an oxymoron, but ever since Casio came out with those cameras, it's not...
ahightower3 years ago
I think in the film "The Matrix" they used multiple cameras and post-processing to convert stills into moving slow motion. I imagine that type of external trigger setup might actually be less expensive if you want to get lots of slow motion detail of a really fast single event from multiple perspectives.
Don Walker3 years ago
i bought Casio Exilim zr100, it makes 240 fps, 480 fps and 1000. Sure in reduced quality, But its still amazing, focus in 480 fps is fixed by first shot and you can't capture more than aproximatelly 1 minute, because of memory. Anyway its great and cheap solution. Check video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7y2R4WMjX0

here is very good showed what happens when memory start to be full
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BIi-bSFM1Q
bfrancis3 years ago
I bought a Toshiba Camileo H30. It's a basic flash 1080p camcorder, but it can do 120 frames / sec at 320 x 240. It ran about $130 at Tiger Direct. The video looks pretty good and it will capture as much as you have memory. This is a link to video of a model rocket (slow motion starts around :34) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UdzPjJ6BGE While this is off track, it also does time lapse in HD. You can set it to take a picture every 1, 2, 5 seconds. This is a link to three days of a blizzard in about two minutes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mM-Y748sj4
wwb345tly3 years ago
srry my bad you can get is for $160$ on amozon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
wwb345tly3 years ago
check out this link it is amazing i hope it helps you. the camera is only $250. it shoots 1000fps

http://exilim.casio.com/products_exfc100.shtml
Phoebe3024 years ago
There are various kinds of cheap cameras on http://www.everbuying.com/Wholesale-Digital-Cameras-c-325.html I bought the one 3.0-inch LTPS TFT Color LCD Digital Camera,12MP,5.0M CMOS,8X Digital Zoom,DC-588A about three month ago from everbuying. The quality is good. It is so beautiful.
matroska4 years ago
 I've researched seriously many high speed camera, for a low budget. The bottom line is, there's nothing other than the Exilim EX-F1 for the average consumer. It's really cheap, compared to "real" high speed cameras.

The problem is, in between the Casio and the lower end model of "real" high speed, there's nothing. It's either 1grand (ex-f1) or 10 grands and over. And even at 10 grands, the specs aren't worth it to pick them over the Casio, the best I found was the Phantom series available for 9,9K$ from their site. It can do up to 640X480 at 500fps max. So for that price and specs, I'd rather stick to a 1200fps with a tiny resolution.

However if you have a budget, first you probably aren't reading here, and secondly there's more bang for the buck in the higher prices ranger. From this price range, you have to ask the companies for a quote. Very rarely you will find a number as a price tag. Again, for a better specs-price ratio, you are looking at over 30,000$ cameras.

Bottom line for me, the average research & developpement @ home scientist, I will go with a Casio Exilimi EX-F1. When I will have a real _need_ for better speeds/resolution, I will only get something from over 30,000$, if it fits my need.
bp200 matroska4 years ago
You may also check www.gfocustech.com and ask if they provide any low end high speed camera for average consumer applications...
I have a NAC HSV-500 C3: High Speed Video and a Redlake Motion scope camera. Both are complete systems. The NAC Has 3 strobes and the wave Inserter. Any interesting trades???
his i am very interested in what you are offering, how much would you be willing to sell the equipment for??

Many thanks,
Charlie
Hello, I am looking for a system that is complete I am a college student and I am looking into bone and the use of High speed camera and bone. I dont have funding for equipment and so cant afford to buy off a company such as redlake. I have been looking on ebay for weeks and cant see anything that suits me . Can you help ?? Thanks Rob
Do you have anything to trade??? I am not using them but could use a high definition projector or something.......
Sorry , A friend has a NEC NP901W Video Projector for sale if that would suit and I could buy that and trade but besides All I have is automation stuff PLCs cameras stuff like that I only have a small lot being in college I dont have allot of money or resourses . Would you consider selling the camera ? I can raise the money from a student loan if you would consider selling ?? Thanks Rob
Hi do you still have the nac HSV with the strobes? Please get in touch asap. Thanks so much. I'm a DP based in Belgium with a huge collection of high speed cameras. Patrick. ottendoesit@yahoo.co.uk
ztkl40a5 years ago
I realize this is a bit of blogwhoring, but I thought it might be useful. I use a Casio EX-F1 at work, which we bought specifically for its high speed video capability, and I've posted a brief review giving a few example videos and showing a few of the limitations.
http://www.jefflewis.net/blog/2009/03/casio_exf1_first_impression_1.html

My overall impression is that the camera is a good value. However, it's cheap price does come with a few drawbacks. Aside from the low resolution compared to professional high speed systems (300 fps @ 512x384, 600 fps @ 432x192, and 1200 fps @ 336x96), the recorded video does exhibit significant compression artifacts. The video was still useful, but just keep in mind that individual frames from the video aren't going to be as good as a still photo of the same resolution (as opposed to a high end system). The resolution @ 600 fps was suitable for our purposes. I haven't had a chance to experiment too much with the 60 fps 6MP stills, since that mode didn't lend itself to our testing, but I'm sure the image quality from that would be better than the compressed video.

But that video compression does actually give the EX-F1 a big advantage. It's record time, as far as I can tell, is limited only by the size of your memory card. We've recorded over 20 minutes at a stretch (real time, or 400 minutes played back). Other high speed systems, because the individual frames take so much memory, are much more limited in how long they can record for. Usually, the video is continuously stored to a buffer, constantly overwriting the older parts, and is only permanently saved after some sort of trigger. With the EX-F1, if you're running some sort of test, not sure when the big event is going to happen, you don't have to worry about having a person dedicated to making sure the camera is triggered at the right time, or designing hardware to do it. You just start recording, and edit your video after it's all over.

While the quality isn't as good as professional systems, I think the camera is worth $1000 for the high speed video. It gives a capability that you just can't touch without spending a lot more money for another system. Heck, the cheapest high speed camera I could find before Casio came out with this was $4000. For that price, you could have 4 Casios positioned around your subject recording it from different angles.
Images taken with the EX-F1 are posted on YouTube.com search for DigitalWest in their search engine. You will find Red Bull Air Collision or Lickty Split for examples.
Check www.DigitalWestImaging.com The EX-FH20 can capture in 30-210fps, 420fps, and 1,000fps with a list price of 599.99. Better resolution is available with the casio EX-F1 with 300, 600 and 1200 fps and 6 mega-pixel resolution still shots up to 60 fps with optical trigger to boot.
Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)  HighSpeedGuy5 years ago
xACIDITYx6 years ago
I suppose there won't be a high speed video camera for under 500 bucks?
AFAIK, 300fps at regular video resolution for $1000 is a new low price point, by almost an order of magnitude. And the first time that sort of performance has been offered to the "high end consumer." It's extremely temping... (and it does something like continuous capture, so that in some photo modes it'll collect several frames BEFORE you clicked the shutter as well as after...) There's the Fasttec "sportscam" that does 250fps @ 640x480: apparently about $8000. And Photron has some of the fastest cameras you can get.: a 1500fps @ 1024x768 will run you about $80k... Some of these can be rented for less than $500. Per day.
Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)  westfw6 years ago
Hmmm, if everyone on Instructables sent me $1-$5... : P
No pyramid schemes! (ponders Instructable on pyramid schemes)
cd41 PKM5 years ago
I'd look at it! probably even try it
lost20106 years ago
casio exilims are under 1000 and get up to 1,200 fps
Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)  lost20106 years ago
Do you know where I can buy one of those?
Spl1nt3rC3ll (author) 6 years ago
Bumpus.
westfw6 years ago
The new Casio ex-f1 will apparently shoot movies (in limited resolution) at up to 1200fps, and "regular video resolution" at 300fps. Full res (6mp) bursts of 60 frames at up to 60fps.
At about $1000, that probably doesn't meet most people definition of "cheap", but it is low enough (IMO) to revolutionize who and how such high speed photography is used. Very impressive. (I wish casio had a better reputation for prosumer cameras in general...)
Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)  westfw6 years ago
I have $900 saved in my cash box at home. Not to mention what's at the bank. I'll have to look into that! Thanks!
I think they've got a less expensive one, too.
Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)  Weissensteinburg6 years ago
Really? The lower the better, as long as the quality is still good.
Since the ex-f1 doesn't seem to be quite "released" yet, we may have to hold our breaths WRT "quality" and usability. I have some doubts that the average consumer understands just how BRIGHT a scene has to be before you can get away with taking 1200fps, for example. If the feature catches on, I expect it will appear in more cameras rather quickly; it sounds like the sensors have been capable of such rates for a while.
westfw6 years ago
How high speed? And are you talking about 1/10000 s shutter speed still photos, or 1000fps movie/video ? I noticed that some of the new canon prosumer PS cameras do 60fps video...
Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)  westfw6 years ago
Oh, I guess I did forget to mention that. I'm looking for a high speed video camera. Kinda important.
I always wanted to figure out a way to synchronize N cheap USB video cameras so that they were evenly out of phase with each other. Then you could use either proximity to get "almost" the same view, or fancy optics to do better, and N cameras would give you N*f frames/sec after post-processing the frames into the right order. You could use a little high-speed binary counter with LED output to record a timestamp in each frame along with the video...