Affordable slow-mo camera lets you stop a speeding bullet | Cult of Mac

Affordable slow-mo camera lets you stop a speeding bullet

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High-speed video capture usually requires high-spending. But this fast and furious camera can be yours for less than $3,000.
High-speed video capture usually requires high-spending. But this fast and furious camera can be yours for less than $3,000.
Photo: Kron Technologies

David Kronstein fell in love with the capture of high-speed video while a teenager watching Mythbusters. He wanted one of those expensive cameras so bad and thought he had a shot at one in 2006 when an Olympus i-Speed 2 started at a bid of $150 on eBay.

When the bidding surpassed his college budget, Kronstein said, “Screw it, I’ll build one.”

Ten years later, he not only built the camera, he is making it available to average consumers at a tenth of the usual price. (High-speed cameras used in laboratories and TV production studios average around $25,000.)

Kronstein’s Chronos 1.4 camera is available on Kickstarter, with an 8GB model going for a relatively affordable $2,749. An extra $50 will secure a 16GB model with a 12.5-75mm zoom lens.

You may be impressed with the slow-motion feature on your iPhone camera, which can record everyday action at about 240 frames per second. But that won’t cut it if you are trying to capture a bullet going through an apple (the fruit, not your device).

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The Chronos offers adjustable resolution that lets you capture more than 21,000 frames per second. At the highest resolution, 1,280 by 1,040, the camera records at 1,057 frames per second.

“There’s this whole other world around us that we can’t see with our eyes, or normal cameras,” Kronstein told Cult of Mac. “Chronos brings that out, lets you see this unseen world of fast events and does it in a way that a typical person could pick up and use.

“This has simply never been the case in the past, where high-speed cameras required a computer, were tethered to a power outlet, and of course, due to price, were relegated to research labs and universities, out of reach of the typical user.”

The video below will show you, the typical user, the kinds of home experiments that will make your Facebook and YouTube videos anything but typical. You can also catch some of Kronstein’s high-speed work on his YouTube channel, tesla 500.

Just be advised that should you turn your mower upside down to record things being thrown into the moving blades. Kronstein’s company, Kron Technologies, is not responsible for injuries incurred in the making of your art.

Kronstein, an electronics engineer, designed the camera to be simple to use. Capturing stunning video is as simple as pulling the Chronos out of a bag and starting shooting. But timing, especially when you consider the high-speed nature of advancing technology, made his camera possible for consumers.

The picture below shows the evolution of the Chronos camera.

Chronos high-speed camera
Ten years in the making.
Photo: Kron Technologies
“The heart of the camera is the image sensor,” Kronstein said. “I had a working prototype over two years ago, but it was more than twice as expensive as Chronos. [Since then] the price of image sensors suitable for the camera has dropped by about 80 percent while the speed has doubled.”

Kronstein said the camera is as simple as a smartphone to use. It has a touch interface with instantly loading menus and a quick toggle between record and playback modes. There is a “jog wheel” that lets you control the speed of the playback at any given point.

Video gets stored to a RAM buffer and can immediately be reviewed and saved to a standard compressed video file or RAW file for processing later.

Watch the water drop demonstration below to see how simple it is to operate the camera.

Backers can increase their pledge on Kickstarter to include a range of lenses. However, Kron Technologies has adapters for various lens brands, including Nikon and Canon.

The camera also has ports for audio, HDMI, Ethernet, BNC, power input and USB.

Kron Technologies already manufactured 12 of the cameras and hopes to meet a production schedule that shows the first units shipping in March. The campaign, with a goal of around $50,000, already raised more than $278,000. There are still 21 days left on the Chronos Kickstarter campaign.