Movies are filmed and reproduced at a rate of 24 frames per second, and the television uses 25 frames (PAL) or 29.97 frames per second (NTSC). In direct contrast, a high speed CCD camera is able to record a whopping 1000 frames per second. Such high speed CCD cameras can be used for either research, entertainment or in industry. A high speed CCD camera is usually used in crash testing or ballistic testing too, but there are also many other uses for it.
The history of high speed CCD cameras
The first high speed images that were recorded were the images of a horse in gallop to determine if all of its feet were in the air at the same moment. The first image of a supersonic bullet was taken in Rijeka, Croatia, in 1886 by a physicist called Peter Sacher. The high speed cameras were used by German weapon scientists. All these cameras used film. As time passed, and technology developed, instead of film, an array of CCD or CMOS cameras came in use for rotating mirror cameras. This way the high speed CCD camera was born. The high speed CCD camera can achieve unimaginable speeds up to 25 million frames per second. The first use of high speed CCD camera was in 1980s, and one of the first cameras was the HS4540 which was manufactured by the Kodak MASD group; this camera was intensively used in car crash testing. Later on, there were different types of high speed cameras that developed, like the IS-CCD or the rotating mirror CCD.
Uses of high speed cameras
Today, the high speed CCD camera is used for all kinds of purposes. One of the purposes for a high speed CCD camera is entertainment too, and there are various shows on the subject of super slow motion which show animal reactions and behaviors in slow motion, like fast snake attacks or praying mantis strikes, or objects being destroyed in super slow motion. The slow motion cameras are also used in sports for slow motion replays of big events during a game. Other use of these cameras is in the car test industry, for testing cars in car crashes, so they can have a slow replay of what was happening. Another use in industry is using slow motion during production to notice things that happen too fast in real time to follow them normally. The high speed CCD camera found its many uses today, especially in the world of science too, where it is used even in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to capture the tiniest bits of events that happen at such tremendous speeds.
LHC and the high speed cameras
The Large Hadron Collider (the LHC) is currently the largest energy particle accelerator in the world. It is located beneath Geneva, Switzerland, along the border with France. The spectrometers used in tests have CCD image sensors which have strong anti-blooming functions, no lag, and have high readout speeds and low noise. All these features are very important for high speed CCD camera because it has to register the collision of subatomic particles in order to find the answers for many still unanswered questions. Without the use of a high speed CCD camera this wouldn’t be possible, so the manufacturers of the high speed CCD camera used in LHC, the Hamamatsu Photonics, are very proud to be part of such an immense project.