High Speed Video with the Casio Exilim EX-F1 Camera
The EX-F1 is an amazing new $1000
digital camera from Casio. What sets it apart from the herd is that
it can record high-speed video (I call it "Mythbusters-mode") at
300, 600 and even 1200 frames per second.
That means when you play it back, you see it slowed down
10, 20 or 40 times!
As soon as I heard about this camera, I knew I had to get one. It would be just perfect
for getting great footage of combat robotics.
I am still exploring the limits of what it is capable of doing, but here are a
few videos that showcase its capabilities.
First of all, this camera is light-hungry. This is not unexpected; if it's operating at 10x normal speed, each
frame gets 1/10th of the regular amount of light. Outdoors, in decent sunlight, it has no problems capturing good
video at all three high-speed settings.
Indoors is another story. You need to flood the subject with as much light as you can, and it has to be
a light source that does not suffer from AC flicker - so florescent is right out. Fortunately, the cheapest source
of high-intensity light, the good old-fashioned halogen worklight, gets hot and stays hot, and does not flicker.
However, you need a lot of them. In the Carolina Combat robotic video (above), the main arena had 10 500-watt worklights,
and it was barely enough to do 300 fps video. The best results came in the small 8x8 insect arena, which had 5
worklights in it. That was enough to (just barely) do even 1200 fps.
For indoor photography, therefore, I would recommend at least 1 500-watt halogen worklight for each 4x4
area of floor surface, as well as light-colored surfaces that will maximize the light bounce.
Secondly, working with a camera blind to kill reflections off the lexan may be required. In the Carolina Combat
videos, you can see flicker in the video from the big arena. This was caused (I think), by bounce off flickering room
lights. However, a traditional blind similar to the ones I use for tripod mounted cameras might not be the best bet
for this camera, because you're often better off hand-holding it, which allows for faster camera movements. So I'm
thinking that some sort of hood that I can get right underneath might be better.