Shooting a Whopping 1 Million FPS on the Phantom TMX 7510

If you haven’t checked them out yet, The Slow Mo Guys have some of the best and most entertaining footage for, you guessed it, ultra-slow-motion footage. They tend to blend some science with a lot of fun and the results are usually quite interesting. Plus, they do take care to talk about the fancy cameras, equipment, and settings for any filmmakers who want a behind the scenes look at their work.

In their latest video they managed to break their previous speed record and have now reached 1 million fps with the Phantom TMX 7510. Since most of us will never get this opportunity this video is a great watch.

This time around they are taking aim at some eggs. And, they are starting the series of shots at a whopping 10,000 fps. The great thing is that they try to maintain the 180-degree shutter rule. That means that at this frame rate the exposure is set to 5 microseconds, or 1/20,000 second.

As a reference, the normal speed camera shooting at 50 fps did not get the bullet in a single frame. Even at 10,000 fps, which is 400x slower, the bullet speeds through the clip and gets a bit of motion blur.

Moving up to 50,000 fps, or 2,000x slower, you can start to see some additional details, like the spin of the bullet. They were actually able to calculate whether the egg slowed down the bullet at all. It actually does, starting at 747 mph and then dropping to 727 mph after exiting the egg.

Doubling yet again to 100,000 fps we are seeing that they have to start dropping the vertical resolution to get it to read fast enough. It’s fun to see how much cameras have advanced in the past decade.

The last video they did like this maxed out at 10,000 fps and was at a resolution of 768 x 480. Now, they can shoot 100,000 fps at 1280 x 576. At this speed, you can even make out the shadow from the shockwave of the bullet.

Image Credit: Phantom

Up next is 200,000 fps, requiring another drop to vertical resolution to 256 pixels. It’s a fun shot with even more detail realized. Another doubling to 400,000 fps brings the exposure time to 1.25 microseconds. It’s an even smaller sliver of image as the vertical resolution dropped again.

Getting to the sub-microsecond exposure times they actually have to swap out their f/2.8 zoom for a fast prime. The 800,000 fps resolution is 1280 x 64 and uses a 625 nanosecond exposure.

It is 32,000x slower. It’s moving out of the practical range for fun effects and more into the scientific realm, but it is unreal to see.

So how do you get the camera to record even faster and hit that 1 million fps? You could drop to a somewhat absurd 1280 x 32 resolution. Or you can use the binning feature – and lose the color.

The cool thing about the camera is that it actually uses binning as an asset by taking a 2 x 2 grid of pixels and treat it as a single pixel. You lose the effective horizontal resolution, dropping it down to 640, but it allows you to get a 64 vertical resolution while making use of the same area as a 1280 x 128 resolution crop of the sensor.

Image Credit: Phantom

The 1,000,000 fps take is a black-and-white 640 x 64 resolution final that is a bit brighter thanks to the loss of color information. Some tradeoffs for a more usable image.

At 1 million fps a full second of footage would take over 11 hours to play back. It’s very impressive. And so what you want to do now is play around. The last take is a row of eggs and a shot that changes up from all the frame rates so you can see them all in action.

It’s a lot of fun to see super slow motion footage, especially since most of us will never get our hands on one of these cameras. It is also helpful to see just how dramatic different frame rates can be and maybe apply some of that to our more conventional frame rate options.

What did you think about the video? Find it cool?

[source: The Slow Mo Guys]

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