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Online video distribution is exciting, but it wouldn’t be of much interest if the cameras weren’t also getting smaller, cheaper and more powerful all the time. The latest object of desire I’ve stumbled across is the recently released Phantom Miro eX from Vision Research. While the RED One camera offers incredible resolution, the Miro offers incredible shutter speeds — essential for high-speed photography. Think bullets destroying apples, super-duper-slo-mo slam dunks, and all sorts of visual trickery used in commercial productions.
Yes, it’s a niche interest device that will probably only appeal to cinematographers working at a fairly high level (Vision’s cameras have been used for everything from the Super Bowl to Battlestar Galactica). But similar to computer processors, video processors like the CMOS chips used in the Phantom have a way of getting smaller, faster and cheaper at an incredible rate.
For instance, Vision Research has been creating high-speed video cameras for years, and some of the higher-end models will blow your mind — the company’s top-of-the-line camera, the Phantom v710, will shoot 1280×800 HD footage at 7,530 frames per second with a motion-stopping shutterspeed of half a macrosecond. The Miro is much less powerful, but it can shoot full-color, 800×600 footage at up to 500 frames per second — at least enough to turn out some epic footage of snowboarders tearing up the slopes in ridiculous amounts of motion detail. And it fits in a backpack, so you can shoot on the fly.
It does cost $9,900, but can be rented for as little as $375 a day, and the rental price can be applied to your purchase. Prohibitive for your typical YouTuber, but as the CMOS sensors that power it become less expensive, expect to see the high-speed features filter into prosumer video cameras and digital SLRs (which are increasingly being marketed as dual-use for video as well).
For camera geeks, if not content producers, the future of high-speed, slow-motion cinematography is fast arriving.