The home-brewed, Linux-powered Chronos high-speed camera is slowly but steadily moving forward. With a crowdfunding campaign coming soon, YouTube channel Taofledermaus recently got to test out the latest version of the camera, now called Chronos 1.4, that can churn out video at over 20,000 frames per second.
The real high point of the Chronos is its price. At just $2,500, it brings extreme slow-motion video to a price point where enthusiasts can potentially afford it, without having to rent. Cameras with equivalent features from more established manufacturers sell for tens of thousands of dollars, keeping them well out of range for just about anyone save large studios.
The Chronos features a very industrial design and is basically a black aluminum box, measuring six inches wide by four inches tall. It is essentially a Linux computer, and takes about 30 seconds to startup. Every setting is accessed via a large touchscreen that dominates the back of the camera. The user interface isn’t elegant, but it gets the job done and seems simple enough.
Resolution defaults to a maximum of 1,280 x 1,024 pixels at an impressive 1,057 frames per second. Vertical and horizontal resolution can be adjusted independently, and frame rate automatically increases as resolution decreases. The highest speed possible is a blazing 21,650fps. Sure, at that speed you’re limited to a 1990’s-era web video resolution of 640 x 96 pixels, but that may be fine for technical applications outside of filmmaking.
Video is saved to an SD card in the MPEG-4 format conformed to 60fps. After clips are recorded, in and out points can be set before saving the files to the card, ensuring you’re only saving the frames you actually need. This cuts down on file size and transfer time, which could otherwise grow painstakingly long.
But for as different as it is, the Chronos is still quite similar to other cameras. It uses C-mount lenses that were common on 16mm film cameras, and which offer manual control over focus and aperture. The battery is the EN-EL4, the same used on older Nikon professional DSLRs like the D3.
While a date for the crowdfunding campaign is yet to be announced, the Chronos 1.4 is expected to go live on GoFundMe in the coming weeks.