This DSLR-sized camera shoots over 21,600fps and costs only $2,500

Oct 26, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

This DSLR-sized camera shoots over 21,600fps and costs only $2,500

Oct 26, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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High speed cameras are generally out of reach for most people. Sure, our iPhones can do 240fps now, and there’s a few postage stamp 1000fps compacts, but if you want to go faster, you’re generally out of luck. High speed cameras come with very high price tags, and even renting them is an absurd amount of money for the majority of us.

Now, there’s a new high speed player in the field, the Chronos. Developed from scratch by lone engineer David Kronstein, the Chronos costs less to own than the alternatives cost to hire for a day. It’s still not quite perfect. The software needs some work and it has a maximum resolution of 1280×1024, but it represents some much needed low cost competition in the high speed market. This video from Taofledermaus is the first unit to be sent out for testing and review.

YouTube video

Thanks to its 1.4Gigapixel per second throughput, at its maximum resolution or 1280×1024, it can shoot 1,057fps. That’s more than twice the framerate as the $30,000 Fastec TS-3. As you start to lower the resolution, the framerate increases.

At 720p, you get up to 1,502fps, which is a pretty serious number for such a resolution. Played back at 24fps, that turns each second of real-time into a little over one minute of footage.

You do have to drop pretty low resolution (640×96 pixels) to get that 21,649fps. That turns 1 second into around 15 minutes of footage. For most folks, though, that kind of slow down is going to be more for scientific observation than aesthetic quality.

It has a massive touchscreen LCD on the back for controlling the camera and interacting with various settings. It contains 8, 16 or 32GB of RAM (I’m not sure whether the base memory is still to be decided or these will be different options available). Storage is saved to SD card, USB drive or SATA hard drive, and it can save RAW video.

It uses the Nikon EN-EL4 battery which first appeared in the Nikon D2h and F6 bodies. So, while it does use a Nikon proprietary battery, these are widely available and there are many cheaper clones. The camera gets about 1.75hrs on a full charge, so whether you need a spare is up to you. It will also operate from AC power via an adapter.

On the side there’s RJ45 ethernet, audio I/O, HDMI output, USB host socket (for hard drives, etc), and an array of other sockets for connecting various things. It takes C Mount lenses, and various adapters are available for other mounts including Nikon and Canon.

At the moment, Chronos 1.4 isn’t finalised. It’s a production-ready prototype. There’s still some tweaking that needs to be done with the software, but the hardware appears to be pretty solid. Several review units have been sent out to various YouTubers, including the one linked above. For a more detailed explanation of the hardware, and a complete teardown, check out David’s video below.

YouTube video

The Chronos has been several years in the making. For all this to have been done by a single engineer without a huge team really is incredible. David is planning to bring the unit to Kickstarter in the next few months once the software’s a little more refined.

I for one can’t wait. Even if I don’t end up investing in one myself, it may shake things up in the high speed market. If it helps to start driving the costs down the costs of high speed a little that can only be a good thing. You can see more videos about the Chronos and its development over on David’s YouTube channel.

What do you think? Will you be picking up a Chronos once it’s available? Will you wait for the second generation? Or will you just be watching to wait and see how the big companies like Vision Research respond? Let us know in the comments.

[via Reddit]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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6 responses to “This DSLR-sized camera shoots over 21,600fps and costs only $2,500”

  1. Dan K Avatar
    Dan K

    why, is Kanye West releasing a sex tape?

  2. Cave Art Films Avatar
    Cave Art Films

    Rather a specialised device.

  3. Arjen Smit Avatar
    Arjen Smit

    “For all this to have been done by a single engineer without a huge team really is incredible”
    I like that. No shareholders, no CEO, no CFO, no CTO, no HR department, no marketing department, etc etc, and there you have a product for 1/10th the price. We need more of this.

    And for products that cant be designed by 1 person, we still have the Tesla method. No marketing budget, no resellers. Just make a good product that sells itself.

  4. Tony Knoblauch Avatar
    Tony Knoblauch

    The camera may be DSLR sized, but that image sensor is microscopic compared to what you find in a DSLR. That’s a huge problem if you’re capturing frame rates that high. You’d practically have to be on the surface of the sun to get a usable exposure. No wonder it’s so cheap compared to the “competition”.

  5. NGUYEN XUANCHAU Avatar
    NGUYEN XUANCHAU

    I saw the cost only 2500 usd but on the https://www.krontech.ca/ chosen the basic option the price are 3778 usd. why? pls tell me how to order with cheaper price?

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Because it’s not 2016 anymore and it’s retail now, not Kickstarter?