Low-Priced High-Speed Camera Options

If our rental options of hundreds of dollars per day for 1 Million FPS Phantom and Photron 2K Camera performance or Fastec TS3Cine prices of $100-$150 per day are out of your budget, we would still like to assist you in finding a suitable camera for your application. Aimed Research has investigated many of the high-speed consumer cameras on the market and stays current on the available used market for entry-level to mid-level professional cameras.

Below are a few consumer high-speed cameras commonly available at varying price brackets.

 

Sony RX10 III

There seems to be a new pace setter for consumer high-speed cameras, Sony that is.  Sony has a few models of RX cameras, the Sony RX10 and Sony RX100.  The high-speed functions are the same for the RX10 and RX100 models: 1136x384 @ 1,000fps. Unfortunately it will only record at this speed for 2 seconds.  Higher resolutions are available.  The Sony RX10 III has just hit the market, so watch for deals as well as real consumer reviews.

Check out this video of the Sony RX100 IV against the iPhone 6s Plus and a Vision Research Phantom Miro LC320S.  The clips went through post-processing for optimal results, pay attention to the unprocessed clips to see what you get without putting your work through editing software.
 



Casio Exilim EX-F1

To date, the Casio Exilim EX-F1 is still the best consumer option for the price. It has since been discontinued with no comparable replacement model from Casio. The Exilim EX-F1 has been controlled with MATLAB and other software programs for remote control and 3D analysis with multiple cameras. This camera is used for R&D by companies and laboratories around the world.  Due to being a highly sought-after discontinued camera nearly all of them on the market are used.  For years after being discontinued the original $999 MSRP was generally the lowest price you could find. Concerning only the high-speed video features, the Exilim EX-F1 records at 300fps (512x384), 600fps (432x192) and 1200fps (336x96) as MOV files with frame exposures up to 1/40,000 (Electronic Rolling Shutter) and a sensitivity of ISO1600. The maximum exposure speed is an important feature surpassing many other cameras in its price bracket. The EX-F1 uses SD memory cards; the high-speed video record duration is only limited by the space on the card, up to 4GB. Do not expect all consumer cameras to operate in this manner.

The Casio Exilim EX-F1's internal optics are fully enclosed.  Many of the other cameras from the Exilim product line develop mechanical lens issues, but our experience using dozens of Casio Exilim EX-F1's has showed zero lens issues and only one known issue with a LCD display from rough handling.


Nikon 1 Series Cameras

The Nikon 1 cameras (J, S, V, and AW models) are unique in that they are similar in frame rate to the Casio Exilim EX-F1 but unlike the EX-F1 the user can use a variety of lenses, the Nikon 1 type.  If you have expensive Nikon F-Mount lenses available, they'll mount to the Nikon 1 cameras with a FT-1 adapter. Most of the Nikon 1 cameras record at 400fps (640x240) and 1,200fps (320x120) as MOV files with frame exposures up to 1/16,000 and a sensitivity of ISO6400. The major disadvantange of these camera models is the record duration, they will only record for a few seconds regardless of the available space on the memory card unlike the Exilim EX-F1. The Nikon J, S, V, and AW cameras are identical in regard to high-speed video specifications, they only differ in regard to still photography and standard speed (24-60fps) video features. 

The newest model such as the Nikon J5 has an EXPEED-5A engine allowing a slight increase in resolution at a given frame rate: 120fps (1280x720), 400fps (800x296), and 1,200fps (400x144).  Additionally, the Nikon J5 will shoot in 4K (3840x2160) at 14.99fps.

According to our experience, the early models of these cameras (J1, etc.) develop issues that result in poor quality or corrupted video upon playback by computer but not on the camera's display. It is recommended that you purchase a new camera with a warranty. Some used models sold will be refurbished, though not disclosed as such.

The most affordable Nikon J1 model has been referenced below.


 

The EXPEED-5A engine Nikon J5 model has been referenced below.
 


GoPro Hero Series
The famed GoPro camera has high-speed video capability; though, the technology is more suited for high-resolution videos. The GoPro Hero4 Black Edition records 3840x2160 which is called 4K Resolution at 30fps, 1080HD at 120fps, oddly 720HD is also at 120fps, and the fastest resolution is WVGA 848x480 at 240fps.  The available file formats are H.264 and mp4.  The ISO settings for video are 6400, 1600, and 400.  The GoPro Hero4 Black Edition has been referenced below.


Camera To Watch: Chronos 1.4 - HSC768 (by Tesla500)

The next up-and-coming high-speed camera is the Chronos 1.4 by David Kronstein - Kron Technologies, the man behind the tech YouTube channel Tesla500.  The Chronos 1.4 camera was first released on KickstarterDavid has tear-down and repair experience of past high-speed camera top-tier front-runners such as the Vision Research Phantom v5.0, Phantom v4.1, the Kodak Ektapro, the Redlake Motionscope, and counting.
We should expect the 1280x1024 sensor to have a full resolution frame rate of 1,057fps with frame rate increases at lower resolutions (1,500fps at 720HD, etc.).  The DDR3 Ram is either 8GB or 16GB but 32GB is expected in the future.  Other features include standalone or remote control, touchscreen controls, dial control to easily scan through video similar to the Casio Exilim EX-F1, H.264 onboard compression, USB, eSATA, SD card storage, and a secondary exposure feature similar to the EDR of the professional cameras like Photron and Vision Research (Extended Dynamic Range or Extreme Dynamic Range). The price point of $2,500-$3,000 will make a huge difference in the consumer high-speed, slow-motion camera market if all goes well.


Camera To Watch: Edgertronic

Another high-speed camera company to watch is Edgertronic (Sanstreak Corp). Currently the SC1 model costs about $5,500 but it certainly is faster than the Sony RX10 and RX100 cameras, Casio Exilim cameras, Nikon 1 cameras as well as the GoPro cameras.  It accepts F-mount lenses (Nikon type), which are fairly expensive compared to the camera but the Nikon F-mount is the standard for professional 1MP high-speed cameras. It is a camera to "watch" as the manufacturer is new to the industry - they found their start on Kickstarter and they will be putting their cameras through various revisions in the coming years.  Currently they offer two model improvements, the SC2 and SC2+, starting at about $10,000 they are outside the scope of the term "consumer" high-speed cameras.  (The SC1 is not currently a recommended buy as Aimed Research has tested this camera and found it to be lacking quality in various areas considering the price.  The camera is not easily returnable, maybe not returnable at all, and ours had to be sold as "used" to recover only a fraction of our purchase price.  Observation of Ebay and Craigslist shows that many SC1 cameras are being sold at a loss from the original purchase price, which is uncommon for a new high-speed camera. Though yet untested by Aimed Reserach, the Edgertronic SC2 is comparable to the entry-level Vision Research Miro C110, with faster frame rates than the Fastec TS5 not to mention the TS4 and TS3, and a likely competitor to the hand-held Mega Speed cameras.  Good luck to the folks at Edgertronic as they were trying to break the price barrier for consumer and professional entry-level high-speed cameras.


Camera to Watch: FPS1000
Like the Edgertronic, the FPS1000 is a high-speed camera that made its appearance on Kickstarter in 2014.  The inventor, Graham Rowan, claims a 3D version is now available. There are curretnly four versions: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Double.  Considering the specs of the FPS1000 Platinum (base model), it will capture 2560x2048 at 75fps, 1080HD at 200fps, 720HD at 550fps, 640x480 at 1,500fps, 256x192 at 6,700fps, and up to 64x64 at 18,500fps.  There are more resolutions available as well as possible future upgrades to 4K Resolution, Double, or Hex Platinum. There seems to be software available but the customer is given the opportunity to write software for themselves so it is not certain how much functionality the software supplied will have. The camera is C-mount which means you have to purchase your own lenses but C-mount lenses can be of high-quality for a minimum of price.  Some C-mount lenses will have excellent light gathering capabilities such as f/0.95. There are also C-mount adapters to multiple lens types.  It is sold from the United Kingdom from £399 to £1599 which is about $550 to $2,100.  The Platinum upgrades cost up to an additional £1500 - over $2,000. The first production run is just now reaching the hands of users but if this camera works without flaws the price point will make this camera a game changer for the consumer.
 
 

Strobe effect of one 9mm projectile in flight using two 500 nanosecond flash units and a Canon Rebel. This type of photography is useful for yaw and rotation measurements and can be conducted with multiple cameras viewing at the exact same instant.
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