There is a new dedicated Slow Motion Camera being built by engineer enthusiasts and a Kickstarter campaign has just launched with the goal of gathering enough funds for production. The camera is called thCam Slow Motion Camera and is capable of shooting above 3,000fps at reduced resolution with a 1920px horizontal. The 1080p frame rate maxes out at 266fps and 576fps at 720p.
What is most impressive about this camera is the Machine Vision applications that can run with the platform like being able to train it to recognize QR codes, objects, and possibly even people. It could theoretically be used as a quality control camera that operates at very fast speeds. The other big deal is the price which is about $1,000 USD or €899 Euros which is a first for a camera of this kind.
Canon has now released the final specs and estimated release dates for the EOS R5 and R6 cameras. There is a lot of good advancement in features especially in video mode as what many believe is an afront to Sony and Panasonic who dominate video recording on ILCs. The R5 can record 24fps and 30fps 8k video or 8192 x 4320 pixels in RAW quality which is a staggering 1TB of storage or 2600 Mbits/s for only 51 minutes of recording time. That means that every hour you will eat up through a full TB of your RAID backup storage. We see this mode being transcoded to an intermediate format like Blackmagic RAW or BRAW or Apple ProRes as soon as possible.
There is more bad news, on the 120fps 4k front there is no other option of recording but All-I which saves every frame independently in 10-bit 4:2:2 which is good for excellent quality but at the cost of 1,880 Mbits/s which is 224MB/sec or 13,447MB / minute of recording time. Better get a ton of memory cards and hard drives ready!
We were very skeptical earlier in the year when the R5 specs were just a rumor. Canon has not really been delivering powerful video features out of their Cinema line and we expected this new camera to be a crippled continuation of the trend. We were not only wrong but now know that Canon is banking the future of the EOS line on cameras like the R5 with features that really put it in a class all by itself.
The original video darling was the EOS 5D Mark II which made it possible to use the EOS line of lenses with a video mode that delivered good enough quality for the web and some careful productions. The camera had issues like severe rolling shutter and a tendency to moire and alias so bad that many shots were really ruined. However, the excellent Canon color quality and lens choices made it so popular that it really forced companies to change the video options forever. Now Canon intends to do as big a splash with the introduction of 8k video internally on the new camera.
As it was initially unveiled at Photokina last year, the Panasonic Lumix S1 and S1R cameras are their answer to the domination of larger sensors in stills and video mirrorless cameras. Is there any reason now to buy a Full Frame DSLR when mirrorless is so advanced? The only thing we can think of is to have marginally longer battery life. The mirror is on its last legs and fans better start offloading their lenses if they don’t want to mess with adapters. In the case of Panasonic however, it is not possible to use Lumix Micro 4/3 lenses on the Leica/Sigma/Panasonic Full Frame L-Mount.
The S1 and S1R will both shoot up to 180fps 1080p video with a crop that may or may not be impactful. Seems the S1R has less crop on 1080p than the video geared S1 which is an odd spec. We will have to wait for more samples and info on the HFR mode to see which of these cameras offers the best slow motion performance. From the limited samples, we can say that the quality looks very good and at least on par with the Lumix GH5 at 120fps.
The newly announced Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL phones do impressive things with machine learning when it comes to their camera app. The ability to do resolution comparable 2X zoom to an optical lens by using exposure merging is genius. Their portrait mode is also the best ever made on a phone with incredible separation of background and foreground depth of field based on learning algorithms that can tackle hair transitions and other objects all with only a single lens.
When it comes to video however it is not as good as either the Samsung’s or Apple’s latest flagship phones. The pixel tops at 4k 30p and the slow motion while doing 240fps which matches the iPhone XS it is only 720p instead of 1080p. Google seems to have beefed up the phone for still images and selfies and left the video features on a secondary plane. The slow motion mode is essentially identical to last year’s Pixel 2 and 2 XL at 120fps 1080p and 240fps 720p.
NVIDIA has been hard at work on the problem posed by high frame rate interpolation of video data shot on lower fps. We have had this tech since the late 1990s with the advent of Twixtor and refined over the decades in systems like Twixtor Pro and Adobe’s Optical Flow in After Effects. You are still not getting real temporal detail data since the frames are created by extrapolating velocity and direction vectors plus pixel values between frames to get the result.
We explored this technique in our post on interpolation here and why it is no substitute from a real slow motion camera solution. NVIDIA’s new method uses machine learning along with 11,000 videos to arrive at a more convincing result. Considering the relatively small sample size we can imagine a future where hundreds of thousands or millions of footage samples are used to generate near flawless interpolation. This technique takes some serious computation and data sets so as of now it is not really ready for the mass market but that could change with the cloud very soon.
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