High Speed Video Camera


If you’ve ever watched an episode of Time Warp then you know what a high speed video camera is used for.  High speed cameras are often used in television broadcasts of major sporting events to show slow motion replays.  They can also be used in science to study events that happen too fast for traditional film speeds, such as frogs jumping and the strikes of the mantis shrimp.

High speed digital video cameras can be used by engineers and researchers as a diagnostic tool to analyze high-speed processes.  The camera records a series of images at very high frame rates and plays it back in slow-motion.  Thus, the viewer can analyze events that happened too fast to see with the unaided eye.

How It Works

High speed video involves recording an event at a high frame rate and playing back the images more slowly.  This slows down the event so you can actually see what is happening.

A standard video camera usually captures 30 frames per second.  In contrast, a high speed video camera can capture motion sequences at the rate of hundreds or thousands of frames per second.  This will allow you to see the details that occur within a high-speed event.

If the video camera captures 500 frames per second, you get nearly 17 images for each image captured by a standard video at 30 fps.  An ultra-high speed video camera that captures 3,000fps will provide 100 images for each frame from a standard video.

A motion sequence captured at 500fps and played back in slow motion at 30fps will produce a smooth, continuous motion.  Thus, high speed video played in slow motion will give you a better understanding of the actual motion.


Standard video equipment that can record at a rate of 30 frames per second is too slow to be of much use when analyzing high-speed activities.  Many high-speed activities take place within 100 milliseconds.  Within this time frame, a standard video camera would be able to capture only about 3 frames.  On the other hand, a high speed video camera recording at 1000 fps would be able to record 100 frames of the same event.

When slowed down by a factor of 10, a motion sequence recorded at 30 fps would be viewed at 3 frames per second, resulting in a jerky image.  Only a high speed video camera would be able to display the same event in a meaningful manner.


High speed video cameras are used in different industries including aerospace program, plastics, car manufacturing, munitions, research facilities, sporting goods, etc.  High-speed video applications are applied in equipment design, research, testing and production.


These devices can be very expensive.  Professional high speed video cameras can easily cost more than $100,000 and can capture tens of thousands of frames per second.  Casio’s Exilim EX-F1 is designed for the average consumer.  It can record up to 1200fps and costs about $1000.  Expect to pay several thousand dollars for other models.

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