There are some truly remarkable upgrade options for backers of the fps1000 project on Kickstarter, including 4K Super 35mm and also an ultra-sensitive Micro Four Thirds CMOS.
The original fps1000 Platinum with Micro Four Thirds mount which I backed was £899 and is now due to ship next month!
The higher end 4K and ultra-sensitivity options are an extra £1500 for backers and will likely ship Q4 2015.
All fps1000 cameras record to an internal video memory. This memory buffer is then emptied to an H.264 encoder and recorded to SD card.
The 4K and ultra-high speed sensor-boards are equipped with the most memory (128GB) to deal with such high date rates. The standard Platinum camera has 32GB of high-speed memory, as the resolution and frame rates are lower.
The original camera features a 1″ sensor – just a little larger than Super 16mm. Now, upgrade options to 4K Super 35mm amongst others are being offered to backers.
Graham says that due to the smartphone industry, high speed memory and processors have become much more affordable. Indeed the cameras are exceptional value for money. The basic model which I will review when it is ready in May records 250fps 1920 x 1080p! This is marvellously creative and no other advanced high-speed camera comes close the price, £899 (£999 for later backers). As far as I know, final retail prices haven’t yet been confirmed though.
All the cameras use a global shutter.
Interestingly, there’s also a lower resolution option for 720p that records HD at an insane 4000fps, from a Micro Four Thirds size chip, which creator Graham Rowan dubs the FPS1000 Platinum Hex. This option is especially interesting in terms of sensitivity. 1280 x 860 on such a large sensor has resulted in enormous pixels of 13.7 micron which dwarf even the Sony A7S’s 12MP full frame CMOS at 8.4 micron pixels. By contrast, smartphone sensors typically feature pixels in the region of 1.2 micron. As we know the Sony A7S at 8.4 micron shoots usably clean ISO 160,000 (as you can see from my ‘Lady of Shalot’ shoot under moonlight here) even extending up to 409,600. The large pixels on the Hex are necessary though because of such high shutter speeds in use for frame rates like 4000fps and above. Graham told me however that lower frame rates like 240fps are still possible on this sensor, which would take advantage of cleaner shooting in dim lighting. The other sensors will need a lot more light.
For an extra £300 there’s a new 2/3″ sensor upgrade option as well. This doubles the maximum frame rate and internal memory of the standard £1k Platinum, from 600fps in 720p to 1200fps. However the sensor lacks support for 1080p, topping out at 1280 x 1024.
I am extremely impressed with what is being attempted with the fps1000 and the expertise necessary to make it happen.
I chose for now to opt for my original order of the fps1000 Platinum 1″ sensor because I want to start shooting as soon as possible. The Platinum 4K and Hex are an extra £1500 which is extremely good value for money on top of the £1k original but they won’t ship until September / October 2015 at the earliest. The original camera will ship May at the earliest, though there is always a chance of slippages.
Come production of the 4K and ultra-sensitive cameras though I may change my mind and buy both!!
Here’s that fps1000 upgrade table in full –
The form factor as you can see from the video is tiny and very simple, as small it seems as the recently announced Blackmagic Micro Cinema camera.
As far as a ‘sensor in a box’ goes, this is all very exciting and will, I am sure, lead to some stunning imagery.