What is a Slow Motion Camera?

Written by 90 Seconds
Last updated: October 4, 2023
What is a Slow Motion Camera?

Slow motion refers to an effect that is common in the film-making industry where motion pictures appear to be moving slower than normal.

Previously, the effect had only been applied more in films, commercials and television. But with major advancements in phone technology, one can now shoot in slow motion even with their smartphone.

In a nutshell, it is a camera that shoots images at a much faster rate than they will be played back. It basically takes a lot of still frames per second and when they are played back at the normal rate, time appears to be moving slowly.

Take the example of the Phantom HD high Speed Camera. This camera can shoot in high definition for speeds of up to 1,455 frames per second (while normal film is usually shown at 24 frames per second).

If you take pictures at 24 frames per second and play them at 24-frames per second, you get to see normal motion. But when you take pictures at a faster rate than that, say 1,455 frames per second, and play them back at 24 frames per second, you will see a slow-down in action (the slow motion effect).

Primary uses

Film industry

In one movie or another, we have all seen a slow motion scene that accentuates the feel of an action, effect, or phenomena.

Slow motion cameras are used in the film industry to capture fast scenes and make them more visible to the naked eye through slow motion.

For example, in movies such as The Matrix, producers have used the slow motion effect to capture the movement of bullets; a very impossible act to see with the normal eye or capture with a normal camera.

Television and commercials

The television content industry, primarily commercials, is one of the biggest users of slow motion cameras.

Commercials such as those advertising cars, food, hair products and sport events are among the heavy users of slow motion cameras.

Documentary producers also rely heavily on slow motion cameras, especially those shooting animal documentaries.

For example, in this National Geographic documentary on a Lion vs Zebra fight, producers have to use the slow motion effect to capture the fast fight moves with clarity.

Secondary uses

Sports industry

The sports industry, especially athletics and football rely on slow motion cameras to capture fast events and then view them in re-play. For example, a goal replay in football can tell if a player was offside or not.

Fun activities

Slow motion cameras are highly used for capturing fun activities and then playing them in slow motion for a better feel.

For example skating, swimming, parkour, jet-skiing, archery, cycling and more. This is why slow motion cameras on smartphones are also becoming all too popular as anyone is able to create such cool effects now.