How does a high-speed camera work?
Slow motion and high-speed cameras work by capturing video footage at a higher rate than usual. These are usually shot at above 250 frames per second, at exposures of less than 1/1000th of a second.
A high fps rate captures multiple still frames per second, then when they are played back at the normal rate it creates the illusion of time moving slowly. Capturing the footage at a higher fps will also create a naturalistic look in the playback.
However, in these modern times, it is possible to film slow motion on your mobile. But… (it’s a big BUT) the quality will be nowhere near that of a high-speed camera in this list, due to the speed in which it shoots. We’re not deterring you from shooting on your phone, in fact, we encourage as it’s great practice for you! But if you want the highest level of slow-motion footage, the following high-speed cameras are the best in their price range.
The best slow motion and high-speed cameras for every budget:
Entry Level: Sony RX100 IV
The Sony RX100 is a compact, superspeed camera with enormous potential at an affordable price. It shoots at an incredible 1/32000 exposure; this allows you to capture extremely fast motion without image distortion usually caused by a rolling shutter. It comes with a BIONZ X engine which reduces noise and enables you to film in fine detail.
- 20.1MP9 1.0-type stacked CMOS image sensor with DRAM chip
- ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm lens with F1.8-2.8 aperture
- Up to 40x super slow motion
- Anti-Distortion Shutter — 1/32000 super-high-speed shutter
- BIONZ X engine for superb detail and noise reduction
- Sensor type: 1.0-type (13.2mm x 8.8mm) Exmor RS CMOS sensor, aspect ratio 3:2
Mid-Range: Sony Alpha A7S II
Sony Alpha A7S II is the perfect camera once you have mastered entry-level high-speed cameras. It provides finer detail and powerful versatility in your filmmaking. Using Sony’s BIONZ X processing system also reduces noise and creates crisp footage. It’s 4K internal video recording combined with the fast shutter speed provides top-quality slow-motion footage.
Cost: £1400-£1900 (Depends on retailer + package).
- Internal 4K video recording
- 12.2 megapixels
- AF system good in low light
- Full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor
- 5-axis optical image stabilisation
- Super-high ISO (ISO 409,600 max)
Top-level: Blackmagic URSA EF 4K Digital Cinema Camera
At a whopping £5,000+, you can be sure the Blackmagic URSA EF 4K Digital Cinema Camera is an absolute ‘monster’. With a liquid cooling system to record much higher frame rates and capture quality footage to allow slow motion filming, this camera was built to revolutionise filmmaking (and it certainly has). It’s perfect for single crew shoots as well as large film crews. It includes a Super 35 global shutter 4K image sensor, a 10-inch fold out on set monitor, and 3 separate built-in LCD monitors for camera settings and metadata entry.
Cost: £5,000+ (dependent on retailer).
- Supports Ultra HD and 1080 HD resolution capture in 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30 up to 80 fps.
- Options to upgrade and change the sensor and lens mount.
- Highly dynamic and customisable to suit your shooting preference.
- Large high resolution 4K Super 35 mm sized sensor with superior handing of image detail.
- Features liquid cooling system allowing higher frame rates when future sensors support this feature.
- Compatible with extremely high quality PL or EF mount lenses.
- User up-gradable design allows customers to upgrade and change the sensor and lens mount.
- Built-in dual CFast 2.0 card recorders allowing high-quality unlimited duration recording.
- Open file formats compatible with popular NLE software, such as Apple ProRes and compressed CinemaDNG 12 bit RAW. No custom file formats.
- 3 separate built-in LCD monitors for camera settings and metadata entry.
- 10-inch screen that folds out for full resolution HD monitoring with a wide viewing angle.