When it comes to high-speed photography — and we're talking about freezing explosions and other occurrences that are over in just thousandths of a second — something known as film-based streak photography has always been the go-to technology. But as film continues its slow death, a company called MetroLaser has come up with a digital alternative that can freeze objects moving at almost 12,000km/h, which is roughly 10 times the speed of sound.
So how does it pull off such a feat without using an insanely high-speed shutter that would tear itself apart during every exposure? Well, the previous methodology used a piece of film moving behind a thin slit as a high-speed object moved past the lens. But in the digital world, a highly accurate moving mirror is used to track the motion of the object and then bounce the reflected light onto an image sensor so there's no blurring or distortion.
It goes without saying that 'high-speed' and 'high-precision' are understatements when describing the mirror's movements, particularly when an undistorted image relies on the system being able to accurately gauge an object's speed in just a few thousandths of a second before it passes. But when it all works, the high-speed system can not only capture images as small as 1.27mm in size, it can even show the compressed wall of air in front of it. And, believe it or not, it works with pretty much any digital camera you attach it to. Although, you might want to dedicate something a little more capable than your iPhone to the task. [MetroLaser via PetaPixel via Phys.org]