High speed cameras and photography have been around almost as long as standard photography, and have consistently helped solve numerous scientific problems. One of the earliest uses was in the year 1878 and was conducted by Eadward Muybridge. Muybridge took several photos of a horse while it was galloping, which was done to prove an enigma (or, in some tellings of the story, a bet). He wanted to prove whether or not all of a horse's feet left the ground at once while galloping. The answer to that question was yes, and the method of discovery changed vision research forever.
High frame rate cameras and super slow motion cameras have been integral to the development of several research methods, particularly in biomechanics. The cameras allow movement to be recorded and played back in incredibly slow motion, allowing each movement to be analyzed in great depth. Shutter speeds are usually used for cameras like these. They're usually measured in frames per second with a range between one full second and 1/1000th of a second. The longer that a shutter stays open, the more light is allowed onto the film. To offer a comparison, standard camera equipment works with shutter speeds that are about 1/125th of a second, but a high speed camera can have a shutter speed as fast as 1/8000th of a second. In addition to that, depending on the optical system used some ultrahigh-speed cameras can reach shutter speeds of more than 1 million frames per second. In other words, if a video recorded at 3000 frames per second were played at a standard projection speed, the action would be viewed at about 1/200 its normal speed.
Another major benefit of high speed cameras for scientific work is the quality of the photograph. The resolution from a 3-megapixel camera is higher than most standard computer screens can display. This allows not only the motions, but the individual frames themselves to be analyzed in immense detail. It's similar to the commercials that show you the difference between Standard Definition (SD) TV and High Definition (HD) TV, but on a much larger scale.
High speed cameras have been changing the way science -- particularly biomechanics -- has operated since its advent in the late 1800s. With the technology constantly advancing, allowing for faster shutter speeds and higher resolution, it will remain an integral part of research for years to come.
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