A Camera that Shoots at a Trillion Frames Per Second - Digital Photography School

A Camera that Shoots at a Trillion Frames Per Second

Think your new DSLR shoots a lot of frames per second? You have not seen anything yet!

In this video Ramesh Raskar from MIT reports on a camera that they’ve built that shoots at a Trillion Frames per second.

While not something we’re going to see in our DSLRs or camera phones any time soon this concept has big implications in Science and could be used some day to build cameras that can look around corners or see into objects that it is photographing.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://photos.rickscheibner.net Rick

    Of course, Canon won’t introduce this feature until about 18 months after Nikon does.

  • Jeff

    You better have some serious lighting to take a picture with 1/1000000000000 shutter speed!

  • Alexander DiMauro

    Well..no. Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble, but this camera doesn’t shoot at a trillion frames per second. That’s physically impossible. I read all about this research a while back. It’s a neat trick, but it’s not that fast.

    There is a reason why they are using coherent laser light for the photos. Every pulse of the laser is exactly, perfectly, identical. They developed a timing mechanism that allows them to set shutter release intervals of trillionths of a second. So, they shoot out a laser pulse, snap a photo. Then they set the shutter release to a trillionth of a second later, send out another (identical) pulse and snap a photo that is a trillionth of a second later than the previous…but on a different laser pulse.

    Eventually, they put all the pictures together, and it makes it appear that the light is being slowed to a crawl. But, it’s not. It’s really just a (REALLY AMAZING) trick of shutter timing.

    Don’t get me wrong. I really think it is amazing, but don’t expect a shutter speed anywhere approaching a trillion frames per second any time soon.

  • ccting

    Mirrorless cam?

  • ccting

    Nikon & Canon should happy about this. Every few seconds i spend $$$$ to change my shutter ;D

  • ccting

    great researcher..

  • Craig

    What an amazing presentation!!!

    I feel the biggest research grants will be coming from the defense/defence…military sector, sadly. A camera; a bit like that Israeli mirrored prism gun and site, which can see around corners, but without the prism and awkwardness. What a weapon for surveillance and reconnaisance that would be.

  • http://www.bestexposures.com Jason

    Its nice to see technology reaching its furthest extent in any area. Obviously, as far as visible wavelengths go- this is the fastest any camera can ever go. Only different wavelengths could go faster- but human kind has reached natures limit. This cannot be said for ANY other technology. We are no where near the strongest magnification possible, or the fastest vehicle speeds possible. But now – now we can say that the fastest shutter speed / visible light camera that CAN be created HAS been created. Its a good feeling.. a great one actually! Surely there will be new and exciting applications for this technology. but we lived to see a finite limit on something in our universe. This is truly magical!

    Craig – nearly all tech was made in the name of military. Only they have the funding to follow the tech to its logical conclusion. Other firms or entities do not have the resources necessary to complete such projects. However – from their work will come countless new civilian technologies. It is SAD though – I agree- that we put so much effort into new ways to kill and destroy. It is the disgusting nature of humans to act this way. There are those amongst us that do not wish to destroy – but they are the minority. When we get mad we scream, we hit, we kill… more-so than any other species, and with greater efficiency too. :(

  • Jim

    Imagine the post-processing!

  • Michael Hughes

    Thats the sort of spped i need ot catch a shot of my salary in its bank account, up until now it has left the account 1 trillionth of a second after entering it ;-)

    Will I be able to combine those shts into an HDR image, if so, what PC should I buy ?

  • Craig

    @Jason…I agree. I suppose a lot of military technology nowadays is good compared to old days stuff, in the sense of SMART technologies etc. If a camera like this could be developed into gun sights for inclusion on all manner of machines, for example, submarines, multi-role combat aircraft, ships, tanks and artillery, it would reduce civilian casualties, blue-on-blues, and reduce calateral damage too.

    I’m facinated by the light ray ripples that behave totally different to what was expected. What could the implications be for the future of imaging technologies and for that matter, everything! The mind boggles.

  • Craig

    @michael hughes: LOL:)
    I think we use the same bank.

  • http://portraitinspiration.com/ Jai Catalano

    could you imagine if you really could shoot a trillion frames per second? What would the competition come up with? A trillion and 1?

  • http://galewood.net/cc bryan

    That’s how the Nikon1 works, right? It just shoots a trillion frames and automatically picks the “best” one? Don’t worry, it saves the other 999,999,999 to clog up your hard drive.

  • gino deicicchi

    who cares.i have all i need with my nikon d90 and i love it.good photos great fun and its paid for

Some older comments

  • gino deicicchi

    August 7, 2012 04:26 am

    who cares.i have all i need with my nikon d90 and i love it.good photos great fun and its paid for

  • bryan

    August 7, 2012 12:57 am

    That's how the Nikon1 works, right? It just shoots a trillion frames and automatically picks the "best" one? Don't worry, it saves the other 999,999,999 to clog up your hard drive.

  • Jai Catalano

    August 7, 2012 12:51 am

    could you imagine if you really could shoot a trillion frames per second? What would the competition come up with? A trillion and 1?

  • Craig

    August 6, 2012 10:35 pm

    @michael hughes: LOL:)
    I think we use the same bank.

  • Craig

    August 6, 2012 10:33 pm

    @Jason...I agree. I suppose a lot of military technology nowadays is good compared to old days stuff, in the sense of SMART technologies etc. If a camera like this could be developed into gun sights for inclusion on all manner of machines, for example, submarines, multi-role combat aircraft, ships, tanks and artillery, it would reduce civilian casualties, blue-on-blues, and reduce calateral damage too.

    I'm facinated by the light ray ripples that behave totally different to what was expected. What could the implications be for the future of imaging technologies and for that matter, everything! The mind boggles.

  • Michael Hughes

    August 6, 2012 08:49 pm

    Thats the sort of spped i need ot catch a shot of my salary in its bank account, up until now it has left the account 1 trillionth of a second after entering it ;-)

    Will I be able to combine those shts into an HDR image, if so, what PC should I buy ?

  • Jim

    August 4, 2012 07:48 am

    Imagine the post-processing!

  • Jason

    August 3, 2012 10:29 am

    Its nice to see technology reaching its furthest extent in any area. Obviously, as far as visible wavelengths go- this is the fastest any camera can ever go. Only different wavelengths could go faster- but human kind has reached natures limit. This cannot be said for ANY other technology. We are no where near the strongest magnification possible, or the fastest vehicle speeds possible. But now - now we can say that the fastest shutter speed / visible light camera that CAN be created HAS been created. Its a good feeling.. a great one actually! Surely there will be new and exciting applications for this technology. but we lived to see a finite limit on something in our universe. This is truly magical!

    Craig - nearly all tech was made in the name of military. Only they have the funding to follow the tech to its logical conclusion. Other firms or entities do not have the resources necessary to complete such projects. However - from their work will come countless new civilian technologies. It is SAD though - I agree- that we put so much effort into new ways to kill and destroy. It is the disgusting nature of humans to act this way. There are those amongst us that do not wish to destroy - but they are the minority. When we get mad we scream, we hit, we kill... more-so than any other species, and with greater efficiency too. :(

  • Craig

    August 3, 2012 02:00 am

    What an amazing presentation!!!

    I feel the biggest research grants will be coming from the defense/defence...military sector, sadly. A camera; a bit like that Israeli mirrored prism gun and site, which can see around corners, but without the prism and awkwardness. What a weapon for surveillance and reconnaisance that would be.

  • ccting

    August 2, 2012 03:59 pm

    great researcher..

  • ccting

    August 2, 2012 12:42 pm

    Nikon & Canon should happy about this. Every few seconds i spend $$$$ to change my shutter ;D

  • ccting

    August 2, 2012 12:40 pm

    Mirrorless cam?

  • Alexander DiMauro

    August 2, 2012 10:35 am

    Well..no. Sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but this camera doesn't shoot at a trillion frames per second. That's physically impossible. I read all about this research a while back. It's a neat trick, but it's not that fast.

    There is a reason why they are using coherent laser light for the photos. Every pulse of the laser is exactly, perfectly, identical. They developed a timing mechanism that allows them to set shutter release intervals of trillionths of a second. So, they shoot out a laser pulse, snap a photo. Then they set the shutter release to a trillionth of a second later, send out another (identical) pulse and snap a photo that is a trillionth of a second later than the previous...but on a different laser pulse.

    Eventually, they put all the pictures together, and it makes it appear that the light is being slowed to a crawl. But, it's not. It's really just a (REALLY AMAZING) trick of shutter timing.

    Don't get me wrong. I really think it is amazing, but don't expect a shutter speed anywhere approaching a trillion frames per second any time soon.

  • Jeff

    August 2, 2012 06:37 am

    You better have some serious lighting to take a picture with 1/1000000000000 shutter speed!

  • Rick

    August 2, 2012 05:41 am

    Of course, Canon won't introduce this feature until about 18 months after Nikon does.

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