Over the last four weeks testing and shooting with the edgertronic high speed camera we have a complete sense of the capabilities, strength and weaknesses that make up this kit. The portability of the setup with wireless router connectivity makes it a joy to go out and shoot nature and locations out of the studio.
Part 3 of this review will focus on the camera’s portable setup capability. We will also go into a recent features introduced since the edgertronic SC1 was reviewed last year and things still left to add into the platform plus, a conclusion for the entire review.
Being portable can be done with any Laptop connected to the camera Ethernet directly but unless you have a full rig support it becomes an exercise in frustration to carry a laptop all day. You will need a surface to support the computer while working in the field. That is not a problem for indoor use but for outdoor it becomes a harder setup to use and cabling can get in the way.
WiFi Router Wireless Setup:
The first idea was to create a wireless setup for the edgertronic that would let the camera be controlled by an un-tethered terminal computer.
By Connecting the edgertronic to a wireless router via an Ethernet cable we were able to control the camera from a WiFi setup by a Laptop or even a Tablet computer capable of running Google Chrome browser.
The delay came at about 1.3-1.4 seconds, so any adjustments in focus or position would be quick. Be advised that the camera connected straight through an Ethernet cable to a PC or Laptop has about a 1 second delay. So adding .3 or .4 seconds to form a wireless control machine is not bad at all.
At times the feed went down close to 1.1 seconds or close to par with a direct Ethernet connection. This was affected by distance, signal range and or position of the laptop or tablet. By using a Wireless N router we were able to have a consistent feed through a couple of walls and over 100ft without disconnections. The camera was easily controlled and could be used from a different location within the range. By using a 50ft Ethernet cable it was easy to connect the camera to the wireless router which was plugged far away. By freeing the camera from a short tether it becomes a much more versatile tool. You also have to think about power cords or portable batteries. We went with the bescor power pack with 12v car adapter. It gave us about 6.5hrs of continuous camera use. After it ran out of juice the recharge was done over night. Amazon has the battery kit with charger for under $80 here!
Another recent battery option is the Paul C Buff Vagabond Mini $239.95 MSRP. Which lets you power devices via standard AC Plug like your Laptop, charger and the edgertronic camera for up to 10 hours continuously.
But why not go further and go even more portable? Wifi routers are good and all for a building, factory or laboratory but what if I just want to take the camera out for a spin and catch some nature shots?
Tablet Control With Ethernet Adapter:
By connecting the edgertronic to a tablet directly you get the low latency of 1 second refresh of the live image and complete touch control of the interface. The setup will work either with Android powered tablets like the Galaxy Tab series and or the Apple iPad with an Ethernet adapter that works with it.
We found an Ethernet adapter for our Galaxy Tab S 8.4″ Tablet on eBay for around $12 US. Here is a link to a search for this particular adapter on eBay! Be advised that many sellers on eBay sell refurbished products that are not new. If the price is too low it probably is a re-manufactured unit even though it is listed as new.
Our Galaxy Tab S 8.4″ has about 10hrs battery life normally at half brightness, with the Ethernet adapter it was reduced to under 6hrs at medium brightness. When out in the sun we needed full brightness which reduced the battery life to 2.5 hrs for a 100% charge. Once focused and set up if you have access to a wired controller we suggest locking the tablet to save battery.
The configuration to connect to the camera on Android looks as follows, probably close on Apple iPads:
- IP Address: 10.11.12.1
- NetMask: 255.0.0.0
- DNS address: 10.11.12.13
- Default Router: 10.11.12.13
It was a completely different experience to use the edgertronic while on a portable setup with a Tablet. The camera, the adapter, the lens, the trigger and battery all fit in a small shoulder bag. With a lite tripod added to the mix you have a portable high speed solution that can go anywhere and film wildlife or other nature subjects. If you get an edgertronic camera you really need to try a setup that is as portable as this, it becomes very close to what a DSLR is able to do for portability when shooting video.
We recommend you choose a larger tablet as our 8.4″ Galaxy S did have it’s battery drained too quickly and the interface sometimes required portrait orientation to adjust settings. A 12″ tablet would make this setup even more impressive while a 10″ will make it very portable still.
Nano USB powered Router and Tablet/Laptop:
The last method for edgertronic portability came courtesy of Marcus Ranum who also has made his own edgertronic review here… Marcus decided to try the ZyXEL nano wireless router. Available on Amazon for under $24 USD. Here is the PDF Version of the connection guide by Marcus Ranum.
The router is so small that you can Velcro it to the side of the edgertronic and by connecting it to USB on board the camera “powered by the edgertronic SC2+ itself” it becomes a full featured wireless access point that can be accessed by laptops, PCs, tablets and even smart phones. We did not try this method first hand but many edgertronic owners use this method for portability. We expect the delay from live preview to be around 1.2-1.4 seconds same as our wireless router test. Very nice!
Here is the setup; Camera is connected to the router by USB for power and a small 1ft Ethernet cable is connected from the edgertronic to the router. Then the Router feeds wireless data to any device with a chrome browser and WiFi. Pretty ingenious setup!
If you want complete freedom from the camera and want to control it wirelessly and with minimal cabling, having the nano router setup is the way to go.
Notes on Portability:
The power of the portability options create a camera setup that is able to be anywhere and everywhere. Underwater setups would require something more sophisticated as wireless signals are unreliable when it comes to water, they will either not reach anywhere or reflect too much to be a coherent stream. For setups in every other scenario the portability of the edgertronic is both easy and relatively cheap to achieve.
Be aware that using the camera out in nature will need a very bright screen to be able to read the interface in the sun. Tablets and laptops even at full brightness may become hard to read or judge focus on the interface. Having a shade screen for a tablet or laptop will help when dealing with sun issues. Dealing with the California intense sunshine at HSC is great for high shutter speeds and frame rates but it’s torture for judging camera settings, so get a good bright screen that performs well in direct sunlight.
We also can’t stress enough the unsealed aspect of the camera. The vents are not prepared for water splashes of any kind or sand/dust getting in there which includes the mount when changing lenses. Your camera might be wrecked if subjected to inclement weather in seconds. Plan ahead with an EWA marine or other type of camera weather case if you plant to be in humid or flying particle environments like the beach or industrial scenarios. The camera can take enough heat to be in a sealed case for a while so that is a plus for harsh climate use.
Interface/Software Feature Checklist:
During our edgertronic SC1 review last year we had suggestions for new features for the camera software and we will review progress on these and new unexpected features here.
Camera Setting Presets (DONE and Implemented): These were implemented already in recent software which ships with the SC2+ and work quite well. We can cross this one off from our list!
I-O Points (Feature Considered in a Future Update): Ability to set In and Out points Before saving footage. This is a feature that is available on other high speed cameras. You could scrub around the memory even with delay and select in and out points for what was recorded. The final selection will become the saved clip. It will allow for faster saves as only the action selected is encoded and avoid wasted frames saved on the SD card or HD. Buffer – Saved Selection
Update 2017: edgertronic’s new firmware as of Mid 2017 includes the ability to Review Before Save feature and works with all of their cameras. Works perfectly and allows for unlimited selection point saving. Excellent addition!
Histogram: (MISSING) While the edgertronic SC2+ has a better dynamic range and hardly misses exposure it does present a problem with highlights when over exposed turning full dark black. Having a histogram is an ideal way to avoid under exposure and over exposure in the footage. The absence of RAW shooting makes this feature needed even more. While exposure has to be judged on the live screen, it is sometimes extremely hard to know if highlights will be blown out or shadows completely cut. Judging exposure will become less of a guessing game. A simple histogram is one of the most needed features for the camera to preserve all luminance values in a frame and dial the correct settings to maintain balance.
The Histogram should be live and positionable on screen. A color histogram with RGB values for the color edgertronic would be the icing on the cake!
Focus Peaking (MISSING): Focusing on the edgertronic is somewhat easy and if you have a large monitor more so. However when you are outside in the sunshine or under extremely bright light, focusing is very hard. Having Peaking with color accent on high contrast areas would be ideal to be able to accurately focus on the camera by adjusting the manual lenses.
White Balance (MISSING): Balancing to white or gray should allow for a custom White Balance setting and some presets like tungsten, incandescent, daylight and maybe Kelvin. The edgertronic is already balanced to daylight right off the bat which is great if you are using 5600k light sources or sunshine as your main light sources. Which should do well for most shots; however, if you are in different artificial lighting conditions the inability to adjust white balance is hard to cope with. This is only needed for the color version, Monochrome edgertronic is B&W and does not use color balancing from the lack of a Bayer filter.
Ability to Name Clips or Session (Somewhat There): Clips are auto named by number, having the ability to append a specific name or numbering to clips to identify a session would be a good way to improve workflow organization. This should be relatively easy to do. However the addition of overlays like text and logos lets you identify clips and these are burned in.
However we would like an option to have the names be appended into the file name conventions instead of burned in the overlay image.
Audio Trigger (Implemented with TriggerTrap): Triggering works via the interface, the wired trigger or the back multi function button. The audio trigger works by starting an event when a loud sound is heard by a microphone. It could be a shout from the operator or a breaking object like glass. Anything above a predetermined dB level could be the trigger signal.
By attaching an iPhone or Android device with the TriggerTrap Software and use a Start by putting the bigger TriggerTrap connector in your mobile phone’s headphone jack. Then plug the smaller TriggerTrap connector into the edgertronic trigger input jack. That is all there is too it!
This frees the operator from triggering the camera if it is close to hazards like an explosion or shattering object. You can, of course, use pre-trigger % to record all action prior to the sound if needed.
You will need a TriggerTrap MD3-E3 to use with the edgertronic available here at Amazon for $37 USD More info on triggering the edgertronic with audio here in the edgertronic Wiki.
Audio Recording: “This feature could be implemented in a future release See the Wiki Here“ While slow motion audio gets pretty unusable after 1000 frames/sec as it just becomes a garbled mess, you can get a lot of good audio effects from a good quality 16bit or 24bit 44khz or higher recording format from 60fps to under 1000fps.
Explosions, human voice, crashes, glass shattering, sports all can get that extra awe factor from recording the audio at lower frame rates. If you playback the clip at what was recorded ie: 700fps you ideally would get regular audio speed while slowing it down would give you slow and altered pitch. This information should be added to the Exif file with a % indicator of how much slower than realtime the audio is recorded at. ie: Sound-2333% for 700fps
GoPro Cameras record slow motion audio at up to 240fps and it sounds very cool with the right subject matter! See this example of why it might be a valuable addition.
Note: The edgertronic Wiki talks more in-depth about what an audio implementation on the camera could offer. Click here!
File Browser: (There but some missing features and GUI): The SD card and camera file system can be accessed by a new tab and typing the following address: 10.11.12.13/static/mnt/sdcard/DCIM/
Note: The IP address of your camera can change depending on the connection used.
The file system HTML viewer lets you download any file from the camera be it a configuration file or a video. There is no ability to rename and or delete a file if needed. This is better than having nothing but we would love to see a GUI file system accessed from the main user interface like the one below:
Ability to browse the SD card contents and Preview Saved Footage besides the current last recorded. A simple HTML 5 based file system with the ability to rename, erase and copy clips to and from the SD card to a connected USB device. Erasing a video should also erase it’s Exif file along with the clip.
NOTE: A way to access files and interface with them is planned for a future release of the camera software.
Python Programming Support (New in camera software version 2.2):
The camera SDK here in the WIKI Page has allowed for some clever ways to program it for scientific purposes and or create party slow motion video booths. However the Python support creates avenues for new features like the ones below:
- Multishot auto save – Automatic save of multi-shot videos if the camera is idle for more than a specified timeout value.
- Hardware watchdog timer – Enable the DM368 hardware watchdog timer to reboot the camera if the python code stops responding.
- Auto download videos – After the camera is finished saving the video file, copy the file over the network using ftp or scp.
- Email alert – Send an email when the storage device starts getting full.
Here is a larger explanation of Python Support from the edgertronic Wiki if you need more information: http://wiki.edgertronic.com/index.php/Adding_python_code_and_URLs
NOTE: We have to point out that the absence at this time of these features above does not impact the usability and or performance of the camera today. It works as a great slow motion camera and it does so reliably with a robust set of features. The open architecture allows for all sorts of features to be added in the future and if you do not see a feature you desperately need you can probably program it to fit your needs.
A few small nitpicks:
Multi-shot/Playback :The camera cannot play back the last saved clip if you are into Multi-Shot mode. If you modify the shot count back to 1 then you can playback the last saved clip but the playback interface button should remain when recording multi-shot. Easy fix!
SD Card Issue when Full: During our review the 32GB Sandisk Extreme Pro card filled up once and we were unable to dismount the card even after the option was offered with a button. Our two options were to dismount the SD Card by force which would probably cause data corruption or power off the camera. We decided to power off the device by pulling the plug. No data was lost in the card except the last clip that was saving was unreadable because it got truncated.
Lack of HDMI: Many of the missing features like LUT support, Peaking & Histogram could be remedied by having an HDMI output of the live image from the camera to a monitor like a Small HD here. However no internal settings could be changed since you need a web browser capable device. Never the less this would allow the camera to be positioned, focused and exposure checked before messing with camera settings. Furthermore if implemented at 10 or 12 bits, it could allow for recording monitors like the Atomos Ninja to record in RAW for frame rates up to 120fps which is quite low. Not a big deal but would be a nice extra to have in this camera!
edgertronic SC2+ Conclusion:
The edgertronic SC2+ camera is a full featured high speed option in a segment of the market dominated by hyper expensive equipment orders of magnitude in price. It creates a new market for 4,456fps at “$12,990 USD”. It gives students, researchers, hobbits and creative video professionals access to their very own professional grade high speed camera which can capture extremely fast events up to 31,191fps resolution dependent and a maximum shutter speed of 1/800,000 sec.
It works with just about any terminal that can run the Google Chrome browser including Laptops, PCs, Macs, Android Tablets, Smart Phones or iPads with an Ethernet interface or wireless with the addition of a router to the mix. The interface is straight forward and easy to operate with many features that will help catch the hardest of shots. Pre triggering and Post triggering will allow any capture combination you can think of with an interface that lets you know in advance the maximum shot duration without doing any math.
edgertronic SC2+ Review Sample Video Footage:
Resolution wise it delivers HD 720p at 4,456fps and a slightly higher 1280*864 full sensor resolution at 3,720 fps. The closest competitor that is available and can shoot an anything close to these speeds costs at least 5x the price of the edgertronic SC2+.
As an evolving platform you get support now for preset favorites that let you recall settings commonly used and a way to browse within the browser the file system and download files to the host computer if needed. You get overlay data and a logo image if needed as well as a very useful frame counter for scientific and industrial uses.
The non electronic Nikon mount allows for a large combination of lenses to be used with manual focus properties and with the use of adapters several other lens brands. While some will want access to a Canon mount, it is a small compromise as it was intended for non electronic operation in the first place. It is after all one of the better mount options out there. If one mount could be chosen, we would go for the Sony NEX mount that has adapters for dozens of mounts including Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Leica, Pentax and PL.
The edgertronic camera delivers very good resolution that when looked at in a 1080p display; feels sharp and detailed even by up-scaling the video signal. For those of you looking for a 1080p camera that does frame rates above 1000fps in this price range you are out of luck but the per pixel quality is better than many 1080p handycams. The next option will be around $20,000-40k USD in something like a Fastec T5 with just 634fps a far cry from the 4,456fps of the edgertronic SC2+. Up-scaling slow motion has been done on 1080p TV for over a decade, for example the Planet Earth BBC series winner of several awards used Photron cameras with 1024*1024 pixel resolution at 1000fps cropped to 720p to record the jumping white shark for example; resolution in this case is not a component that affects the strong impact of a shot like this. The edgertronic is capable of such resolution in frame rates up to 3720fps at 1280*864.
As you can see in the Monarch picture above; converting 720p from the edgertronic SC2+ to 1080p with just a simple upscale in Photoshop shows how good the detail on the camera is to begin with. The lack of a low pass filter permits extreme detail to be recorded and permits up-scaling while showing resolved detail way above many 720p cameras.
Artifacts: The Camera does have a few issues when detail gets extreme in shots; like color moire “Not present in the monochrome version”. High speed cameras and regular cameras with no low pass filters exhibit the same artifacts. The edgertronic does not have a low pass filter which makes moire and aliasing more apparent and at the same time allows for a lot more of detail captured to be retained in the frame. For the times for when detail will show these artifacts you could always de-focus just a tad or add a softening filter to the lens. This will get rid of most artifacts the few times when they will show up. Also you can try an optical low pass filter like those made by Mosaic Engineering and adapt it to the edgertronic if needed see here! The video below shows a low pass filter applied to a Nikon camera. It can make wonders to reduce artifacts from the lack of a built in OLPF in your camera.
Codec: The H.246 codec in the edgertronic SC2+ is very good at retaining detail and motion with no visible artifacts, RAW capture is not available at this time but it is not sorely missed due to the great implementation of the variable bit-rate codec. The case for RAW gets stronger if you need more dynamic range or want to process images with a RAW converter and the flexibility it allows when it comes to color, sharpening, white balance and noise suppression. However we were impressed by the camera’s near 14 stop Dynamic range and beautiful color rendition that was just 2% off our color chart metrics. The detail, color and codec are all at professional levels of quality, certainly there is no lack of bits for even demanding users here. The camera is also much better than the edgertronic SC1 or first edgertronic which had less dynamic range and more aliasing artifacts in the image.
Files grade and are edited seamlessly on any modern computer system with beautiful color, tonality and highlight roll-off that are at the limits of what an 8 bit image can provide with nearly 40 megabits/sec when using high quality encode mode at 720p which is extremely high by any standard.
The open architecture of the camera allows for adding features or automated functionality for your applications. Be it a laboratory experiment or an automated photo booth. You can completely automate the camera capture process and have an autonomous high speed terminal for any use. The new Python language programming additions allow for even more customizability by allowing files to be saved on a remote server or computer for instant backup after the first save. These and other features are ages ahead of other prosumer cameras that shoot slow motion like the Sony FS5 or FS700.
Should you upgrade if you own an edgertronic SC1?
If you need higher than 701 fps at 720p then this is an easy decision. The SC2+ is better in allowing up to 6300% better frame rates and an extra stop of dynamic range with less imaging artifacts. It is easy to replace in your setup as the cameras are identical when it comes to body design and software. Upgrading is as easy as swapping one for the other. Furthermore you can keep your old SC1 and use it to record at the same time from another angle and frame rate to get a different vantage point. Both cameras can be synced to record in tandem over a sync cable using Genlock or via the network trigger. If you fount the original edgertronic a great camera then the SC2+ is an even better proposition in everything but the price. However at over 6x the performance at only slightly over 2x the cost, the SC2+ is the better buy for longevity and usefulness. 4456+fps allows you to see a world that 700fps simply cannot even start to unravel.
Who is it for: educators, scientists, industrial production line monitoring, hobbyists, imaging geeks, nature researchers, party photo booths, small and large video production companies, videographers, golfers, sport coaches, universities and even NASA as the cost is so low compared to the performance achieved. We also recommend it as an upgrade option to any edgertronic SC1 owner.
If you ever wanted to have your own high speed camera for troubleshooting hardware, perform scientific experiments and observations, capture nature wildlife and physical phenomena that are invisible to the human eye; due to timescales above what regular cameras can capture the edgertronic SC2+ fills the void and lets you uncover a hidden world of wonders. See the last set of clips made for this review below:
edgertronic HSC camera review footage Part 2:
Who should pass on it: Soccer Moms, people that need a minimum of 1080p resolution , point and shooters.
The workflow on the edgertronic is simple but it is not for everyone, if you think that you want it to record your kid at soccer or baseball it could be a frustrating experience because of the lack of a built in screen. If you install a wireless nano router and use a tablet it becomes much easier but it is hardly at the level of a camcorder or point and shoot camera. You need to think your shot, pre focus, frame and prepare for every recording prior to clicking the trigger shutter. Waiting for the camera to write a clip can also make you miss the next moment if you choose a very high frame rate that takes minutes to record and save. However all of these issues become transparent after using the camera for a few days and becomes second nature with it becoming easier every time. The camera is very easy to use compared to most other professional slow motion options out there and this is no small detail.
- Dependable and solid design with 24/7 operation in mind.
- Quality 4,456fps is a record for this price range at 720p.
- Large APS-C sensor with huge pixels is great in low light.
- Nearly 14 stops of Dynamic Range with lower noise.
- Costs less than 30% of competing high speed products.
- Programmable and customizable with SDK and Python support.
- Multi Camera Triggering Capability – Genlock and Network Sync
- Ethernet 10/100 and dual Powered USB ports included.
- Nikon Mount allows for the use of hundreds of available lenses.
- Complete kit with 50mm lens, cables and Trigger shipped in box
- Wiki page has a wealth of information on the camera and more.
- Uses H.264 codec with great quality encoding to SDHC Cards.
- Controlled by any device that runs Google Chrome browser.
- Easy to use out of the box with Automatic Sensor Calibration.
- Multi Shot Support which allows several recordings before save.
- Small footprint allows for portability and custom enclosures.
- Small Portable 12v batteries allow it to work for up to 10hrs+.
- Custom info, frame# and logo can be burned in footage if needed.
- Can be operated remotely with any network connection.
- Active software development continuously adds new features and fixes found bugs.
- Easy upgrade and switch for edgertronic SC1 Camera owners.
- Camera lacks weather sealing, requires external casing for wet and dusty environments. Like an EWA Marine Bag see here.
- Lack of built in touch screen, requires a device like a tablet or laptop for extreme portability.
- Lack of internal WiFi module requires low cost external solution.
- Color version of the camera has Moire and Aliasing to some degree due to the lack of a low pass filter, much less so than edgertronic SC1 Color. Can be corrected with third party low pass filter-see review above.
- Black sun problem can affect a small number of over exposed highlights in shots. “Could be corrected on future update” This is also present on many competing products as evidenced in the Rio 2016 Olympics see below:
- Purchasing and shipping requires a US address.
- Resolution lower than 1080p can limit it’s usefulness due to minimum requirements to video and film professionals.
The edgertronic SC1 has been dominating our HSC Camera guide since this site went live. And continues to be on top in the overall ranking because of price/performance. However the edgertronic SC2+ in second place is a much better camera in every respect but with a higher price tag. It has a better sensor, better dynamic range, 6300% more frame rate at 720p and better color rendition.
There is nothing shipping today that gets close to the features of this camera at 4,456fps and in this price range; if you want high quality HD slow motion video that won’t break the bank above 240fps, 700fps, 1000fps, 2000fps, 3000fps and up to 4456fps the edgertronic SC2+ is the only camera to get at this time.
The camera is rock solid with no crashes or reboots at all during our 4 week testing. The camera is designed for 24/7 operation and it shows.
It’s open architecture and programmability makes it adaptable and extensible going forward. Continued software development improves the camera with every release and they do listen considering features we asked for in our SC1 review are already implemented in the current release for all edgertronic cameras.
We give the edgertronic SC2+ camera our highest praise with the “Platinum Award” for making available for the first time to anyone with a mid range camera budget a high quality HD super slow motion video camera that breaks the 1000fps barrier at 720p and goes above and beyond by doing it over 4 times at 4,456fps. The camera was a joy to use and the footage that you can record will leave you speechless. The SC2+ is a much better and useful camera than the SC1 ever was and was built on a mature software platform.
Thanks to Mike Matter of Sanstreak for providing HSC the edgertronic SC2+ color camera for this review & to the Sanstreak staff for support.
For more information about the edgertronic SC2+ camera including ordering information please visit http://edgertronic.com/
Thanks for your support of HSC, if you decide to acquire an edgertronic or any other camera please mention this website. We do not get a commission or remuneration but it helps us measure the reach of our blog.
Written and reviewed by James Benet © 2016
One last thing…
Water Balloon Explosions with the edgertronic SC2+: